One of founders of Westworld / THU 12-22-16 / International prize first awarded to Stephen Hawking in 1979 / Competitor of Sapporo / Competitor of eBay / Moon of Saturn that's French woman's name / Prepare for framing again / Region in western Germany
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Constructor: Mark MacLachlan
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: (AL)UMINUM / SIDING (45A: With 42-Down, home construction material ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) — You have to supply "AL"s to front of every Across answer that touches the west "side" of puzzle and the back of every Across answer that touches east "side" of puzzle
Word of the Day: Captain KIDD (44A: Pirate captain mentioned in Poe's "The Gold-Bug") —
Captain William Kidd (c. 22 January 1645 – 23 May 1701) was a Scottish sailor who was tried and executed for piracy after returning from a voyage to the Indian Ocean. Some modern historians deem his piratical reputation unjust, as there is evidence that Kidd acted only as a privateer. Kidd's fame springs largely from the sensational circumstances of his questioning before the English Parliament and the ensuing trial. His actual depredations on the high seas, whether piratical or not, were both less destructive and less lucrative than those of many other contemporary pirates and privateers. (wikipedia)
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RUHR (2D: Region in western Germany). Also had ELLE for 13A: Women's beauty magazine ((AL)LURE). Only way I got into that NW corner at all was backwards, from the back end of (AL)OHA SHIRTS. Had -ASHIRTS and even though ALOHA SHIRTS remain a concept I have never heard of outside crosswords (I just call them "Hawaiian shirts"), I figured ALOHA was right and maybe the "AL" just went outside. The "H" gave me RUHR and all the Acrosses made sense (with the "AL") from there. After escaping from that corner, the rest of the puzzle wasn't that hard; in fact, the edges got a Lot easier. Only a few difficulty issues. Trouble with DO A DE(AL) (icky, ugly phrase) crossing REMAT (ugh). Also, I had real trouble getting from [Punk] to LOUSY (is that usage still current?). Further, the ARNOLD clue mean absolutely nothing to me (26D: One of the founders of Westworld, on HBO's "Westworld"). That clue is current, but also *hyper*-exclusionary. Maybe it was supposed to be a speed bump for people who would be speeding along after figuring out the theme.
It's a somewhat cute theme idea, though once you pick it up, there's really not a lot to it. Plus, the placement of the revealer is incredibly inelegant. It's split, and the second part runs Down ... I don't know. Seems pretty ugly. UMINUM and SIDING are both 6, you'd think they could've been brought into some kind of symmetrical relationship to each other when you were building the grid initially. So, lots of "AL"s ... including a pretty nifty front-and-back "AL" with the central answer. ALE-SELLERS seems pretty weak to me, as a stand-alone phrase (40A: Taverns and such), but that and DO A DE(AL) were the only things that made me grimace. Everything else was fairly solid. Sturdy. Adequate Thursday fare.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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