Gas giant since 1966 / THU 10-22-15 / Phishing targets / Mint family plant harvested for its seeds / Japanese dish whose name means literally eel bowl / Like terms mailman comedienne say / Place for pre-20th century medicines / Tart English jelly fruit / Dark horse bring to light
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Constructor: Tracy Gray
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: POTHOLES (60A: Road hazards ... four of which are illustrated literally in this puzzle) — phrases with the letter string "CAR" in them have the "A" part disappear inside a black square, signifying, presumably, the idea of a "CAR" hitting a pothole [nope ... looks like the "A" is underneath the black square...? Adds to the pothole effect that way...]
- OSCAR NOD (14A: Recognition from the Academy)
- CREME CARAMEL (22A: Flan)
- APOTHECARY SHOP (36A: Place for pre-20th century medicines)
- DALE CARNEGIE (46A: "How to Win Friends and Influence People" writer)
Unadon (鰻丼?, an abbreviation for unagi + donburi, literally "eel bowl") is a dish originating in Japan. It consists of a donburi type large bowl filled with steamed white rice, and topped with fillets of eel (unagi) grilled in a style known as kabayaki, similar to teriyaki. The fillets are glazed with a sweetened soy-based sauce, called tare and caramelized, preferably over charcoal fire. The fillets are not flayed, and the grayish skin side is placed faced down. Sufficient tare sauce is poured over so that some of it seeps through the rice underneath. By convention, pulverized dried berries of sanshō (called Japanese pepper, although botanically unrelated) are sprinkled on top as seasoning. (wikipedia)
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POTHOLES clues, I couldn't figure out why the POTHOLES were all "A"s. Black "A"s ... I don't get it. So I had to check with a friend. This is what (sometimes) happens when I solve early in the morning. Part of my brain just shuts down or hasn't warmed up sufficiently or ... something. So my experience solving this puzzle was not terribly joyful. I've seen words jump black squares and disappear inside black squares before (which is why I cracked the thing very quickly), and just having "A"s disappear didn't seem very interesting, and then the rest of the puzzle was very stale / ordinary / rough / workmanlike. Lots of wincing (from the old crosswordy-ness of TOTIE-upon-SNELL, to the SLOE OTOE crossing the ridiculous NOT (and somehow not NON-, which would also be bad) PC, to the kids in ETONS taking their PSATs, to ... well, everywhere. There's not an answer in the grid (outside the themers) that is inherently interesting or is clued in an interesting way. Kind of a chore to fill out. Once I realized, however, that the POTHOLES weren't just "A"s but were, in fact, "CAR"s that had gone over / through black-square POTHOLES, my appreciation for the concept jumped considerably (even though technically your car does not *disappear* inside a pothole ... this approximation of the experience seems fine). Still, the rest of the grid, yeesh.
Some hesitation in that NW corner because I don't think of LOL as meaning [I crack myself up], though I guess it can. I thought it represented ... just ... laughter, or was minimally a conventional way of indicating to others that something funny had occurred (not that I, myself, had said something funny). Also, the term described in 1D: "Kitsch" or "kindergarten," from German is "LOANword." LOAN on its own seemed weird. If you look up "Kitsch," as I just did, many definitions in fact begin "LOANword from German." LOAN is close enough, probably, but it's awkward, technically.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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