Coin minted until 2001 / THU 12-24-15 / Good investor types, you'd think / Golfer McDowell 2010 US Opoen champion / Early 1990s CBS series about exploits of real-life police officers
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Constructor: Derek Bowman
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (or ... I don't know, Medium, maybe? It's undersized)
THEME: GREEK / PLAYS (8A: With 58-Across, "Antigone" and others, ... or, when reinterpreted, a hint to 17-, 31- and 50-Across) — famous Greeks have their names "played" (?) with, i.e. clued as if they were actually wacky phrases:
- HIPPO CRATES (17A: Packing boxes for heavyweights?)
- ARI, STOP HANES! (31A: Order to Onassis to block a brand of underwear?)
- DEMOS THE NES (50A: Shows a Sega Genesis rival at an expo?)
Demosthenes (//; Greek: Δημοσθένης Dēmosthénēs [dɛːmostʰénɛːs]; 384–322 BC) was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by studying the speeches of previous great orators. He delivered his first judicial speeches at the age of 20, in which he argued effectively to gain from his guardians what was left of his inheritance. For a time, Demosthenes made his living as a professional speech-writer (logographer) and a lawyer, writing speeches for use in private legal suits. (wikipedia)
• • •
TOP COPS" (what in the world...?) (1A: Early 1990s CBS series about the exploits of real-life police officers) crossing TOSHES (come on, now...) and then has grand thematic aspirations but can never quite find its footing. So ... the revealer clue refers to "Antigone" ... which is by Sophocles ... who is, in fact, a *playwright* ... but who is not in the grid. Well, that's OK, I guess we'll get *other* playwrights? And ... we do ... once. We get ARISTOPHANES. But then we also get non-playwrights somehow (HIPPOCRATES, DEMOSTHENES). Meanwhile, the puzzle seems to have wanted another thematic layer, as SAPPHO and PINDAR are both Greek writers whose names can ... if you get really, outrageous ... be clued as wacky phrases. Can you "sap" the Vietnamese soup "pho"? Can you "pin" the entire Daughters of the American Revolution? Maybe. But here, today ... no. Their names just sit there. No wackiness. What happened? There is No Way SAPPHO (16A: Whom Plato called "the tenth Muse") and PINDAR (52A: Noted writer of victory odes) are there coincidentally. And yet, no "?" clues? Bizarre.
Grid feels not very efficiently made. Theme isn't dense, and yet we end up with these ridiculously large (and therefore hard to fill cleanly) corners in the NW and SE. Why not put a corner cheater in there or ... something. Take the pressure off so we don't have to endure "TOP COPS" and TOSHES and ERLE and OCTO and the green paint of ONE ACRE. Or, on the other side of the grid, MTETNA PESETA HARI ORELSE ESSES. Seems like this one should've been sent back with a "nice idea—rebuild grid" note. Also, there is a story behind the de-theming of SAPPHO and PINDAR, I'm sure.
Didn't have that much trouble except in that first big corner. Didn't know LUIS or GRAEME or "TOP COPS," but I did know Hanson's "MMM BOP" (a song now older than every member of the band was when they first recorded it), which helped make the big corner in the SE much easier to handle.
Merry Christmas Eve.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]