Luxury wheels until 2004 / TUE 7-7-15 / First premier of People's Republic of China / Lamar who married a Kardashian / Musical piece whose name is Italian for joke / Transport for Calvin Hobbes / Classic NYC venue for punk rock

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Constructor: Daniel Raymon

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: ILL conceived — theme answers contain two "ILL"s

Theme answers:
  • CADILLAC SEVILLE (3D: Luxury wheels until 2004)
  • HILLBILLY (21A: Hayseed)
  • ILL WILL (37A: Hostility)
  • CHILL PILL (54A: What a stressed-out person may need to take)
  • MILLARD FILLMORE (11D: Last Whig president)
Word of the Day: BIMBO (58A: Dumbbell) —
noun
informal
noun: bimbo; plural noun: bimbos; noun: bimbette; plural noun: bimbettes
  1. an attractive but empty-headed young woman, especially one perceived as a willing sex object. (google)
• • •

I SAY ... no. I BALKed like crazy at this one. I guess this puzzle was deemed worthy because of the two long Downs, themers intersecting other themers. Maybe that's considered ... special? I don't know. I know that "ILL"x2 is mildly weak sauce as a concept, and I Know know that the fill here is not up to standards. At best it just lies there (except in a few instances—SCHERZO, for instance, is nice). At worst it's a heap of decaying, rotting building material—this house won't stand! CMVIHIESALIA ... that is not a load-bearing stack. BAHATA! FOOZHOUODOM! These things are fun to say, but they make poor construction material. I ughed out loud at the VASISL cross. This is NYT at its worst, this attitude: theme = passable, fill = who cares!?


CADILLAC SEVILLE is impressive as a 15, but the answer loses all that bulk impressiveness by being bygone and by not really having two "ILL" sounds. That first "ILL" is on an unstressed syllable, so you kind of eat it. In all the others, you hear the "ILL"s quite distinctly. But as outliers go, it's not a disaster. More of a disaster is BIMBO. Cluing it as if it wasn't gender-specific (58A: Dumbbell) doesn't make it less gender-specific. It's a slur, and it's a slur used almost exclusively against women, and while it's dated, and doesn't really pack the punch of other gendered slurs, it's still creepy. You know the solving base is majority female, right? BIMBO is also totally unnecessary. Every constructor I know could redo that SE corner inside of five minutes without using a slur against women. Guaranteed. Also without STERE and ECONO, but we'll start with the basics.

[strong language, fyi]

This puzzle also had the bad fortune of following Lynn Lempel's lovely Monday puzzle, where there was neither a VAS nor a BIMBO in sight. Might go redo that puzzle now.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]

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Smelting residue / MON 7-6-15 / Nairobi resident / Drawings that deceive / Human/ape "missing link" found in Indonesia in 1891

Monday, July 6, 2015

MOVE ASIDE, Rex Parker! There's a new crossword solver in town...nah, it's just an Annabel Monday again.


Constructor: Lynn Lempel 

Relative Difficulty: Easy





THEME: Bric A Brac— Theme answers are either a three-word phrase containing the word "A" or a common two-word phrase where the second word starts with "A," depending on how you look at 'em.

THEME ANSWERS:

  • WALKAROUND (17A: Decline to use the golf cart?)
  • PLANAHEAD (25A: Design the lav?)
  • TAKEAPART (36A: Accept one of the acting roles?)
  • MOVEASIDE (51A: Pass the coleslaw or potato salad?)
  • KNOCKABOUT (60A: Pan the boxing match?)


Word of the Day: JAVA MAN (41D: Human/ape "missing link" found in Indonesia in 1891) —

Java Man (Homo erectus erectus) is the popular name given to early human fossils discovered on the island of Java (Indonesia) in 1891 and 1892. Led by Eugène Dubois, the excavation team uncovered a tooth, askullcap, and a thighbone at Trinil on the banks of the Solo River in East Java. Arguing that the fossils represented the "missing link" between apes and humans, Dubois gave the species the scientific name Anthropopithecus erectus, then later renamed it Pithecanthropus erectus.

The fossil aroused much controversy. Less than ten years after 1891, almost eighty books or articles had been published on Dubois's finds. Despite Dubois' argument, few accepted that Java Man was a transitional form between apes and humans.[1] Some dismissed the fossils as apes and others asmodern humans, whereas many scientists considered Java Man as a primitive side branch of evolution not related to modern humans at all. In the 1930s Dubois made the claim that Pithecanthropus was built like a "giant gibbon", a much misinterpreted attempt by Dubois to prove that it was the "missing link".

(Wikipedia)
• • •


Alright, Rex, go on. You can CONFESS it. Your grumpy face muscles made the slightest twitch in the direction of a smile for the first Monday in years, and you tried to blame it on a random twitch but we know. We all know. You liiiiiiiiked this puzzle. Seriously, come on, it was great for a Monday. It had a clever enough theme, with good fill (OP ART, ERSE, RECTORY) and good clues ("Haste" was "Waste maker, proverbially"  and "Eve" was "The 'madam' in 'madam, I'm adam'"). And that TENT/SPENT on the bottom! Classic. I will say this: the bottom left corner was maybe a little bit hard. 39A (Wheedle) fit both COERCE and CAJOLE, 39D (Internet and cable giant) fit both COMCAST and VERIZON, 40D (John, James or Judas) fit both PROPHET and APOSTLE...yours truly had no IDEA what was going on. 

Theme was really clever, which is SO refreshing to see on a Monday. Who doesn't love wordplay? My personal fave was "move aside/move a side." Ooh, ooh, speaking of wordplay, I have a riddle:

If it's information you seek, come and see me.
If it's pairs of letters you need, I have consecutively three.
Who am I?

Bullets:
  • YAP (21A: Sound from a pound) — So we babysat a dog last week. His name is Zuko and he's about the size of a loaf of bread. Now I know teeny dogs are supposed to YAP all the time, but the only time Zuko would ever, ever bark was when he watched an animal video.  Specifically an animal video...he didn't care if there were humans on the TV, but when there were kitty or puppy antics onscreen, he'd wag his tail and jump up and down and yap at them like they could play with him. 

Then he yapped at a video of my uncle. 
  • ONION (29A: Pungent bulb) — 

  • TOAST (24A: "Here's to the happy couple!", e.g.) — Toast also means super tired, exhausted, whatever. It's 11:30 p.m. and I'm on a train back from New York City where Rex's BFF and I saw Fun Home (it was amazing and made me cry even harder than Les Mis and Rent). This train is making me veeeeery sleepy. I'm toast. Bye guys!
Signed, Annabel Thompson, tired RISING WELLESLEY WENDY CLASS OF 2019 COLLEGE STUDENT FINALLY YEAH BABY YEAH!!!!!

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