Orbiting info relayer / TUE 8-2-16 / French mathematician Blaise / Part of FNMA / Pro bono spots briefly / Martha's Vineyard alternative
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Constructor: Paula Gamache
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (for a *Tuesday*)
- COLLARLESS (17A: What the beat cop didn't want to be?)
- RUTHLESS (21A: What the 1920s Yankees didn't want to be?)
- ARTLESS (35A: What the museum curator didn't want to be?)
- BASELESS (50A: What the G.I. didn't want to be?)
- MOTIONLESS (54A: What the trial attorney didn't want to be?)
- HELPLESS (3D: What the mansion owner didn't want to be?)
- SEAMLESS (36D: What the coal company didn't want to be?)
[You do realize, of course, that the theme answer possibilities here are almost literally endless. ENDLESS, I say!]
Word of the Day: PIERO di Cosimo (7D: Painter ___ di Cosimo) —
Piero di Cosimo (2 January 1462 – 12 April 1522), also known as Piero di Lorenzo, was a Florentine painter of the Italian Renaissance. // He is most famous for the mythological and allegorical subjects he painted in the late Quattrocento; he is said to have abandoned these to return to religious subjects under the influence of Savonarola, the preacher who exercised a huge sway in Florence in the 1490s, and had a similar effect on Botticelli. The High Renaissance style of the new century had little influence on him, and he retained the straightforward realism of his figures, which combines with an often whimsical treatment of his subjects to create the distinctive mood of his works. Vasari has many stories of his eccentricity, and the mythological subjects have an individual and quirky fascination. (wikipedia)
• • •ASPIRE-ation in this puzzle, ugh. "Help" = "servants in your 'mansion'"? "THE CAPE"? (where you summer when you're not in your ... mansion?) PAREE? (your cutesy name for that place you like to brag you've been to a lot, making a great ECLAT at the many FESTS you're invited to, no doubt; that is, when you aren't touring all the wonderful museums, seeing the various Monets and Corots and PIEROs, etc.). I can't relate to this puzzle at all. I'm sure COLLARLESS means something in this puzzle's world (maybe you keep your COLLARLESS ... things next to your ALINEs?), but honestly I'd have to GUESS AT it. This whole puzzle—theme and fill—is unimaginative, dated, FUSTY, and froofy, which is probably not a word, but I'm standing by it.
The puzzle was much harder than the typical Tuesday (a few seconds more and I'd've called this "Challenging"), and that *despite* having so many giveaway -LESSes. The difficulty was partly in the cluing of the themers (no way I could get to HELP from "mansion," almost no way I could get to COLLAR from "beat cop," SEAM from "coal company," etc.) and partly in the bizarro fill like IN HELL (?) and AT LUNCH (!?). Then you've got a solid bank—4-wide—of people's names in the SW. I wouldn't care at all about the difficulty if the payoff were worth it, but it's not even close. As for my own personal faceplants (nobody's fault but mine), I went with FETES over FESTS (25D: Fun gatherings) and CELT over PICT (10A: Briton of old). I also had no idea what was going on in the (by far) ugliest clue/answer pairing of the day: 23D: Part of F.N.M.A.: Abbr. (MTGE). I mean, just read that over. Again. And again. It's essentially a cat on a keyboard—lots of letters, only two actual words. Junktastic.
I'm so grateful to the brilliant Matt Gaffney for taking over last week (and to Annabel for her usual First-Monday sparkle). I hear Shortz showed up in the Comments again (and again, predictably, when he published a terrible puzzle and got told so publicly). Sounds like fun. I wouldn't know. I didn't do a single puzzle last week, and didn't look at the blog once. It was glorious. But ... I am glad to be back. Had lots of great indie puzzles waiting for me in my Inbox, and, as always, I still have hope that the NYT will right the ship. The good days are still very good. It's just that I have to suffer through too many of These Days to get them. Dum spiro, spero!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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