Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Constructor: Samuel A. Donaldson
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
- FIRST IMPRESSION (17A: The new dentist wanted to make a good ...)
- BRIDGE LOAN (24A: The dentist helped the patient afford the visit with a ...)
- BRUSH PILES (45A: The dentist sorted all the bristled instruments into ...)
- YOU KNOW THE DRILL (58A: When it was time for the filling, the dentist asked for, well, ...)
The lek (Albanian: Leku Shqiptar; plural lekë) (sign: L; code: ALL) is the official currency of Albania. It is subdivided into 100 qindarka (singular qindarkë), although qindarka are no longer issued. (wikipedia)
• • •
OH GEE, one of these. Actually, it's fine. Cornball, but fine as cornball goes. Seems like you coulda squeezed a Sunday-sized puzzle out of this theme, what with all the punnable dentistry terms you left on the table—CROWN, RINSE, OPEN, CAPS, GUM, etc. But maybe it's best you didn't. Unless your puns kill, there's no reason to go on. There's only one pun that kills today—and it must've been the inspiration for the whole thing—and that's YOU KNOW, THE DRILL. I think it would've been funnier clued as some kind of phrase of introduction at a dental tool cocktail party. Or something the dentist says in explaining one of the drill's many wacky escapades. But this way, with the comma, is fine too. I honestly never saw the clue. At that point I knew the theme, saw THE DRILL at the end, and inferred (correctly) the rest. I also never resaw (!) the first theme clue between the time I first looked at it and the time I filled it in. Totally forgot it by that point. Speaking of resaw, RESLIDE. That was fun. RESLIDE is the RECARVE of 2017 (I think RECARVE was the RECARVE of, like, 2009—you'll have to ask Caleb Madison, who perpetrated RECARVE as a teenager). Anyway, RESLIDE is so stupid I'm not even mad.
RUBLE (25D: Belarussian money) and SABRE (30D: Buffalo pro) both give me the yips when I try to write their last two letters. Part of my brain wants RUBEL and SABER (the latter being, of course, a valid word). Today I nailed RUBLE but flubbed SABRE. Weird that they're symmetrical... anyway, moving on. I have begun keeping running lists for 2017. One is "Great ? Clues" and the other is "Let's Not Do That Ever Again" aka "The Most Wanted (Out Of My Crossword) List." Not sure there are any "great" ? clues today, though [Bee ball?] for SWARM sure stumped me. I was in the middle of typing "I don't understand the pun involved there..." when I realized it's B-BALL, as in, short for "basketball." My main mistake there was imagining that the bees were dancing. I do have my first word for the "Let's Not ..." list, though, and it's LEK. Kill it with a shovel and then use that shovel to dig a hole and bury it (alongside LEU, if possible) (LEK = Albanian, LEU = Romanian, good luck remembering the distinction). Minor foreign currencies are menaces to crossword society and I'm putting them on notice. The rest of the puzzle was mostly easy, but not remembering the LEK/LEU distinction made seeing GO KAPUT hard (I wrote in GO UNDER, briefly), and that insane clue on (ugh) MUS wasn't doing me any favors (37D: M M M) so the center was probably the worst trouble spot of the day. Still, not too much trouble. Otherwise, fill is average to below average, with far too much crosswordese clogging up the corners (DYAN AONE ANKA NESS and YUKS in a single corner? There's gotta be a better way...).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]