Samsung competitor / MON 8-22-16 / Witches director Nicolas / Like stage after larval / Future atty's hurdle
Monday, August 22, 2016
Constructor: Emily Carroll
Relative difficulty: Monday normal (so, Medium) (2:57)
THEME: TASTE MAKERS (61A: Influential sorts ... or a hint to the starts of 178-, 23-, 39- and 50-Across) — first words of each themer = a taste
- BITTER ENEMY (17A: Archfoe)
- SALTY LANGUAGE (23A: Profanity)
- SWEETHEART DEALS (39A: Golden parachutes, e.g.) ("Sweet" = word part, not word, but that's permissible)
- SOUR PATCH KIDS (50A: Popular movie theater candy)
Word of the Day: ANDREI Sakharov (42A: Peace Nobelist Sakharov) —
Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov (Russian: Андре́й Дми́триевич Са́харов; 21 May 1921 – 14 December 1989) was a Russian nuclear physicist, Soviet dissident, an activist for disarmament, peace and human rights. // He became renowned as the designer of the Soviet Union's Third Idea, a codename for Soviet development of thermonuclear weapons. Sakharov later became an advocate of civil liberties and civil reforms in the Soviet Union, for which he faced state persecution; these efforts earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. The Sakharov Prize, which is awarded annually by the European Parliament for people and organizations dedicated to human rights and freedoms, is named in his honour. (wikipedia)
• • •
Where is UMAMI!? Such a crosswordy word, you'd think you could've snuck it in the grid somewhere.
First-Words theme = right over the plate. Perhaps the most common type of crossword theme. This is neither good nor bad, inherently. But it does mean massive sparkle is required to lift such a puzzle out of the realm of generic. Theme answer today are all winners. Vivid, interesting, lively. All the good adjectives. Fill is something of a disaster, however. Northwest corner—in fact, 1-Across itself—set the tone. Fill never got better after that. Honestly, it never does. It is phenomenally rare that cruddy fill at your starting point (for me, almost always, the NW) proves to be an aberration. The puzzle is what it tells you it is. If you're getting a four-letter partial (?) at 1-A, followed hard by ALBA, AFORE, EELY, and YOO, things are not going to get better. You *will* eventually run into a similar small corner crammed with PUPAL, ARLO, LSAT and ELLA. You're probably see both ELI and ELIA along the way, maybe say 'hey' to Nicolas ROEG. You know, the yooge (that's my shortening of "usual"). Expecting your puzzle to change mid-solve is like expecting your *&%^ boyfriend to change. Not happening.
I tripped hard and repeatedly over 1A: ___ above (better than) (ACUT). 1-Acrosses are important. They don't have to be Gold, but they should not suh-uck. Partials and obscurities and ridiculous abbrevs. or Random Roman Numerals (RRNs) are Right Out. ACUT may as well be IRREG. I enjoyed some of the fill today, especially POP OFF (4A: Run one's mouth), and some of the longer Downs (UP TO SPEED, for instance). I did a dumb thing when, with ALL-ET in the grid, I didn't even look at the clue and wrote in ... an "S" (35A: Completely wrong => ALL WET). Sigh. Terrible, stupid move. But even with the NW corner debacle and the ALLSET misstep, my time came out normal. I don't quite get the "MAKERS" part of the revealer. Don't think it works. Does you tongue make the taste? Or do the tastes "make" themselves known ... in your mouth? Might've gone with BITTER FOES / FIRST TASTE for the symmetrical themer layout there. "First" makes more sense than "Makers" ... unless there's some obvious angle I'm missing, which is always possible.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]