Failure to sneeze / THU 4-21-16 / Brilliantly blue / Textbook market shorthand / Drunk's woe / Redheads book lovers maybe / Title figures in Gilbert Sullivan opera / Nevada county with part of Death Valley National Monument
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Constructor: Alex Bajcz
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: SST to SD — ST- goes to D- at the front of the second word in two-word phrases where first word ends in -S, creating wacky near-homophones, clued "?"-style:
- BLUEGRASS DATE (19A: Romantic night in Kentucky?) (Bluegrass State)
- NOSE DUD (4D: Failure to sneeze?) (nose stud)
- PLEASE DAY (34A: "Come on, Doris"?) (please stay)
- FALSE DART (41A: Counterfeit Dodge?) (false start)
- CHILDREN'S DORY (57A: Fishing boat at summer camp?) (children's story)
- ICE DORM (45D: Student housing in Fairbanks?) (ice storm)
Harvey Mudd College (HMC) is a private residential liberal arts college of science, engineering, and mathematics, founded in 1955 and located in Claremont, California, United States. It is one of the institutions of the contiguous Claremont Colleges, which share adjoining campus grounds. The college's mission is: "Harvey Mudd College seeks to educate engineers, scientists, and mathematicians well versed in all of these areas and in the humanities and the social sciences so that they may assume leadership in their fields with a clear understanding of the impact of their work on society." (wikipedia)
• • •
I woke up to this in my Twitter feed:
This never happens. That is to say, this kind of immediate collective outcry about a single answer, this kind of anguish, this kind of astonishment that is so keen you have to shout it at someone the second you're finished—people do shout their puzzle displeasure at me from time to time, because they know I'll understand, if not agree, but to wake up to this kind of singular unanimity: weird. So it was with trepidation and an odd excitement that I dug into today's puzzle, wondering if the answer would have the same impact on me. As I saw 25-Down coming together, my only thought was "... no ... it's not ..." but because other people had already BORNE the impact of that one, I laughed instead of some more violent reaction. How can you not have known that putting that answer in your puzzle would render Everything Else You Did In Your Puzzle virtually invisible. I think this is a relatively novice constructor, so I'll forgive the very common new-constructor thing where you overlook really bad fill because Holy @&$%! I actually built a grid that's fillable! But the editor should've been like "Uh, fix that. Please. Now."
Theme is pretty ho-hum. I think it must have been deemed acceptable (or deemed Thursday, at any rate) because of theme density (i.e. you get those extra Down themers in the NW and SE). There is a Bit of a problem with the answers where the "S" is actually more of a "Z" sound—the homophone part works a lot less well in those cases. That is, PLEASE DAY sounds like PLEASE DAY, not "please stay," and NOSE DUD, well, that second "D" was my last letter and I still didn't get it. I just kept saying NOSE DUD over and over to myself until it dawned on me the base phrase was supposed to be "nose stud," which a. is a million times less familiar / common as a phrase than the others, and b. has the "Z" problem mentioned above, which kills the sound gag.
- HERSHEL (7D: ___ Greene, character on "The Walking Dead") — gave up on that show after season 1. Had HERSHEY there for a bit.
- POWERED ON (11D: Booted, say) — had POWERED UP. This made the SKYEY section more ... I don't know, SKYEY?
- ET TU (51A: "I thought you had my back!") / GUN SHY (48SD: Nervous and apprehensive) — "ET TU" is never not facetious in modern parlance, so a "facetiously" would've been appreciated. As for GUN SHY, I needed every cross and then thought it was a one-word adjective pronounced "GUN'-shee"; I mean, you've already got SKYEY, so why not?
- TYPE (27D: Redheads or book lovers, maybe) — still not sure about this. Is this a dating thing? Like, a kind of woman (man?) you tend to be attracted to? It's a weird, weird clue.
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