Blank portion of manuscript / TUE 7-14-15 / Carter-era FBI sting that inspired American Hustle / Aquanaut's workplace / Italian city on Adriatic / Surprising conversationalist of classic TV / Globetrotter's electrical device
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Constructor: Kevin Christian and Brad Wilber
Relative difficulty: Challenging for a Tuesday (4:00)
THEME: SEUSS (54D: Author of the books quoted at 17-, 29-, 38-, 46- and 59-Across) —
- HORTON HEARS A WHO (17A: "Because, after all, / A person's a person, no matter how small")
- THE LORAX (29A: "You're glumping the pond where the Humming-Fish hummed!")
- GREEN EGGS AND HAM (38A: "Would you eat them in a box? / Would you eat them with a fox?")
- HOP ON POP (46A: "Red Ned Ted and Ed in bed")
- IF I RAN THE CIRCUS (59A: "There's no other Showman / Who shows you a show with a Blindfolded Bowman!")
nounnoun: lacuna; plural noun: lacunae; plural noun: lacunas
- an unfilled space or interval; a gap.
"the journal has filled a lacuna in Middle Eastern studies"
- a missing portion in a book or manuscript.
- Anatomya cavity or depression, especially in bone. (google)
• • •I didn't really care for this puzzle. It's just SEUSS titles. I guess the whole cluing approach is novel, with the quotes and all, but fundamentally it's just ... SEUSS titles. Symmetrical SEUSS titles. And not for any reason (I mean, not a tribute or anything). So I don't get it. Too vanilla, themewise. Also, I've never ever heard of "IF I RAN THE CIRCUS." And yet I have heard of "IF I RAN THE ZOO." How ... what ... I am confused. Hang on, looking these damned titles up... Well look at that. He did indeed write both. I have to believe "IF I RAN THE ZOO" is the more famous book (partly because it's the only one I've heard of, partly because google autoprediction says so):
Also, huge boo to the clue on MALE EGO (20A: Easily bruised thing for half the world). First objection has to do with strangeness / difficulty / day-of-the-week issues. This answer, with this clue, crossing the nearly equally un-Tuesday and oddly clued TENT PEG (18D: Something driven at a campsite) ensured that despite my familiarity with all but one of the SEUSS titles, this puzzle ended up playing like a Wednesday rather than a Tuesday. MALE EGO is odd enough without the wannabe-clever Saturday-level clue. Secondly, that clue (esp. its tone) just really rubs me the wrong way, and I'm trying to figure out exactly why. I think the clue is, ironically, anti-feminist. It's winky and cutesy and stupidly totalizing ("half the world"???!). It's what I'd call Fake Feminism. Cosmo Feminism. It should be followed by "amirite, ladies?" and then another round of appletinis. Also, "MALE EGO" feels like a phrase whose currency peaked in 1978. It's not a very useful concept, because ... does it just mean "the ego of men," generally, or is it specifically (straight?) men's ego In Relation To Women, or what? The whole clue / answer pairing strikes me as at least mildly heterosexist. Not that gay men don't have egos, but ... as my (female) friend just said of this clue, it has a very "Me Tarzan, you Jane, me tough caveman but have fragile psyche at same time" implication to it. The sentence "Half the world's egos are easily bruised" is nonsense ... and thus so is the clue.
Lastly, BARI is totally removable crosswordese (64A: Italian city on the Adriatic). Yes, it's a place, that exists, in the world, but you could refill that corner So much better. I don't feel like this got the care and attention it needed in the non-theme fill. Did like "WE'VE MET" and "TOO GOOD" (which I think of more as an expression you use when someone hits a winner against you in tennis ... I assume this meaning also occurred to Brad, as he is a huge tennis fan; see 46D: Mandlikova of tennis).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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