French WWI general Ferdinand / MON 3-23-15 / Old Russian autocrat / Hit TV drama starring Gary Sinise / Egyptian cobra / Boat with double-bladed paddle / 1977 hard-rock hit by Ted Nugent / Hajj destination / What bracketologist is caught up in
Monday, March 23, 2015
Constructor: Michael Dewey
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (for a Monday)
- KLEPTOMANIA (17A: Compulsion to steal)
- MARCH MADNESS (23A: What a bracketologist is caught up in)
- "CAT SCRATCH FEVER" (37A: 1977 hard-rock hit by Ted Nugent)
- FASHION CRAZE (48A: Miniskirts or oversize sunglasses, once)
- MEDIA FRENZY (59A: What a major scandal results in)
Marshal Ferdinand Foch (French pronunciation: [fɔʃ]), (2 October 1851 – 20 March 1929) was a French soldier, military theorist and the Allied Généralissime during the First World War. (wikipedia)
• • •
This theme is somewhat timely, given that it's currently the season for MARCH MADNESS, and it's also (coincidentally) the day after I rewatched this 1980 classic for the first time in probably thirty years:
[This movie came out in 1980. MIT Mystery Hunt started in 1981. Coincidence? Ha.]
It's pretty straightforward, as themes go. Far more straightforward than most NYT themes. But Monday can be a good stepping-on point for tyros, so if the theme is excessively graspable, no big deal. The grid as a whole is sufficiently lively, so "easy" does not mean "dull" today. I really disliked FOCH in this grid, largely because he seems like a massive outlier, familiarity-wise (in that he lies outside my familiarity entirely, and is probably the least recognizable / generally known answer in this grid by a long shot … though ANYA Seton's fame is sustained almost entirely by crosswords, I think). But I ran my "FOCH sochs!" theory by constructor friends and no one had a problem with it, so it now seems entirely possible that I'm the one who's the outlier. Hmm. The tables are turned. Not sure I like this.
I flailed (!) a lot around the tail-end of FASHION CRAZE. FASHION didn't trigger any familiar phrases in my brain. I guess FASHION CRAZE is a thing. You gotta get to the "A" in "CRAZE" before google actually recommends the phrase FASHION CRAZE, but it seems familiar enough. Fill is a little crusty around the edges (EEK IBEAM ABATH ONA OKIE ETE USOFA CSINY MGT ANYA CZAR), but it holds up.