Half of Wall Street firm since 1882 / THU 1-5-16 / Tesfaye aka R&B's The Weeknd / Scallop-edged cracker / William physician who championed bedside training
Thursday, January 5, 2017
Constructor: Ed Sessa
Relative difficulty: Medium (leaning toward Medium-Challenging for me)
- YOU DON'T KNOW [JACK] POT (17A: *Put-down to an ignorant person / 19A: *"Bingo!")
- [JACK] O'LANTERN (24A: *Headless horseman's prop)
- BOOT [JACK] BLACK [JACK] PINE (38A: *Tool for removing heavy footwear / 39A: *Comic actor / *Card game ... or a hint to the answers to the starred clues / 40A: *Slender tree of northern North America)
- MONTEREY [JACK] (49A: *Quesadilla cheese)
- CAR [JACK] OF ALL TRADES (58A: *Trunk item / 59A: *Versatile worker)
Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer. In late 2010, Tesfaye anonymously uploaded several songs to YouTube under the name "The Weeknd". He released three nine-track mixtapes throughout 2011: House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence, which were critically acclaimed. The following year, he released a compilation album Trilogy, thirty tracks consisting of the remastered mixtapes and three additional songs. It was released under Republic Records and his own label XO. // In 2013, he released his debut studio album Kiss Land, which was supported by the singles "Kiss Land" and "Live For". His second album, Beauty Behind the Madness, which became his first number one album on the US Billboard 200, included the top-three single "Earned It" and produced the number-one singles "The Hills" and "Can't Feel My Face". The songs have simultaneously held the top three spots on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart, making him the first artist in history to achieve this. The Weeknd has won two Grammy Awards and has been nominated for an Academy Award. In September 2016, the release of the third album, Starboy was announced, along with the release of the single "Starboy" which subsequently reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. (wikipedia)
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SACHS meant jack to me (at 1A!) (1A: Half of a Wall Street firm since 1882). I was all "uh ... Standard & Poors ... Dunn & Bradstreet ... Brooks & Dunn ... Smith & Wesson ... dunno." What is a BOOT Jack? Don't know. What is a Jack PINE? Don't know. That damn OSLER guy again? (50D: William ___, physician who championed bedside training) Couldn't call him up. Then there's the hilarious clue on ABEL, which I *know* the constructor doesn't know because I don't know who knows that. I bet 50+% of y'all have never heard of The Weeknd at all, and I damn sure know you didn't know his real first name. I own one of his albums and I didn't know his real name. That clue is hilarious. How bad do you want a new ABEL clue? Apparently *that* bad. Come on, man. THE WEEKND, his fame name, hasn't even been in the puzzle before, and you're gonna ask for his birth name? Please. (I actually don't hate the clue—it's just I'd lay dollars to donuts that it's the most not-known thing in the grid by several country miles).
So there was just stuff I didn't know. My problem. Then there's the puzzle's (multiple) problems. The craftsmanship is just ... lacking. There's no real purpose to this. JACK here, JACK there. I couldn't see any rhyme or reason as to where the JACK went in relation to the answer (front or back). Plain old "BLACK" doesn't do much except tell me I'm supposed to imagine JACK is in (?) the black square preceding or following the answer, but since JACK doesn't work in the cross, the effect isn't so much "ooh, it's in the BLACK square" as it is "ooh, it's ... not ... there." It's mildly cool that the central answer can have JACK on either end. And it's neat that on three Across rows, the JACK squares do double-duty (following and preceding a themer). But then that neatness is undone by the O'LANTERN and MONTEREY rows, where that *doesn't* happen. Sigh. Longer Downs are solid. Beyond that, problems. I mean, problems. The fill is ghastly. Crusty and dated and partial as [bleeeeep]! WILEE OSOLE ACUT? Brutal. UIE (esp. with that spelling), always painful (37A: It may be pulled on a road). REA EDY MMI AMOI APOLO SOYA (again!) ASA CUER ... stand-alone VEY! Oy, indeed. Clean up! Clean this damn grid up. Throwing in one (ridiculous) reference to a contemporary music star is not nearly enough to modernize or otherwise spiff this thing up.
Some things about the grid were easy, but others? Clue on TILER was so vague that I had -ILER and wasn't sure what letter went there (6A: One working on hands and knees). I thought the work was being done *to* the hands and knees. To me a jack (the one used to elevate one's car) is a jack. There is a jack in my car. "CARjack" is what happens when someone points a gun at you and then takes your car. Clue on CODE felt off (32D: "Longtime companion" for "same-sex partner," once). I know there's a movie called "Longtime Companion," but all I could think was "euphemism." CODE seems like something requiring real specialized / insider knowledge to understand.
Bonus material—two snapshots of my solving process. First, the NW:
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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