Bygone Broadway critic Walter / THU 9-8-16 / Biblical region from which name of language is derived / Football player's application / Man's name that's latin for honey / cry from veronese lover
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Constructor: Joanne Sullivan
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: black squares — five of them; all answers leading into or flowing from them pick up the word "black"...
- COAL BLACK, BLACKFEET, BLACKSHIRT
- JACK BLACK, BLACKTOP, LAMPBLACK, "BLACK VELVET"
- "MEET JOE BLACK," BLACK PANTHER, "PAINT IT BLACK," BLACKMAILERS
- EYE BLACK, BLACK BEAN, THE NEW BLACK, BLACK ARTS
- SHOEBLACK, IN THE BLACK, BLACKLIST
Word of the Day: ARAM (26D: Biblical region from which the name of a language is derived) —
- ancient Syria —its Hebrew name (M-W)
• • •
I've seen this exact theme done before, and I've seen the type multiple times. There is nothing special or outstanding about this incarnation. It's adequate. It's been done. "The Best Crossword in the World"'s marquee puzzle (Thursday!) should be better than this, or at least more original than this. This theme is pretty dense, I'll give it that. But once you get the gimmick (and I got it early—not tough), then there's not much to do but find the BLACK stuff. Shrug. Something like this needs value added. Some raison d'etre. There's nothing clever happening here. It's like a constructing exercise rather than an artfully-conceived crossword. I don't have much to say about it. There it is.
THE NEW BLACK is a partial, so I don't care how much you like that show, that answer is not good. I had most trouble with BLACKMAILERS, mostly because it went through ARAM (?) and MCCRAE (?) (22D: "In Flanders Fields" poet John). The "E" in ENV ended up being oddly hard too (46A: It might have a street name: Abbr.). But that was the one sticking point in an otherwise phenomenally easy puzzle. Knowing the theme helps you fill in huge chunks of this thing with very little effort. I did have SKIRTS instead of SKATES for a bit (3D: Carefully avoids, with "around")—that likely cost me valuable seconds, but no other problems of note arose. 1-Across gimme *again* signaled superfast solve. Gonna go watch tennis now. Just watched Serena Williams beat Simona HALEP (great player, great crossword potential). Now to see how DEL POTRO (whose name also has great grid possibilities) is faring against Stan WAWRINKA (use only in case of themeless).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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