Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: DR. ZAIUS
Zaius was a statesman who lived in Ape City during the latter half of the 40th century. He was a leading member of the Ape National Assembly, and served a dual role in ape society as Minister of Science in charge of advancing ape knowledge and also as Chief Defender of the Faith. He saw no contradiction between his two roles but in the end he chose to emphasize the blind faith of the ape religion and traditions over the scientific suggestions of the chimpanzees, preferring a stagnant, imperfect, faith-based ape culture that kept humans in check, to the open, scientific, human-curious one proposed by Cornelius and Zira's generation. (Planet of the Apes Wiki)
Well this should have run yesterday, so that yesterday's very much New Year's Day-themed puzzle could have run today. Seeing as how this thing contains no references to New Year's at all, I'm confused as to why the choice was made to run it today instead of yesterday's. It really seems like an accident.
Fortunately I actually like this puzzle. Far and away the best thing is the crossing of ZAIUS [6A: Orangutan doctor in "Planet of the Apes"] and ARIEL [3D: Disney character with a seeshell bikikni top], The notion of these two joining forces is too great to contain. Let the inevitable onslaught of crossover fan fiction begin!
I might have a small problem with the two clues about animal sounds, owing to how one is answered with a generic term for the sound while the other is answered with an onomatopoeia, even though the clues are worded the same way: [1A: Sound from a donkey] for BRAY and [1D: Sound from a bee] for BZZ. This is mostly a personal taste thing; both clues work as phrased, but the lack of conformity feels inelegant.
- SLED [9A: Toy on a snow day] — Used several of these the other day. For sledding. What a scene!
- ZERO [5A: Freezing point of water on the Celsius scale] — With no qualification regarding the effect of pressure, clue is incomplete. HOW DO YOU KNOW I'M AT SEA LEVEL JOEL? HUH?!?
- PERU [8A: Country south of Ecuador] — Meh. Boring geography clue is boring. Gimme something interesting about the country instead.
- SUD [7D: French for "south"] — If you're going to go with that boring geography clue for PERU, it at least ought to be cross-referenced with this one, so that "south" never actually appears in the clues, instead of clunkily appearing twice.
Signed, Jonathan Gibson, triple point of CrossWorld