Praying figure in Christian art / SUN 10-22-17 / Challenge to prove you're human / Prime setter informally

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Constructor: Tracy Gray

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: "Selfies" — clues are all imagined "Facebook status"es one might post to accompany a selfie; the answers are selfie-worthy locations, all of which have "ME" in them:

Theme answers:
  • CHRIST THE REDEEMER (23A: Facebook status: "2016 Summer Olympics and a day trip to one of the new Seven Wonders of the World!")
  • RIVER THAMES (31A: Facebook status: "Across the pond! And front-row seats to the Henley Royal Regatta!")
  • MALL OF AMERICA (51A: Facebook status: "Yes! Retail therapy at the largest shopping spot in the U.S.!")
  • CLUB MED (70A: Facebook status: "Ahhhh ... Sun and surf in Cancún, Mexico! Bring on the unlimited piña coloadas!")
  • LITTLE MERMAID (86A: Facebook status: "Hej from København! This statue turned 100 years old in 2013 but is still a beauty!")
  • TIMES SQUARE (106A: Facebook status: ""10-9-8-7 ... Ringing in the New year with 1,000,000 of my newest, closest friends!")
  • JEFFERSON MEMORIAL (116A: Facebook status: "History abounds! Neo-Classical architecture surrounded by gorgeous cherry blossom trees. Next stop ... the White House!")
  • MADAME TUSSAUD'S (16D: Facebook status: "Vegas, baby! And who would believe I'm standing next to Beyoncé and Katy Perry!")
  • METLIFE STADIUM (50D: Facebook status: "Nosebleed seats—but home-field advantage! GO GIANTS!!!")
Word of the Day: ORANT (104A: Praying figure in Christian art) —
Orans, a loanword from Medieval Latin ōrāns translated as one who is praying or pleading, also orant or orante, is a posture or bodily attitude of prayer, usually standing, with the elbows close to the sides of the body and with the hands outstretched sideways, palms up. It was common in early Christianity and can frequently be seen in early Christian art. In modern times, the orans position is still preserved within parts of the Orthodox, Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran and Catholic liturgies, Pentecostal and charismatic worship, and the ascetical practices of some religious groups. (wikipedia)
• • •

ORANG > ORANT (and I should note that ORANG > very few crossword answers)

I'll give this one some credit for its currency and conceptual clarity. These answers all definitely feature ME at some famous place or landmark, and so the title is apt and the theme is consistent. I don't think the theme is that *interesting* (there must be tons more places, landmarks, etc. with the simple two-letter string "ME" in them) and the clues ... well, they're about as banal as a typical FB post, I'll give them that. They are contrived to include trivia that will allow you to get the answer, which makes sense from a puzzle standpoint, but which sometimes strains the plausibility of the clues as actual FB statuses. This theme is definitely better than average Sunday puzzles of late, and yet still definitely not as splashy and entertaining as a Sunday should be. But I'll take "not knee-bucklingly terrible" at this point, and this puzzle certainly fits the bill.


The "humor" here is pretty minimal. Would've been nice to see some more thought and pizzazz put into the clues. Cluing is particularly important in a puzzle like this, where there's no real wordplay or other engaging gimmick going on—just a bunch of unrelated stuff. I was somewhat confused at the outset, because I thought the various landmarks were the ones taking the selfies, i.e. I thought maybe CHRIST THE REDEEMER had a Facebook page that he was updating. Careful reading of the clue would've made it clear that that wasn't what was going on, but careful reading of the clue also would not have made anything clear at that point, so ... who cares? Got the landmark, moving on. I did get confused when I thought the next imaginary FB poster was MADAME TUSSAUD, but she didn't fit without the apostrophe S. Then I realized these weren't supposed to be from famous people / places, but from some imagined ME that had visited these places. The rest of the puzzle was very easy after that, with only METLIFE STADIUM giving me any trouble. Is that where the *New York* Giants play? Football is garbage and I don't watch (anymore).


AGEWORN feels (aptly?) antiquated (48D: Damaged over time) and ARTWARE is ... hey, what *is* ARTWARE? (29A: Valuable china, e.g.) Hang on... it appears to just be stuff you eat with or on or drink out of that can be collected as art. Huh. Too fancy for me. I had trouble spelling MORTICIA (MORTITIA) (15D: Wife on "The Addams Family") and KAHLIL (KHALIL) (2D: "The Prophet" author Gibran). The hardest answers for me to get was CAPTCHA (70D: Challenge to prove you're human). I thought it was some kind of TEST, like a Turing Test. Without context, that one was really tough to come up with. Also hard: HINT (92D: This answer ends in "T," e.g.). If that clue is a HINT, well, it ain't much of one. Ironically, an actual *clue* would've been much more helpful. In fact, the more that I think of it, a clue *is* a hint, so this whole cluing concept for HINT is ridiculous. Lastly, my favorite ultimatum now is "MORELS! OR ELSE!" (96D + 97D).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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Open one-seated horse-drawn carriage / SAT 10-21-17 / Duke legend to fans / Mideast's city of jasmine / Toon who often congratulated himself with you've done it again / Dweller between zambezi limpopo rivers / Locale of Dostoyevsky's exile

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Constructor: Samuel A. Donaldson and Brad Wilber

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium



THEME: none 

Word of the Day: SEGNO (25A: Score mark indicating a passage to be repeated) —
In music notation, Dal segno (/ˌdæl ˈsnj/ or /ˈsɛɡn/; Italian pronunciation: [dal ˈseɲɲo]), often abbreviated D.S., is used as a navigation marker. From Italian for "from the sign," D.S. appears in sheet music and instructs a musician to repeat a passage starting from the sign shown at right, sometimes called the "segno" in English. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one had a raft of borderline obscurities (SEGNO, MASSIF, ANSELM, bleepin' STANHOPE!), but I'd seen them all before (actually ANSELM I just straight-up knew, yay medievalism). The answer that ended up giving me the most trouble was, weirdly, HOT PEPPER EMOJIS (55A: Sext symbols). Do people really do that? Send sexts w/ HOT PEPPER EMOJIS in them? I know that emoji as an indication of someone's relative attractiveness, but if you're sexting someone, presumably that symbol is unnecessary. Unless it's being used for its roughly phallic shape, in which case ...?! I am saying that I have trouble believing that said emojis are related to sexting. Related to indicating that you find someone hot, yes. But you'd use it more in a public declaration—like if you find a celebrity hot, maybe (?). I just have trouble believing that in an actual sexting situation, you'd crack out the hot pepper emoji. Too easily confused with a burning sensation. As I'm typing all this, I am realizing that though the NYT has grown fond of the term "sext," I'm not sure it knows what one actually looks like. Hell, I'm not sure I do. Oh, hey, it looks like Bustle specifically identifies the hot pepper as a sexting emoji. But it also thinks taco is a sexting emoji, so ... I dunno.


While stuff like SYSTOLES and IN A TIE and SET MENU doesn't really float my boat, I appreciated some of the unusual shorter stuff like COACH K and "I'M LIKE..." I'm unfamiliar with the JOB JAR. I have seen the chore wheel before, but not the JOB JAR. Do you just, like, draw "jobs" out of the "jar"? According to Martha Stewart, apparently so. Back-to-back "Star Wars" answers in the crossword, both with the word ONE in the title. I have had "ROGUE ONE" on my Netflix watch list forever, and yet I somehow can never quite bring myself to ... watch it. Always something else that wants my attention more. Sorta surprised to see "lame" used the way it is in 26D: Lame (but eco-friendly) birthday gift (E-CARD). It's perfectly common colloquial usage, but definitely seen as ableist language in some corners. I don't think using "lame" in this way is blatantly offensive ... and yet I find that I've completely stopped using it, the way I completely stopped using "retarded" to mean generically "stupid" many, many years ago. Also, if you think an E-CARD is "lame" in real life, you should see it in a crossword grid ... :(

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S.

From New World Encyclopedia: "One of the main meanings of the term "Lapp" is "a patch of cloth for mending" and suggests that the Sami wear patched clothes out of poverty, making "Lapp" a derogatory and offensive term. This is particularly problematic since the Sami have historically had to deal with stereotyped ideas of being vagabonds and drunks. Sami institutions, notably the parliaments, the radio and television stations, and theaters, all use the term Sami, as do academic references."
 
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