God of south wind / THU 2-24-11 / Fashion rule for liberated / Muscovite prince moneybag / End of 1978 new-wave album title
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Constructor: Gary Cee
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: NO UNDERWEAR (35A: Fashion rule for the liberated ... or one of four arrangements found literally in this puzzle) — letters "NO" are found underneath the letters "WEAR" four times in the grid
Word of the Day: GIING (64A: Cleaning, as if for military inspection) —
tr.v. Slang, GI'd, GI'ing, GI's.
To clean (barracks, for example) thoroughly for or as if for an inspection.
People will probably like this one for its sassy theme — which is undeniably clever. I didn't care for the construction of the grid overall, though, which is disappointing, because I really want to like this puzzle. I just didn't think the fill was, in general, up to the quality of the theme. I want to love WE ARE DEVO (20A: End of a 1978 new-wave album title), but the constructor in me balks at the idea of the "end of a ... title" (esp. one of that length) being a suitable stand-alone answer in the grid. The NE felt a little icky — ARIANA (11D: Afghanistan's national airline) is one of those answers constructors know and (speaking for myself) try hard not to have to use because it's a relatively obscure proper noun and a massive grid crutch, giving you lots of handy letters in a handy arrangement. PHENOL crossing wasn't lovely either (24A: Embalming chemical).
But let's write my reaction in that NE corner off to personal prejudice. Fine. My dislike for the SW corner is going to be harder to write off. That is one ugly mixture, from the insanely improbable-looking GIING (dear lord) to the random pope+Roman numeral *crossing a prince+Roman numeral* (!!!) (44D: 10th-century pope interred at St. Peter's Basilica + 58A: Muscovite prince known as "Moneybag") to the apostrophized WEARIN' (50A: "The ___ o' the Green" (old Irish ballad)) to the bizarreness of an alleged god named NOTUS (54A: God of the south wind) . . . yikes. ROSSSEA (46A: Body of water named for an English explorer) is like ARIANA to me — all I see is "exotic crutch." It's hard not to love a puzzle with a GOLD PIANO (55A: Elvis instrument now in the Country Music Hall of Fame) and NO UNDERWEAR, but I didn't love this one. Again, smart theme, but subpar fill.
Side note: didn't like the clue on the revealer, NO UNDERWEAR. Specifically, I didn't like "rule." It's a state of being, not a "rule." Do people really make the non-wearing of underwear a "rule?" What a weird issue to be a hardliner about. Also, did not like that the "WEAR" in "WEARIN'" is from the same semantic universe as the "WEAR" in UNDERWEAR (whereas the other "WEAR" strings have nothing to do with clothing or the lack thereof).
- 1A: Zapper's casualty (GNAT) — me, immediately: "TVAD"
- 43A: Lötschberg Tunnel locale (ALP) — just ... an ALP. One of them, over there, somewhere.
- 55D: Sound heard at the end of "Bohemian Rhapsody" (GONG) — I do not remember this, and yet I got it off the first "G"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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