Anchovy sand eel / SAT 1-14-17 / Topper for Chaplin's Tramp / Obviously Catholic person in snarky rhetorical question / Bond seen in Wayne's World / Tools descended from alpenstocks / Game with official called stickman / Mock wedding setting in Shakespeare
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Constructor: Andrew Kingsley
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: SPRAT (19A: Anchovy or sand eel) —
nounnoun: sprat; plural noun: sprats
- a small marine fish of the herring family, widely caught for food and fish products.
- any of a number of small fishes that resemble the true sprats, e.g., the sand eel. (google)
• • •SPECIAL MESSAGE for the week of January 8-January 15, 2017
Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905
Now on to the puzzle!
CERT OPCIT TOATEE) are lower than yesterday's lows. RETROCHIC is probably the nicest thing in the grid (nicely positioned at 1-Across—where marquee long answers belong on Fri and Sat) (1A: Back in). HARE-BRAINED also has charm (22D: Cockamamie). The rest is quite bland—not terrible, just bland. Longer answers like WEED-EATER (?) and WEEKENDER and GRASS STAINS are largely there to provide lots of convenient letters. OPEN SINCE is terrible as a stand-alone answer. And everything else is ... everything else. Adequate, but not sizzling, not funny, not entertaining. I've seen BROMANCE too many times now to credit it with novelty (38D: Bond seen in "Wayne's World"). It's had its moment, and should probably be shelved for a few years, at least. Except for the thrill that comes from crushing a Saturday, I can't imagine this puzzle providing solvers much in the way of enjoyment. It will do ... but "it will do" should not be NYT-standard.
The only difficulty today came in just getting off the ground, i.e. in the NW (where I start every puzzle). RED (4D: Like the lower half of Haiti's flag) and ONES were gimmes (how many three-letter flag colors are there? And [Georges] seems very clearly a plural and very clearly related to money, a la Benjamins and occasionally, though suspectly, Abes). But SPRAT (19A: Anchovy or sand eel) and CERT. (9D: Warrant, e.g.: Abbr.) and especially CRAPS (as clued) (6D: Game with an official called a stickman) were beyond me, so I had to hack around to get those Acrosses in the NW to come into view. But after the NW was sorted, nothing else in the puzzle put up a fight. Having HARE made BRAINED obvious. Having STAINS made GRASS obvious. THE POPE off the TH-, TOATEE off the TO-, and then all the SE Acrosses from there. TORRID pace, without even speeding. Just over 6 min. without trying. Not all easy puzzles bring joy, unfortunately. There's just not enough that's original or bold or risky or ambitious or artful here. It's not that it STANK, it's that more brio or elan or one of those words was NEEDED. How does a puzzle with TORRID SEX and RAW MEAT manage to be tepid? Weird.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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