Whale constellation / THU 11-26-15 / Trans-Siberian Railway hub / Fluid-filled sac near joint / Computer cursor advancers / Accommodations along Black Sea / Lead in to boom de ay
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Constructor: Ed Sessa
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: TEN (71A: Number of mispelled [sic] words in this puzzle's clues (oh, by the way, watch out for those tricky circled squares!) — circled squares are areas in common words that are often misspelled. Today, the common misspellings will actually give you a *correct* answer in the Downs/crosses. Hence the "watch out" admonition in the revealer clue:
- OCCURRENCE / DREW (not DRAW!)
- SEPARATE / PATS (not PETS!)
- PHARAOH / BALD and OHS (not BOLD and AHS!)
- CALENDAR / GRAY (not GREY!)
- DEFINITELY / CLICK (not CLACK!)
Pelham Bay Park is a public park located in the northeast corner of the New York City borough of the Bronx and extending partially into Westchester County. It is, at 2,772 acres (1,122 ha), the largest public park in New York City. The section of the park within New York City's borders is more than three times the size of Manhattan's Central Park. The park is operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. (wikipedia)
• • •
CHOKED and DOCILE and BAD COP, and the clue on UNZIP was especially nice (18D: Drop, like flies?). But after POP TAB (which I enjoyed), the bottom started falling out of this thing. The fill started to deteriorate badly, and when you first themer is the horribly dull OCCURRENCE, well, that doesn't promise good things. As I went along, I saw that the random circles were filled with random vowels, vowels that didn't appear to anagram to anything or form any kind of pattern ... and I'm wondering what kind of dumb post-solve puzzle I'm going to have to solve. And then after enduring TARARA and PSAT and RELO and ATAP and IFAT and SSRS and ILA and All Of It (please let constructing software help you ... please!) I got to the revealer clue. My first two thoughts were negative: "Who cares if words in the *clues* are misspelled?" and "Who cares that people often misspell those words? How many people a. solve the NYT crossword and b. somehow *don't* know how to spell PHARAOH or DEFINITELY? If you are a reasonably good speller, this puzzle will go right by you." OK, I'm not sure that second thought was so coherent at the time, but that's the gist of it. It was only after a few moments, after I considered the implications of misspelling the words in the grid, that I noticed that, technically, all the crosses would *work* with the misspellings. *This* made me admire the puzzle, conceptually, a heck of a lot more, even though the only one of these misspellings with any hope of tripping me is "SEPERATE," which even now looks correct to my eyes. So though it wasn't terribly fun to solve and is way, way too chock full o' junk, the theme had real cleverness to it.
Why does the puzzle think I will want to count things in the clues? It tried to get me to count 49 "R"s a while back, and now it wants me to count misspelled words? No. Pass. Also, all hail the arrival of the new Stupidest E-Word Ever: EBATE!! I went initially with ESALE, as that seemed equally stupid but no less plausible. With each new dumb E-word, I e-love ECIG more. Let's see, what else? I think PELHAM is probably the hardest thing in the grid (for non-New Yorkers), and I definitely would've clued that thing ["The Taking of ___ 1, 2, 3" (1974 thriller set on a New York City subway car)], but the crosses all seem fair—unless, somehow, you've never heard of a DACHA, which seems slightly possible (25D: Accomodations [sic] along the Black Sea) (oh, look, I unintentionally found one of the misspellings!). Since the puzzle was so easy, I didn't make many mistakes. TAB SETS (is that a thing?) instead of TAB KEYS at first (44D: Computer cursor advancers). CERUS for CETUS (36A: Whale constellation). I think CERUS has to do with wax." Oh, ha ha, I quickly wrote in EVITA before fully reading the clue at 23A: Musical character who sings "Wouldn't it be loverly?" (ELIZA). Else, no problems.
["Let's not split at Thanksgiving / That would be too rough"]
Happy Thanksgiving, which is also my birthday. Just FYI—the proper way to give thanks for me is with bourbon and pie, though regional traditions do vary.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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