Heroine of ABC's Scandal / SAT 11-14-15 / Jordan to worshipers / Grammy alternatives voted on by public for short / Democratic talking point beginning in 2010 / 1990 #1 hit that starts Yo VIP let's kick it / Latin American seafood dish with citrusy kick / Uses pick-up lines in slang
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Constructor: Kameron Austin Collins
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: GIAN Lorenzo Bernini, designer of St. Peter's Square (20A) —
Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒan loˈrɛntso berˈniːni]; also Gianlorenzo or Giovanni Lorenzo; 7 December 1598 – 28 November 1680) was an Italian sculptor and architect who worked principally in Rome. A major figure in the world of architecture, he was the leading sculptor of his age, credited with creating the Baroque style of sculpture. As one scholar has commented, 'What Shakespeare is to drama, Bernini may be to sculpture: the first pan-European sculptor whose name is instantaneously identifiable with a particular manner and vision, and whose influence was inordinately powerful...' In addition, he was a painter (mostly small canvases in oil) and a man of the theater: he wrote, directed and acted in plays (mostly Carnival satires), also designing stage sets and theatrical machinery, as well as a wide variety of decorative art objects including lamps, tables, mirrors, and even coaches. As architect and city planner, he designed both secular buildings and churches and chapels, as well as massive works combining both architecture and sculpture, especially elaborate public fountains and funerary monuments and a whole series of temporary structures (in stucco and wood) for funerals and festivals. (wikipedia)
• • •
CLEAN (dead center! show-off...) and professional as hell. It's got personality. It's young and gay and black and politically conscious and still accessible to a general audience. This is a statement puzzle, as well as just being a flat-out great puzzle. I happen to know the white editors changed the black constructor's clue for CORN ROWS (to his chagrin) (32D: Do for the African-American community?)—why you would do that, I do not know [original clue(s): "Something cutesy about Allen Iverson was one, and a 'Head lines' something was another"]. But props to the NYT for publishing a puzzle that probably *felt* risky but really isn't. It's just opening out onto a world Not composed entirely of white people over 60. And that is a good thing. The BuzzFeed crosswords have been much better than the NYT about opening up the puzzle to a younger and less white demographic, but they have also tended to err on the side of shallow poppiness and youthful smugness. THIS puzzle ... this is everything I want a puzzle to be, no matter the venue. Hits a kind of youthful sweet spot. Manages to make me feel included rather than excluded, despite my being a couple decades older than the constructor. I can see SPITS GAME, HIS AIRNESS, OLIVIA POPE, and maybe (maybe?) even "ICE, ICE, BABY" being beyond the ken of some constant solvers. But 3/4 of those answers are well and truly mainstream, and all of them seem gettable from crosses. This is the third good-to-great puzzle In A Row from the NYT. This feels like a streak worth celebrating.
- SUMOS (29A: See 25-Across)—I had THONG and everything. And then SU-O-. Still wasn't computing. Partly because I couldn't see the plural. Partly because I would call them "sumo wrestlers," probably.
- BLO (30A: Slo-___ fuse)—I feel like I want to pretend this answer doesn't exist, as it's easily the junkiest thing here. But in the spirit of fairness, I'm pointing at it w/ a "J'accuse" look on my face.
- GIBED (36A: Like players on opposing teams, often)—could not make sense of this. Had GIB-, didn't help. The passive voice is killing me. "HIS AIRNESS hath been GIBED! To arms!"
- LANATE (38D: Woolly)—I had GUNMAN instead of GUNNER (42A: Artillery operator), so this woolly adjective (which I can never remember) stayed hidden for a bit.
- "TIN-TIN" (11D: Animated Spielberg hero)—as a fan of the comic, I like to pretend that movie doesn't exist, so ... my pretending worked: I needed many crosses to get it.
- PINT (23A: Little capacity)—if you put a PINT of Tabasco on your burrito ... not so "little." Also, beer-wise, PINT's a pretty good amount.
- GAYBORHOOD (1A: Place like Chicago's Boystown or San Francisco's Castro, in modern lingo)—well, I knew GAY was in there somewhere, so I just led with it, and that ended up working out. I've never heard GAYBORHOOD. I want to go to one and sing a slightly revised version of the "Mister Rogers" theme song.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS if you enjoyed today's puzzle by Kameron Austin Collins, you should really sign up for his 2x/month themeless puzzle, [HIGH:low]. It's free, straight to your in-box. I did the first one and it was (predictably) fantastic.
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]