Monday 14 December 2015


<Googles “Thom Yorke dead”> nope! With that out of the way, go solve the puzzle

Mon 12 14

Video Killed Thom Yorke

Constructor: David Steinberg

Theme: Types of radio form the initials of the theme answers.

  • 17A: ALPHA MALE – Ultra-macho dude, just like your average crossword constructor
  • 27A: FACEBOOK MESSAGE – Alternative to writing on someone’s wall
  • 44A: XYLOPHONE MALLET – Stick used to play a scale of wooden bars
  • 60A: RADIOHEAD – “Karma Police” band… or a hint to the initials of 17-, 27-, and 44-Across

Ben: Radio, huh? Whatever the opposite of modern is, that’s this theme. Actually, including XM is a nice touch and does liven this up some. FACEBOOK MESSAGE is a little bland, but the others are nice.

Lena: I dunno… I have a head cold and my eyeballs feel like they weigh one pound each, so maybe I’m just feeling “meh” in general, but this didn’t do it for me theme-wise. Or maybe it was just revealer-wise. Seems to me like it’s RADIO HEADs– the radio types being split up, each letter at the “head” each word.

Ben: It’s been well established that I’m a sucker for long fill, and POSTRACIAL (11D: Like a theoretical America that doesn’t make judgments or discriminate based on ethnic background) is lovely. COPULATION can’t live up to it, but the clue 29D: Reproductive intercourse, how fun! is pretty great.

Lena: POSTRACIAL is good, but I honestly didn’t find anything else terribly impressive. I liked the EXILE clue (58A: Get out of town?) and something about ERODED (46D: Like cliffs that have seen better days) cracked me up because, like, cliffs are cliffs because of erosion.

Ben: Seeing ACIDY, E COLI and EDU all in one small area is unusual for a constructor like David, though in fairness the XY- start doesn’t leave a ton of options. Otherwise this is pretty clean, with just a little RAFA YESES ST PAT type business. Certainly cleaner than your average NYT Sunday (I’m working on making December my first perfect NYT month… uh, ever).

Lena: I think I had ACERB in place of ACIDY for a minute– but I’m soured by both of those. Ha. Ha. That’s on par with (15A: The yoke’s on them!) for OXEN.

Ben: Didn’t know POMELO (5D: Huge Asian grapefruit) and needed every cross. Otherwise, this went pretty fast. I ended up working my way down into the SE before I finished the other side, so I uncovered the revealer with only ALPHA MALE entered in, and initially thought the theme was “initials of Radiohead members”. The only one I know offhand is Thom Yorke, so it seemed more plausible at the time.

Lena: The POMELO is a pretty disappointing fruit. You think it’s going to be this awesome citrus explosion, but it’s mostly just pith and the flesh itself isn’t worth writing home about flavor-wise.

Ben: Plenty of good clues today, not many that stand out as exceptional. My favourite might be EXACTO (6D: “That’s the perfect knife to cut these designs out, bro!”) for the funny mental image of frat arts and crafts. The one for ALIBI is pretty good too (18D: “I couldn’t have eaten the last piece of your birthday cake, I was in… the… room… with… the… guy,” for one).

Ben: Speaking as a professional grader, it’s always a safe choice to put your THESIS at the end of the first paragraph in a five-paragraph essay, but god that model bores me. Why not try framing your question in your first paragraph, and then working your way to a thesis in your conclusion? A little variety, people, that’s all I ask.

Lena: But how are kids going to get good scores on the SAT if they don’t follow cookie cutter essay craftsmanship? Ah, and speaking as a lapsed molecular biologist, the cutesy GENE clue (55D: Something your parents gave to you on your birthday) was not cute enough for me; I would have gone with “early birthday present” or something– it’s not like you get born and *then* your parents slather your body with their GENEs.

Ben: Days Without a Harry Potter Reference – 10. We do have a great “Silence of the Lambs” quote, though, plus a Nicki Minaj lyric from the “serial collaborator” phase of her career. (The song is the remix of “Dance (A$$)” by Big Sean, and it’s terrible — the Nicki verse is the only part that’s even mildly interesting.)

Lena: “Silence of the Lambs” is a favorite movie of mine, so I too enjoyed the coupling of LECTER and FAVA. As I recall we had another SOTL quote a week or so ago– but we will not be distracted from our HP vigil. Except me, right now, because NyQuil.

  1. Like Lena, I have a cold, and just woke up at 9PM from an ill-advised 7PM nap, and like both of you, I found the theme underwhelming. But the 9’s and 10’s were, I thought, nice, and this had the general sparkle I’ve come to expect from a Steinberg. Happy to have a second enjoyable Monday puzzle. (Actually, BEQ’s stumped me).


  2. Bob Dively said:

    Nice smooth solve for me with a momentarily bit of befuddlement when I solved the crosses to see the X and Y in XYLOPHONE MALLET and was like “WTF is 15 letters and begins with XY?” Now I know.

    Loved the clue for EXACTO (6D: “That’s the perfect knife to cut these designs out, bro!”. Never heard of GILT (24A: Big name in online shopping or gold layers) in the context of shopping.

    A little confused by the cluing of COPULATION (29D Reproduction intercourse, how fun!) because copulation is a superset of reproductive intercourse – all reproductive intercourse is copulation but not all copulation is reproductive intercourse.


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