Former New York archbishop / TUE 9-1-15 / Madrid's Sofia Museum / Phrase over movie poster / Like clothing customized from raw fabric / Like name Leningrad

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Constructor: Michael Torch

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Vowel sound progression —last syllables go through 5 vowel sounds, from long A sound (allegedly) to long U sound

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: Cardinal Edward M. EGAN (53D: Former New York archbishop) —
Edward Michael Egan (April 2, 1932 – March 5, 2015) was an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Bridgeport from 1988 to 2000, and as Archbishop of New York from 2000 to 2009. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 2001. (wikipedia)
• • •

These puzzle continue to skew old, staid, and safe. This concept is fine—sound progression is a time-tested theme. I've seen many of these before. This one seems reasonably original.Well, there's one problem. Kind of a biggie: uh, that river? It's not pronounced SAYn.  It's more SENN. So, short e, not long a. But maybe it's some Americanism I don't know about. Even so, both RIVER SEINE and CUT AND SEWN both feel like stretches to me. What other SEINE is there? The SANDWICH SEINE? The DIVE BAR SEINE? I get that there is a convention (an olde one) of saying things like "The River Nile"—maybe it's a poetic convention? But it feels stilted. CUT AND SEWN, on the other hand, just doesn't stand alone well, though perhaps this is some inside baseball (or inside tailoring) term that I just don't know. Possible. Anyway, themewise, we move through the long vowel sounds in that last syllable. That's all. Fill is a bit cleaner than yesterday, but still ruthlessly uncontemporary, as is the cluing. Again, this puzzle could've come straight out of '80s, '70s, '60s, no problem. I knew it was not going to be my cup of tea with the first answer I put in the grid:

Is that an *inherently* bad answer? Well, no. But at 1-Across, I knew. I've done enough of these. I knew. It was a harbinger. A telling sign of what the puzzle's cultural center of gravity would be. I feel like the NYT has just decided that making inoffensive, familiar fare for Boomers and their parents is the way they're gonna go. FALA-lalala, HAHA ECRU. This is mightily disappointing, as well as mighty confusing. But maybe as a business model, this makes great sense. For now.

[The only thing that came up when I searched ["LORD GIVE ME A SIGN"] was this song. Literally all hits on the first page related to this song]

Here's an epic puzzle tribute to the late Merl Reagle, by non-prolific crossword artisan Kevin Der. It's got several layers, and is really beautiful, in more ways than one. Check it out.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Allen whose #3 was retired by 76ers / MON 8-31-15 / Heroine of Purim

Monday, August 31, 2015

Constructor: Michael Dewey

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: diving stuff, I guess — three idioms related to diving

Theme answers:
  • DIVE IN HEAD FIRST (17A: Attack an endeavor vigorously)
  • TAKE THE PLUNGE (37A: Get hitched)
  • GO OFF THE DEEP END (58A: Lose one's mind)
Word of the Day: Allen IVERSON (20A: Allen whose #3 was retired by the 76ers) —
Allen Ezail Iverson (born June 7, 1975) is an American retired professional basketball player who played for four different teams (Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, and Memphis Grizzlies) during 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played both the shooting guard and point guard positions. Iverson was an eleven-time NBA All-Star, won the All-Star game MVP award in 2001 and 2005, and was the NBA's Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2001. (wikipedia)
• • •

There's nothing here. There are only three themers, they barely hold together, the fill is from ... well not MEDIEVAL times, but olde tymes for sure. It's a mystery how something this ordinary and unplayful and unambitious is being run in the "greatest puzzle on earth" or whatever it's calling itself this week. The whole thing today is thin to the point of transparency. Pointless. Filler. I don't think there's even anything to say about this puzzle. I asked for help on Twitter and one of my Followers said "I guess the public pool is closing for the winter and the constructor is really sad about it?" Sure. Why not? Who knows? The longer answers are fine, so there's that. But yeesh. It took all my will to go on after I hit this bit, ten seconds in:

A HOER and his OLEOS are soon parted. I need a drink. Good day.

Hey, if you want to remember greatness, listen to me talk about Merl Reagle on the radio. Segment's about 20 min. long, and starts right at the top of the show, around the 1:20 mark.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


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