The Times Square ball has dropped and so has the deadline for submitting answers to last week’s AVCX meta. Let’s ring in the new year by discussing what was up with that
First off: Happy New Year! Here’s hoping your 2018 is off to a good start, wherever you are. I’m celebrating by watching Syfy’s annual Twilight Zone marathon and assembling a lego model of the Guggenheim Museum I got for Christmas.
Last week’s AVCX was from BEQ and had a 4/5 on the rating scale. Given some of the tricky fill and cluing, I’d say that was spot on. We’ll get to that in a minute, but let’s start by looking at the theme answers to spot what’s going on:
- 15A: Curry technique — FADE AWAY JUMPER (that’s Steph Curry, not Vindaloo or Madras)
- 25A: Thing swung from atop a horse — POLO MALLET
- 44A: Marinated cut, often — SKIRT STEAK
- 57A: “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside” rapper — EARL SWEATSHIRT
What gave me the initial AHA on this puzzle’s theme was EARL SWEATSHIRT. My sports knowledge is fairly limited, but I do keep up on music through sites like Pitchfork, and that plus SKIRT STEAK got me to realize that all of the theme entries here were fit with “Gear Change” by including an article of clothing. Looking at some of the down clues, however, there were a few crossings that didn’t quite read correctly as a solver:
- 14D: Tevye creator Aleichem — SMM
- 15D: Openings on pet carriers — AIROS
- 36D: Taiwanese-American scientist who wrote the memoir “My Country Versus Me” — WENTE
- 56D: You can get it from drinking infected water — CHRA
One thing all of these pieces of clothing have in common is that they can get HOLEs. Replacing each of the letters highlighted, you get SHOLEM Aleichem, AIRHOLES, WEN HO LEE, and CHOLERA, which make much more sense. And, of course, the final meta answer to this puzzle is the cause of all these issues in the grid (by taking the letter HOLE replaced), MOTH HOLES. Very clever, and cleanly done.
Okay, back on that fill. Here’s what caught my eye/tripped me up/caught my eye AND tripped me up: SOBE, ATOMIC (as in the Blondie song), RAN OFF (as in making copies), BETELS, MEIJI, USFL, NOBELIST, PAS MOI, OASIS (which does need to stop fighting and just go on a reunion tour already), ELSTON Howard, and ALI Fedotowsky, two people I have never heard of.
4/5 Stars. Hope your new year is off on the right foot :D