Portmanteau legally recognized since 1977 / THU 11-12-15 / 19th-century nativist group / Three-time NHL All-Star Kovalchuk / Boomers of old in brief / Oscar-winning role for Hattie McDaniel
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Constructor: David Kwong
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: P AND A (40A: Popular zoo attraction ... or a hint to 11 squares in this puzzle) — 11 "PA" squares, just like the clue suggests
Word of the Day: The KNOW-NOTHING PARTY (32A: 19th-century nativist group) —
The Native American Party, renamed in 1855 as the American Party, and commonly named Know Nothing movement, was an American political party that operated on a national basis during the mid-1850s. It promised to purify American politics by limiting or ending the influence of Irish Catholics and other immigrants, thus reflecting nativism and anti-Catholic sentiment. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, whom they saw as hostile to republican values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, but met with little success. Membership was limited to Protestant men. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class membership fragmented over the issue of slavery. // The most prominent leaders were U.S. Representative Nathaniel P. Banks, and former U.S. Representative Lewis C. Levin. The American Party nominated former President Millard Fillmore in 1856. He was never a member, nor a nativist. (wikipedia)
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SAM PECKINPAH on top of the KNOW-NOTHING PARTY? (32A: 19th-century nativist group) OKAY, maybe the fill gets a little dicey in the corners (see esp. the SE corner), but there's too much delightful stuff for that short stuff to have much of an effect on solving pleasure. Also, the "PA" hunt keeps you on your toes in such a way that an ENSE here and an OPE there isn't likely to distract you. "PA"s are scattershot, which I like—makes grid more of a minefield. Feels a bit weird to crave a minefield, but I feel what I feel. I think what I really crave / enjoy is the Unexpected, and the delight that can come with it. For instance, the triple-PAPAPA in PAPAL PALACE: that was a pleasure to uncover.
I knew something insane was going on in the NW, where I started, when I couldn't get the stupid traditional German band to play anything I recognized. Me, "Well, it's OOMPAH ... but the "H" from THO is f*%&ing things up, and even then the answer is too long ..." So I had this empty sandwich: SCIATIC and IMPLODE were the bread, and in-between—mostly air. It was only after I allowed myself to drift down the grid a bit, to the out-and-out gimme SAM PECKINPAH, that I realized "Oh ... PA." Then the German band started playing nicely.
But then I tested SPAY (60A: Fix) and got SALES and it all came together without Too much difficulty. SALES DEPARTMENTS is yuck for a marquee answer. Kind of a let-down after the more explosive and impressive upper half of the grid. And yet even there, things stayed interesting, as the fill was solid and the "PA"s were still peskily hiding. This puzzle was fun to solve. This Is All I Ask.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. ICYMI, here's my BuzzFeed crossword from yesterday (co-constructed with Lena Webb). Give it a shot if you've got time. Thanks.
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