Friday, October 14, 2016
Constructor: Natan Last
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: GARI (23A: Wasabi go with in sushi meals) —
Gari (ガリ?) is a type of tsukemono (pickled vegetables). It is sweet, thinly sliced young ginger that has been marinated in a solution of sugar and vinegar. Young ginger is generally preferred for gari because of its tender flesh and natural sweetness. Gari is often served and eaten after sushi, and is sometimes called sushi ginger. (Wikipedia)
• • •Lena here, doing a Friday fill-in for Rex. I was happy to see Natan's name at the top of this puzzle-- I first saw his puzzles in BuzzFeed when they were putting out daily puzzles and, in line with the tone of the venue, they were always full of newer slang and pop culture references. Since BuzzFeed used to be a good place for encouraging younger crossword constructors to get their puzzles out and published, it's nice to see former regular contributors now strutting their stuff in the NYTimes.
Compared to those in the typical BuzzFeed puzzles, the clues here are HEMINGWAYESQUE (15D: Terse and unadorned, as writing). Nice one. And remember, you do not need to be a writer to be described as HEMINGWAYESQUE; simply surround yourself with cats and cocktails. It me:
I'm never a fan of seeing IDIOT (9D: Birdbrain) in puzzles, and the echo-clue for next door DAFT (8D: Birdbrained) doesn't appeal to me either. IDIOT is something I hear coming out of angry peoples' mouths-- it's not a word I throw around lightly. Sometimes something like that seems edgy during the constructing process but by the time you write the clue it might start to seem rude, tone-wise.
Echo-clues that force you to directly compare two answers are never as fun as finding your own connections between words in a puzzle, like TRANSGENDER (31A: Not identifying with one's assigned sex) sitting right over AINT I A WOMAN (34A: 1851 Sojourner Truth speech). The clue on TRANSGENDER is nicely straight-forward-- no trying to make cutesy cleverness out of something that is already so frequently misrepresented/misunderstood. Also you should take a minute to read or reread Sojourner's speech. That was 1851. This is 2016. DO THE MATH.
Overall a worthy Friday challenge, well-balanced and not skewed too "young" or "old." It was a chatty puzzle-- I enjoyed all the conversational answers/clues: YES YOU, OR NOT, I DID SO, NO FAIR!
Oh, and how can I forget EREADER (11D: Something you can control the volume with?). There is a lot of Crossword Twitter activity surrounding the wanton addition of "E-" to things-- and if I wasn't already running late in posting this I would cherry pick the threads and post tweets, but just trust me. In this case I was convinced that I was supposed to be thinking about hair volume so EREADER didn't cross my mind. And what a groan I let out when it was the last or second to last thing I filled in! Boo to E-things, but yay for tricky clues. But I will say that I don't think of myself as "controlling" the book when using my EREADER-- maybe someone accidentally EPURCHASED a "Choose Your Own Adventure" EBOOK.
Have a nice weekend!
Signed, Lena Webb, Court Jester of CrossWorld
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