Jazz vocalist Carmen / TUE 10-4-16 / Nintendo character who hatches from egg / Website that investigates urban legends / Dance move added to OED in 2015 / Is romancer old-style / Rebound on pool table / Oldest of three stooges
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Constructor: Sam Buchbinder
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: LUNCH BOXES (60A: Backpack containers where you can find the ends of 17-, 23-, 38- and 47-Across) — last words of themers are things you'd find in LUNCH BOXES:
- IN THE DRINK (17A: Overboard, to a sailor)
- MEMORY CHIPS (23A: Data storage devices)
- KNUCKLE SANDWICH (38A: Punch in the mouth, slangily)
- SMART COOKIE (47A: Bright sort)
Eugene Cyril Smith III (born October 10, 1990), better known as Geno Smith, is an American football quarterback for the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played college football at West Virginia. (wikipedia)
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MILK there at 23-Down? [Skim or 2%]—*that* shoulda been in the lunch box. DRINK is too generic and bland. HARVEY MILK—there's your non-beverage milk. You don't even have to change any of the other themers for symmetry. Just swap out HARVEY MILK for IN THE DRINK and your lunch is instantly improved, or at least more ... evocative of lunch. A kid's lunch, anyway. I wanted the "boxes" part of LUNCH BOXES to be important, to matter to the theme somehow, but no. A crossword revealer that contains "boxes" but doesn't exploit the boxiness in any way is a let-down. SIGH. Also, I'm not sure about the clue on LUNCH BOXES. What does "Backpack containers" mean. Containers that might be found in a backpack?? That is some awkward phrasing. You wouldn't call pencils "backpack writers." Not enough thought has gone into this puzzle at either the conceptual or the editorial level.
There are some nice moments, though. Love TACO TRUCKS (28D: Street vendors selling Mexican food) (wish the clue had exploited the recent "... on every corner" paranoia / fantasy that was all over social media lately). KACEY Musgraves is cool too, and SNOPES is timely in that I find myself using it all the time this election season (46A: Website that investigates urban legends). KNUCKLE SANDWICH is a worthy central grid-spanner, for sure. But too much of the fill is creaky, and the theme, besides being of a hyper-old-fashioned type, just isn't executed as cleanly, let alone dazzlingly, as it could've been.
- 59A: With 2-Down, star of 2003's "Hulk" (ERIC / BANA) — an important name in crosswords, but awkwardly cross-referenced here, with the last name appearing first. His name isn't exciting / interesting enough to justify subjecting us to this [See 59-Across] baloney.
- 26D: Jets quarterback Smith (GENO) — true enough, though [Jets backup quarterback Smith] would be more accurate (at the moment)
- 57D: Do 10 crosswords in a row, say, with "out" (NERD) — a thousand times no. First, I wince at all insidery "aren't we a clever lot" self-referential clues of this type. Second, doing 10 crosswords in a row isn't "nerding out" (whatever that is). It's training. "Nerding out" is watching 10 "Deep Space Nine" episodes in a row, or making 10 edits to the "Tardis" wikipedia page. Or so I imagine.
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