1934 Chemistry Nobelist Harold / THU 7-16-15 / Brigante 1993 Pacino role / Kirk first actor to play Superman on screen 1948 / Entreaty to Rapunzel / Sitcom nickname of Wally's bro
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Constructor: Paula Gamache
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: HAIR / TODAY / GONE / TOMORROW — a puzzle about the removal of unwanted hair, i.e. a spa WAX treatment (59D: Spa treatment hinted at by the ends of 17-, 27-, 44- and 55-Across)
- "LET DOWN YOUR HAIR" (17A: Entreaty to Rapunzel)
- "PSYCHOLOGY TODAY" (27A: Magazine whose website has a "Find a Therapist" feature)
- "THE THRILL IS GONE" (44A: 1970 B.B. King hit)
- "I'LL DO IT TOMORROW" (55A: Procrastinator's promise)
nounnoun: biretta; plural noun: birettas; noun: beretta; plural noun: berettas
- a square cap with three flat projections on top, worn by Roman Catholic clergymen. (google)
• • •
YESSES, if you will ... god that answer hurts even to look at. My computer is angrily red-lining it as we speak...). So, plus: the themers are all 15s. They are varying degrees of solid, but all over the solid threshold. For me, this thematic structural element is the puzzle's one high point. Now, reasonable minds can differ on cornball puns from a million years ago (so ... you can see where I fall in the discussion). But some people are delighted by them. "Ho ho," they say. Or so I imagine. "'HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW.' Delightful!" Now me, if I have to endure a pun puzzle, I'd like it to involve a pun that doesn't feel as old as the hills, but ... your tastes may vary.
[from the episode entitled ... "Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow"]
[Then there's this ...]
But then there's the fact (yes, fact) that this puzzle is just lazily filled. It's got some decent entries (predictably, in the longer Downs), but it's also got some desperately bad stuff and an overall depressing air of neglect. The fill, guys, the fill. Come on. Can I not get a witness today? Today of all days? Are you really gonna stand and defend ENOW and UREY (!?!?!). There's just too much suboptimal going on. NOES and YESSES (omg I still can't look at it!). ALYN!?! Partial names like CLEEF and BRIGGS. Then there's ROY and ROI (actually, that made me laugh, probably unintentionally, but I'll take it). The grim-and-grimmer cross of SPIT AT and -IANA (!?!*$^%#).
I had no idea what the theme was til the end, which is probably the intended and common solving experience. You discover the pun phrase and chuckle. Ta da! So that happened. Minus the chuckling, it happened. This puzzle was neither as clever nor as difficult as I expect a Thursday to be, so some of my resentment toward this puzzle has to do with its appearing today instead of yesterday. But only some. As I was solving, I thought there was something going on with longer answers and adjacent shorter answers ... hear me out: see how HAIR sits right on top of GROOMED? And PSYCHOLOGY sits right underneath CRAZIES?? Weird coincidence, right? Anyway, couldn't make BEAV relate to THRILL no matter how hard I tried (well, not without some pretty terrible and frankly lewd stretching, anyway ...), so I just waited for that WAX revealer to clue me in. The only challenging part of the puzzle was B-VITAMIN. I got the B- and wrote in BUILDING (38D: Part of a complex).
Just so you can see / remember what delightful, clever, well-crafted theme puzzles look like, please please do Aimee Lucido's American Values Club Crossword this week ("Massive Change"). (You should already be a subscriber, but you can buy puzzles a la carte too). It renewed my faith in the simple joys of crossword-solving, as well as my belief that NYT puzzles can be much better than they have been of late.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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