Eponymous Belgian city / THU 1-2-20 / Money move tracker for shortFamously nonunionized employee / Many John Wayne movies informally / Former mideast alliance for brief

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative problem: Easyish (4:48)

THEME: THE DARK SIDE (60A: The place Darth Vader will get his power … or what eight solutions on this puzzle share) — black sq. earlier than and after solutions on the identical row represents the phrase “DARK” (on the finish and starting of every reply, respectively):

Theme solutions:

  • AFRAID OF THE (DARK) (17A: Nyctophobic) / (DARK) MAN (19A: 1990 Sam Raimi superhero movie)
  • “WAIT UNTIL (DARK) (23A: 1967 thriller for which Audrey Hepburn acquired an Oscar nomination) / (DARK) HORSE (26A: Shock winner)
  • BE IN THE (DARK) (36A: Not know one thing others know) / (DARK) ‘N’ STORMY (38A: Cocktail made with ginger beer)
  • AFTER (DARK) (51A: Publish-sunset) / (DARK) CHOCOLATE (53A: Candy that lacks milk)

Phrase of the Day: AIR SINAI (3D: Tel Aviv-to-Cairo service) —

Air Sinai (Arabicسيناء للطيران‎ Sīna’ lil-Ṭayyarān) is an airline primarily based in CairoEgypt. It operates as a ‘paper-airline’ for mother or father firm EgyptAir below a wet lease-like settlement to serve flights solely between Egypt and Israel. // The airline was established in 1982 to fly scheduled companies between Egypt and Israel (on routes beforehand flown by Nefertiti Aviation), which for political causes couldn’t be dealt with by mother or father firm EgyptAir. […] Air Sinai ceased airline operations in its personal proper in 2002 and operates as a ‘paper airline’ for its mother or father firm, EgyptAir, utilizing their plane with none markings figuring out both service, though some have been noticed in Tel Aviv in full EgyptAir branding. Flights should not listed in EgyptAir schedules and don’t seem on their web site or route maps both. As of 2014 Air Sinai flights are displayed on arrival and departure boards at Cairo Airport utilizing the IATA code 4D. (wikipedia)

• • •

Effectively that is dreary. I’ve seen the black-square-equals-BLACK earlier than, for positive, and I might be stunned if I hadn’t seen -DARK as effectively, however the over-familiarity of the idea is not even the primary drawback. You may take one thing that is technically been accomplished earlier than and nonetheless make it contemporary and enjoyable, give it a twist, throw a cool revealer in there, and many others. However this one simply clonks. Kuh-thud. The revealer is a whole miss as a result of the phrase, nevertheless colourful, misses relating to describing the connection between the 2 solutions that share the DARK sq.. The THE simply feels incorrect and off. The solutions share *A* darkish facet, of types, however not THE. The annoyingness of THE is compounded by the truth that THE is a part of not one however two of the themers themselves: AFRAID OF *THE* DARK, BE IN *THE* DARK—which ends up in one more drawback, which is all the primary themers (i.e. those that *finish* with DARK) are the identical form of DARK. It is simply … a time-of-day DARK. The type that comes when the solar goes down. Over and again and again. BE IN THE DARK is metaphorical, I assume, however Audrey Hepburn waits till after darkish so Alan Arkin (so good!) shall be actually in the dead of night, giving her a bonus, since she is blind and is thus not afraid of the darkish. It is relentlessly the identical, this darkish, and the truth that “the darkish” seems twice simply reinforces this truth. The second-half themers (those *starting* with DARK) no less than get to be extra metaphorical, relate to paint, and many others. A number of completely different points of DARK. My level is I obtained this theme early and there have been no surprises ready, no twists, no surprising moments, no laughter, only a mirthless march to the top, the place not even “Star Wars” might save this factor. At the very least it was straightforward.

This felt very straightforward, however trying again over the grid, I see I obtained no less than somewhat hung up far and wide. That complete SCONES (5A: Choices at many coffeehouses) / EFFECT (15A: Outcome) / CFO (6D: Money move tracker, for brief) / OFF-SITE (7D: Like a lot freelance work) space actually made me work. After which, although “WAIT UNTIL DARK” was a gimme, and let me know there was one thing lacking, it took me a bit to determine it out. I first thought the rebus had one thing to do with the “U” (like possibly UNTIL occupied a single field, one way or the other), after which, even after I knew it was a black-square-equals-DARK theme, I stored forgetting which solutions had been themers, and so questioning, for instance, what sort of [Surprise winner] might be 5 letters and begin with “H”!?! Then I might get the reply, go “D’oh!,” and maintain transferring. Had hassle with ATV (32D: Transport to distant areas, briefly), and with MUSK (29D: Fragrance ingredient), and with CURBS (54D: Checks), and had no concept that DARK ‘N’ STORMY was canonically a two-apostrophe ‘N’ reply versus an ampersand reply or a easy “AND” reply. Did not take me too lengthy to suss it out, since I knew for positive the title of the drink, however nonetheless, seconds are seconds they usually add up. However as I say, the remainder of this was very straightforward, so I nonetheless got here out quick. Bludgeoningly boring theme, boring fill—a particular down-turn from yesterday. Nonetheless rootin’ for you, 2020!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Erik Agard was lately made editor of the USA Right now crossword and all of the sudden that puzzle is … good. Excellent. They’re all fairly straightforward (M/T degree), however they routinely put the NYT to disgrace with their readability and forex and broad (and inclusive) body of reference. Additionally, to date effectively over half the constructors have been ladies. If he can maintain it at even 33% he shall be (and I can not say this strongly sufficient) *crushing* the NYTXW on this division. Unsure how *abruptly* there are ample feminine constructors, and their puzzles are actually good? It is nearly just like the editor’s imaginative and prescient and management … issues? Anyway, you could find it on the USA Right now web site, or get the app and resolve it on no matter system you employ (or simply print it out from the app and resolve it in your clipboard in a comfortable chair along with your morning espresso, which is what I do)

P.P.S. talking of girls constructors, Stella Zawistowski simply began her personal impartial crossword web site, “Tough As Nails,” the place she shall be providing Very Exhausting themelesses (she’s a prime speed-solver and he or she likes her puzzles robust). I solved the primary one and it was very exhausting, however very pleasant as effectively. Satisfying. Her work shall be a welcome addition to the Puzzleverse.

[Observe Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

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