Postwar German nickname / FRI 1-22-16 / Viking girl in How to train your Dragon / Chuck who advised Nixon / Winter wear resembling overalls / Old sandlot game
Friday, January 22, 2016
Constructor: Paula Gamache
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: NANETTE Lepore (22D: Fashion designer Lepore) —
Nanette Lepore (born January 1, 1964) is an American fashion designer based in New York City. New York magazine has said that "her gypsy-influenced designs are feminine and youthful. The looks are full of bold colors and bright prints, with ruffles and lace that manage to look good-time-girly but not overly frilly." (wikipedia)
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EASE. Despite the fact that there were a bunch of names I didn't know, and the puzzle seemed to be anchored in a past I never lived in (i.e. that misty time of my ELDERS, when DER ALTE squared off against Chuck COLSON in a rousing game of ONE O'CAT ...), the puzzle proved remarkably tractable. This was largely because the long answers were so easy to get. Got all the long Acrosses with somewhere between zero and three of the answers' first letters. When you can walk across all levels of the grid that easily, there's probably not going to be much that can slow you down. The whole thing felt pretty tepid, for the most part, though I really liked GLUTEN-FREE PASTA, both because it's a modern answer and because the clue was intriguingly inscrutable. [Rice elbows, e.g.] —> "elbows" definitely had me thinking pasta, but ... I was also imagining the elbows of Condoleeza and Jerry and the Owls of Rice U.
Very rare to have a themeless puzzle constructed by a woman. I don't know what the stats are, but I feel like, out of the ~104 themeless puzzles each year, maybe 5 are constructed, in part or in total, by women. I don't know if it's a coincidence (it probably is), but there seemed to be a Lot of women's names in this puzzle: ASTRID, NANETTE, BETSEY, CLARICE, and EVA. Women outnumber men as answers, which ... again, I have no idea how often this actually happens, but I want to say "not often." Wait, no ... looks like there are six men, if you count DANTE (plus DER ALTE, KEL, SWEE PEA (swee' pea was a dude, right?), Lance ITO, and that COLSON guy) (shoulda made that answer COLSON Whitehead, one of whose many virtues is being alive now). Oops, also STAN LEE. So I take back the outnumbering part. But the fact that five women's names *feels* like a lot—the fact that I noticed—tells you something about how low the Expectation Bar has been set. Not much else to say about this one except INATREE will never be not terrible, unless the clue is something involving "K-I-S-S-I-N-G."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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