Balbo right-hand man to Mussolini / FRI 12-16-16 / Postprandial handouts / Ho Slumdog Millionaire song / Scandalous '80s initials / Server of pink champagne on ice in song
Friday, December 16, 2016
Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith and George Barany
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: ELVIN BISHOP (25D: "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" hitmaker of 1976) —
Elvin Richard Bishop (born October 21, 1942) is an American blues and rock music singer, guitarist, band leader and songwriter. He was an original member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Elvin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2016. (wikipedia)
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SPECIAL MESSAGE for Solvers in Syndication (for the week of January 15-January 22, 2017)
Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905
Now on to the puzzle!
YEOH is right. Actually, I'm pronouncing that "yeow" in my head, which is undoubtedly wrong. Still, my point stands, which is this one was rough—not in a tough way, but in an ouchy way. The top and bottom parts, despite being (apparently) far less demanding to fill well, are somehow filled 4x worse than the quadstack area (which itself isn't nearly as interesting as most recent stacks from Mr. Ashwood-Smith). I have no idea what's happening up top and below. Boatloads of subpar-to-bad-fill, inexplicable Scrabble-f*cking with "X"s, crosswordese galore incl. ADAIR, ORR, ODEON, NISAN, and the inexplicable revival of TOSSPOTS. And yet the only real groany stuff in the middle section is ORARE and HEA. Baffling. Since the quadstack itself isn't scintillating today, its basic solidity does not do nearly enough to undo the top/bottom garbagefest. Shout-out to HAD A HAND IN and COPACETIC, which are pleasant diversions. And shout-out to ELVIN BISHOP (25D: "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" hitmaker of 1976), whose name I couldn't remember, but whose song I sure do:
The NYT has to stop this gratuitous use of the near-future President's family, and the ALT-right in general, in its puzzles. OBAMA (and MALIA) appeared a lot because his letter pattern is so grid-friendly. 60% vowels, terminal A—both useful features. And you can clue OBAMA only one way. Nowhere else to go. ERIC, however, has a near-infinity of other clues ... and yet you go to this smug fascist halfwit ... twice in one week!? I'm in no way saying the puzzle has a rightward tilt (that's absurd, just as absurd as the opposite claim). I'm saying the incoming administration is repugnant on every level and casual references to them (and their Nazi, sorry, ALT-right supporters) in crossword puzzles normalizes them. It's the most normalizing thing ever, actually. The banal neutrality of a crossword clue. Fuck all that. All of it. Also, I happen to know that in this case, the ERIC clue was an editorial decision, and one that did Not sit well with at least one of the constructors. I'd be furious too if someone rubbed that shit on my puzzle. Even if you're trying to draw some vague connection to Mussolini's right-hand man there at 45D: ___ Balbo, right-hand man to Mussolini (ITALO) ... no.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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