Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Constructor: Paula Gamache
Relative difficulty: Medium, maybe slightly north (I had software issues)
- "WHAT'S UP, DOC?" (17A: "How's it goin', Washington?") (shouldn't there be yet another "?" at the end of this clue? You know, Wackiness Rules?)
- HOPPING M.D. (26A: E.R. worker who sprained an ankle?) (probably not a great idea putting a two-letter initialism in your clue, thus highlighting a perfectly viable theme answer option you didn't use)
- TYRANNOSAURUS RX (37A: Prescription for a prehistoric carnivore?)
- ZIP YOUR LP (48A: "Keep that record in its case!"?)
- CHEW THE CD (57A: Mistake a shiny disc for a cookie?)
Sinhala: කොළඹ Kolamba, pronounced [ˈkəlɐmbɞ]; Tamil: கொழும்பு) is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka. According to the Brookings Institution, Colombo metropolitan area has a population of 5.6 million, and 752,993 in the city proper. It is the financial centre of the island and a popular tourist destination. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the legislative capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital since Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is within the urban area of, and a satellite city of, Colombo. It is also the administrative capital of Western Province, Sri Lanka and the district capital of Colombo District. Colombo is a busy and vibrant place with a mixture of modern life and colonial buildings and ruins. It was the legislative capital of Sri Lanka until 1982. // Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago. It was made the capital of the island when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British Empire in 1815, and its status as capital was retained when the nation became independent in 1948. In 1978, when administrative functions were moved to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Colombo was designated as the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. (wikipedia)
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Weird coincidence: I was thinking about TYRANNOSAURUS RX as a form of wordplay literally just yesterday, for reasons now lost to time. I mean, it's got my "name" in it, so it's not *that* surprising, but I have no idea what occasioned the thought. It certainly didn't seem that theme-worthy, but here we are. There's a certain cleverness to this, but also a certain thinness. You could keep going. MISS AMERICAN P.E. is a perfect 15. DON'T TASE ME, B.O. works less well, but you get the idea. BELOW P.R., CHEWING G.M., COUSIN I.T.? KEYSTONE K.P.? BOBBY O.R.? YOU'RE THE T.P.? A little brainstorming could take you all kinds of places.
[You're Mickey Mouse]
A really good constructor would've seen this theme as a great opportunity to make a meta puzzle. Instead of having an arbitrary set of answers, why not have a set where the "missing" letters in each answer end up spelling out ... something. I mean, this set isn't even a straight vowel progression (where the missing letter is first A, then E, then I...) (though, to its minor credit, the "missing" letter is a different vowel every time). Also, "chew the cud" is not a thing. You chew the fat. A cow chews *its* cud. Anyway, bad form to clunk your final themer. I did appreciate INDOOR CAT and AS WE SPEAK, though. Those are nice answers.
This was challenging in two respects. First, the themers were often tough to come up up with from those clues. The first one, in particular, seems to refer to George Washington, not the place Washington. You greet people that way, not places. So even though "What's up, Doc?" is a classic phrase, I had "WHAT'S UP..." and no idea what came next. That took me right into the one section that was challenging in a second respect: odd / arcane. DA CAPO into COLOMBO into NOBU and through MILLIBARS and OLD SOUL. That last one is clued in a way that is totally unfamiliar to me. [One who leads a quiet, measured life]? That sounds like a hermit. I think of "wise beyond one's years" as being the definition, whether one parties hard or not. Ugh. Bad. COLOMBO crossing NOBU was just an example of proper nouns I totally forgot. I know NOBU only from xwords, and even though I've seen it for years ... doesn't stick. Also, HOPPING M.D. (in this same section) was really hard to come up with. I had HELPING ... something at one point, because neither "E.R. worker" nor "sprained an ankle" was telling me much of anything. I think it's a fine clue—it's just a tough clue in the middle of the puzzle's roughest patch.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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