Muslim magistrate / FRI 9-4-15 / Important Peruvian crop / Green Hornet trumpeter / Major in 1973 David Bowie hit / Once-popular alcopop
Friday, September 4, 2015
Constructor: David C. Duncan Dekker
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: none — I don't thing those 3 Qs on a diagonal count...
Word of the Day: QUIFF (28A: Man's do with upswept hair in the front) —
A tuft of hair, especially a forelock.Origin of quiffOrigin unknown.
nounA woman regarded as promiscuous.Origin of quiffOrigin unknown.(Amer. Heritage Dict.)
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AVERAGE is about right. There are lots of X J Q-type letters, but they aren't doing much of anything interesting. That Q-run is mildly cool, and I kind of like how KAMIKAZE komes krashing down there in the NE. "WHY YES!" gives the grid a little life down below. But three out of the four corners (all except the NE) are pretty dull. They are adequate. They are reasonably clean. They exist. Don't tend to love when grids have sections, like the NW and SE, that are sooooo cut off from the rest of the grid. Those sections end up playing like mini-puzzles, which would be OK if there were some inherent interest. But those sections aren't that lively. The real danger with such isolated sections is that they can kill you in a truly difficult puzzle—nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. But today's cut-off corners weren't that tough. Did take some effort to get at the NW, but that was offset by how easy the SE was—that corner couldn't have taken me more than 30 seconds.
I had a couple of miscues. First when I put in QUAKES at 24A: Trembles. Took one look at 8D: Muslim magistrate, realized it couldn't end in -RKF (what could?), and took out QUAKES. Guessed SHARIF and then put in QUAILS. Then moved down the grid a bit and put in QUAKES where it belonged (28D: Country rockers?) (that's a decent "?" clue for QUAKES). I also had a mistake at 35D: Slight sights. Turns out there are (at least) two answers that can fit in there *and* that start GLIM-
I went with GLIMMERS. It was actually the first thing I dropped into that section. The above-pictured grid captures the moment just after I realized my mistake. The ATP (48A: Court sport org.) is the Association of Tennis Professionals, btw. Lastly, just one quibble with the clue on ZIMA (38D: Once-popular alcopop). I think they meant "Once-available" or "once-marketed," 'cause ZIMA was never "popular." (Except, it seems, for a hot second in 1994 when Coors threw a ton of marketing money at it). Popular drinks, uh, survive. To be fair, though, ZIMA did hang in there for an awfully long time. According to Modern Drunkard Magazine: "Despite almost universal derision by the public in general and the drinking press in particular (see Real Drunks Don’t Drink Zima MDM Nov. ‘96), Zima managed to gimp along for an astonishing 15 years." Did you know Miller's answer to ZIMA was QUBE!? How did I miss that? Why is QUBE never in puzzles? I'm so disappointed in all crossword constructors right now. (Actually, I'm not–I can't even find a picture of QUBE on the whole of the Internet, which maybe says something about QUBE's crossword viability. But it turns out there are a bunch of other products out there trying to make QUBE happen, so there's always hope).
MASON JARs, on the other hand—MASON JARs are popular. Chances are you have had an (actual, non-ZIMA-related) alcoholic beverage in one in recent years. A touch of folksiness for hip urban faux-back-to-the-landers. Artisanal free-range MASON JARs for all!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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