Star Trek TNG lounge / WED 9-9-15 / Henley crewman / Sherlock Holmes Appurtenance / Simpsons watering hole / Makes every bite better salad ingredient
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Constructor: Michael Hawkins
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (just 'cause of the fictional place names...)
THEME: TV eatery/drinkery places —
- CENTRAL PERK (17A: "Friends" coffeehouse)
- MOE'S TAVERN (21A: "The Simpsons" watering hole)
- MEL'S DINER (29A: "Alice" eatery)
- MACLAREN'S (43A: "How I Met Your Mother" pub)
- TEN FORWARD (54A: "Star Trek: TNG" lounge)
- THE PEACH PIT (59A: "Beverly Hills 90210" restaurant)
The Zapotecs (Zoogocho Zapotec: Didxažoŋ) are an indigenous people of Mexico. The population is concentrated in the southern state of Oaxaca, but Zapotec communities exist in neighboring states, as well. The present-day population is estimated at approximately 800,000 to 1,000,000 persons, many of whom are monolingual in one of the native Zapotec languages and dialects. In pre-Columbian times, the Zapotec civilization was one of the highly developed cultures of Mesoamerica, which, among other things, included a system of writing. Many people of Zapotec ancestry have emigrated to the United States over several decades, and they maintain their own social organizations in the Los Angeles and Central Valley areas of California. // There are four basic groups of Zapotecs: the istmeños, who live in the southern Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the serranos, who live in the northern mountains of the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca, the southern Zapotecs, who live in the southern mountains of the Sierra Sur, and the Central Valley Zapotecs, who live in and around the Valley of Oaxaca. (wikipedia)
• • •
TEN FORWARD is (far and away—and then more away—the most obscure of the bunch), but presumably people hang and socialize and consume ... stuff. Why these restaurant/coffeehouses/bars and not others? I don't know. Probably they just fit, symmetrically. Shrug. It's an OK concept. The fill remains a problem, though when you get a lead-in like yesterday's puzzle, no one (but me) is gonna complain. Still, I stopped almost immediately to take a bracing deep breath after ASCAN ... honestly, there's no reason for that cruddy a partial to be in a relatively small corner like that. Fill is already not great up there, with SHOOED and MER and ALIT all rating at least a tad subpar, so ASCAN ... it just reeks of "it'll do," which is *so* often true of the NYT.
Maybe I'm just mildly resentful because I'm having to rework grids over and over (for a different ed., obvs.) just to get rid of one or two not-great things (yes, there exist editors who will make you do that). Just last week, I had a great corner except it had the abbr. ATH. and the ed. was like "... nah." "But it's been in the NYT a bunch of times!!!!!" "Nah. Fix it?" Yes, sure, fix it. I've killed foreignisms and Saarinens and whatever WINY is ... all because an editor has loved my theme but *insisted* the grid be the best it can be. Doesn't mean I don't get a howler or two in there occasionally, but in the main, it's redo redo redo until its polished, and polished in a way where you don't have to be an old pro (crosswordese collector) to get it. MII ... INEZ (as clued) ... EERO APOD. PERTER? Even CALE, with its very narrow and entirely old-skewing cluing possibilities, I would eliminate if possible. You can work these out. I don't quite understand why there are cheater squares in the NE and SW (the symmetrical extra black squares below ERIN and above TIDE) and we're still dealing with MII? To be clear, the fill today is OK—NYT average. But I'm still a bit startled at how often musty stuff is allowed to linger.
On the plus side, ZAPOTEC is pretty lively, the longer Downs less so. SOME NERVE and LAID AN EGG are acceptable, but kind of olde-timey. HOTTEAS feels pretty iffy as a plural. Do they still make BACOS? SLAPDASH and "ADAM'S RIB" do give the grid a bit of character. So ... interesting if loose-ish theme, occasionally interesting if too often tired fill.
Gotta go watch the premier of Colbert's "Late Show" now, if I can stay up. That Williams v. Williams match kind of took it out of me.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS I have no idea, and I mean none, what the clue on TONIC thinks it's doing (3D: Soft drink, in the Northeast). I live in the Northeast. Nobody calls soft drinks "tonics." My gin & tonic has absolutely no soft drink in it. Either this is a hyper-regionalism or ... or I don't know what.
PPS I love that the NYT crossword is now trolling (I assume) the slavering, sputtering Obama-haters who complain every time he's in the puzzle. See clue on EBONY (25A). Fantastic. More please.
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