Constructor: Erik Agard
Relative problem: Medium
Word of the Day: Aldis Hodge (25D: ___ Hardison, Aldis Hodge’s character on “Leverage” (ALEC)) —
Aldis Alexander Basil Hodge (born September 20, 1986) is an American actor. Among his vital roles, he performed Alec Hardison within the TNT collection Leverage, MC Ren within the 2015 biopic Straight Outta Compton, Levi Jackson within the 2016 movie Hidden Figures, Noah within the WGN America collection Underground, Matthew in Girlfriends and Jim Brown within the 2020 movie One Night in Miami…. He will play Carter Hall/Hawkman within the upcoming DC Extended Universe movie Black Adam. (wikipedia)
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This managed to be correctly powerful(ish) and have loads of that zoom-zoom whoosh-whoosh feeling I stay up for experiencing on Fridays. Like a lot of Erik’s puzzles, this grid is consciously, pointedly, even provocatively inclusive, by which I imply you may really feel how whole-heartedly it is attempting to signify varied sorts of expertise that crosswords have traditionally ignored. Even fashionable crosswords are likely to hew to an imagined “norm” or “mainstream” that has been, unsurprisingly, straight, white, male, Anglo-American-centric, and many others. That is, puzzles have tended to look so much just like the folks making and producing and particularly enhancing them. Today’s puzzle strikes its lens throughout human expertise, everywhere in the globe, whereas nonetheless managing to really feel fairly rattling mainstream. Basically it was all the time a lie that being inclusive meant sacrificing mainstream attraction, and this puzzle proves it (as do, more and more, many puzzles, each within the NYTXW and (esp.) different venues, together with, most notably, all of the puzzles on the AVCX, in addition to the L.A. Times (beneath Patti Varol’s new management) and the USA Today (beneath Erik’s personal management)). The longer solutions had a lot power and sizzle. But inclusiveness is hardly the puzzle’s solely asset. Yes, GENDER EUPHORIA is a superb burst of trans-positive pleasure, however its symmetry-mate on the opposite aspect of the grid, ONE STEP AT A TIME, entails a extremely intelligent pun clue (which is a excessive praise from me, I guarantee you) (5D: Not in bounds?) (not “bounds” as in “boundaries” however “bounds” as in “leaps & bounds”). And although it isn’t that showy, I liked the pairing of “NO COMMENT” over “THERE IT IS…” I simply think about somebody saying they’ve NO COMMENT after which not with the ability to include their COMMENT, after which some close by get together, who simply *knew* there was going to be a COMMENT, exclaiming, “THERE IT IS…” It’s a complete brief story, is what I’m saying. A large-ranging lens, a robust colloquial sensibility, and an important sense of enjoyable—that is this puzzle’s profitable mixture.
Here’s the whoosh-whoosh I discussed up high: daring, shiny longer solutions simply capturing out of the NW after which throughout the middle:
And but the puzzle wasn’t straightforward for me. I needed to earn the whoosh. I put in LINGO instantly at (1A: Jargon), however behind my head I stored pondering “ARGOT additionally suits” after which I additionally possibly needed MONO at 1D: Like old school sound replica (LO-FI), which clearly does not begin with LINGO’s “L,” so I ended up pulling LINGO earlier than ultimately working my means again there through SECTS / OCEANS / ICONS. Once I spotted it was FORTE and never FORCE at 17A: Strength … bam, I simply exploded out of that part. Great feeling.
I struggled with brief stuff, largely. Didn’t know you wanted to have a complete rattling MBA simply to get a job in “advertising,” however I suppose for sure jobs in advertising, yeah. Association simply wasn’t robust for me, so I waited for crosses to assist me out. Also couldn’t pay money for the neopronoun FAE, regardless of its “folklore” trace. Once I bought it (through AGES, which was additionally laborious (29D: Characteristics that hardly ever change in cartoons)), I spotted I had in all probability heard of FAE on this context earlier than, however regardless of understanding quite a lot of nonbinary folks I do not know anybody personally who makes use of neopronouns, so they simply do not come readily to thoughts but. Don’t actually know what “Leverage” is however now that I see Aldis Hodge’s face, he positively seems acquainted. Is it bizarre for an actor to play a personality whose title is a lot like his personal? Aldis taking part in ALEC? A.H. taking part in A.H.? I’ve typed some model of “Aldis Hardison” a bunch of occasions this morning, a confusion little question exacerbated by the truth that I’m a giant fan of NZ musician Aldous Harding.
I have never but talked about the truth that the grid is absurdly easy. There’s loads of brief stuff, however the closest it involves grating is stuff ACER and ITSY, and that is not very shut, particularly when your marquee solutions are paying off the best way those on this puzzle are. Strategic use of cheater squares* (beneath LOFI, above MBA, and their symmetrical counterparts) undoubtedly helped handle the fill round these longer solutions within the center, leading to an general immaculate grid. Hope you discovered issues to love about this puzzle. See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld