Onward in Italy / SUN 9-18-16 / Reef-dwelling snapper / Sage swamp-dweller of film / Start of legalese paragraph / Handy take-along / Guy into hip-hop
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Constructor: Jeremy Newton
Relative difficulty: Medium
- PUSH-UP BRA / B-LISTER PACK (32A: Troupe of lesser-known actors?)
- UH-OH / PHOENIX A-Z (24A: Actor Joaquin's complete bio?)
- THE PO-PO / G-RATED CHEESE (44A: Schmaltz in kids' films?)
- FREE WI-FI / AMERICAN GOT HI-C (65A: An airline now serves a Minute Maid beverage?)
- B-BOY / CHICKEN CO-OPS (87A: Some apartments for scaredy-cats?)
- TO-DOS / MOVING A-SIDE (100A: Record half that stirs emotions?)
- HA-HA / LO-CAL HERO (109A: Sandwich for a dieter?)
Redfish is a common name for several species of fish. It is most commonly applied to certain deep-sea rockfish in the genus Sebastes, or the reef dwelling snappers in the genus Lutjanus. It is also applied to the slimeheads or roughies (family Trachichthyidae), and the alfonsinos (Berycidae). (wikipedia) (my emphasis)
• • •
LO-CAL HERO, G-RATED CHEESE, and MOVING A-SIDE), and then some ... well, some are AMERICAN GOT HI-C, which is as absurd as they get. Something about its having a phrasing similar to "America's Got Talent" really seals the deal for me. This puzzle is proof that the Sunday puzzle doesn't have to be overly complicated, difficult, or fussy to work. You can have relatively standard 7-answer wackiness and pull it off with aplomb. Also, with a few exceptions, this grid is fairly clean and lively. Not a lot of wincing. TO YOU ISMS is kind of wincey, and, you know, there's EEN and TOPED and ESS, but it's all so minor, especially in a grid this theme-dense and enjoyable.
Got the theme—or the idea of the dash-square, anyway—early, very early, with PUSH-UP BRA. Took me a little while longer to figure out what the hell was going on with the wacky-dash Acrosses. I did not get, for far too long, that the Acrosses were real, viable answers if you remove the dash. So I was looking at B-LIST ... and then B-LISTER ... and not really understanding what had to come next. Also, seeing THE PO-PO was *really* hard. Easy to see where the wacky Acrosses are, not so easy to see where the dash-having Downs are. So 18D: Cops, in slang were THE -O---. All I could think of was THE FUZZ. Had to get one or more of those P's before I had that D'oh! moment where you remember the theme after having let it temporarily slip from your mind. STEEL GRAYS is a truly painful plural, but it's made up for, at least partially, by its symmetrical counterpart, CROP CIRCLE. Well, not the answer so much (which is fine), but the clue: 74D: Work of extraterrestrials? —not! No one says "not" like that anymore (not for 20 years), so that was a bit awkward, but I love the light-hearted vibe there. Also, I love anything that mocks magical thinking / conspiracy-theory mind-set, which is destroying civilization.
Hey, NJ residents, there is a crossword tournament in your state very soon and you should check it out. It is part of the Collingswood Book Festival, and it is being hosted by Washington Post crossword writer/editor Evan Birnholz (puzzles will be upcoming NYTs). Here's the flyer (click on it if you want to embiggen it).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]
P.S. Peter Gordon made a Fireball puzzle with a very similar theme a few years back, but today's is fundamentally different and more ambitious in important ways. Go see for yourself.