Dolphinfish informally / SAT 2-24-18 / Pennsylvania city where Delaware Lehigh rivers meet / Irvin early cartoonist designer for New Yorker / Italian sculptor Lorenzo Bernini / Hollande's successor

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Constructor: John Guzzetta

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: none

Word of the Day: REA Irvin (16A: ___ Irvin, early cartoonist designer for The New Yorker) —
Rea Irvin (August 26, 1881—May 28, 1972) was an American graphic artist. Although never formally credited as such, he served de facto as the first art editor of The New Yorker. He created the Eustace Tilley cover portrait and the New Yorkertypeface. He first drew Tilley for the cover of the magazine's first issue on February 21, 1925. Tilley appeared annually on the magazine's cover every February until 1994. As one commentator has written, "a truly modern bon vivant, Irvin (1881–1972) was also a keen appreciator of the century of his birth. His high regard for both the careful artistry of the past and the gleam of the modern metropolis shines from the very first issue of the magazine..." (wikipedia)
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Hello and good morning. Surprisingly good puzzle today. I wasn't so sure about it as I was exiting, or failing to exit, the NW corner, where HORS and AVGAS (whatever that is) had me wondering what I was wandering, or failing to wander, into. Turned out my failure to move down into the center of the grid from up top was due to a little (big) misplay there at 8D: Picker-upper (TONIC). Had the TON-, wrote in ... TONGS! Apt! But wrong. But then, when I couldn't get either of those little Acrosses, I pulled TONGS for TONIC, got PACS, threw down SLOGANEER, and was off: ASIN PIGLET AIRPLAY EDDY IDEAS PLODDER, in case you want to know the exact order of progression. My affection for the puzzle picked up when I picked up SLIPPERY SLOPE—"Alright, the puzzle came to play!" I thought. Sometimes a themeless will just ... lie there. All competent and sturdy and sad. But SLIPPERY SLOPE / PAROLE HEARING / BINGE-WATCHING (!) was a delightfully creamy discovery at the center of puzzle snack. Nice modern clue on MACRON, up the east coast HEADLONG into the SAD SONG. At this point I'm having so much fun that I don't even scowl at the ETALI? pothole. AESTHETIC drops down easily, MAHI slides over, and I clean up the SE in Monday time—I remembered RIAA today, for possibly the first time ever! And AMATI and RAVI just sort of walked over and said, "Hey ... yeah, we don't know why we're here, all out in the open on a Saturday either. But go ahead, take us." And I did. That corner required only my most BASIC SKILLS. Total PRE-K stuff.


Only a couple tricky areas once I jumped down from the NNW. Blanked on SNOPES (a site I know well) and only half-knew COLLET (as with ROSECUT diamonds yesterday, my jewelry knowledge, she is not so good). Those were easy enough problems to overcome. The real bear down there was the basic word SCIENCE, which had such an odd clue on it (32D: Prestigious academic journal). This "very general category as clue for something specific in that category" is a SLIPPERY SLOPE. [Food] = SOUP? I mean, it's accurate, but ... I think I'm just saying that "Prestigious" and "academic" doesn't really narrow this down much. Not that I could name a ton of "prestigious academic journals" ... but neither did I know that SCIENCE was one. I guess the puzzle was so easy that underclued weirdness was considered necessary. OK. I also had a strange amount of trouble with RESHIPS, mostly because I thought 21D: Forwards was referring to a direction ... on a ship. Like, MIDSHIPS? Is that an area on a ship? Fore, aft, ABAFT, ABEAM ... I was looking for something in that category. UPSHIPS? But "Forwards" was a verb, which I realized only after (finally) getting the "R" from REDS (21A: Section of a Crayola box). So it's just ... RESHIPS. My nautical fantasies, dashed.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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Phoenician goddess of fertility / FRI 2-23-18 / Vehicle used by police to catch thieves / Cream in cobalt blue jar / In classic form of diamond / Co-star of Office who played Ryan Howard

Friday, February 23, 2018

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: none

Word of the Day: ROSE CUT diamond (15A: In a classic form of diamond) —
Various forms of the rose cut have been in use since the mid-16th century. Like the step cuts, they were derived from older types of cuts. The basic rose cut has a flat base—that is, it lacks a pavilion—and has a crown composed of triangular facets (usually 12 or 24) rising to form a point (there is no table facet) in an arrangement with sixfold rotational symmetry. The so-called double rose cut is a variation that adds six kite facets at the margin of the base. The classic rose cut is circular in outline; non-circular variations on the rose cut include the briolette (oval), Antwerp rose (hexagonal), and double Dutch rose (resembling two rose cuts united back-to-back). Rose-cut diamonds are seldom seen nowadays, except in antique jewelry. Like the older style brilliants and step cuts, there is a growing demand for the purpose of repairing or reproducing antique pieces. (wikipedia)
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I warmed to this puzzle as it went on. At first, it was very DAD PUZZLE (puzz equiv of DAD JOKE), with its ROSE CUT diamonds and NOXZEMA and kinda limp fill like OXIDATE and DNA LABS and BUTNO and the long crosswordese ASTARTE (13D: Phoenician goddess of fertility). But somewhere around the SWAGGER line it found its swagger and once CTHULHU took the BAIT CAR, I was in. Speaking of CTHULHU, a thousand monkeys typing for a thousand years could probably type out that letter combination but I could not, and cannot, and I *know* the Lovecraftian creature in cwestion. Anyway, that whole SW corner, clues and fill and all of it, is just lovely. AMIRITE? Yes, I am. The rest of the puzzle was just fine, but that's the corner that sold me. [Modern screen test] is especially good for CAPTCHA—it's all kinds of deceptive because of the more common, cinematic meaning of "screen test" (CAPTCHA is the text you have to enter sometimes online to prove you are not a robot—lately I've just had to check "I am not a robot" boxes rather than actually write in a CAPTCHA element ... is CAPTCHA becoming bygone?). The only thing I don't quite understand about this puzzle is why ABU / BIT as opposed to APU / SIT. You can come at APU at least two ways, where ABU there's just the one, and it's not the moooost familiar of proper nouns. Speaking of unfamiliar proper nouns: BJ NOVAK! (8A: Co-star of "The Office" who played Ryan Howard) (jk, I knew him ... but, I mean, he's no MINDY KALING ... where is KALING??? Seriously, I should've seen KALING in a puzzle by now, folks. Work on it.).


Struggled to get started, with BUTNO and XII and OPINE being especially tricky to come up with, for me. Also, NUDE is somehow not on the list of adjectives that quickly come to mind when I think of "The Thinker," despite the fact that he's clearly NUDE, so that was odd. Had real trouble later on with 64A: Places in the field (DEPLOYS) (was "places" a verb or noun? what kind of 'field'?). Last square was the "R" in MARKS (30D: Targets). Again, the verb / noun problem thwarted me, and 36A: Shaker's cry? ("BRR!")was no help until I had that final square surrounded—then the "R" was obvious. I briefly tried to convince myself that UGLI was three syllables, so that was fun (5D: Four-letter fruit pronounced in three syllables => AÇAI). Not sure anything needs explaining today. A POL is a "Party person" in the sense of "political party." Aren't peas an "ingredient," singular? (23A: Shepherd's pie ingredients). Would you really refer to each individual pea as a separate ingredient? Please chew on that. Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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