Ray Charles hit of 1963 / TUE 6-12-12 / Rex Harrison's singer/actor son / Humorist Barry / Illegally take old-style / Tom Clancy's 2008 video game / 1960 Elia Kazan film
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Constructor: Peter A. Collins
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: BRAD PITT (1D: With 59-Down, star of the work revealed by the first letters of the Across clues, which hint at this puzzle's theme) — grid contains four movies with "RIVER" in their titles. There is also a movie with "RIO" in its title. [Because it was obvious, I forgot to include it in the initial posting—the first letters of the Across clues spell out "The Robert Redford Film 'A River Runs Through It'"]
Word of the Day: Carolina HERRERA (26D: Designer Carolina) —
Carolina Herrera (born María Carolina Josefina Pacanins y Niño (born January 8, 1939) is a Venezuelan and naturalized American fashion designer and entrepreneur who founded her eponymous company in 1980. (wikipedia)
• • •
BRAD PITT, so why not just put the whole "hint" in the clue itself? (A: because that's stupid ... my point is it's no stupider than this). You have essentially forced yourself to write Across clues that are artificially bound by this first-letter-spells-a-hint nonsense, which means those clues are often awkward or insane or inappropriate for the day of the week (e.g. Rex Harrison's singer/actor son?? Ray Charles hit of 1963??, etc.). Why tie your hands (utterly) unnecessarily? Then there's the bigger, much bigger issue, of having RIVER after RIVER after RIVER after RIVER in my grid (this almost makes me welcome the amazing inconsistency of RIO). I'm just writing the same 5-letter word into the grid, over and over??? This is terrible on so many levels. Dull, repetitive ... pointless. Just pointless. I've never seen the NYT stoop to this repeated word nonsense that I can recall. Not a word of RIVER's size, anyway. In a 15x15 grid?? Baffling.
WILD RIVER" is in there ... why? (A: because it creates symmetry with "MOON RIVER", which is the ONLY RIVER THAT IS NOT IN A MOVIE TITLE ... but at this point who even cares?). Is "WILD RIVER" famous? Not nearly as famous as all the others. [Word Association Interlude: DON CORLEONE was played by Marlon Brando who starred in "The Wild One" and the Elia Kazan film "On the Waterfront" ... but not in the Elia Kazan film "WILD RIVER"] Then there's the fact that the multiple RIVERs are not "a river" and they don't "run through" anything, any more than any word runs through any other word in a crossword. Then there's the fact that the longest Acrosses have nothing to do with the theme (which would, ironically, be more distracting if the puzzle were less terrible). Then there's the oft-drecky fill like THERMO and REAVE and NOVO and EEC and All The Damned Names ...
In order to see what a good puzzle with "A River Runs Through It" as its theme looks like, see this Liz Gorski gem from five years back. And then weep for where we have ended up.
- 3D: 1948 John Wayne Western ("RED RIVER")
- 25A: First part of a 1952 best seller's title, followed by 37- and 51-Across ("THE BRIDGE / OVER THE / RIVER KWAI") — just now realizing that this is the *book* title, which is different from the movie title (movie has "on" instead of "over"); I'm still counting this as a movie title because that movie is so much more iconic than the book.
- 9D: 1960 Elia Kazan movie ("WILD RIVER")
- 33D: It's "wider than a mile," in an old song ("MOON RIVER")
- 39D: 1959 John Wayne western ("RIO BRAVO")
- 26D: Designer Carolina ___ (HERRERA) — Totally unknown to me. Needed many crosses.
- 38D: Tom Clancy's ___ (2008 video game) (END WAR) — Almost totally unknown to me (i.e. it rings the faintest of bells). Needed many crosses.
- 56A: Total dive, say (RAT TRAP) — I'm in the middle of Patti Smith's "Just Kids." Fascinating, touching memoir about her longtime relationship/friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith lived in many a RAT TRAP in her youth.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to write my "FULL MOON" puzzle ... 'cause the grid is going to be FULL of MOONs. Get it? "MOONRAKER!" "PAPER MOON!" "MOON OVER MIAMI!" "MOON OVER PARADOR!" It's gonna be awesome.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld