Monday, July 20, 2015
Constructor: John Westwig
Relative difficulty: Easy, but with some tricky names
THEME: "Morning person," as in a person with A.M. initials
Word of the Day: CAPRI (14A: Italy's Isle of ___ )
Capri’s single most famous attraction is the Grotto Azzura, a stunning sea cave illuminated by an other-worldly blue light. The easiest way to visit is to take a tour from Marina Grande. This costs €26.50, comprising the return boat trip, a rowing boat into the cave, and the cave's admission fee. Allow a good hour. -- Lonely Planet
• • •
- (17A: Sony co-founder) AKIO MORITA
- (24A: 2013 Wimbledon champion) ANDY MURRAY
- (50A: Longtime "Monday Night Football" sportscaster) AL MICHAELS
- (61A: "Love Story" actress) ALI MACGRAW
- (37A: Early riser ... or what each of 17-, 24-, 50- and 61-Across is? MORNING PERSON
Another, which I used here, is to try to guess the theme from just the first theme entry. It took me two here, but when I saw AKIO MORITA and ANDY MURRAY I figured that that 13-letter entry across the middle was going to be MORNING PEOPLE. It was actually MORNING PERSON, which is the better way to do it, since you hear that phrase a lot more often in the singular.
So that's a decent Monday theme. A little surprise-spoiling when the revealer is in the center of the grid instead of at the end, but if you played the guessing game I described above then it didn't affect your solve.
A 13-letter entry across the center + four ten-letter theme entries means the constructor had to do some fancy stepping with the fill. Lots of fun stuff in the grid's 6- and 8-letter downs: ED HARRIS (not a morning person), OLD MONEY, AGE GAP, WAKE UP, ROBINSON, SKEWER and also IF I MAY going across.
But with five theme entries and the always tricky 13-across-the-middle, you're probably going to get some INO CLU PALO BRYN SIM OVA action as well. If you have not heard of ALI MACGRAW then the clue for CLU will not help. Do the kids these days know who AKIO MORITA was? If not, tough entry.
Grading time, and this one gets a B-. The theme is on point for a Monday, but the fill gets RATTY (8D) and tricky name-heavy a bit much for the first day of the week. No one wants to get Naticked on Monday! Ruins your confidence for the week! So I would've scheduled this on a Tuesday.
Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent of Crossworld for five more days