Sunday, January 29, 2012

Big Apple list / MON 1-30-12 / Ones not entirely gay or straight / Soothing juice / Food giant whose brands include Gerber and Goobers / Wrist elbow connectors

Constructor: Francesco Trogu

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: NEST (66A: Where 38-Across [BIRDS] lay 1-Across [EGGS] ... or a word hidden in 20-, 27-, 44- and 51-Across) — just what it says

Word of the Day: SETH Rogen (9D: Rogen of "Superbad") —
Seth Rogen (pronounced /ˈroʊɡɪn/; born April 15, 1982) is a Canadian stand-up comedian, actor, producer, screenwriter, and voice artist. Rogen began his career doing stand-up comedy during his teen years, winning the Vancouver Amateur Comedy Contest in 1998. While still living in his native Vancouver, he landed a small part in Freaks and Geeks. Shortly after Rogen moved to Los Angeles for his role, Freaks and Geeks was canceled after one season due to poor ratings. He then got a part on the equally short-lived Undeclared, which also hired him as a staff writer. // After landing a job as a staff writer on the final season of Da Ali G Show, for which Rogen and the other writers received an Emmy nomination, he was guided by film producer Judd Apatow toward a film career. Rogen was cast in a major supporting role and credited as a co-producer in Apatow's directorial debut, The 40-Year-Old Virgin. After Rogen received critical praise for that performance, Universal Pictures agreed to cast him as the lead in Apatow's directorial feature films Knocked Up and Funny People. Rogen and his comedy partner Evan Goldberg co-wrote the films Superbad, Pineapple Express, and The Green Hornet. Rogen has done voice work for the films Horton Hears a Who!, Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Paul. He became engaged to fellow screenwriter Lauren Miller, with whom he married in October 2011. (wikipedia)
• • •

Here's the thing about "hidden" word puzzles: the "hidden" word should touch every word in the theme answer. That's the ideal. If not, then your answers better sizzle, but the only one I really like here is BONE STRUCTURE (and that is the lone answer where NEST actually does touch every word in the answer). The puzzle has a somewhat bigger problem than banality of concept, however: ITUNES TOP TEN is a terrible, terrible answer. I have used iTunes for years. I have no idea what TOP TEN is being referred to here. One of many lists off to the side telling you what's selling well in a certain genre? That is hardly a thing. Google the phrase inside quotation marks and you get 200K+ (not great), with many of the hits being phrases inside sentences rather than references to a Specific List. By contrast, to choose a random example: if you Google "Sherman Alexie" you get 1.4 million+ hits.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Not-so-fancy places to stay (ONE-STAR HOTELS)
  • 27A: Maryland's nickname (OLD LINE STATE)
  • 44A: Big Apple list (iTUNES TOP TEN)
  • 51A: Osteoporosis threatens it (BONE STRUCTURE) — very weird clue. BONE STRUCTURE is a phrase I've heard *only* in relation to someone's face. Osteoporosis threatens your bones, period. This is like saying that faulty wiring threatens my house structure.

Made a tremendous number of tiny errors for a puzzle this easy. FLUBS for SNUBS (not sure what I was thinking there) (5A: Social slights); ULNAE for ULNAS (understandable) (24D: Wrist/elbow connectors); AXIS for AXLE (semi-understandable) (63A: Wheel turner); SINCE for HENCE (not-so-understandable) (57A: Therefore). Love the long Downs on this one, particularly GAG ORDERS (3D: Judges' decrees to keep information from the public). The rest of the fill is average. Grid is so easy to fill that I'm not sure why there are cheater squares*, but there they are.

*black squares that do not add to word count—they exist solely to make grid easier to fill and are generally kept to a minimum and used on an As Needed basis. Here, the black square after ALSO / before FARM.

  • 34A: Ones not entirely gay or straight (BIS) — bad fill redeemed by a very progressive clue. 
  • 42A: Soothing juice (ALOE) — I don't think those two clue words go together. "Juice" just isn't a soothing word.
  • 12D: Rostropovich's instrument (CELLO) — I know very well what instrument he played, and yet still, looking at ---L-, my only thought, for several seconds, was VIOLA. Didn't write it in because my brain was like "Idiot. Who ever heard of a famous violist?"

  • 6D: Food giant whose brands include Gerber and Goobers (NESTLE) — "Goobers" is a word I could happily never see again. It's just "boogers" with "b" and "g" swapping seats.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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