Archenemy of Mattel's He-Man / SUN 11-29-15 / Decepticon's foe in Transformers / Ill-fated seducer in Tess of D'urbervilles / Olshansky first soviet-born NFL player / Little visitor to Slumbrerland in old comics / QB Bobby curse on Detroit Lions / Male lead in Disney's frozen

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Constructor: Alex Vratsanos

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Four-Letter Words" — clues are made up of two of the "four-letter" words in the corners of the grid For Some Reason...

Theme answers:
  • EXPENSE TYPE (over / head)
  • BEYOND THE TIME LIMIT (over / long)
  • WENT TOO FAR (over / shot)
  • RECKLESSLY (head / long)
  • YEARBOOK PHOTOGRAPH (head / shot)
  • NOT A GOOD BET (long / shot) 
Word of the Day: Bobby LAYNE (28D: QB Bobby who purportedly put a curse on the Detroit Lions) —
Robert Lawrence "Bobby" Layne, Sr. (December 19, 1926 – December 1, 1986) was an American football quarterback who played for 15 seasons in the National Football League. He played for the Chicago Bears in 1948, the New York Bulldogs in 1949, the Detroit Lions from 19501958, and the Pittsburgh Steelers from 19581962. He was drafted by the Bears in the first round of the 1948 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Texas. // He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968. His number, 22, has been retired by the University of Texas Longhorns and Detroit Lions. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was one of the least enjoyable Sunday puzzles I've solved in a long time, which is saying A Lot. I've seen Sunday grids that are much worse filled, but I've rarely seen a theme this thin, pointless, and radically unentertaining. What is the pleasure here? Where is the fun? I suppose you can somehow admire the construction (if you are being awfully generous), but did anyone consider the solver here—how it would feel to solve this? Where is the *payoff* for waiting for those stupid "Four-Letter Words"? What was the point? That you could do it? It makes no sense. I got through the whole thing with no idea what was going on, only to find out that I *did* know what was going on and that thing was nothing. So LONG / SHOT can be a clue? So? So can LONG / AFTER? Who. Cares? And the themers? BEYOND THE TIME LIMIT? What is that? That's a clue, not an answer. EXPENSE TYPE? Has God ever invented a duller non-answer than EXPENSE TYPE? No. No She has not.

There were a few nice moments, where I got to see answers I've never (or rarely) seen before like "EVE'S BAYOU" (totally forgot about that movie) (3D: 1997 Samuel L. Jackson film) and AUTOBOT (50A: Decepticon's foe in "Transformers") and SKELETOR! (63D: Archenemy of Mattel's He-Man) But then there was stuff I hadn't seen and didn't really care to see like ... SEA DUCK? (85A: Goldeneye or harlequin) and AGEMATES (?) (8D: Fellow students, generally) and "K"-NARK? (74D: Informer, informally) WTH is that? And then name parts like KONG and FASO and a bunch of OCA-esque crosswordese and blah blah blah ETUI TAW multiple D'OHS. Massive disappointment overall. Nothing more to say. Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Unblinking gazer in Egyptian mythology / SAT 11-28-15 / Language created in 1959 / Official cocktail of New Orleans / agent 86 player / Brand with old slogan just kiss of hops / Vessel whose name meant friendship ironically / Tear quaintly / Cousins of capybaras / Fourth-largest city on Lake Michigan

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Constructor: Ned White

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: GARO Yepremian (55D: 1960s-'80s placekicker Yepremian, who helped the Dolphins win consecutive Super Bowls) —
Garabed Sarkis "Garo" Yepremian (June 2, 1944 – May 15, 2015) was an American football placekicker in the National Football League for the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, during a career that spanned from 1966 to 1981. [...] Yepremian is best known for two feats — one famous, one infamous. In a divisional playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Christmas 1971, he kicked a 37-yard field goal 7 minutes and 40 seconds into double overtime, ending the longest game in NFL history and sending the Dolphins to the AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Colts (which the Dolphins won to go on to Super Bowl VI . //  Despite all of Yepremian's success, many people remember him for an incident in Super Bowl VII in 1973. With his team leading the Washington Redskins 14-0, Yepremian was sent on to the field to kick a field goal with slightly more than two minutes left, which would have put the game out of reach. The field goal attempt was blocked by Bill Brundige, and Yepremian managed to get to the ball before any other player did. Instead of just falling on the ball to preserve the Dolphins' 14-0 lead, he picked it up and frantically attempted to throw a pass. The ball slipped from his hands and went straight up in the air. Yepremian then attempted to bat the ball out of bounds but instead batted it back up in the air, and it went right into the arms of his former Lions teammate, Redskins cornerback Mike Bass, who returned it for a touchdown. The Dolphins managed to hold on to win, 14-7. Yepremian later joked to reporters after the game, "This is the first time the goat of the game is in the winner's locker room." In the 1973 Pro Bowl Yepremian kicked five field goals to lead the AFC to a win, and was voted Most Valuable Player in that game. He was elected to another Pro Bowl after he kicked twenty consecutive field goals without a miss in 1979.

• • •

I really enjoyed this one. It alternated between easy and hard, giving me a nice success/struggle textural contrast. Fill is sparkly and very, very clean. Is it SEXY? That's for you to decide. I won't judge. I had no idea who this GARO guy was, but I did enjoy learning about him, though (see video, above). I don't know how I know SAZERAC (8A: Official cocktail of New Orleans) because I couldn't define it for you, but it's possible I've been in enough bars and hung around enough former bartenders (hey, Lena!) in recent days that the whole big vocabulary of Liquor is just sinking in. I get SAZERAC confused with that New Orleans brand of rice products, SAZERIN? SAZERAN? I'm gonna look it up. . . Oh, criminy, I'm way off. it's ZATARAIN. I see their ads on TV sometimes, and what with the shared "Z" and trisyllabic name, and the whole N.O. connection, you can (maybe?) see where the confusion came from.

TOSSPOT (18A: Juicer) is part of that whole vocabulary of drunkenness that I know only from crosswords. My wife read me a cryptic clue recently, the answer to which was TOSSPOT. I got it fast. It was something like [Drunk defeats drunk in comeback]. Or else it was much better than that. 

Biggest LOL of the day was starting with BRB at 4D: Palindromic bit of textspeak (LOL). Couldn't do much with the NW because of that error, so I settled into the upper middle with KERRY (25A: Clinton's successor) and ORB and RBI. This made my solve oddly symmetrical, as my final squares were in the same central area on the lower half of the grid. From that middle place, I was able to shoot out in both directions, first changing BRB to LOL and moving down the west side and into the very easy SW, then, after getting stuck, coming back up top and shooting up into the NE courtesy of SAZERAC. Eventually, I had the SE corner surrounded, but wasn't sure how I was going to take it down.

Just getting that "Q" in place for TRANQ took work (30D: Downer, for short). I wanted the [Powerful board member] to be CHAIR, so ... TRANC? Mmmm, probably not. TRANK, I've definitely seen. In the end, getting the "U" from RUINOUS (26D: Devastating) made the "Q" in QUEEN seem the likeliest bet. But then, staring at the above grid, I had issues. Could *not* get the NOTE of SEE NOTE (42D: Often-bracketed direction), even after I got to SEE NO-E. I thought I had an error. I started running the alphabet. Now it seems obvious. Weird. Also couldn't pick up the MORE of ANY MORE for a while (44D: These days). AERATOR is a [Faucet accessory]? I did not or else barely knew that. GARO, no hope. Had LOO for LAV at first (60D: John) (not sure why you don't go with [John, abroad] there, thus echoing the IAN clue...). Wanted ACCUSED instead of AVOIDED at 40D: Like pariahs. Thankfully, NBA LOGO was easy (59A: It features the silhouette of hoops legend Jerry West), and, even more thankfully, I do crosswords a lot and so know IBN very well (47D: Arabic name part). That was really the key to finally bringing the puzzle down. Allowed me to get both VIN (46A: Porto, par exemple) and COBOL (50A: Language created in 1959), and then, majestically triumphantly and finally, CHINWAG! Great word to end on (54A: Yak).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


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