Thursday, March 16, 2017
Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative difficulty: Medium
- LOOSE-LEAF BINDER (19A: Student's note-taking aid)
- DOLPHIN-SAFE TUNA (36A: Eco-friendly seafood designation)
- ASSOCIATED PRESS (52A: Large wire)
Jermaine Lamarr Cole (born January 28, 1985), better known by his stage name J. Cole, is an American hip hop recording artist and record producer. Raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Cole initially gained recognition as a rapper following the release of his debut mixtape, The Come Up, in early 2007. Intent on further pursuing a solo career as a rapper, he went on to release two additional mixtapes after signing to Jay Z's Roc Nation imprint in 2009. // Cole released his debut studio album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, in 2011. It debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, and was soon certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). His next two releases, 2013's Born Sinner and 2014's 2014 Forest Hills Drive, received mostly positive reviews from critics, while being both certified platinum in the US. The latter earned him his first Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Album. 2014 Forest Hills Drive was also the first rap album in over 25 years to gain platinum certification without any guest appearances or features. (wikipedia)
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true story) that had the FBI and the CIA hidden in it, but they were "hidden" in circles. I like the theme answers themselves too, just as answers in their own right. Well, OK, I don't *love* ASSOCIATED PRESS, but the other two are pretty original. I don't think a LOOSE-LEAF BINDER is a "note-taking aid," though. You don't take notes with a binder. You might keep your notes in one, although you're more likely to see spiral-bound or composition notebooks. Actually, you're increasingly likely to see some electronic device or other (though not in my classroom—sorry, kids). Loose-leaf binders are pretty chunky. Clue on ASSOCIATED PRESS is a little cheap, with its ambiguous and not-at-all in-the-language use of "wire" (i.e. you would call the AP a "large wire service"; you would not call it a "large wire"). But maybe the difficulty needed to be amped up some. In any case, this theme works fine.
["Private EYES"] (48A: Hawks have sharp ones)
Not too much trouble with the solve. REST____ could've been STOP, so I had to wait a bit there (18A: Place with picnic tables, often). Never can spell ROGEN's name right; went with ROGAN initially. Did a double-take at STRIAE but decided it was probably right and moved on. Had most trouble at DJED / J. COLE. It's a fair cross, in that "J" is really the only letter that works there for 26A: Played at a party, say, but it's always super-dicey to cross an initial in a proper noun that you *know* not everyone's going to have heard of (J. COLE is huge, but likely not so much with your crossword-solving crowd). The term NATICK (meaning an unfair crossing, usu. involving at least one non-iconic proper noun) came from crossing NATICK at the "N" with "N. C. WYETH," i.e. from crossing a not-exactly-famous-or-even-inferrable place name with an *initial*. But again, here, even though solvers may have to run the alphabet, that alphabet should (last I checked) lead you to "J." I don't think any other letter makes sense there. I should add that this section was made slightly harder by the highly ambiguous clue on SENSATION (46A: Hit).
Fill in this one is not strong (e.g. ITI III), but it's not weak either. Not a fount of fun, but not exactly an ODE TO SSNS, either. Somewhere in between. Kind of heavy on the improvised, silly-sounding adjectives (GLUEY! STATICKY! SILTY!) but I found those more colorful than irksome.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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