Shield decorated with head of Gorgon / SAT 1-23-16 / Wife in John Le Carre's Constant Gardener / British port from which John Cabot sailed to New World in 1497 / Player of green alien in guardians of galaxy blue alien in Avatar / City called old pueblo / French city once held by William Conqueror / Real life New York hospital sometimes seen on Law & Order SVU / Stark half brother of Jon Snow / Mythological subject for Leonardo Correggio Rubens
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Constructor: Kameron Austin Collins
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: ZOE SALDANA (21D: Player of a green alien in "Guardians of the Galaxy" and a blue alien in "Avatar") —
Zoe Saldana-Perego (born Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario; June 19, 1978), Zoe Saldana (// sal-DAN-ə), is an American actress and dancer. Following her performances with the FACES theater group, Saldana made her screen debut in an episode of Law & Order (1999). Her film career began a year later with Center Stage (2000), followed by a role in Crossroads (2002). She first gained some prominence for her role as Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). // Saldana's breakthrough came in 2009 with the roles of Nyota Uhura in Star Trek and Neytiri in James Cameron's Avatar (2009). The latter film received widespread acclaim, and is the highest-grossing film of all time. Saldana continued her successful career with films such as Colombiana (2011), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). (wikipedia)
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HIGH:low"), smooth and crunchy, peanut butter and chocolate, all at once. The puzzle will be too poppy for some; as someone who has never seen "Avatar," or "Game of Thrones," or a single episode of "SVU," it was almost too poppy for me. But it wasn't. That's the point—I'd get into scrapes, but then crosses would get me out. Miss a TV question, get a basic vocab word, or some slang, or a Renaissance-era exploration answer, or PERFIDY, or what have you. I feel like I can rely on KAC's puzzles to dip into all manner of current things (shows, language, topics, etc.) but not relentlessly. The puzzle roams wide, and is full of surprises. It pulses and breathes and darts. Like the sourdough starter I've been cultivating for the past week or so, It's Alive! Not moribund, the way crosswords have a reputation for being—the way they can, on occasion, still be. There's a reason the American Values Club crossword recently made KAC one of its two new constructor hires. Old school craftsmanship + 2016 woke-ness.* One of the best constructors around, and he's only just started. Look out.
"AH, BLISS"—who says that? I feel like it's a phrase I recognize to be real, but that I can't really place? It feels so mannered and strange. Anyway, I found it hard to parse. Didn't help that I tried to run 4- through 6-Down and only got one of them right. BOY ICER JENNY is all kinds of jacked when what's actually called for is LAD ICER SHREK (you might've thought SHREK's "mate" was Fiona, not Donkey, but ... different meaning of "mate" here...) . At least I knew enough to ditch those answers and try again. Was pretty sure it was SITZ bath (20A), and the "Z" immediately gave me ZOE SALDANA. Without the "Z," I would've struggled to call up her name; with it, boom. Once I built up the NW from there (which took a little doing), I didn't have any major snags the rest of the way, though I did have some ridiculously good guesses. TESSA off the -SA. ROBB off the RO- (despite never having seen "Game of Thrones"). PERFIDY off the P-. LEDA off the -A. There was some awkward over -ING-ing with the KNELLING / EKING crossing (ing ing ing) in the SW. KNELLING in particular was hard to see, given the plural clue (24D: Passing sounds?). And there are at least three plausible four-letter ST-- answers for 42A: Check. I went with STAY. Then STOP. Ended with STEM. Literally ended, in that that "M" was the last thing in the grid. I think the cluing (-ING!) in this puzzle could've stood to be more playful and clever. But the grid is Tight. All in all, a delightful romp. More more more.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
*"The phenomenon of being woke is a cultural push to challenge problematic norms, systemic injustices and the overall status quo ..."—Raven Cras
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