We're taking a trip to Baltimore! CHARMCITY! Home (previously) of ORIOLEPARK! Not Camden Yard, which I tried first, by the way. Well, it is the home of Camden Yards, which actually doesn't fit in the space provided. And was clearly wrong for many other reasons.
It's probably not enough to qualify as a mini-theme. I actually found this puzzle to be a mixed bag. Plenty of great long entries, but with areas of fill I found UGLY (QUITE, to use a term that's more "pretty"). For example, SPEER (who? Apparently, he is the "Architect of evil", Hitler's official architect) below GROH (who?? Oh, yeah, random actor from a TV show I never watched), crossing AREOLE, a word I hate to see in the puzzle because I never know how they're going to spell it. I won't complain about PNIN, which I actually remembered, but I could see how it might make that section worse for some.
Other fill I didn't like: ARILS, a common crosswordese; NTESTS, which was the source of my one error, as I had rAGS for 22D: Rides (NAGS) and didn't correct it even though I thought rTESTS was wrong. Greasy NEALE I didn't know, but I didn't mind because the area around it was all gettable.
On the other hand, we do have the excellent pairing of FIBEROPTICS and DANACARVEY on one side of the puzzle, matched by POCKETWATCH (I love this entry, so chunky) next to LIONSSHARE. And we all liked BEEROCLOCK, didn't we?
RESORTAREA feels a little odd, but acceptable. ARIONASSIS should have been obvious by the middle name Socrates (had to be Greek, right? And how many Greek tycoons are there? Especially now, sadly), but it took me a while to see, probably because of the shortened version of his first name.
It's odd that Bikini Atoll was referenced twice in the clues: often when you have a word used more than once, the reference is changed. I liked 16A: Pen sound (OINK), though I wasn't fooled for a second on that one, anyway. A few of the question mark clues didn't even really feel like a misdirection. I mean, 22A: Point of a vampire story? If it wasn't "stake" it was going to be FANG. The pair of clues for STRIP/MINED (...scratched the surface for resources?) seemed more of a direct definition.
Well, I liked some of it. About 50-50.
BEEROCLOCK almost carried this on its own for me. I tried five o'clock, then when I got ORO I thought "Could it be 'four o'clock?'" But no. This was much better than that.
You nail pretty much all the bad stuff. I enjoyed the double-bikini clues. I got _TESTS immediately, but had to work on REEF for much longer. The long downs were quite nice, as you mention. I guess I'd put it at maybe more like 65-35 good.
Untimed, but nearly an hour. BEEROCLOCK is awesome (I, too, thought five o'clock at first). I put NbombS in first and slowly changed it as the crosses filled in. I fall more on the good side than the bad with this puzzle, but agree with most of Colum's assessments. SLANG was clued quite well. I never heard the nickname CHARMCITY. I liked the HERTZ/METZ cross.ReplyDelete