Political columnist Matt / SUN 10-23-16 / Competitor of Sapporo Kirin / Early British actress Nell / Target customer of Yelp / Title fictional character who sprang from his Platonic conception of himself
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Constructor: Jeff Chen and Ellen Leuschner
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
- NO SPRING CHICKEN (22A: Over the 27-Across [HILL])
- FACING A DEADLINE (34A: Under the 29-Across [GUN])
- BEYOND BELIEF (57A: Over the 62-Across [TOP])
- ON THE DOWN LOW (76A: Under the 67-Across [TABLE])
- IN SEVENTH HEAVEN (94A: Over the 104-Across [MOON])
- AT THE LAST MINUTE (112A: Under the 105-Across [WIRE])
Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), also known as dibutylhydroxytoluene, is a lipophilic organic compound, chemically a derivative of phenol, that is useful for its antioxidant properties. European and U.S. regulations allow small amounts to be used as a food additive. In addition to this use, BHT is widely used to prevent oxidation in fluids (e.g. fuel, oil) and other materials where free radicals must be controlled. (wikipedia)
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DAD-BLASTED, in that it feels like it came from an era when people might use that term unironically. Or from an era when people wore OPERA COATS, if that's more evocative for you. Plus the fill ... again, totally NYT-normal, but that's not saying much any more. HAH HEEHEE TNUTS OSSA etc. It's all a bit by-the-book and backward-looking. There's a few truly bad things like BOR. ONEI ARAIL DANL EDEL etc., but mostly it's just a deluge of dull and defensible. I spent most of my day alternating between previewing a forthcoming crossword project from Erik Agard and solving the alcohol-themed puzzles in Brendan Emmett Quigley and Francis Heaney's new collection "Drunk Crosswords." It is hard to come back to the NYT after that. Erik and Brendan and Francis are exacting constructors whose work is always current and funny and who put a premium on solver entertainment. Despite the fact that the collections in question are actually quite different from one another (Erik's very hard and conceptually mind-bending, Brendan and Francis's somewhat easier and more conventional), they are both a joy to dip into because of the care, craft, and ambition they evince—things the NYT has too often been lacking. There is nothing really Bad about today's puzzle. But it is backward-looking. It is designed to pass time. To satisfy long-established tastes. There is obviously a reasonably-sized market for such Comfort Puzzles. But the NYT wants to be "the best" (in fact, claims it is "the best"), and you can't be the best by just resting on your laurels and playing the oldies.
My main memory of this puzzle is falling, repeatedly, into pretty deadly traps. I had GO-- at 41D: Silly billy and thought "Silly goat, billy goat ... GOAT!" But no. It's GOOF. Worse (in terms of face-falling) was 95D: Small swigs. I had -IPS so, of course, SIPS. SIPS. Gotta be SIPS. But no. NIPS. Lena says there are no small swigs. Swigs are big. Small swigs are oxymorons. Here is some evidence for her rightness.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. less than two days left to back Patrick Blindauer's "Piece of Cake Crosswords" project, which I wrote about a couple weeks back. Here's the premise:
"Piece of Cake Crosswords is a proposed yearlong series of easy-but-fun crossword puzzles, one puzzle per week. These will be daily-sized (15×15) crosswords that have fun themes with no sneaky tricks. The grids will be filled with FAMILIAR words, phrases, and names, and they'll be delivered directly to your inbox every Monday morning. Finally: something to look forward to on Monday morning! "
Good easy puzzles are hard to come by. Good for pros and novices. Get on board.
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