Ancient New Mexican / SAT 4-1-17 / Milieu of FX series Americans / Noted father or son singer / Construction staples
Saturday, April 1, 2017
Constructor: Howard Barkin
Relative difficulty: N/A (not comparable to other Saturdays)
- MI/CH/IG/AN (1A: One of the Great Lakes)
- TH/IN/MI/NT (29A: Popular cookie)
- CO/NT/RA/RY (45A: In opposition)
- HE/LS/IN/KI (64A: Scandinavian capital)
The Ancestral Puebloans were an ancient Native American culture that spanned the present-day Four Corners region of the United States, comprising southeastern Utah, northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado. The Ancestral Puebloans are believed to have developed, at least in part, from the Oshara Tradition, who developed from the Picosa culture. [...] In contemporary times, the people and their archaeological culture were referred to as Anasazi for historical purposes. The Navajo, who were not their descendants, called them by this term. Reflecting historic traditions, the term was used to mean "ancient enemies". Contemporary Puebloans do not want this term used. (emph. mine) (wikipedia)
• • •
GUESS AGAIN" (17A: "Don't give up") and "NO-NOS" (31A: Taking things for granted on April Fools' Day and others) made me, indeed, want to give up; c. it had had the normal 78 words instead of a ridiculous 80, WTF? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me 80 times, why do fools fall in love, fools in love, what a fool believes ... won't get fooled again.
It was hard not to resent this puzzle right off the bat, with its obvious ERIE fake at 1A: One of the Great Lakes. I say "obvious" because it's Saturday, and no Saturday ever handed you a 1-Across that easy in your life. If you're a constant solver like me, you immediately made a squinty / side-eye face at the puzzle, and then tentatively put ERIE in the grid while Fully Expecting it to be Wrong. Soon afterward, that corner was a total bust and I moved on, surprised to find that other parts of the grid had answers that appeared to be "normal" (I weirdly got started at SETTLE / SOL (34A: Not wait for Mr. Right, say / 26D: Fifth in a group of eight), and that's when I saw NONOS and realized what horrible day it was). I first suspected a two-letter-per-square gimmick when I worked my way over to RAIME_, which had just the one square left despite clearly needing an "NT" for completion. Later, back in the NW, IGLESIAS seemed like it had to be right (3D: Noted father-or-son singer). And then finally the [Vase style] dropped and I could see what was going on. Once you get the gimmick, the puzzle isn't hard at all. Wednesday, maybe easy Thursday-level. I don't understand why GINORMOUS is in the middle of this grid (35A: Huuuuuuuuge). Theme position, non-theme answer. Just another wobbly thing about this baby. Again, I like the 2x4 concept fine. Just ... well, see the first paragraph; I explained it all there.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. Whoa, here's a recent, *really* good version of this theme by Matt Gaffney.
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]