Talking toy since 1965 / SUN 12-6-15 / Food service giant based in Houston / Big Easy lunch / Blowtube projectile / Fictional Potawatomi tribesman / Punk subgenre / Druggists implements / 2013 Spike Jonze dramedy /
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "With Drawl" — familiar phrases have a word changed by extending it by one syllable to a near-homophone ... thus the (imagined) "drawl" (extension of the vowel sound); of course wacky phrases call for wacky "?" clues
- JUST ONE MOWER THING (24A: How you might classify a blade, a gas tank cap or a starter handle?)
- FEAR OF HYATTS (27A: Reason to stay only at Hiltons or Marriotts?)
- CREATIVE RIOTERS (45A: Mob that disturbs the peace in new and interesting ways?)
- PRETTY SHOER (61A: Attractive blacksmith at a stable?)
- NIGHT MAYORS (75A: Municipal leaders who work the late shift?)
- PRIAM REAL ESTATE (91A: Troy, in the "Iliad"?)
- BAYER MINIMUM (109A: Smallest possible aspirin dose?)
- DOUBLE YELLOW LIONS (113A: Normandy's coat of arms, basically?)
• • •
PRIAM REAL ESTATE, myself—but somehow the conceit here feels a little limp. Grid is also not as solid and sparkly as I'm used to seeing from PB1. Feels highly segmented, resulting in few interesting longer answers. Also, CV JOINT? Is that a commonly known thing? [this is different from asking if it is a thing, which I'm sure it is]. That answer screams "the theme made me do it!" Actually, it's the execution of the theme in the grid, i.e. the stacking of theme answers, that brought that answer about. That answer goes through *three* themers, and multiple theme-crosses are always the most compromised answers in the grid. You gotta work them out early in the construction, because they tend to be the places you have fewest options, and any move you make before bolting them down is only going to reduce your options further. Don't believe me? Just check out CV JOINT's symmetrical counterpart—the equally odd, semi-arcane, and obviously improvised SEE 'N' SAY. Both answers are fairly short, so each locked-in-place letter (i.e. each letter that belongs to a theme answer in the cross) causes greater fill restriction than such letters would cause in longer answers. Just compare CVJOINT and SEENSAY to the much longer and much more familiar MONASTERIES and COMPARTMENT, both of which also cross three themers. Longer answers --> greater flexibility. More real estate, more versatility. CVJOINT and SEENSAY are really pinned down by being made up of 3/7 theme-answer letters.
Not much to say about this grid, really. Beyond CV JOINT, only one part of the grid gave me any real trouble: ST. CHARLES. I did not know it was a city, let alone a city in Missouri, let alone the former capital of Missouri, so it was really hard to parse. Might've been easier had I been *certain* about SYSCO (I was not) (my first answer there was TYSON) (65A: Food service giant based in Houston), and if COARSE hadn't worked just as well if not better than HOARSE for 72A: Rough. I imagine that that exact square, that crossing, is going to be at least a minor sticking point for a Whole lotta people today. I just watched "The Women" (d. George Cukor, 1939), and good chunk of it takes place in RENO, where a bunch of women go on the train to get divorces from their husbands (none of whom appear in the movie—no men do). I feel like we just saw ROLO. It's been a week of ROLO and APRILS. MONDO ROLO. (I screwed up MONDO too—had MOLTO (??)) (42A: Extremely, in dated slang). I'm already phenomenally tired of all "Frozen" clues, I've realized. "Frozen" is basically just a fount of "new" clues for old answers (ANNA, ELSA, OLAF, and now apparently SVEN). Surprised we aren't seeing IDINA Menzel more often.
Matt Gaffney (who writes the amazing metacrossword "Matt Gaffney's Crossword Contest," among other things) now has a daily mini-puzzle: 10x10 themed crosswords, delivered fresh to your inbox every day. Here's all the info you need. Subscriptions are cheap, and Matt's work is always top-notch (read about him here). If you want a little nugget of crosswordy goodness waiting in your inbox each morning—small enough to solve relatively quickly, juicy enough to be worth the effort—then this is a good option for you. Give it as a holiday gift, why don't you!?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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