1914 battle locale / SUN 1-31-16 / Old Southwest outlaw / Title chameleon of 2011 animated film / Bay former US base on Luzon / Pope John X's successor / Explorer for England who mistook Canada for Asia / Nomadic northerner / News sensation of 10/4/1957
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Constructor: Yaakov Bendavid
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
- ASSEMBLY REQUIRED (23A: Notice regarding voting in a state legislature?)
- INTEL INSIDE (34A: Sign on the N.S.A.'s entrance?)
- CONTAINS SMALL PARTS (56A: Audition caution for a movie with a cast of thousands?)
- BATTERY NOT INCLUDED (78A: Note on a watered-down assault indictment?)
- NO MONEY DOWN (97A: Offer of free pillow fill?)
- STORE IN A DRY PLACE (113A: Desert supermarket?)
Word of the Day: SUBIC Bay (10A: ___ Bay, former U.S. base on Luzon) —
Subic Bay is a bay on the west coast of the island of Luzon in Zambales, Philippines, about 100 kilometres (62 mi) northwest of Manila Bay. It is an extension of the South China Sea, and its shores were formerly the site of a major United States Navy facility named U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay, it is now the location of an industrial and commercial area known as the Subic Bay Freeport Zone under the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. // The bay was long recognized for its deep and protected waters, but development was slow due to lack of level terrain around the bay. (wikipedia)
• • •
INTEL INSIDE" is an ad slogan, not a "message to buyers" (any more than "Coke is It" is a message to buyers). So if you're solving from the top down ... it takes a while for the concept to become clear. And even then ... the theme is light (just six answers?) and the answers themselves are often slightly off-feeling. For instance, the most spot-on version of the first "message" is "some ASSEMBLY REQUIRED." I'm sure the some-less version exists, but it's not le phrase juste. "INTEL INSIDE," as I say, is a real outlier, as it's not a "message" at all (it's a slogan). As with the first themer, the fourth has a more classic iteration: "Batteries (plural) not included." Spielberg even made a movie with that title. And I know the last themer as "store in a cool, dry place." So, you could get a lawyer (Lionel Hutz, say (see above)) to defend the phrases as they appear in the grid, but ... you shouldn't need a lawyer.
The fill has many rough moments, and can't come close to making up for the tepid, slightly awkward theme. Stuff one should try Desperately to keep out of one's grid: LEOVI (all LEO + Roman numerals, really), SUBIC (?), KPS (plural? really?), BSED (dear lord), STOL (old-school crosswordese), EEN, OCTA, "TO SIR" (unless it's clued ["___, With Love"]), TER (106A: Thrice, in prescriptions) (er, no, never, not any more, ask a doctor—I did), etc. I was fortunate enough to end on a high note—the highest note in the puzzle, actually: MAN'S MAN! (86D: Masculine icon). Took me a while to get, and gave me a great aha moment. And it was the very last thing I put in the grid. Not much about the rest of the puzzle was very exciting. I will say that with the exception of TE AMO, it's very clean through the middle, which is impressive, as that's a good chunk of white space to handle so smoothly. Seven adjacent 6+-letter Downs in a row there from ASSIST down to RIOTER. I just realized that if BSED had been clued the way people actually *use* BSED (i.e. BS'ed), my feelings on it would've done a 180.
Here's a message from Evan Birnholz, crossword constructor for the Washington Post:
"For anyone who may have missed my earlier puzzles because they weren't available in Across Lite format, they can get all of them for a limited time. Between now and February 8, my first eight published Post puzzles will be available for download in Across Lite format at this link. After that point I'm deleting their folder, and they'll have only the previous four weeks' worth of puzzles as normal. So they'll need to download them soon if they want them."Evan is doing a great job over there. In just the past month, I've had two Pulitzer-winning writers tell me how impressed they've been with his work. I'm not sure what their having Pulitzers has to do with their puzzle judgment, but I thought I'd just drop that factoid in there as if it meant something. I hope you enjoyed it.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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