TV channel for college sports / MON 3-1-2021 / Laudable Lauder / "And you?" to Caesar / Sweetheart, in Salerno

Monday, March 1, 2021

Constructor: Michael Lieberman

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: World's Fairs — Theme answers were exhibits at the World's Fair. 

Theme answers:
  • SPACE NEEDLE (18A: Seattle, 1962)
  • EIFFEL TOWER (27A: Paris, 1889)
  • FERRIS WHEEL (45A: Chicago, 1893
  • WORLD'S FAIRS (58A: Events for which the answers to the three italicized clues were built)

Word of the Day: EDSEL (33D: '50s Ford flop) —

Edsel is a brand of automobile that was marketed by the Ford Motor Company from the 1958 to the 1960 model years. Deriving its name from Edsel Ford, Edsels were developed in an effort to give Ford a fourth brand to gain additional market share from Chrysler and General Motors. Established as an expansion of the Lincoln-Mercury Division to three brands (re-christened the Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln Division), Edsel shared a price range with Mercury; the division shared its bodies with both Mercury and Ford.

• • •
Happy August Monday! I think we need one of those right now. It's been so snowy and rainy and cold here. Where's the sunshine? 

Breezed right through this one, despite the ESPNU/UTE cross being nigh impossible for me as someone who doesn't like sports unless I'm the one playing 'em. East side had me saying wheeeeeeeee thanks to all the E's. I complained about AXE/AXLE in the crossword discord and was quickly reminded that the words don't actually share a root, which, fair. But they sound so similar! Also, yeah, I had POSTAL for PARCEL too despite sort of knowing in my heart that it wasn't gonna be right. 

This was a really cute theme for a Monday! Learned a little World's Fair trivia. It's wild to me that the Space Needle was completed as recently as 1962. Does anyone remember reading about it in the paper, or maybe even going to see it in person soon after construction? Or ever? I've never been, myself. 

Speaking of the World's Fair, did you know the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair boasted human zoos? Exhibits consisting of people? Yeah

  • EIFFEL TOWER (27A: Paris, 1889)  — Ah, the top of le tour d'Eiffel. That was where I first got to know my high school sweetheart. (We then proceeded to get separated from the rest of our school group and wander around a metro station for two hours trying to find them again before giving up and going back to the hotel. Never did see Notre Dame...)
  • SNAIL (50A: Word before shell or mail) — Do you want to watch a snail eat for four minutes with me? 

  • AXE (61A: Jack Nicholson's weapon in "The Shining") — I can't think of this movie without thinking of my stepfather scaring the living bejeezus out of me by sticking his head through the staircase slats and yelling HEEEEEERE'S JOHNNY! at the top of his lungs while I was watching with a friend. 
  • OSCAR (29D: ____ the Grouch) — This dude loves trash. 

Signed, August Thompson, tired graduate student.

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[Follow August Thompson on Twitter]


Balrog's home in Lord of the Rings / SUN 2-28-21 / Big name in windshield wipers /Site of the Minotaur's labyrinth / Liquor with double-headed eagle logo

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Constructor: Brad Wiegmann

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Crossword Buff" — puns related to nudism

Theme answers:
  • BARELY MANAGING (24A: Leadership style of the nudist club president?)
  • MANY MOONS AGO (41A: When the nudist club was founded?)
  • RAW RECRUITS (56A: New members of the nudist club?)
  • COMIC STRIPS (78A: What happens in the stand-up show at the nudist club?)
  • EXPOSURE TIME (92A: Hours spent by the pool at the nudist club?)
  • FULLY RECOVERED (108A: How people returned from a week at the nudist club?)
  • BOTTOMLESS PIT (4D: Where the nudist club orchestra plays its concerts?)
  • WINNING STREAK (59D: Victory in the annual nudist club 1K?)
Word of the Day: CETUS (78D: Whale constellation) —
Cetus (/ˈstəs/) is a constellation. The Cetus was a sea monster in Greek mythology as both Perseus and Heracles needed to slay, sometimes in English called 'the whale'. Cetus is in the region of the sky that contains other water-related constellations: AquariusPisces and Eridanus. (wikipedia)
• • •

No time for this. The era when tehee'ing about nekkidness puns was something that might warrant a hearty chuckle has long passed, folks. This felt like a theme from times of yore. Not even a smile from me, on any of these. Why is the pit merely BOTTOMLESS if they're a "nudist club orchestra?" That's some pretty half-assed (!) nudism there. Some stuff, like FULLY RECOVERED, only connects to nudism in the most tenuous of ways. The theme is juvenile and corny, and even if I thought it was great conceptually, the clues / answers just don't land. The rest of it is just filler. A grid you might've seen decades ago. Fine, unremarkable. I remain completely baffled that the NYTXW not only doesn't turn out a *killer* Sunday puzzle every week, but can't even put a string of passable efforts together. OK, I'm just noticing that LAR (!?!?!) is an answer, so even my estimation of the fill has gone down now (9D: Choreographer Lubovitch). Wow. LAR. OK. This is the marquee puzzle, the Sunday, the Big Show! Howwwwwww do we end up with a pile of disappointment every week!? 

Almost all the difficulty lay in trying to figure out what the hell the themers were trying to do, which meant over and over again, struggle was followed not by aha but by oof. Now I'm seeing MORIA? What is that? (43D: Balrog's home in "The Lord of the Rings"). Also, who / what is BALROG. I saw all those movies, and found them completely dull and forgettable. "LAR MORIA!" That's the devil's toast—roughly translated, it means "here's to your continued crossword suffering!"

Besides the themers, the only other trouble spot I encountered was the SW, generally. This is almost entirely due to the fact that I forgot CETUS, which ended up being in a weirdly crucial position, in terms of movement through the grid. CETUS and EAST gave me fits, and so my way into the SW felt a bit clogged up. I'd also never heard of RAIN-X (?) (69D: Big name in windshield wipers) or LISA Vanderpump (83D: Vanderpump of Bravo's "Vanderpump Rules"), and couldn't get to AUTO from 99D: Thermostat setting at all—needed every cross. Still, as trouble spots go, these are all pretty minor. The big issue today is that very little of any of this was interesting. I wish the news were better, but it is not. I'd really been feeling that the puzzle in general had been creeping up, quality-wise, this year. But Sunday ... bloody Sunday. I think I've liked one this year. The Paolo Pasco one from 1/3. I'm begging the good constructors, submit Sunday puzzles. Save us. Save me. Thank you. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. The Boswords 2021 Spring Themeless League starts *MONDAY* Mar. 1, 2021. Get a taste of virtual tournament fun and then when this whole pandemic baloney has subsided, you can maybe venture into the wonderful world of 3-dimensional crossword tournaments! Actual physical space! Actual human bodies! What a concept. In the meantime, this League is very popular and people seem to really enjoy it, so give it a go. Here's a blurb from head tournament guy, John Lieb:
Registration for the Boswords 2021 Spring Themeless League is still open! The 9-week event starts on Monday, March 1 and features themeless puzzles -- clued at three levels of difficulty -- from an all-star roster of constructors and edited by Brad Wilber. To register, to view the constructor line-up, and to learn more, go to
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