Architectural crossbeam / SAT 10-11-14 / Benson actor Phillips / Tourist city on Yamuna / Biblical land in what is now Yemen / Force to walk with arms pinned behind / Country that includes islands of Gozo Comino / Best Director of 1947 1954 /
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Constructor: Evans Clinchy
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: TRAVE (2D: Architectural crossbeam) —
A wooden frame used to confine a horse being shod.
• • •
Yes, this will do. Higher word count than yesterday, resulting in more interesting fill, with only a modicum more junk (the more 3- and 4-letter words, typically, the more junk). It's been a big week for Laotian currency—who would've guessed? (46A: Laotian money = KIP). But honestly, the only words that grated at all were YER, LII, ATME and ADP (!?!?!). Oh, and TRAVE, but that didn't "grate" so much as "expose my ignorance of a word." Rest of the grid felt quite clean, though the vibe is a bit … vanilla? Can a vibe be vanilla? I like the contemporary feel of stuff like "BREAKING BAD" and KEVIN DURANT and SMART PHONES but none of that felt particularly daring or inventive. I found myself more nodding in approval than cheering. Except with FROG MARCH. Pretty sure I cheered for FROG MARCH.
I also like GREASE THE WHEELS, but I don't really understand the clue? Or, rather, I don't know why the clue went all literal. I didn't know wheels were literally greased (to make them roll … more smoothly?). I know the term GREASE THE WHEELS only as an idiomatic expression, usually referring to bribery or other forms of possibly illicit coaxing. Puzzle made me wonder whether that was right, or whether I had just imagined it because "greasing palms" is a bribery expression. But no, I didn't imagine it, GREASE THE WHEELS does have a meaning that skews in that direction. My point is I've never heard the expression used literally. Why you go literal over idiomatic, esp. w/ a "?" clue, I don't get. But I also don't think this is a big deal. Just a matter of taste. I still like the answer, and the puzzle as a whole. For a debut construction (… unless "Evans Clinchy" is a pseudonym, which it Really sounds like it is, but almost certainly isn't ...), this is fine work.
Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern ABBEY." Or, I don't know, some harder clue for ABBEY that relied on its actual definition. That 1D was a total gimme, and when you Gim Me the first letters of all those long Acrosses, right off the bat, that's giving me a lot. Even the dreaded TRAVE / YER crossing couldn't keep me from blowing right through that NW section. Nothing much after that slowed me down either. SOC.—that, I didn't get. I'm guessing now that it refers to the SOCialist Party? I wouldn't call it a [Third party label: Abbr.]. It's way down the list of parties. 6th party, maybe. I went with AMIR at first for 31D: Eastern leader (AGHA). Thank god that was wrong. Jimmy BAIO is pretty damned obscure, but crosses were easy and BAIO is certainly a showbiz name, so that didn't slow me down either. ADP = super-icky and also unknown to me, but I didn't even see it, so easy was that SE section. Had TEAKS and TANDEM and DIVA and EMIR in place, so got all the long Acrosses easily and never had to look at those little Downs. Finished a shade over 6, without speeding at all—that's a helluva Easy Saturday.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld