Rapper with 2013 #1 album Born Sinner / SUN 11-3-13 / Politico Kefauver / Jet Ski competitor / Greek goddess of witchcraft / Fourth-longest river of Europe / Legendary Scottish swimmer / French colony until 1953
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Constructor: Andy Kravis and Victor Barocas
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "Stolen Produce" — half the theme answers are two-word phrases where first word is a FRUIT and the second word is a synonym for "FLIES" (i.e. "departs"). Other half of the theme answers are paired with the fruit answers; they are represented in the grid without the letters of the FRUIT in question (because the FRUIT has "flown"):
GRAPE LEAVES => letters in "GRAPE" (i.e. G, R, A, P, and E) "leave" from the phrase GERMAN SHEPHERDS (23A: Many service dogs, after 29-Across?), leaving you with EMNSHEHRDS
- GRAPE LEAVES GERMAN SHEPHERDS, thus EMNSHEHRDS
- DATE BOOKS from COMPOUND FRACTURE, thus COMPOUNFRCUR
- LEMON DROPS from LOCH NESS MONSTER, thus OCHNSSSTER
- BANANA SPLITS from BARNUM AND BAILEY, thus RUMDBILEY
- FRUIT FLIES from OXFORD UNIVERSITY, thus OXODNVERSIY
Helen, thy beauty is to meLike those Nicéan barks of yore,That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,The weary, way-worn wanderer boreTo his own native shore.
On desperate seas long wont to roam,Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,Thy Naiad airs have brought me homeTo the glory that was Greece,And the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo! in yon brilliant window-nicheHow statue-like I see thee stand,The agate lamp within thy hand!Ah, Psyche, from the regions whichAre Holy-Land!
• • •
Hard to express how much I dislike this theme, and themes like it. I deeply resent having to write nonsense into my grid. And haphazard nonsense at that. EMNSHEHRDS? OCHNSSSTER? Ugh. Just painful to have to go back and forth and check the letters that have "flown." I have no doubt that the theme is complex and difficult to execute etc., but as a solving experience it was deeply unsatisfactory. The nonsense words added a layer of difficulty, one which would normally be welcome on a Sunday. But no. Not in this form. No thanks. I'll take my difficulty some other way. Tough/clever clues, maybe. Innovative/ unexpected fill, sure. But OXODNVERSIY? No.
ANDA and IACT (!) aren't great, but a couple of partials in a Sunday—not a real problem. I like HEKATE in her Greek clothing (I'm much more used to the HECATE spelling, probably because I'm much more used to reading Latin and not Greek). There are a few things that slowed me down. First, J. COLE—I know of him, actually, but the title of the album didn't ring a bell at all (31A: Rapper with the 2013 #1 album "Born Sinner"). Then there was FTC (short for Federal Trade Commission—you might've known that, but I just guessed it, then looked it up to make sure) (108D: Org. "protecting America's consumers"). That is not an entity I know a lot about. I had Santa CLARA before Santa CLAUS, and couldn't decide if it was OCHER or OCHRE at first—and that was right in the middle of one of them there nonsense theme answers, so that wasn't fun. Never ever heard of "TO HELEN," nor of OONA Chaplin, whose maternal grandmother (it turns out) is the more crossword-famous OONA O'Neil. [Politico Kefauver] looked esoteric to me, but right when I was about to harrumph and move on, his name came to me clear as day (ESTES). He was a big deal in the mid-20th century—led a committee investigating organized crime. Also ran unsuccessfully on ticket with AES against DDE in '56.
So, somewhat harder than normal because of the gibberish, but otherwise, pretty normal in terms of difficulty. I can definitely appreciate the intricacy of the construction, but this just wasn't my thing—which is weird, as I have often solved and liked Andy's puzzles. This is his NYT debut, but you should know he has his own puzzle site, here. Worth checking out.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld