Japanese porcelain / SUN 11-15-15 / Onetime place for Saddam Hussein's image / Cousin of tendril / Maar Picasso's muse / East German secret police / Kigali native / Sci-fi/historical fiction writer Stephenson / The House of Blue Leaves playwright / Mathematician who was subject of book Man Who Loved Only Numbers
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Having Aspirations" — W- words changed to WH- words, to wacky (and hacky) effect
- THE WHIRLED SERIES (23A: "So You Think You Can Dance," say?)
- THE ROYAL WHEE (41A: Roller coaster shout from Queen Elizabeth?)
- GET OUT OF MY WHEY (17D: "That milky liquid belongs to me!"?)
- WHICH DOCTOR (68A: "Did you mean Doom or Dolittle?"?)
- PRINCE OF WHALES (48D: One in line to rule the ocean?)
- WHACKS MUSEUM (89A: Mob Boss Hall of Fame?)
- WHINING AND DINING (113A: Making a complaint at a restaurant?)
The Tamiami Trail / / is the southernmost 275 miles (443 km) of U.S. Highway 41 (US 41) from State Road 60 (SR 60) in Tampa to US 1 in Miami. A portion of the road also has the hidden designation of State Road 90 (SR 90).
The 275-mile (443 km) north–south section (hidden SR 45) extends to Naples, whereupon it becomes an east–west road (hidden SR 90) crossing the Everglades (and forming part of the northern border of Everglades National Park). It becomes South Eighth Street in Miami-Dade County, famous as Calle Ocho in the Little Havana section of Miami, before ending east of Miami Avenue at Brickell Avenue in Brickell, Downtown Miami.
• • •
STODGES of the SUNBELT, for sure, but the gimmick feels worn, and once you get it ... you've got it. I kind of found GET OUT OF MY WHEY and THE ROYAL WHEE amusing, but otherwise, this is just another, increasingly typical, bloated and wearisome Sunday. The fill suffers by contrast with recent puzzles. It's creaky with crosswordese and common short stuff (KENL? ITHE? OCAT?) and it's aggressively old-fashioned in its cultural frame of reference. ENSE! IMARI! NEH! OCH, make it stop. Looks like Will's assistant gave SWAG a decent, recent clue (78A: Coolness, in modern slang), but otherwise ... this thing's as modern as a TINTYPE (65A: Antique photo). Oh, except for the clue on NEAL (106A: Sci-fi/historical fiction writer Stephenson). That's quite up-to-date. Got his "Seveneves" sitting here on the "To Be Read" pile.
Speaking of TINTYPE, that second "T" was the last thing in the grid because TAMIAMI was a gigantic !?!!?!?! for me. You don't put TAMIAMI in a puzzle unless you're pretty desperate for vowels. I do think, however, that the crosses were fair, and TAMIAMI seems at least vaguely crossworthy, so no foul. Where there *is* a foul, however—a manifest foul—is at the absurd crossing of GUARE (110A: John ___, "The House of Blue Leaves" playwright) and ERDOS (104D: Mathematician who was the subject of the book "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers"). Two proper nouns of Not Great fame crossing at an unguessable letter—that's a Natick, for sure. You can't do that. As my mathematician / constructor friend just said, the fact that you happen to know an answer doesn't necessarily mean it's a good answer: "I knew ERDOS, but holy cow that crossing is bad." Empirically bad. There will be a decent-sized group of people for whom that square will be a total guess. That ... is a design flaw. And an obvious one.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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