Resort near venice / TUE 5-24-16 / African antelope with curvy horns / William Pilgrim father / Luminescent larvae
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Constructor: Jonathan Gersch
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: TAPS (71A: Bugle tune ... or what one does to 1-, 18-, 35-, 43- and 62-Across)
- KEGS (1A: Frat party staples)
- PHONE LINES (18A: "Open" things for a call-in show)
- SHOULDERS (35A: Places for shawls)
- RESOURCES (43A: Coal and natural gas)
- MAPLE TREES (62A: Syrup comes from them)
William Brewster (1568 – 10 April 1644) was an English official and Mayflower passenger in 1620. In Plymouth Colony, by virtue of his education and existing stature with those immigrating from the Netherlands, Brewster, a separatist, became a regular preacher and the leader of the community. (wikipedia)
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TAPS is an awkward revealer. Plain old TAP, or maybe some phrase containing TAP that allows for wordplay of some sort, would've made more sense. All the answers are plural ... but TAPS (with an "S") doesn't indicate a plural, it indicates the third person. It looks like, in order to get the [Bugle tune] cleverness to match up symmetrically with something, we've pluralized KEGS, and then ... well, that tips the dominoes and every other theme answer gets the "S." The non-corresponding "S"s between themers and revealer ... they're just awkward. It's mainly the third-person conjugation that clunks. I wouldn't notice this if the theme were at all interesting. Theme feels like something NYT used to publish but doesn't / shouldn't any more. I thought that yesterday about a CONEHEADS theme in the LAT, where all the first words of the themers were kinds of cones, but conceptually and execution-wise, that was a superior puzzle.
The fill had some strong points (DAEDALUS!! SAY WHAT?!), but was also heavy on the unpleasantness. Why on god's green would you *highlight* the fact that your grid has terrible abbrs. in it by giving them the same clue (N.C.A.A. part: Abbr.), as if their presence here were some kind of *feature*. There is no redeeming ATH, there is no redeeming ASSOC, and trying to tie them together with the same clue is like throwing water on an oil fire. If you need ATH or ASSOC, you quietly clue them (separately!) and move on. Imagine how "fun" it would be if you cross-referenced SSW and NNE ... [I'm waiting while you do this] ... yes, cluing ASSOC and ATH this way is precisely *that* much fun, possibly less. Grid shape means that there's a ton of 4- and 5-letter stuff, so no surprise that there's a lot of the old gang ("I, TINA"!), but it leaned toward the UGLY side in many places. ETTU, EZEK? I had maybe one wrong turn in this one: wrote in SUPT instead of SUPE (45D: Apartment building V.I.P., for short). My answer was correct. Just not correct for this puzzle.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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