Florentine painter Fra Lippo — MONDAY, Sep. 21 2009 — Oslo's country to natives / Toward the left side of ship / Leave in to a proofer
Monday, September 21, 2009
Constructor: Mark Feldman
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: MAGAZINE READERS (39A: What 17-, 20-, 56- and 60-Across are?) — four theme answers are familiar phrases that might also describe readers of certain magazines; first word in every case is a magazine title.
Word of the Day: Fra Lippo LIPPI (7D: Florentine painter Fra Lippo _____) — Fra' Filippo Lippi (1406 – October 8, 1469), also called Lippo Lippi, was an Italian painter of the Italian Quattrocento (15th century) school. (wikipedia)
Most people (I think) will know this guy's name because of the Robert Browning poem about him. It's a staple of college lit classes:
Fra Lippo Lippi is an 1855 dramatic monologue written by the Victorian poet Robert Browning. Throughout this poem, Browning depicts a 15th century real-life painter, Filippo Lippi, who faces the conflict of a religious life committed to the Church or a life of leisure. The poem asks the question whether art should be true to life or an idealized image of life. (wikipedia)
Cute concept, but there are a few problems. The biggest is that MONEY LOVER just isn't a strong stand-alone phrase. At all. Google it and see. Really poor attestation. I was sitting here marking up the puzzle last night, wondering if I wasn't being a little too hard on MONEY LOVER, and then my wife's voice came from the next room: "Is MONEY LOVER a thing?" Well, yes and no. Mostly no. The other descriptions of magazine readers are all solid and snappy. I like that the whole phrase, not just the first word, is involved in the theme.
- 17A: Official with a stopwatch (TIME keeper)
- 20A: Bragging sort (SELF promoter)
- 56A: One good at forming connections with others (PEOPLE person)
- 60A: Miser, e.g. (MONEY lover)
The non-theme fill today is pretty rough, much rougher than Monday fill oughta be. It's laden with crosswordese, and then there are a handful of wincers that stand out starkly as desperate fill. LIPPI is not great, though I will say that the way the theme answers are arranged here, it's hard to make that top section come out much better. There shouldn't have been as many issues with the far west, so I don't know whom or what you blame NORGE on (24D: Oslo's country, to natives), but someone needs blaming. God Awful. I didn't have a clue what [Cassiterite] was — I don't mind it terribly as a clue, but like LIPPI and NORGE, TINORE stands out strongly as an oddity that exists not for color and entertainment, but because nothing else would work. Everything I've complained about in this paragraph crosses a theme answer, which should give you some idea of how unexpectedly tyrannical theme answers can be when you're trying to build a grid.
APORT is a real word (52D: Toward the left side of a ship) but felt wonky to me — again, a word you wouldn't use if you didn't have to — and for some reason "proofer" is a word that's making me laugh this morning (68A: "Leave in," to a proofer). Not in a bad way.
That is all.
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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