Drag queen in La Cage aux Folles / MON 7-29-13 / Two-character David Mamet play / White House grp that meets in Situation Room / Nightstick carrier / Dizzying designs / Bikini blast briefly / Magazine whose cover has red border
Monday, July 29, 2013
Constructor: Andrea Carla Michaels
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: [Body part + verb-ING] — compound adjectives formed by body part + present participle of a verb, all clued [Like [some kind of] story]:
- 20A: Like a sweet story (HEART-WARMING)
- 33A: Like an unbelievable story (EYE-ROLLING)
- 44A: Like a hilarious story (GUT-BUSTING)
- 56A: Like a hilarious story (KNEE-SLAPPING)
Word of the Day: "OLEANNA" (41A: Two-character David Mamet play) —
Oleanna (1992), a play by David Mamet. [Orpheum Theatre, 513 perf.] Carol (Rebecca Pidgeon), a college student having difficulty in a particular course, goes to John (William H. Macy), her pedantic and somewhat professor, in his office. Their conversation is perfunctory yet Carol, encouraged by a feminist group on campus, later claims sexual harassment charges against John. The twosome's next meeting, in which he tries to get her to drop the charges, goes badly, and by their third conversation the embittered John (who has been denied tenure because of the scandal) lashes out and makes the claims come true. Was John the victim or was Carol? The insightful drama led to stimulating discussion Off Broadway for nearly two years.
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/oleanna-1#ixzz2aOBU4ZEl
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EYE-ROLLING." I see that folks have done so, but it doesn't Google strongly at all, that phrase, "eye-rolling story." But that's a nit. Let's allow that that is a great entry, or an adequate one, at least. Points still stand: theme is a bit tepid, fourth story should've been something besides "hilarious." But the bigger problem here is how startlingly unclean the fill is. On a Monday? From a very practiced and accomplished Monday constructor who practically signed the puzzle (see 1A)? Semi-inexplicable.
IGLU (32D: Eskimo home: Var.). That particular spelling should be reserved for moments of sheer desperation, when something great can be salvaged no other way. On a Monday!?!? No way we should be subjected to that. Also, so many partials. Again, this is a Monday, and this is a pro constructor, so what is with the laziness? ABOW? ACAN? ORME? Then there's crossing abbrevs. like DIAM. / INITS and NSC / N-TEST. ABABA can be clued only one boring fill-in-the-blank way (15A: Addis ___, Ethiopia). Putting a not-very-famous fictional drag queen in your puzzle is fine—who doesn't like drag queens?—but here, it's kind of a cheap way to get "Z"s in the puzzle. They're like dazzle camouflage—intended to draw your eye away from the various messes. ZAZA isn't really right for a Monday. This whole puzzle just doesn't have the polish that Andrea usually prides herself on and demands of other early-week puzzles.
Now that I think of it, I don't care about ZAZA (9D: Drag queen in "La Cage aux Folles"), and I don't care much about the theme or its inconsistencies (my theme expectations on Monday are somewhat low, I think). But I do care about the fill. The theme just isn't demanding or sparkling enough to justify the mediocrity. I do love PAD THAI (7D: Asian noodle dish with peanuts) and TORPEDO, though. Just wish there were more interesting answers, less crosswordese, less short junk.