Wednesday, September 13, 2023
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Constructor: Joe Deeney

Relative problem: Easy

THEME: “Fan Club” — acquainted phrases are reimagined as verb phrases performed by “___-philes” (i.e. by lovers or “followers” of … no matter some made-up phrase with semi-familiar Greek roots signifies):

Theme solutions:

  • LOVE TRIANGLES (21A: “Geometrophiles…”)
  • PRIZE DRAWING (31A: “Imagophiles…”)
  • FANCY RESTAURANTS (46A: “Gastrophiles…”)
  • GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT (63A: “Dextropodophiles…”)
  • DIG THEIR OWN GRAVE (79A: “Autotumulophiles…”)
  • GO FOR THE GOLD (94A: “Aurophiles…”)
  • LIKE CLOCKWORK (109A: “Chronomechanophiles…”)

Word of the Day: WHATNOTS (82D: Shelves for knickknacks) —

what-not is a bit of furnishings derived from the French étagère, which was exceedingly well-liked in England within the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century. It often consists of slender uprights or pillars, supporting a collection of cabinets for holding china, ornaments, trifles, or “what nots“, therefore the allusive title. In its English kind, it’s a handy piece of drawing room furnishings, and was not often valued for its aesthetic. (wikipedia)

• • •

I suppose the theme is constant sufficient, however it simply does not come off as very entertaining. I suppose the star attraction is meant to be these preposterous Greek-rooted phrases within the clues, those indicating which form of “lovers” or “followers” we had been coping with. In that sense, the puzzle ended up feeling like a vocabulary check: “Do your Greek phrase roots?!” Imagined -philes one way or the other did not actually mild my fireplace. The wordplay is fascinating, in that each one the primary phrases within the acquainted phrases are reimagined as very verbs or verb phrases which means, roughly, “get pleasure from” or “are a fan of” (LOVE, PRIZE, FANCY, and so on.). I favored the highest half a lot better on this regard, since there gave the impression to be a consistency there, a selected shift of the which means of the primary phrases from adjectives to verbs. But when you get to the center that consistency goes away and also you get a collection of phrases which can be verb phrases by nature—the clues simply change the which means of the verbs. I favored it higher when the reimagining concerned a change each in which means and in a part of speech. But like I say, at a normal degree, the gimmick is constant sufficient. The made-up clue phrase angle did nothing for me, however a few of the reimagined phrases are at the least a little bit humorous, esp. GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT. Foot fetishry within the marquee place of the Sunday NYTXW! Bold. The remainder of the puzzle: not practically so daring. Wait, these clue phrases are made up, proper? I assumed “Gastrophile” was an actual factor … [looks it up] … it’s! “One who loves good meals.” But “autotumulophile”!? That cannot be actual! … [looks it up] … nope, it completely shouldn’t be. Search that phrase and also you get crossword websites (websites referring particularly to this crossword). Hmm, that is one other ding towards this factor. Ding for “gastrophile”—make up all the “-phile” phrases or do not trouble with the gimmick.

The longer solutions on this puzzle usually felt wasted, within the sense that ITALIAN HERO simply felt … redundant. It’s a HERO. That’s sufficient. ITALIAN HERO is … meh. And as for TSETSE FLIES and JAI ALAI, that is simply prolonged crosswordese. Crosswordese: The Unexpurgated Version. Too a lot actual property to present to overfamiliar stuff. ARMY LIFE feels unique, and I like “DEAR JOHN” fairly effectively too (esp. the clue: 79D: Announcement of a break up choice?).  But THE NILE!? THE NILE!? Oof. More prolonged crosswordese, and a painful particular article insertion in addition. THETHAMES, THERHONE, THESEINE, THEMISSISSIPPI … you see how dumb that is, proper? Don’t give NILE a cross simply because it is quick and (from a crossword perspective) hyperfamiliar. 

Puzzle was very straightforward aside from WATSON (74A: To whom it’s stated “You have a grand reward for silence …. It makes you fairly invaluable as a companion”). Needed each cross to determine who the hell that citation was purported to be about, significantly due to the awkward “To whom it’s stated” development. I get it now, you did not need to inform me that Sherlock was doing the saying, however oof, that passive voice is Painful. “UGLIES” is outwardly some YA “trilogy” stuff my daughter one way or the other missed (the “YA fantasy trilogy”-type e-book was all my daughter appeared to learn for like 7 years or so). The “UGLIES” was purported to be the primary e-book in a trilogy, however then it received as much as 4 installments and I feel there are extra coming, I dunno, I do not actually wanna return and browse the wikipedia web page that completely. Anyway, that was one of many solely issues within the puzzle I did not know. That and WHATNOTS, what the *&$%?! (82D: Shelves for knickknacks)  Me: “Do they imply ETAGÈRES, and if that’s the case, why will not that match!?” I do know WHATNOTS solely as … effectively, “knickknacks.” And apparently that’s how WHATNOTS (the furnishings) received their title—as a result of they had been designed to show your assorted … WHATNOTS? Bizarre. So … WATSON / WHATNOTS gave me some grief within the SE, however in any other case, the puzzle was exceedingly easy. A bit flat. It seems to be and looks like a wonderfully abnormal Sunday puzzle. Cute however innocuous wordplay at its thematic core, strong if unremarkable fill all through. I might use one thing extra bold or daring on Sundays. They’re simply too huge to maintain a just-OK premise. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]



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