Amphibious W.W. II vessel / SUN 1-10-16 / First gemstone mentioned in Bible / Bambino's first word / Ornithologist James / Poke kids book series / Author whose most famous character is introduced as Edward Bear / Ned's bride on Simpsons in 2012 / Object of hunt in Lord of Flies
Sunday, January 10, 2016
Constructor: Patrick Merrell
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Political Promises" — Clues are common promises that politicians make on the campaign trail. Answers are funny / ironic / undercutting:
- 23A: "Unemployment will be a thing of the past! ("... FOR ME IF I'M ELECTED!")
- 35A: "No new taxes!" ("JUST MORE OF THE OLD ONES")
- 54A: "I will maintain a strong defense!" ("WHEN OPPONENTS ATTACK ME")
- 77A: "Deficit spending must stop!" ("DONATE TO MY CAMPAIGN NOW")
- 93A: "I'll slow this country's spread of drugs!" ("EXPECT CUTS IN MEDICARE")
- 113A: "Education will be my top priority!" ("I'VE GOT A LOT TO LEARN")
- NEOPHYTES (79D: Novices)
- "WHO, YOU?" (63D: Question of surprise to a volunteer)
- "I'M IT!" (33A: "You're looking at the whole department")
- IHS (113D: Monogram on Christian crosses)
- SAE (56D: Coll. fraternity)
A Christogram is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, traditionally used as a Christian symbol. As in the case of Chrismon, the term Christogram comes from the Latin phrase "Christi Monogramma", meaning "monogram of Christ". // Different types of Christograms are associated with the various traditions of Christianity, e.g. the IHS monogram referring to the Holy Name of Jesus or ΙϹΧϹ referring to Christ. [...] In the Latin-speaking Christianity of medieval Western Europe (and so among Catholics and many Protestants today), the most common Christogram became "IHS" or "IHC", denoting the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus, IHΣΟΥΣ, iota-eta-sigma, or ΙΗΣ. (wikipedia)
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FOR ME, IF I AM ELECTED" came as a sudden, genuine surprise and made me legit-LOL. All the themers are at least marginally funny, and I really like the self-aware closer: "I'VE GOT A LOT TO LEARN." Apt in an age when ignorance seems to be a virtue. Although maybe not apt, as an actual politician would likely not be inclined to acknowledge, let alone confront, their own ignorance. (I used singular "their" there in honor of the 2015 Word of the Year (as determined by the American Dialect Society): the singular "they").
Back to the puzzle—the theme has just six answers, but they're all monsters (i.e. 20+ letters in length), so I don't mind that there aren't more of them. I do wish there were more flashy, interesting, somewhat longer non-theme fill. Lots and lots and lots of the short stuff. It's actually surprising the fill isn't worse, given how much 3-4-letter stuff there is. I only really choked on two answers: SAE (56D: Coll. fraternity) and IHS (113D: Monogram on Christian crosses). In both cases, I had no idea what the letters stood for. With SAE, I can at least guess (Sigma Alpha Epsilon? ... yes, that is correct). With IHS, wow, no. No no. I thought the only cross inscription I had to know was INRI. I've been doing these things How long and never seen IHS??? I should admit that I finished with an error there, one that I tracked down only after minutes of searching. In my defense, MEAT SENSOR is not completely inaccurate. Plus, it has the added virtue of being semi-hilarious.
Are you wondering who John ST. AMOS is? I hope so, because that amuses me. It's just John STAMOS, of "Full House" fame. I've never heard of Fox's "Grandfathered," so I guess I'm not as pop culturally hip as I'd imagined (if a show called "Grandfathered" can be said to be "hip," which seems unlikely). Most of the rest of the grid was pretty familiar. I hesitated over the spelling of Billy ELLIOT (one L two Ts? ... two Ls one T ... ?). I had ENBALM until the impossible SNU forced the change at 44A: Dallas sch. (SMU). Had UNTAME for 96D: Wild (INSANE). Then I had UNSAFE (?). Right next door, I had SPURNS for 95D: Treats vengefully (SPITES). So I guess that whole MEAT SENSOR area was rough for me. This puzzle deserves some kind of "Bad Fill Redemption" medal for cluing "I'M IT" in plausible, believable, snappy way (33A: "You're looking at the whole department"), thus rescuing it from the "Improbable things one might say while playing tag" and "Abbr." categories.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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