Squinting cartoon character / FRI 5-20-16 / Restaurant breakfsat innovation of 1971 / Peterhof Palace personages / Smell-O-Vision competitor of 1950s cinema / Order-flouting protester / Music player for break dancer / Roseola symptoms
Friday, May 20, 2016
Constructor: Kristian House
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: TITIS (34D: South American monkeys) —
The titis, or titi monkeys, are the New World monkeys of the genus Callicebus. They are the only extant members of the subfamily Callicebinae, which also contains the extinct genera Xenothrix, Antillothrix, Paralouatta, Carlocebus, Lagonimico, and possibly also Tremacebus. // Titis live in South America, from Colombia to Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and north Paraguay. (wikipedia)
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This one was beautiful, but man was it easy. I had slight misstep at first, entering ROO instead of EMU (4D: Prey for a dingo), and figured this was going to be a typical mildly tough Friday, so I took a screenshot of my first breakthrough:
And then ... less than 4 minutes later I was done. Done done. The whole thing took me 4:44, including screenshot time. Bonkers. Those corners are pretty segmented / isolated, so I figured I'd have at least a little trouble with one of them, but GO FOR THE JUGULAR (NICE ONE!) and ANJOUS meant the SW corner was toast, and then EMERGES and BARE meant the NE was toast, and then TITIS / TEN K meant the SE was toast. And that was that. In each corner, I got the answers that gave me a bloc of first letters easily. That is, BARE gave me all the first letters in the Acrosses in the NE. ANJOUS gave me the first letters of the long Downs in the SW. Those first-letter providers are crucial—way higher-value than other answers. Most answers are far easier to get from a first letter than from any other single letters. Not all. But most. So if you nail the first-letter provider, your time can speed up Considerably. And I got them all, everywhere, today. Hence 4:44. My friend Amy took the 4:44 as a challenge. Her time: 4:44. I had that screenshot handicap, but she claims to have had a brief conversation with her husband mid-solve, so: tie. Which is a huge win for me, as she is one of the fastest solvers in the country.
[My student Clare's graduation cap, all decorated and ready for action this weekend. If you look real close, you can see Joel Fagliano's name on one of the puzzles ... she made sure of this]
This grid is so smooth, so pretty, so polished. None of this look-at-me low word count baloney (which only a few can pull off well). It's a 72-word delight with nary a clunker in sight. One thing: I think GARBED is a clunker, and I don't know why it wasn't GARRET. "A garret is a habitable attic or small and often dismal or cramped living space at the top of a house. In the days before lifts (elevators) this was the least prestigious position in a building, and often had sloping ceilings." I lived in a garret apartment once. Being 6'3" ... it was pretty comical. Anyway, GARBED shmarbed. Other than that, though, there's just the occasional wee bit of crosswordese. Mostly what you get are glorious long answers and solid, shiny mid-range answers. Really nice work. I don't think GO FOR THE JUGULAR (3D: Attack viciously) and THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (12D: Approachable, unglamorous sort) pair well (!!) but taken individually, they are fantastic. Huge props also to REFUSENIK (17A: Order-flouting protester). I just watched a beatnik-themed Roger Corman movie called "Bucket of Blood." Well, that's it for -nik news. Good night.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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