Betty who appeared in Who Framed Roger Rabbit / TUE 1-6-15 / Starling Silence of Lambs protagonist / Image often accompanying phrase Legalize it
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Tuesday*)
THEME: DNA (62D: Molecule hidden in 4-, 11-, 23-, 25- and 29-Down) — All theme answers contain letter string "DNA" somewhere in side them (strung across two words)
- TOOTH AND NAIL (4D: Fierce way to fight)
- BRAND NAMES (29D: Wilson and Hoover, but not Eisenhower)
- OLD NAVY (25D: Gap subsidiary)
- GOOD NATURE (11D: Cheerful disposition)
- ISLAND NATION (23D: Comoros or Barbados)
Betty Boop is an animated cartoon character created by Max Fleischer, with help from animators including Grim Natwick. She originally appeared in the Talkartoonand Betty Boop film series, which were produced by Fleischer Studios and released by Paramount Pictures. She has also been featured in comic strips and mass merchandising.
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POST DOC, but also a good handful of subpar stuff like British ENROL (?), OHIOAN, AT BAR, OHNO. But then the themers are all solid. TOOTH AND NAIL is probably the most vivid and memorable, but it's also the structural outlier (all the rest are two-worders where DNA touches both words—again, one thing I learned from Patrick Berry: hidden/buries word should (ideally) touch all elements in the theme phrase). But this is admittedly a quibble. There are other parts of the grid that are clunky (esp. for a Tuesday). Both ATAD and ABIT? As if one of those weren't off-putting enough. Yuck. Then OOO / YOWIE (an expression no one really ever uses as a true substitute for "Ouch!" except maybe in comics). STADIA … legal but never-used plural. ENOS … I don't mind your mom and dad, ENOS, but I've never been the biggest fan of you. Also, the puzzle is *heavily* segmented, which made it a bit of a pain to move through—luckily that fat center was pretty easy, with both CLARICE and OLDNAVY as gimmes (for me).
A word about POT LEAF (31D: Image often accompanying the phrase "Legalize it"). This is the fourth puzzle I've done this calendar year by an under-30 constructor in which drugs and/or normally covered body parts and/or bodily fluids and/or sexual terminology has figured prominently. And, in theory, I have no problem with any of these things. But there does seem to be a prevailing notion among younger constructors at the moment that the way you make your puzzles "young" is by a. making drug references, b. showing how much you know about tech and social media, or c. including answers that would make a 14-year-old boy titter (and these constructors are all former "boys"). So … I guess I'm calling for restraint of some kind. Balance. Formerly proscribed entries can be fun, but if your primary goal when filling puzzles is to make oldsters go "OH NO, NUDE TITS!" then I think you need to reconsider your goals. That said, I have no real problem with POT LEAF. It's definitely a thing. I have no real problem with pot, either. I just want younger constructors to be more thoughtful about exactly what "younger" means. [I'll deal with my concerns about contemporary pop culture ephemera later…]