Czech-made auto that's part of Volkswagen Group / TUE 1-3-16 / Pope said to have died from heart attack while in bed with his mistress / Chain of children's stores founded by Kaufman brothers hence its name
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Constructor: Michael Shteyman
Relative difficulty: Challenging (mid-4s)
- ATLANTIC TIME (20A: Puerto Rico clock setting)
- ATHLETIC TRAINER (37A: Fitness pro)
- ATOMIC THEORY (54A: Basis of particle physics)
Škoda Auto (Czech pronunciation: [ˈʃkoda] ( listen)), more commonly known as Škoda, is a Czech automobile manufacturer founded in 1895 as Laurin & Klement. It is headquartered in Mladá Boleslav, Czech Republic. // In 1925 Laurin & Klement was acquired by Škoda Works which itself became state owned during the communist regime. After 1991 it was gradually privatized and in 2000 Škoda became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. // Initially, the company was meant to serve the role of the VW Group’s entry brand. Over time, however, the Škoda brand has shifted progressively more upmarket, with most models overlapping with their Volkswagen counterparts on price and features, while eclipsing them on space. Its total global sales reached 1.06 million cars in 2015 and had risen annually by 1.8 percent, profit had risen by 6,5%. In 2015, a corporate strategy was launched to produce an all-electric car by 2020 or 2021 with a range of over 500 kilometres (310 mi), 15-minute charging time, and a cost below comparative combustion-engine vehicles. (wikipedia)
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FLAT, if you will) were it not for the flaming dumpster of a revealer. No one has ever written ATANDT that way. And this will surprise you—Not Even In Crosswords. At least according to the cruciverb database, this stylization is Completely ... well, I guess you could say "original," but that word has certain positive connotations I wish not to convey here. Placement of revealer is awkward, but not 1/10 as awkward as writing ATANDT that way. But we're just getting started. The fill—esp. for a Tuesday—is ridiculous. Both inappropriate to the day And atrocious. LORAIN? LEOVII? APTNO!? That's only the truly repulsive; that's not even starting in on the copious amounts of over-familiar dreck you might find clogging any old (and I mean old) puzzle, e.g. ELHI, PALO, OSS, HAHA, and on and on and on. Where am I on my bad-count, I lost track. Three? Who cares, there's more. The Scrabble-f***ing is an embarrassment: naked, repeated, and entirely deleterious. That impulse to crowd the grid with high-value Scrabble tiles always, Always leads to disaster. Tell me that "Q" in the NW corner (god it hurts even to look at it) is worth it, for the QTR / UAE / ABA run we have to endure to get it. You can't. You can't tell me it's worth it unless you enjoy lying. And then ... nice "Z" I guess, but it gets us a bleeping ZIMA, which leads me to another issue: what year is it? One where LOCAL CALL is a thing that makes sense? Where you drink your ZIMA and play with your ENIAC and shop at KB TOYS (Which Don't Exist Anymore) (where's a "bygone" when you need one!?) (52A: Chain of children's stores founded by the Kaufman brothers (hence its name)). Yikes.
Still more trouble: [Fitness pro] is way, way, way too vague a clue for ATHLETIC TRAINER, esp. on a Tuesday. Lots of non-Tuesdayness (incl. some not-bad (and tough) "?" clues like [Dead-tired?] for FLAT, which I would've loved to encounter ... on, say, a Thursday). And finally there's SKODA. [cough] [cough] [wind blows through trees] [a raven croaks in the distance]. For me—and I won't be alone here—this is not an answer so much as a random assortment of letters. How do I know I won't be alone here? Well, this "Czech-made auto"—like ATANDT—is not in the cruciverb database. At all. So, it's a Tuesday, and we get a brand that has literally never appeared in a major crossword before. And not just a brand, but a brand that, per wikipedia, can be found "Worldwide" (ooh, that's promising) ... "except North America" (o... k). Now, I know this doesn't apply to all of you, but I happen to be solving this puzzle in North America, and the NYT is based in North America. As a solver I have to know many things that have nothing to do with North America, and that's as it should be. But this is a ridiculous ask. On any day of the week, but especially on a Tuesday. This is not cleverness, or inventiveness. This is poor fill. Just poor. The constructor is not a novice. He's a veteran. I have no idea how a puzzle breaks down this badly. Or why it's allowed to. Happy ongoing new year.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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