Johnston in 2008-09 news / WED 5-26-10 / Modern educational phenomenon / Pronounced rhythm / Fearsome wooden roller coaster Six Flags Great Adventure
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Constructor: Anna Shechtman
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: GRADE INFLATION (56A: Modern educational phenomenon ... or a hint to 20-, 29-, 38- and 45-Across) — Bs are changed to As in familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: LEVI Johnston (67A: Johnston in 2008-09 news) —
Levi Keith Johnston (born May 3, 1990) is the former fiancé of Bristol Palin. He first received media attention in August 2008 upon Sarah Palin's announcement that Bristol was five months pregnant and that Johnston was the father. Plans for a wedding were cancelled after the couple broke off their engagement in March 2009. // Johnston has since pursued a career in the entertainment industry as an aspiring actor and model, and has engaged in several public feuds with the Palin family. (wikipedia)
Love the concept. Less enthusiastic about the execution. Specifically, did Not like the central theme answer, which is all kinds of out-of-whack. Every other B-to-A change in the puzzle changes a four-letter -MB word to a four-letter -MA word, and then VERA comes along and wrecks the consistency. Either make them all the same, or mix them up completely. Don't give me three perfectly consistent answers and then a big, fat clunker, right in the middle. Further, both "verb endings" and "VERA ENDINGS" are weak — weak base phrase, weak "funny" phrase. This answer is especially glaring given that the rest of the puzzle comes off so well. Really like the other phrases, though GOES OUT ON A LIMA is very poorly clued (20A: Chokes after bean eating?) — "GOES OUT" = "chokes" in what universe? You could pass out, or die, from choking, but choking is synonymous with neither of those things. [Chokes to death], maybe. But just "chokes," no.
Otherwise, this puzzle was fine. Mostly uneventful. Very smoothly filled. Also very easy. Enjoyed BAD MOODS (11D: Peevish states) and really loved WET ONE (2D: Sloppy kiss). Did not like VINE RIPE (38D: Like some tomatoes), despite getting it off the "V," because, as my wife said when I asked her about that answer: "Well, I've heard of VINE-RIPENED..." Exactly. Only trouble spots I can see might be in and around the center, esp. if you don't know who VERA Miles is. Also, you might be like me, and have trouble getting to LAMA from "monk," despite the validity of that association. Everything else: piece of cake.
- 20A: Chokes after bean eating? (GOES OUT ON A LIMA)
- 29A: Monk's karate blows? (LAMA CHOPS)
- 38A: Movie finales featuring actress Miles? (VERA ENDINGS)
- 45A: Result of a sweetener overload? (HONEY COMA)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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