As I mention in my notes at XWordInfo and Word Play, I came up with the seed answers to this one, while watching football, so it's fitting -- in a very stretched way -- that football would be at the forefront of many people's minds this week. I hate that it's so difficult to enjoy the NFL today. I used to live for football Sunday. As a grad student, I would get all my work done by Saturday night, go to the neighborhood sports bar around noon Sunday, order some breakfast and a Bloody Mary, and overstimulate myself with seven NFL games at once. After I had my first kid, literally the first thing I did when I got home from the hospital was call DIRECTV so that I could get NFL Sunday Ticket. But now everything is different. There's CTE; there's Kaepernick being blackballed; there's the fact that I'm a 40-year-old man whose emotional state is somewhat dependent on how a group of kids I don't know perform in a weekly game; and then there's the overriding feeling that the NFL cares nothing about its fans and is just trying to squeeze every last nickle out us (because that's what it's doing) -- TV blackouts, tax-payer-funded stadiums, PSLs, $100 parking, endless commercial breaks, pop-up ads on every highlight video, etc. At some point, enough is enough. My compromise this year is that I'm still following football, but I'm not paying for it in anyway (other than consuming the ads of its sponsors, which I can't avoid without tuning out completely). It's a tenuous deal.
[A good article by Eric Reid (above left).]
Anyway... about my puzzle. I think this one came out pretty well. The long answers are nice, and there is not a lot of glue -- at least I don't think there is a lot glue. I've found what constitutes crossword glue is very subjective. There have been many times in which my puzzles have been dinged by the critics for containing too much glue, and then I read their examples and protest to myself, "That's not glue!" In this puzzle, the only two answers I really don't like are RELO, which sounds very made-up-y to me, and ACERB, which is in the dictionary, but for which I can find no references "in the wild," save one:
[From Shakespeare's "Othello"]
I also don't love PIPPA, surprisingly. I still think she is Crossworthy, but when I conceived of this puzzle years ago she was in the news big-time. She had just been maid-of-honor in her sister's big wedding, and I figured she was going to hang around like a Kardashian for years to come. Now it seems like she's hardly in the news -- the American news, at least -- at all.
This puzzle seems to be relatively well-received. Jeff Chen at XWordInfo didn't love the layout because it necessitates a lot of three-letter words. That's a critique, I suspect, is shared by less 1% of the solving population. As a constructor I fret about the word statistics of a puzzle (word count, distribution, cheater squares, etc.), as I solver I never notice them or care -- maybe subconsciously I do, but I dunno. By the way, I noticed that in my notes I wrote "conservation" instead of "conversation." I did it at Word Play too -- nobody caught it apparently.
Rex Parker said it was "fun," which is almost the equivalent of a five-star review. He complained about the clue for MOT, which at first I thought was petty, but now I actually mostly agree with. One thing crossword constructors and editors should try to do is make the language in puzzles match the language outside of puzzles as closely as possible. Rex is right when he says nobody ever uses the term MOT interchangeably with "Zinger." To experienced solvers, this is something we've learned to gloss over, but to newbies, I suspect, it could be a potential turn-off. With that said, only experienced solvers can handle a Friday puzzle, so in this case, it's a moot discussion.
Amy Reynaldo, over at Crossword Fiend, said she was tired -- not of my puzzle, just in general. Fair enough. I blog every once in a while for like 50 people. Doing what she does must be like a part-time job.
Some bullet points.
- The clue for HOVERBOARDS is weird. It makes it sound like people actually used hoverboards as transportation today, like they are recumbent bicycles or something. In the clue I submitted, I referenced Back to the Future II, which I think is the only proper way to write a clue for it. (Oh, apparently there are things called "hoverboards" that aren't really hoverboards.)
- I put TELEKINESIS into this puzzle after watching this.
- JOLLY RANCHER was the candy of my childhood, so I'm happy to be responsible for its puzzle debut.
- I'm particularly proud of my clues for COS, TRES, and APU.
- IN ANGER makes me think of this Oasis song.
- Run-DMC and ADIDAS in the same puzzle is a nice touch, if you were an MTV watcher in the '80s.
Until next time...