Young competitor in Hunger Games / WED 3-23-16 / Bridge four-pointer / Romantic comedy featuring two members of Brat Pack / Like toves in Jabberwocky / Strongman player on A-team / Parts of ratchets
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Constructor: Alex Boisvert and Jeff Chen
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: TRIPLE TIME (54A: Minuet meter ... or a description of the answers to the starred clues?)— theme answers are three-word phrases, each word of which can precede "TIME" in a (reasonably) common phrase or word:
- NEXT-DAY AIR (17A: *Speedy shipping option)
- "ABOUT LAST NIGHT" (23A: *Romantic comedy featuring two members of the Brat Pack)
- STARTING ALL OVER (33A: *Going back to square one)
- LONG LOST FATHER (47A: *Recurring soap opera plot device)
A hinged or pivoted device adapted to fit into a notch of a ratchet wheel to impart forward motion or prevent backward motion.
• • •
LONG LOST FATHER, that one is a reach. I'm sure that some soap somewhere has featured such a thing. Who knows, soaps run so long that perhaps the conceit has been used multiple times. But as soap opera plot devices go, this one doesn't feel ... paradigmatic. EVIL TWIN, now *that's* a soap opera plot device. But it's just weak, it's not terrible, and given that the others are air-tight, I don't think there's much harm done.
I now and forever object to TOVE, BRILLIG, SLITHY, and all the other "Jabberwocky" nonsense, except in cases of pure necessity (11D: Like the toves in "Jabberwocky"). The idea that we're all supposed to know that made-up junk has always annoyed me, and here, it's patently unnecessary. That NE corner can be redone a million ways, with real words. Maybe you could ditch OLIN and NARITA in the process. The fill is mostly solid and serviceable. TURN TAIL and END RUN are cool, dynamic answers. I want to like LOVE HOTEL, but I don't know that I've ever seen or heard of it. Strange euphemism. I'd think LOVE NEST, or, better, NO-TELL MOTEL. Looks like the concept is much more common overseas, particularly in Japan. I'm familiar with the idea, just not this specific phrase. I also think of Cal Ripken, Jr. as a shortstop, as does everyone, so that clue on THIRD, while defensible, is mostly just annoying (he didn't move to THIRD 'til '97—his 15th year in the league). I blanked on RUE, and read the "Young" in 55D: Young competitor in "The Hunger Games" as somebody's name, i.e. the person who competed against someone named Young. Sigh. Surprised that TOOLS was allowed to fly with that clue (34D: Obnoxious sorts), which turns TOOLS into the rough equivalent of DICKS. OPE should always be a nope unless gun to head. No real problems, otherwise. Generally fine work.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]