Hockey scoring play / WED 4-19-16 / Material that is foreign to body / Loose garb in ancient Rome / Words finger-drawn on dirty car
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Constructor: Tom McCoy
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: FOURTEEN POINTS (39A: Proposal of Woodrow Wilson ... or what the scoring values of 18-, 27-, 55- and 66-Across total) — yep, add 'em up, and you get FOURTEEN:
- GRAND SLAM (18A: Baseball scoring play) — homerun with bases loaded, 4 runs score
- HAT TRICK (27A: Hockey scoring play) — 3 goals scored over the course of the game
- FOUL SHOT (55A: Basketball scoring play) — 1 point for a free throw...
- TOUCHDOWN (66A: Football scoring play) — 6 points for the TD (maybe you thought 7, but you need the extra point for that)
Scoria is a highly vesicular, dark colored volcanic rock that may or may not contain crystals (phenocrysts). It is typically dark in color (generally dark brown, black or purplish red), and basaltic or andesitic in composition. Scoria is relatively low in density as a result of its numerous macroscopic ellipsoidal vesicles, but in contrast to pumice, all scoria has a specific gravity greater than 1, and sinks in water. The holes or vesicles form when gases that were dissolved in the magma come out of solution as it erupts, creating bubbles in the molten rock, some of which are frozen in place as the rock cools and solidifies. Scoria may form as part of a lava flow, typically near its surface, or as fragmental ejecta (lapilli, blocks and bombs), for instance in Strombolian eruptions that form steep-sided scoria cones. Most scoria is composed of glassy fragments, and may contain phenocrysts. The word scoria comes from the Greek σκωρία, skōria, rust. An old name for scoria is cinder. (wikipedia)
• • •FOURTEEN POINTS, I *completely* forgot about them. Total U.S. History fail on my part. I finished (quickly, 'cause this one was easy), and then shouted clear across the house to ask my wife if she'd gotten the revealer yet. "Did you know the revealer?!" "Oh, yeah, that was a gimme." Sigh. She teaches social studies, and has a Ph.D. in American History, but still, "gimme" hurt. She started giving a from-across-the-house lecture on the Treaty of Versailles, but I was like "OK, got it, don't rub it in." So, now that we've established that I only got a 3 on my US History AP test, let's look at the puzzle. Nice repurposing of POINTS to scoring in the various sports: in order, baseball, hockey, basketball, football. There's only one (big) problem with the theme: a HAT TRICK is absolutely positively not a "Hockey scoring play." In fact, "play" is much more closely associated with football—a single, set strategy executed as one continuous act following the snap of the ball. You can run a play in basketball too. It might have lots of components, but it's fundamentally *one continuous thing*. Meanwhile ... in hockey, a HAT TRICK is the scoring of three goals ... over the course ... of the whole game. It is not a "play." Not by a long, long, long shot. It is three completely separate events. Unrelated events that might take places seconds, minutes, or even several periods apart. It's the simple fact of having scored three goals in a game. That is not a "play." That is fundamentally not a "play."
Despite never having heard of the revealer, I moved through most of the grid, from the NW to SE, with hardly any trouble at all; in fact, FOURTEEN POINTS itself was about the only resistance. It was those damned isolated corners in the NE and SW that scratched and clawed a little. But only a little. I didn't know what an OIL CUP does (turns out it simply holds and regulates the flow of oil in your car) and I really really didn't know what SCORIA is. So that pretty much explains the NE. In the SW, my brain could not process the kind of conversation that would allow me to make sense of the clue 64A: Question in response to "I am" ("ARE YOU?"). That is a messed up question in response to "I am." She just said she was. WTF? Also, I was not aware anyone ROARed IN to anywhere. Even ___ SHOT from [Basketball scoring play] was not obvious to me. So some slowness there. But I still ended up under normal time, and since this is an extra-wide (16x) grid, difficulty probably slots between Easy and Easy-Medium.
More AFROs and a token DRE ... in a puzzle built entirely around a super-racist president. I'll stop pointing this stuff out when it stops being the norm. This is a fine puzzle on a technical level, and if the puzzle treated black people as something more than an assemblage of hairdos and rap musicians with convenient names, if it were even slightly more inclusive on a regular basis, a puzzle like this wouldn't even make me blink. But this AFRO thing is a now a thing. The puzzle equivalent of "Can I touch your hair?" Again, it wouldn't be, if the puzzle were regularly more inclusive. Then, an AFRO would simply be one hairstyle among many in the world, one with very useful letters that one tends to see in grids. At this point, however, AFRO always feels kind of objectifying, and only highlights the puzzle's general and strong tendency toward an exclusively white POV.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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