Hardy hog breed / THU 4-17-14 / Pioneer in New Criticism / Palestinian nominee for Best Foreign Language Film of 2013 / Fine dandy in old slang
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (though once again, I wouldn't really know, as the NYT continues to fail to put out a readable .puz file on time so I'm using their truly terrible "Play For Fun" interface, which advances the cursor against your will to apparently random parts of the grid once you've completed an answer … it's like the Enjoyment Crushing Society over there, my god…)
THEME: THINK / THROUGH (45A: With 61-Across, carefully consider … or a clue to this puzzle's theme) — you have to mentally supply THROUGH in intersecting phrases, as the first word in the phrase *literally* runs through the latter part of the phrase:
- WENT [thru] THE ROOF
- PAID [thru] THE NOSE
- SHOT [thru] THE HEART
- ROSE [thru] THE RANKS
Mixed bag. Novel grid design is a plus, and the core concept is clever. I did not, however, like the way the theme execution made for nonsense words in the Downs. I guess I'm questioning the way "THROUGH" is being used here. Intersecting conveys a better sense of THROUGH. Here, it's like THE just stepped a little to make room for the first word. THEN ROOF just looks silly. [Direction from caveman contractor following "Put up walls"!?]. Revealer oddly wasn't. I.e. I picked up on the concept reasonably early, so when I got to the "revealer" it was a gimme, not a revelation.
Fill on this one was so-so. I LOST IT and STINK AT feel barely legitimate as cohesive phrases, and I'm somewhat surprised a lot of the short fill is as mediocre as it is. DUROC, yikes (50A: Hardy hog breed). DUROC is the new ATLI (see yesterday). Lots more iffy short fill—too much to list. I've seen I AM SO DEAD before — twice — so though you may like it, it's straight out of a constructing software word list. Clue on TROT is not good, but we are subjected to it because of the perceived "need" to have three identical clues in a row (48D: Go quickly). It's telling that all the actual examples of TROT in a sentence, if you google it, refer to its slowness relative to an *actual* quick pace. "The horses trotted slowly through the night. "Our horses slowed to a trot." So, yes, it's faster than walking. But only in a fairly tortured and tenuous way would you use it to mean "go quickly."
AM NOT is a retort to a specific accusation, not a broad existential statement. How ["You know nothing about me"] works, I have no idea. [Stare with an open mouth] is GAPE. If not, it's GAWK. It is GAWP … well, never in real life, but in crossword puzzles, it's real life shmeal life. The clue on OKE is unintentionally hilarious: ["Fine and dandy," in old slang]. Old? You mean, older than "fine and dandy"? Wow, that is old. When "fine and dandy" is your "After" photo, that is … something. But again, the theme has a certain charm, and the puzzle is kind of smiling at you, so why not just focus on that. Also, this puzzle was half-written by a woman, so the three-week-long sausagefest has … well, not ended, but been slightly mitigated, at any rate. Hurray?