Puckered fabric / SUN 6-16-19 / Co-owner of Paddy's pub on It's always sunny in philadelphia / Onetime US soccer prodigy Freddy / Weapon with distinctive hum / Thomas Aquinas others philosophically / Classic play with Delphic oracle

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (10:59)

THEME: "Not In So Many Words" (Unthemed) — well, not theme, but they want you to know that the word count is low for some reason ...

Word of the Day: PLISSÉ (44D: Puckered fabric) —
  1. 1. 
    (of fabric) treated to give a permanent puckered or crinkled effect.
    "a plissé prom dress"
  1. 1. 
    material treated so as to be permanently puckered or crinkled. (google)
• • •

My god this puzzle is annoying. And coy. Oh, it's themeless ("Unthemed") but oh, tee hee, 1-Across is FATHER'S DAY, which is today! ... but no, yeah, it is Actually themeless and there is nothing else FATHER'S DAY about this. This is called punting. We got nothing good in the hopper, we can't pull off a Sunday theme to save our lives lately, so let's try to make the word count as low as possible (near as I can tell, this ties the record for low word count for a Sunday at 124 ... the puzzle it ties was published New Year's Eve 1961, and it's A Doozy) (in that it has "words" like FOSSA, GISHU, ARRHA, TEMENI, KEZIA and FISCS). Look, 21x21 is just too big for a themeless. Not enough constraint. 15x15 works well for themelesses—you can make it superhard and it's still small enough not to take forever, and the constraint (in terms of size and word count, which must be 72 or lower) forces a certain amount of creativity and ingenuity. A 21x21 canvas is just too big for a themeless. I can't really be impressed that you could pull off *anything* in a 21x21 grid. What's stopping you? Who even thinks in terms of word count on a Sunday. Mostly this is just word sprawl. Very little of it is bad. Some of it is fun. But it's mainly just blah blah blah. And then ADIT and TISCH crossing PLISSÉ, bleecccccch. THE SLOTS and THE BIT. Do Something Interesting. Just slapping FATHER'S DAY at 1-Across isn't it.

I did not have a bad time solving this. I merely had A Time. Not enough for the Marquee Puzzle, though. Not nearly enough. Sundays are the hardest day of the week to pull off. Themed puzzles are hard in general, and to get one to work, and not become tiresome, across such a great amount of space, is truly special. Which is why y'all should go back and admire Agard's "Stoner Movies" instead of whinging that it was about drugs. Eric is (almost) single-handedly keeping the NYTXW from being a full-on embarrassment of bygoneness and white-guy mediocrity. Sincerely, they're lucky he lets them publish his stuff.

I don't care about this grid enough to comment much.

Didn't know:
  • PALOMA (39A: Cocktail of tequila and grapefruit soda)—rough clue. I think Picasso is the only PALOMA I know
  • PLISSÉ (44D: Puckered fabric)—oof. OK. New words are cool, but crossing ADIT and TISCH, maybe less than cool
  • DENNIS—(83D: Co-owner of Paddy's Pub on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia")may as well have been clued [Man's name] or [Name]. Uniconic.
Did know:
  • ADITthe most Maleskan of all the crosswordese. In the early '90s, I actually used to sign off my emails to my fellow NYT-solving friend with pieces of 4-letter crosswordese. ADIT was a favorite. "Favorite."
Knew and actually liked:
  • TOTORO—a lovely movie
OK bye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. FACEVEIL? As opposed to what, ASSVEIL? Come on. (80D: Muslim niqab, e.g.)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Penalty box in hockey lingo / SAT 6-15-19 / Rocky IV rival who makes reappearance in Creed II / Time-consuming environmental procedures / Tissue affliction common during the Civil War / Program on Billy Blanks DVD / Sweet treat since 1924 / City near Tesla Gigafactor 1 / Voice-activated smart speaker introduced in 2016 / Brain wave amplifying device in X Men

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Constructor: Ryan McCarty

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (8:45)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: FLOUR BOMB (47A: Protest item that leaves a powdery mess) —
Flour bomb is a fragile container (e.g. a paper bag) filled with flour for the purpose to be thrown at a person or object to cause an inconvenient messy stain. 
Flour bombs are a classic protest method, along with the throwing of eggs and overripe tomatoes. [...] 
Flour bombs saw notable use during the controversial 1981 Springbok Tour at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. In an attempt to disrupt the match, flour bombs, along with flares, leaflets and a parachute-support banner reading "Biko" were dropped into Eden Park from a light plane flying overhead. A New Zealand All Blacks player was felled by one of the flour bombs. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not sure what to say about this one. It seems well made—that is quite a stack through the middle there, and there's very little of the cringey crosswordese that normally gets on my nerves. But I didn't enjoy myself at all. Some of that was because there were so many longer answers that I just didn't know, or barely knew. Then there was exceedingly dull cluing, which was often just trivia, or else blunt and vague. And then SICKROOMS was just ... morbid. Never had that feeling (the feeling I had multiple times yesterday) of "ooh, good one." Again, this all seems structurally sound. I just didn't dig its personality. Also, I wasn't sure if the puzzle was trying to make some kind of theme happen in the center/NW area, with BLUE and GREEN and RED all huddled together there. A secret shout-out to Namibia? The Gambia? New Caledonia? Azerbaijan??? I apologize if there is a theme here somewhere, but I don't apologize too much, because if a theme falls in the forest and there's no one there to hear it ... well, something like that.

[from the album "Blue"]

LOL GOOGLEHOME is a thing?? How are they losing the name recognition battle that badly? They're Google, but apparently Google is the Bing of voice-activated assistants, yikes. Had GOO---HOME and still had no idea what that one was about. GREEN TAPE, what? Just no idea. None. Had that one as a plural (with "S" on the end) for a minute. SINBIN??? Yuck, since when did hockey fans take up sing-songy moralization. This is easily the stupidest sports term I (now) know and y'all should be ashamed to keep using it. FLOURBOMB... apparently it's a "classic" protest method. I'm sure I've seen it before, but I had no idea it had a name and had FLOUR and still no idea. Also had the [City near Tesla Gigafactory 1] as BRNO, so that SE corner was a tad rough. Remembered DRAGO at 17A: "Rocky IV" rival who makes a reappearance in "Creed II" but not whether that was his first or last name so after I plunked down AMASSED (3D: Stocked up) I put down DRAGO ... and then ...  (brain: "Malfoy?"). There was somewhat more delight to be had in the middle of the grid, which is really the best thing going on here today.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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