Agave drink / THU 6-9-16 / Shrubby wasteland / 1920s screen star Naldi / Large but not often vocal voting bloc / Publications for by aficionados / Modern Japanese martial art
Thursday, June 9, 2016
Constructor: Damon Gulczynski
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: SILENT — circles spell "SILENT," with each letter in SILENT being itself a silent letter (in the Across answer). SILENT can precede two other words in puzzle: MAJORITY (49A: With the circled letters, large but not often vocal voting bloc) and PARTNERS (21A: With the circled letters, investors not involved in the management of their businesses)
Word of the Day: TORTONI (43A: Trattoria dessert) —
nounnoun: tortoni; plural noun: tortonis
- an Italian ice cream made with eggs and cream, typically served in a small cup and topped with chopped almonds or crumbled macaroons. (google)
• • •
No Seconds for Me, Thanks") and it was so good that I was left stunned that the NYT couldn't / wouldn't / hasn't produced a Thursday-type puzzle that good in so so so long. Weird that Jeff practically works for the NYT (writes a very-much-authorized blog about their puzzles) but didn't give his best work to them. But Jeff's puzzle aside, the AVXC just destroys the NYT on a regular basis. Week in. Week out. That shouldn't be. The "best puzzle in the world" shouldn't be getting consistently schooled by an indie outlet. But here we are. None of this, of course, is the fault of this puzzle, which is actually solid and clever. But the AVXC this week really is something else. The *other* thing that made me not love this puzzle so much is the very concept of the SILENT MAJORITY, which I associate with scary white bigotry (check out the signs at the Trump rallies, for instance). It's creepy. At first, I thought that was the only SILENT thing in the puzzle, so my enthusiasm just crashed. Then I saw there were also PARTNERS, *and* that the letters in "SILENT" were themselves silent (in the Acrosses), and I liked the puzzle much better.
Despise the cutesy syntax in the clue for AISLES (17A: Pair of big jets?). Big jets have a pair of these ... is what the clue means. Torturous. But most other clues and answers were acceptable, if far too easy. Only trouble spots (besides AISLES) were the Italian dessert crossing (GELATI is kind of a yuck plural, but I knew it—TORTONI, I didn't know, and have never seen ever); LIE IDLE, which I had as the much more common SIT IDLE (28A: Go unused); and ... I think that's it. I needed a cross or two to get the NON- in NONBASIC. "Alkaline" I know. NONBASIC isn't as familiar to me. But all else in the puzzle was a cinch, and the theme made the puzzle even cinchier. I walked into MAJORITY and then just filled in all the remaining SILENT circles from there. With SILENT in place, PARTNERS = cake.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. if you want to see a variation of today's theme done really brilliantly (by Erik Agard and Amy Reynaldo), check out this Fireball crossword from last year. (h/t B.E.Q.)
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