Kinkajou's kin / FRI 11-21-14 / Country Girl memoirist O'Brien / Source of delicacy tomalley / Late legend in countdowns / Title woman of 1977 Neil Diamond hit / Novelist Shreve / State bordering Poland

Friday, November 21, 2014

Constructor: Kevin Christian

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: LOCAVORE (57A: Farmers' market frequenter, maybe) —
locavore is a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market. One common - but not universal - definition of "local" food is food grown within 100 miles of its point of purchase or consumption. The locavore movement in the United States and elsewhere was spawned as a result of interest in sustainability and eco-consciousness becoming more prevalent. (wikipedia)
• • •

Trying to pinpoint why this one was slightly dissatisfying, despite the presence of gems like BUTTDIAL and LOCAVORE. I think, with a word count this high (the themeless max of 72), there should simply be more gems, and there should certainly be a greater overall level of fill quality. The puzzle is by no means poor, but it felt adequate rather than carefully crafted. Every corner in a puzzle like this should feature at least one thing that is new and great. Nothing in that NW corner sufficiently offsets the crosswordesiest golfer and the world's worst [Footnote abbr.]. The words leading out of that section, NO CLASS and GNEISS, both made me slump a little in sadness (when I eventually got them, which was Not right away). PANED is a bit icky and I'll never understand the choice of "F" in the 31 square when so many other letters would've put you in a clearly preferable non-FAYS situation. (Wait … I'm being told this puzzle is a pangram … and … whaddya know, there's our only "F" ... [audible sigh] …). ET SEQ makes so much "sense" … now.

I can't even continue writing about a mediocre puzzle when I am now aware that the mediocrity is clearly and directly tied to the stupid pangram stunt. Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Slit made with saw / THU 11-20-14 / Sea urchin at sushi bar / First story to feature ZORRO 1919 / Lacoste competitor / Historical buffalo hunter / Descriptor for olde England / Bygone Chevy subcompact

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Medium (could lean toward "Challenging" for some, given the not-famous story title and not-famous "real name" that take up so much real estate)

THEME: ZORRO (44D: Subject of this puzzle) — contains "first story to feature ZORRO" ("THE CURSE OF / CAPISTRANO") and the "real name of ZORRO" (DON DIEGO / DE LA VEGA). Then there's the note:

So connect the "Z"s and get a much bigger "Z," it seems.

Word of the Day: Skink (54A: Skink, e.g. => LIZARD) —
Any of numerous smooth shiny lizards of the family Scincidae, having a cylindrical body and small orrudimentary legs and living chiefly in temperate and tropical regions.

[Latin scincus, from Greek skinks.] (
• • •

This is solid work. It's not the most accessible puzzle, in that the bulk of the theme answers—in fact, all the theme answers besides ZORRO—are bits of trivia that no one but a pulp aficionado is likely to know. I would not call myself a pulp aficionado, but I did read Dynamite's recent run of "ZORRO" comics, so the details here are at least vaguely familiar to me. I didn't know Z's name of his first story off the top of my head, but with some coaxing from crosses, I got both of them quickly enough. I'm not much for drawing on my answer grid, but that connect-the-Zs trick here is neatly done. I'm most impressed that the multitude of "Z"s, each of which must be in a precise position, did not turn the fill to goo. I probably should've made KERF my Word of the Day, because what the hell … but aside from a minor clunk here and there, this grid held up very well, considering the strictures.

I finished in 6+ minutes, which is pretty normal for Thursday, but I feel like the first minute was one big free fall. I didn't have a damn thing in the grid after my first pass at the NW. Weirdly, the first thing I up in the grid was DAP (5A: Skip over water, as stones), whose definition here I know only from crosswords. Then there was INKAINKA was ugly, but INKA was easy. But I still didn't make much headway up there. I ended up poking into a bunch of nooks an crannies (first the west, then the NE…) before I ever put any of the bigger answers to gather. LEONINE (28D: Having a sense of pride?) + OOZED (36A: Displayed conspicuously) ended up (finally) bringing a lot of separate sections of the puzzle together. I normally solve in a somewhat more connected, methodical fashion, but I couldn't do that today, for whatever reason. Somehow this didn't affect my time much. Decent theme, cleanish fill, nifty little trick. Totally acceptable Thursday.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


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