Wednesday, September 13, 2023
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Sample Page Title

Constructor: Ori Brian

Relative issue: Easy-Medium

THEME: “Animal Hybrids” — themers are common clues with common solutions … however they’re additionally anagrams of a number of totally different sorts of animal [animals given in brackets at end of clues]:

Theme solutions:

  • BREAK THE ICE (22A: Get a celebration began? [bee, hare, tick])
  • WET BLANKET (28A: Buzzkill [bat, elk, newt])
  • PARKING SPACE (34A: A bit of of rather a lot? [carp, pig, snake])
  • WATERMELON PATCH (47A: Locale of many vines [cat, elephant, worm])
  • BATHROOM SCALE (62A: Something you may step on by the bathe [cobra, moth, seal])
  • “GENERAL HOSPITAL” (78A: Long-running cleaning soap opera that debuted in 1963 [ant, gorilla, sheep])
  • GLOBE THEATRE (91A: London landmark [beetle, hog, rat])
  • GOLDEN GATE (98A: Bridge that is painted International Orange [dog, eel, gnat])

Word of the Day: UMAR (52D: Second caliph of Sunni Islam) —

ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (Arabicعمر بن الخطاب, additionally spelled Omarc. 583/584 – 644) was the second Rashidun caliph, ruling from August 634 till his assassination in 644. He succeeded Abu Bakr (r. 632–634) because the second caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate on 23 August 634. Umar was a senior companion and father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He was additionally an skilled Muslim jurist recognized for his pious and simply nature, which earned him the epithet al-Faruq (“the one who distinguishes (between proper and fallacious)”).

Umar initially opposed Muhammad, his distant Qurayshite kinsman and later son-in-law. Following his conversion to Islam in 616, he grew to become the primary Muslim to overtly pray on the Kaaba. Umar participated in virtually all battles and expeditions beneath Muhammad, who bestowed the title al-Faruq (‘the Distinguisher’) upon Umar, for his judgements. After Muhammad’s dying in June 632, Umar pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr (r. 632–634) as the primary caliph and served because the closest adviser to the latter till August 634, when the dying Abu Bakr nominated Umar as his successor.

Under Umar, the caliphate expanded at an unprecedented fee, ruling the Sasanian Empire and greater than two-thirds of the Byzantine Empire. His assaults in opposition to the Sasanian Empire resulted within the conquest of Persia in lower than two years (642–644). According to Jewish custom, Umar put aside the Christian ban on Jews and allowed them into Jerusalem and to worship. Umar was assassinated by the Persian slave Abu Lu’lu’a Firuz in 644. (wikipedia)

• • •

The theme is oddly ornamental right here, to the purpose of being, for probably the most half, genuinely non-obligatory. That is, you do not have to know something about why there are animals in brackets on the ends of your theme clues. The clues are simply regular, simple clues, and the solutions are regular, simple, and (sadly) principally bland solutions. Actually, they’re high quality solutions, however as a result of they are not actually doing something—as a result of their entire “animal hybrid” nature is a very non-integral a part of the fixing expertise—they’re identical to any abnormal solutions you may encounter anyplace. Nothing particular about them. All the “theme” does is kinda provide you with an additional trace to the solutions of the themers. Like “Here, this is a clue, however for those who someway cannot get it from the superbly abnormal clue, psst, this is a little bit trace … however you really need to *work* a little bit to determine what that “trace” is … so it is not actually a “trace” … you are most likely higher off simply determining the reply from crosses, such as you usually would …” You can see, I hope, how the [bracketed] portion of the theme clues would not appear to essentially know what its function is, past kinda / sorta giving a little bit further trace to solvers, assuming the solver has grokked *how* the animal names are a touch. Sigh. Annnnnyway, there’s actually nothing there. The [bracketed] half is extraneous to the fixing expertise. Furthermore, the revealer is extraneous, within the sense that it is redundant. I already discovered what the animals have been doing in [brackets] from the Title of The Puzzle. When your revealer contributes no data that is not already largely offered by the title … then why is the revealer there in any respect. CROSSBREEDS would not even actually make sense, because the animals in [brackets] on the ends of the theme clues aren’t actually “breeds” a lot as “totally different sorts of animals.” Conceptually, this one is sort of a multitude. Execution-wise … it is simply blah. May as nicely be themeless. This one really has me lacking final week’s *precise* themeless, which was not less than constructed that manner by design.

I weirdly had hassle getting began with this one, principally as a result of I wasn’t understanding how the puzzle was utilizing the phrase “Gaelic” (or TARTAN, for that matter) (1A: Gaelic garment). I had -ARTA- and nonetheless no clue. I consider Gaelic primarily as a language, and once I consider it culturally, I feel primarily of Ireland, not Scotland, whereas TARTAN is, in my thoughts, solely a Scottish factor. Also, TARTAN makes me assume “sample” way over it makes me assume “garment.” But technically each “Gaelic” and “garment” are used appropriately right here—I simply could not course of all of it, and thought possibly there was a garment known as a CARTAN (like … an Irish caftan??). I additionally discovered NOT MANY very laborious (6D: A handful). The time period “a handful” seems like one thing very tough—particularly, somebody very tough, esp. if that somebody is, say, a toddler. “He could be a handful.” The concept that “a handful” meant “just some,” i.e. NOT MANY … that didn’t happen to me till very late. Beyond that, I had only one important sticking level, and that was every thing in and round and particularly together with UMAR, which … wow, OK, that is a brand new title. I do not even assume I’ve seen the *first* “caliph of Sunni Islam” within the grid earlier than, and also you anticipate me to know the second? That’s an enormous ask, contemplating that in my 30+ years of fixing …

It seems to be just like the constructor acquired into an actual tight spot with theme reply placement. Things get particularly restricted when you determine to run RUNS AMOK in there. You cannot do a lot with that space connecting WATERMELON and BATHROOM except you do a reasonably important grid tear-down. You can really feel the desperation on this tight area, and it isn’t solely due to UMAR. I imply, INRE is in there too, and it isn’t like that’s high-quality fill. I feel I’d’ve carried out no matter I may, together with rebuilding the encircling areas, to eliminate the UMAR / INRE unsightliness. But … possibly UMAR is a really, crucial title that crosswords have unfairly uncared for over time. Lord is aware of I (proceed to) really feel that manner about OZU and VARDA


  • 68D: “Beats me” (“I’VE NO IDEA“) — so this one is bizarre as a result of the contraction (unexpectedly?) makes the phrase really feel extra formal. Like, “beats me” is clearly slangy, however “I HAVE NO IDEA” feels extra like what an individual who says “beats me” would say, whereas “I’VE NO IDEA” sounds extra like what somebody who says “Pardon me, have you ever any Grey Poupon?” would say. 
  • 82D: Strong maintain (IRON GRIP) — do not love the clue, which is principally simply [synonym for iron + synonym for grip], however the reply is one in every of my favourite issues within the grid, together with OVERCOOK, for causes I do not fairly perceive myself (70A: Make dry, as salmon).
  • 80D: ___ Malnati’s, Chicago-style pizza chain (LOU) — completely no concept. If it is a chain, it isn’t a series anyplace I’ve lived. A really hard-won three-letter title for me as we speak.
  • 54A: Al-___, household of Syrian leaders (ASSAD) — yeah, nonetheless struggle criminals, nonetheless in energy, nonetheless unwelcome in my gridspace
  • 113A: Gets round (EVADES) — whole kealoa* prepare wreck, as I acquired the “V” first and (predictably) wrote within the fallacious guess, AVOIDS. Sigh.

Congratulations to my good friend Matt Gritzmacher for profitable the Lollapuzzoola Crossword Tournament yesterday (Tyler Hinman, champion of many tournaments, many instances over, gained the net division, son congrats to him as nicely). I actually want I may’ve been there. COVID actually decimated in-person tournaments, which signifies that I have never seen lots of my crossword buddies in years now. Fingers crossed for a 2023 return to crossword event normalcy. It was nice to see pics of Matt and his championship trophy.

[That’s Matt with Brooke Husic, who constructed the
tournament’s apparently lovely and punishing Final Puzzle]

[Pictures stolen from Matt’s Twitter feed]

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*kealoa = brief, widespread reply you could’t simply fill in shortly as a result of two or extra solutions are viable, Even With One or More Letters In Place. From the basic [Mauna ___] KEA/LOA conundrum. See additionally, e.g. [Heaps] ATON/ALOT, [“Git!”] “SHOO”/”SCAT,” and so on.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]



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