Faerie Queene woman whose name means peace / MON 6-27-16 / Spanish red wine / Insult slangily / Admonishment for public displays of affection / Vaping need informally / Lyft competitor
Monday, June 27, 2016
Constructor: Kevan Choset
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: LIVES OF EASE (59A: Carefree existences ... or, punnily, what 17-, 27- and 45-Across have) — answers are LIVES (i.e. human beings) with only "E"s as vowels in their names:
- PEE WEE REESE (17A: 1940w-'50s Dodgers great who lent support to Jackie Robinson)
- ELLEN DEGENERES (27A: Comedian who hosted the 2014 Oscars)
- RENEE ZELLWEGER (45A: Actress with the classic line "You had me at hello")
Rioja [ˈrjoxa] is a wine region in Spain, with Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.Ca., "Qualified Designation of Origin"). Rioja wine is made from grapes grown in the autonomous communities of La Rioja and Navarre, and the Basque province of Álava. Rioja is further subdivided into three zones: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. Many wines have traditionally blended fruit from all three regions, though there is a slow growth in single-zone wines. (wikipedia)
PEE WEE REESE catapulted me into the grid (though not before I had a RIOJO/A trip-up; this is why you check your crosses, always. RIOJO / ORE would've looked fine to my eyes ... but 5D clue says otherwise). After I got the NW squared away, I entered answers almost as fast as I could type, with only two real moments of hesitation. The first was at 27D: Vaping need, informally. First, I read it as "vamping" and wanted MIKE (you know, microphone, "informally"). My iPhone autocorrect also insists that "vaping" is "vamping," by the way. When I realized, no, it's "vaping," I just froze. What does one need in order to vape, except possibly "desperation" or "lack of dignity"? E-CIG? That's a weird way to clue E-CIG. Like cluing FOOD [Eating need]. Gah. The less you ask me to know about or think about vaping, the happier we're all gonna be.
The next and final slow-down was the revealer. Had LIVES OF ... and wanted EASE, but the phrase LIVES OF EASE has so little snap, so little crispness, that I couldn't take it seriously as a revealer. The plural is what makes it weird. It's a limping revealer. But it's accurate enough, and the LIVES part takes what could be a supremely dumb idea (themers where the only vowels are Es!!!) and gives it focus and specificity (all the answers are people, i.e. LIVES). Approved.
13 minutes! Unh! In your face ... time!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]