Christopher tippler in Taming of Shrew / SUN 3-6-16 / Dumas swordsman / Movie co behind Boyhood Transamerica / Scandal airer / Colors 1960s-style / Journey to recurring segment Sesame Street
Sunday, March 6, 2016
Constructor: David J. Kahn
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "In Character" — theme answers are clues describing Shakespearean characters whose names are found *inside* those descriptions (in circled letters). Theme clues read [See blurb]. Blurb reads: "the answers to [the long themers] are themselves clues to the names spelled by their circled letters"
- COMRADE OF MERCUTIO (ROMEO)
- BANQUET GHOST (BANQUO)
- ELDERLY MONARCH (LEAR)
- SCHEMER AGAINST CAESAR (CASCA)
- LOVE INTEREST OF OLIVIA (VIOLA)
- EVIL ANTAGONIST (IAGO)
- MACABRE THANE (MACBETH)
- UNHAPPY MALCONTENT (HAMLET)
Ice fog is a type of fog consisting of fine ice crystals suspended in the air. It occurs only in cold areas of the world, as water droplets suspended in the air can remain liquid down to −40 °C (−40 °F). It should be distinguished from diamond dust, a precipitation of sparse ice crystals falling from a clear sky. It should also be distinguished from freezing fog, which is commonly called pogonip [!!?!?!] in the western United States. (wikipedia)
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COMRADE OF MERCUTIO is a nice, narrow, focused "clue" for ROMEO. ELDERLY MONARCH is the least focused of the first five themers, but it held up fine. Two of the last three, however, felt way too broad. EVIL ANTAGONIST?!? There is nothing IAGO-specific in that "clue." Also, it's borderline redundant, though, to be fair, it's not UNHAPPY MALCONTENT redundant, because *that* would be ridiculous. Seriously, what is up with UNHAPPY MALCONTENT? Not only is it not HAMLET-specific it's ... well it's a word and then a synonym of that word. Are there "happy malcontents"? I am pretty sure there are not. That answer is bizarre to the point of ridiculousness, and coming as it does in the punch-line (i.e. final) position, it's truly buzz-killing. So you've got a nice concept here, mostly but not entirely well executed.
Also not entirely thrilled about the double-dipping with "Macbeth" answers (BANQUO / MACBETH). There are a lot of Shakespeare plays. Spread the love. Evenly. As for the fill, it seems fine overall. The NW is nicely handled, with full-named ORRIN HATCH coming down through FAT CATS and (less probably) alongside QUICHE. AUTOSTRADA is an answer I can't remember encountering before. Classes up the joint a little, somehow. ONLINE CHAT feels a little too loose / vague / odd (70D: Real-time messaging system). It doesn't really sound like a "system." AOL Messenger, iChat ... those are systems. ONLINE CHAT is a very general internet phenomenon. I don't often groove on identical (or near-identical) sequential clues, but in the case of 94D: Like Lhasa apsos (TIBETAN) and 99D: Lhasa apso and others (BREEDS), the ploy worked very well. It wasn't forced, and it involved two substantial (6+-letter) answers. Nice work there.
In case you've somehow been ignoring Crossword News for the past 48 hours (and if so, what's wrong with you?!), here's that bombshell article about alleged crossword theme plagiarism: "A Plagiarism Scandal Is Unfolding In the Crossword World" by Oliver Roeder of 538.com. The story, which details the role one database played in unmasking what appears to be significant theme-stealing by the editor of the USA Today crossword, has already been picked up by a bunch of major media outlets, including the NYT (at least the online version). I have so much to say about this, but I have already shouted most of it into Twitter, and I'm not really up to rehashing it all here (still recovering from stupid horrible cold). The article raises lots of great issues about copyright law, ethics, the problem of distinguishing between accidental duplication and outright theft, etc. I'll be following developments in this story, and will let you know what I hear. For now, just read the article.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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