Good dinosaur in Pixar's Good Dinosaur / MON 11-16-15 / Diplomatic contretemps during John Adams's administration / Carrier to Amsterdam / Captain Hook's henchman
Monday, November 16, 2015
Constructor: Jim Holland
Relative difficulty: Somewhat tougher than usual Monday (30 seconds tougher)
THEME: THREE IN A ROW (59A: Tic-tac-toe win ... or hint to the starts of the answers to the starred clues) —three theme answers begin with three consecutive letters of the alphabet
- ABC ANCHOR (10D: *David Muir ... or Peter Jennings, once)
- KLM AIRLINES (19A: *Carrier to Amsterdam)
- XYZ AFFAIR (33D: *Diplomatic contretemps during John Adams's administration)
Maud Solveig Christina Wikström (born 12 February 1945), known professionally as Maud Adams, is a Swedish actress, known for her roles as two different Bond girls: in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), and as the eponymous character in Octopussy (1983) as well as making a brief uncredited appearance in A View to a Kill (1985). (wikipedia)
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XYZ AFFAIR is aces. First-rate. But the others are less so. KLM AIRLINES is legit enough, though it's a bit dull, the AIRLINES part being pretty redundant, in common parlance. I've only ever heard it as just KLM. Answer here is acceptable, but not interesting. And then there's ABC ANCHOR, which feels slightly awkward and forced. It doesn't google well. When I put "news" into the middel of the phrase and then re-google search, the number of hits balloons to something like 5x the number of hits for ["ABC ANCHOR"] alone. It's a contrived answer—defensible, but not sharp. Light years away from XYZ AFFAIR. And with only three theme answers in the whole thing, you really want them all to land. Perfectly. The fill on this one is not fantastic, even with the 4 cheater squares added, presumably, to make filling the grid easier (black squares above MAR / below ION, and above AYE / below ONT). There's no excuse for having RELEE in an early-week puzzle that's this easy to fill, to say nothing of the longish abomination that is ASATEAM. But it's clean-ish. The real issue for me was the wobbly theme execution.
- 1D: Uses for all it's worth (MILKS) — this was the first of many missteps and rewrites. I think I wrote in MAXES.
- 17A: The good dinosaur in Pixar's "The Good Dinosaur" (ARLO) — I have never heard of this movie, so, needless to say, I've never heard of the answer. This and MAUD (where I drew another blank) added to my relative slowness today. Can you add to slowness? Sure. Why not?
- 51A: Full-length movie (FEATURE) — is "The Good Dinosaur" a FEATURE??? Oh, would you look at that: It. Hasn't. Even. Come. Out. Yet. (due out Nov. 25) I'm trying to understand how I'm supposed to know a character in a movie that hasn't been released yet. And on a Monday? Weird. Anyway, FEATURE helped me change MELEE to RELEE. I had written in that "M" when I noticed I had -ELEE and figured "What else could it be...?" Blargh.
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