Constructor: Benji Goldsmith
Relative problem: Straightforward
THEME: none, except the grid is meant to appear like Frankenstein’s monster, such that the grid CREATES A MONSTER (17A: Is not capable of management the result of 1’s actions)
Phrase of the Day: CETE (5D: Pleasure : lions :: ___ : badgers) —
quite a few badgers collectively. [First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English, of obscure origin; perhaps variant of Middle English “town,” a usage suggested by similarity of Middle English forms for borough and burrow] (dictionary.com)
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A very simple stroll from AT ONE WITH NATURE to “IS THIS SEAT TAKEN?” That’s the finest spin I can provide on this fixing expertise. Good longer reply up prime, a non-grueling journey down the grid, and one other good longer reply down beneath. If I describe it that method, I miss some completely wonderful bits but additionally a bunch of winces and head-tilts and head-shakes and different common unpleasantness. The risks with these grid-spanning 15 is all the time the cruddiness of the crosses, and whereas I do not suppose immediately’s crosses had been, on the entire, any cruddier than you normally get with stacked 15s, there additionally wasn’t sufficient fascinating fill within the grid to carry it out of humdrumitude. Additional, there have been some cluing moments that had been somewhat “ugh.” When your total grid is stacked with nice solutions, a stray “ugh” within the clues for brief stuff is not going to imply a lot. However when there aren’t quite a lot of highlights, then the lowlights shine forth with unlucky brightness. The primary jarring bit is in fact CETE, which is the sort of “you’ll-never-use-it-or-see-it-outside-crosswords” obscurity that was far more widespread again after I began fixing within the early ’90s. It is the sort of desperation you solely carry forth when you will have set your self a difficult architectural aim, the sort of reply you persuade your self is OK nevertheless it’s within the dictionary. See additionally “OH, ME,” which is unhealthy even in “AH, ME” kind. As “OH, ME” … oh my (“oh my” being an precise expression one may use). The remainder of the brief fill (besides possibly –INI) is not really unhealthy, however an excessive amount of of the cluing both tries to be cute and misses or tries to get powerful and simply annoys. For instance, the clue on INA (which is, really, fairly unhealthy fill). Cluing a two-word partial as a (singular) “preceder” (4D: Preceder of phrase or sense)!? Why are you going out of your technique to name consideration to a bit of fill you possibly can’t presumably need anybody to dwell on? Cluing OTTER as a paint shade? I consider odds being EVEN (no “S”), so the clue on EVENS (plural) feels significantly clunky (42D: Inaccurate reply to “What are the chances?”). In what context would you even make that “inaccurate reply”?? Once more, if there have been extra whiz-bang solutions on this factor, I in all probability would not even bear in mind these things. It could be a sideshow at finest. However when there are few highlights, I have a tendency to note each little creak.
For me the puzzle missed with its marquee reply, CREATES A MONSTER. It isn’t simply that the clue feels … not fairly on the cash (“final result of 1’s actions” does not actually get at MONSTER), it is that CREATED A MONSTER is so so so so so a lot better as a standalone reply that I am super-distracted by the truth that it is not, the truth is, the reply. “I’ve created a monster,” that is the meaty phrase that everybody is aware of. CREATES (?) A MONSTER is … properly, a MEAT ALTERNATIVE by comparability. Talking of MEAT, what the hell is up with the reply to that [Paleo, e.g.] clue!?! DIET FAD!? LOL, final I checked they had been known as FAD DIETs. It is this type of tin-eared, close-enough, uncanny-valley high quality that makes the puzzle lower than totally pleasing immediately. I google CREATED A MONSTER and I get all types of stuff: music titles, books, definitions, and many others. I google CREATES A MONSTER and I get … “Paper Mario CREATES A MONSTER“!? (4 hits, all on the prime of the outcomes). What the hell even is that!?
There have been another moments that I preferred, although. The “?” clues labored immediately. [Fed on the sly?] is NARC as a result of a NARC is a federal worker who works undercover, i.e. “on the sly.” Fairly good disguising of “Fed” there (with the capital masked by showing within the first place, the place all first letters are capitals). [Show up in labor?] additionally has good misdirection on each “present up” and “in labor” (OUTWORK). Not as thrilled with [Question asked without reservation?] since “IS THIS SEAT TAKEN?” isn’t a query you’d ever ask in a state of affairs the place one usually has a reservation. Often you are in a movie show or at an occasion of some sort the place there’s common admission, or possibly the bar, or possibly you need to sit from one other desk that does not seem like utilizing theirs … I just like the cleverness of the clue, however the contextual aptness is not actually … exact. There was one different little cluing second I preferred, and that was the successive clues at 26- and 27-Down (26D: British ___ / 27D: Whitish). It is a small factor, however one thing about the best way they echo one another suffixially made me smile.
Needed DIALS BACK at 30A: Strikes from 9 to five, say. There does not actually appear to be something within the clue suggesting an “IT,” however I do just like the phrase DIALS IT BACK properly sufficient. I additionally just like the clue on SMALL TALK (33A: It is typically weather-related), as it’s completely correct whereas having nothing on its floor to sign its relationship to speak. Not an enormous aha there, however a reasonably substantial “hey, that is true!,” which is one thing. Want there’d been just a few extra moments like that. Get pleasure from your Saturday, see you tomorrow.
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