So-called "Godfather of the Teamsters" / WED 8-4-2021 / 1986 #1 hit for Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald / "Full Metal Jacket" setting, in brief

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Hi everyone, I'm Malaika, filling in (ha!) for Rex today. You might know me from 7xwords or from Boswords or from Crossword Fiend. Reading this blog is what got me started constructing puzzles, so it makes me feel very warm and fuzzy to help out. Anyway! On to the puzzle.

Constructor: BRANDON KOPPY

Relative difficulty: AVERAGE


THEME: FILM SPLICER — Each theme entry is an in-the-language phrase made up of two movie titles

Theme answers:
  • MONSTER | MASH (17A: Classic song that starts "I was working in the lab late one night" [2003, 1970])
  • WALL STREET | CRASH (23A: Start of the Depression [1987, 2004])
  • CONTACT | US (33A: Line at the top or bottom of a website [1997, 2019])
  • RUSH HOUR | TRAFFIC (46A: Commuter's headache [1998, 2000])
  • FILM SPLICER (52A: Editing device suggested by 17-, 23-, 33- and 46-Across?)
Word of the Day: HOFFA (So-called "Godfather of the Teamsters") 
James Riddle Hoffa (born February 14, 1913 – disappeared July 30, 1975, declared dead July 30, 1982) was an American labor union leader who served as the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) from 1957 until 1971.
Hoffa became involved with organized crime from the early years of his Teamsters work, a connection that continued until his disappearance in 1975. He was convicted of jury tampering, attempted bribery, conspiracy, and mail and wire fraud in 1964 in two separate trials. He was imprisoned in 1967 and sentenced to 13 years. In mid-1971, he resigned as president of the union as part of a commutation agreement with US President Richard Nixon and was released later that year, but Hoffa was barred from union activities until 1980. Hoping to regain support and to return to IBT leadership, he unsuccessfully tried to overturn the order. (Wiki)

• • •

This theme was so over my head that I had to ask a friend to explain it to me! I have only heard of two of the eight movies mentioned (Crash, and Us), so nothing made any sense to me. (I know M*A*S*H is a show, but didn't realize it was a movie.) That's not to say that the other movies are not well-known (cursory Googling says they definitely are!), just that this theme was certainly not for me. As a result, it was hard to get excited about it, although it seems to be executed well?? Also, today I learned that "splice" means "to combine" rather than "to split apart."

I pretty consistently plodded through this puzzle, with no major break-throughs (due to not realizing the theme) or major hang-ups, except maybe in the central left, where I've never heard of 
FIFE (had PIPE) and I really struggled parsing CONTACT US. Once I had ????ACTUS, all I could see was "cactus" and was trying to figure out why on Earth a website would have a cactus on it. Beyond being, like, a plant nursery or desert retreat. 

A ton of those seven-letter downs were gimmes for me-- I put in TONE LOC (3D: "Funky Cold Medina" rapper)AP TESTS (12D: Hurdles for many honors students, in brief), and BASMATI (37d: Type of rice) with no crosses. But ultimately this played as a sort of lack-luster themeless for me.

Lots of First Lady content, with FLOTUS (58A: Michelle Obama or Jill Biden, informally) being cross-referenced by ELEANOR (26D: 58-Across between Lou and Bess). That abbreviation always reminds me of my favorite (jk, I have one thousand favorites) Veep scene, where Jonah refers to the president's dog as FDOTUS. I can't find a clip of that, so here's this instead. (Very NSWF, language-wise.)

Bullets:
  • BEE (39A: Busy body?) — This felt super weird to me. I guess because you say "busy as a bee" and a bee.... has a body? Just felt off. 
  • BARNARD (11D: Alma mater for Martha Stewart and Joan Rivers) — I didn't know that either of them went here, but this was a pretty easy get for me. I just finished watching Hacks on HBO, which was inspired by Joan Rivers, and it was lovely.
  • ADWARS (61A: Mac-versus-PC and others) — Do people say this? Or is this just a thing we pretend people say so that we can fill our crosswords more easily?
Signed, Malaika "7x7 overlord" Handa

P.S. The New York Times announced that they are going to stop providing .puz files. I'm really excited for this because I think it means they'll be running more creative puzzles that the constraints of a .puz file do not allow. But other people are disappointed. Before you share your disappointment, here are some things to think about:
  • Are there any other mainstream publications that provide .puz files for their puzzles?
  • What percent of Times solvers do you think use .puz files to solve?
  • Will I still have access to multiple different ways to solve the puzzle?
  • Am I sharing my disappointment in a way that is constructive, or a way that is neutral, or a way that is entitled / condescending / hateful?
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Put an edge on / TUES 8-3-21 / Butler in a romance / Website designer's code / Clears up a jumble

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Hi, everyone, it’s Clare for the first Tuesday of the month! I had a good excuse for missing last Tuesday — I was taking the bar exam. But I’m now done with that endless studying, and fingers crossed that I passed! Since I finished, I’ve just basked in watching any and all of the Olympics that I can. I was able to watch a lot of the swimming, which was quite fun. (Go, Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky!). And, now, the track is incredibly interesting. Whatever you do, make sure to tune in to watch the women’s 400m hurdles final tonight — two Americans (Dalilah Muhammad and Sydney McLaughlin) who have been trading wins and world records are up against each other, so the race should be absolutely epic. 

Anywho, I’ll try to focus on this write-up instead of the track — we’ll see how that goes!

Constructor:
TRIP PAYNE

Relative difficulty: MEDIUM

THEME: CORNER THE MARKET — Each corner of the puzzle contains the words “the market” scrambled

Theme answers:
  • KAT; ETH; MRE 
  • wHET; hARK; iMET 
  • HTMl; AREd; KETo 
  • HAT; MRT; EKE
Word of the Day: HAMAN (11D: Villain in the book of Esther) —
​​Haman (also known as Haman the Agagite or Haman the evil) is the main antagonist in the Book of Esther, who according to the Hebrew Bible was a vizier in the Persian empire under King Ahasuerus, commonly identified as Xerxes I but traditionally equated with Artaxerxes I or Artaxerxes II. As his epithet Agagite indicates, Haman was a descendant of Agag, the king of the Amalekites. Some commentators interpret this descent to be symbolic, due to his similar personality. (Wiki)
• • •
I don’t have a ton to say about the puzzle today — maybe it’s because I was simultaneously doing the puzzle and watching the Olympics or maybe the puzzle was just particularly meh. I did really like the theme revealer of CORNER THE MARKET — it’s fun and clever and feels fresh. But, the result of the theme was some really quite ugly corners. And, I, at least, found the corners to be the hardest parts of the puzzle — especially the northeast and southwest corners. 

I didn’t know WHIP IT (10D: 1980 Devo hit) or HAMAN (11D), which put me in trouble in the northeast corner. On top of that, I tried to put “deck” instead of HARK for 16A: Start of a carol title, so I really did have some trouble up there. Then, with the southwest corner, I found DETRE (50D: Raison __) and A RED (65A: Run __ light) to be particularly ugly. 

Some of the longer answers were my favorite part of the puzzle. SERAPHIM (9D: Attendants at a heavenly throne) is unusual — and fun. I also enjoyed seeing WESTEROS in the puzzle (though, like every other Game of Thrones fan, do not get me started talking about what a disaster season 8 of that show was!). And, having GRATIS above REBATE was a nice touch. Looking back, I also noticed a bit of a religious theme with HAMAN, HARK, SERAPHIM, and EASTER

Other than that, this sort of just felt like a standard Tuesday to me!

Misc.:
  • Watching some of these events in the Olympics, I’m convinced these athletes are where the phrase ABS (6D) of steel came from. They are very fit people! 
  • Is SLOVEN (48D: Unkempt person) a real word? Google tells me it is, but I think of “slovenly” as the right form of the term. 
  • I remember TKTS (13D: Times square sign for B'way fans) on Broadway very well from when my sister and I were absolutely desperate to see Hamilton and waited in line for a long time but, sadly, did not get to see the musical (until, of course, it was released on Disney+ and was the greatest thing ever).
Hope everyone is staying safe and has a great month of August! 

Signed, Clare Carroll, who's finally done with the bar exam

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