Constructor: Sandy Ganzell
Relative problem: Medium-Challenging (***for a Tuesday***)
THEME: “OLD MACDONALD” (51A: Children’s track that includes the animals and sounds on this puzzle) — theme solutions include cattle featured within the track, and immediately beneath stated animals within the grid are their sounds. The grid additionally comprises the track’s chorus: “EIEIO” (56A: Refrain in 51-Across that accompanies the sounds at 24-, 37- and 47-Across):
- “DON’T HAVE A COW” / MUU MUU (20A: “Just chill!” / 24A: Loose-fitting Hawaiian costume)
- SHEEPSHEAD / BABA (31A: Game fish whose face resembles that of a herd animal / 37A: Rum-soaked cake)
- WHITE HORSE / NAE NAE (41A: Capital of the Yukon / 47A: Hip-hop dance transfer standard within the 2010s)
Word of the Day: SHEEPSHEAD (31A) —
Archosargus probatocephalus, the sheepshead, is a marine fish that grows to 76 cm (30 in), however generally reaches 30 to 50 cm (10 to twenty in). It is deep and compressed in physique form, with 5 – 6 darkish bars on the aspect of the physique over a grey background. It has sharp dorsal spines. Its food regimen consists of oysters, clams, and different bivalves, and barnacles, fiddler crabs, and different crustaceans. It has a tough mouth, with a number of rows of stubby enamel – the frontal ones carefully resembling human enamel – which assist crush the shells of prey.
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I wish to begin with the nice, although this puzzle didn’t begin good. Damn it, I’m beginning with the dangerous once more. OK, the nice: I had a real “aha” “oh, that is what is going on on” “very cute” second once I learn the revealer clue and noticed that there have been *sounds* concerned in addition to animals. To that time, I simply thought MUUMUU NAE NAE and BABA had been simply your run-of-the-mill repetitive crosswordese (most likely as a result of this puzzle had a Lot of crosswordese). It was very nice to search out out that these solutions had a thematic cause for being there, and a vital thematic cause as properly (see additionally the revealer, “EIEIO,” which is an ultra-common ultra-unwelcome little bit of fill in most puzzles … however right here, magically, voilà, it is a very important part of the puzzle and never the cat hair in your shirt that it normally is. So, thematically, this was pleasing. The revealer revealed the best way it was designed to disclose. In Shortzland, that’s thought-about sufficient—the theme is every part and the remaining be damned. Or, extra precisely, the remaining be Whatever, Shrug, We Don’t Care. If the fill is nice, nice, if it is solely barely satisfactory, nice. The solely requirement with the fill is that it look fill-like. Overall fill high quality seems to not matter to the editors, and so some days we get lovely, extremely polished grids, and a few days … we get what we bought at the moment.
In the puzzle’s protection, the theme is dense, or denser than it appears, with stacked components in all 4 of the themers (together with the revealer, with its shadow revealer proper beneath). But nonetheless. Still. –IÈRE!?!?! In this point in time, that’s near inexcusable. Maybe I’m speculated to be grateful they did not use the outdated palindrome “Able was I ERE I noticed Elba,” because the clue, however that’s anticipating far an excessive amount of charity from me. If -IÈRE had been the one actual tough spot, regardless that it is a Very tough spot, effective, perhaps it is a footnote on this write-up. But as an alternative it is a harbinger, and the “hits” simply hold coming. Actually, the I had already taken a bunch of “hits” earlier than I even bought to –IÈRE, which is to say, earlier than I ever bought out of the NW: RELO ETON RETIE … you would not decide on these individually, however once they are available a dense cluster, and *then* the puzzle hits you with –IÈRE!?!? … that is simply merciless. You know I’m far-off from the place I ought to be as a solver when all I’m doing is stopping to take screenshots of the subpar fill:
I used to be so distracted by how olden the fill is that (as you may see) I think about that the [1980s sitcom E.T.] is ELF! I screenshotted 4 bits of fill roughness, however you may rely much more in the event you care to. The grid is simply thick with repeaters, lots of them Of Yore, and since I did not know MUUMUU and NAE NAE had been themers till the top, they felt like a part of the issue. HSBC isn’t good—only a collection of letters I can by no means bear in mind and haven’t any hope of telling you what they stand for. And what the precise hell is up with the repeated sound solutions. In the theme materials, I get it, it’s a necessity: MUUMUU, BABA, NAENAE. But … “USA! USA!”? “NOEL, NOEL!”?! Were these speculated to be a joke joke? The puzzle was a drag to fill in. I used to be grateful to witness the burst of thematic cleverness on the finish, once I absolutely comprehended the theme—that was a pleasant second, nevertheless it could not absolutely redeem the remaining. There’s simply no cause that the street to your revealer ought to be an disagreeable endurance take a look at.
The puzzle performed more durable than regular for me as a result of I had no concept that SHEEPSHEAD was a fish and I utterly blanked on WHITEHORSE. The HEAD a part of SHEEPSHEAD was giving me matches due to HAH (ugh, extra crosswordese) (32D: “Pshaw!”). My ELF error made issues worse. I had HEH, and even needed FEH! at one level. Really glad the clue for SHEEPSHEAD had the “face” half in it, so I may (finally) get to -HEAD. I additionally had hassle with UNWORN (25D: Like brand-new tires) (me: “UN … BALD?”), and CHOIR (I wrote CROWD at first) (16A: Group which will stand on risers). I by no means understand how LOOIE goes to be spelled; I really feel prefer it modifications spelling primarily based on whether or not it is slang for a “lieutenant” or slang for a Canadian coin or slang for a Canadian comic (truly, LOUIE Anderson is from Minnesota, so scratch that) (and the Canadian coin is definitely a LOONIE so simply scratch this complete sentence). That’s all the difficulty spots, I believe. Really preferred the theme, actually disliked the fill. See you tomorrow. AONE AWOL AWL ENID goodbye.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld