Flag carrier of Japan / TUE 2-10-15 / Where redneck gets red / George who signed Declaration of Independence / Higgledy-piggledy
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Constructor: Kurt Mengel and Jan-Michele Gianette
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Sick day — phrases meaning, vaguely, "ailing," are clued as if they had specific relation to some occupation:
- OUT OF SORTS (17A: The ailing postal worker was …)
- FEELING PUNK (24A: The ailing rock star was …)
- UNDER THE WEATHER (38A: The ailing meteorologist was …)
- WAY BELOW PAR (47A: The ailing golfer was …)
- IN THE DUMPS (59A: The ailing trash collector was …)
George Wythe (1726 – June 8, 1806) was the first American law professor, a noted classics scholar and Virginia judge, as well as a prominent opponent of slavery. The first of the seven Virginia signatories of the United States Declaration of Independence, Wythe served as one of Virginia's representatives to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. Wythe taught and was a mentor to Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, Henry Clay and other men who became American leaders.
• • •
FEELING PUNK) that virtually no one says (anymore? Maybe they said it at some point, but not in my lifetime / in my vicinity). Then we've got another that is an obvious, ridiculous cheat. If you want them all to be parallel (and you do), you can't add "WAY" to beginning of them. WAY BELOW PAR is as real / valid as WAY OUT OF SORTS, i.e. no no no. You feel BELOW PAR. "WAY" is an adverbial cheat to make symmetry happen. No. You have to stop yourself when stuff like this happens and find a better way through the forest. Well, maybe you don't, since the puzzle was somehow accepted and published, but … I'm still gonna say you do.
[This movie is great]
SHOOT 'EM UP and STEEL BANDS) (my daughter plays in one of the latter). But the rest of the grid feels like it was filled in a tin-ear, careless kind of way. I'll eat my hat if this was software-assisted—there are just too many weird, rough parts that could've been smoothed out. Multiple HOME PLATES—that's a long answer where you could add color and interest to you grid, and instead all I can think of is "they don't come in sets." You go with that answer only if baseball is a foreign concept to you. And WOMYN, dear lord. I live my life surrounded by feminists of all stripes, and except in some kind of weird, retro '80s/'90s ironical fashion, no one, I repeat, no one, actually calls "Half of humanity" WOMYN. It could make a cute answer a. on a different day of the week, and b. with a much much better, more appropriate clue. But here, with this clue, no. And then, in the massive outlier category, we have WYTHE. Who? PSHAW to that. This is a Tuesday puzzle with familiar, sub-rudimentary fill, and then (completely unnecessarily, as this grid could've been filled infinite ways) you plunk down some guy who signed the Declaration of Independence and was never heard from again? Lastly, there's just the overall quality of the short fill, which is demonstrably poor. ODON SUEY OLES DAT APER ANA ASTO OSAY. This is a 78-worder! That's the max. You are not going to get an easier grid to fill, and you can't (please, I'm begging you) just fill it with "whatever works."
No, one last thing. FEELING PUNK has a weak connection between clue and answer. All the other clue/answer pairings have close, obvious connections; meteorologists deal with WEATHER, golfers try to shoot under PAR, and so on. But only a small fraction of "rock stars" have anything to do with PUNK. It's like the clue writer doesn't really know the topic and assumes that rock = punk = "whatever, I don't really listen to it." No HOME PLATES for this puzzle!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld