The Past from Feminist Standpoint / MON 2-29-16 / Once ubiquitous red fixture seen along London streets
Monday, February 29, 2016
Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: LEAP DAY (39A: 2/29/16, e.g. ... or a hint to the circled squares in this puzzle) — circled squares represent holi DAYs (i.e. words that precede DAY in the name of a well-know holiday) that LEAP over a black square, starting in the middle of one Across answer and finishing in the subsequent Across answer:
- BON MOT / HERSTORY
- LA SCALA / BOREDOM
- NAIVETE / RANSOMS
- PHONE BOX / IN GEAR
Norville "Shaggy" Rogers is a fictional character in the Scooby-Doo franchise. He is a cowardly slacker and the long-time best friend and owner of his cowardly Great Dane Scooby-Doo. Shaggy is more interested in eating than solving mysteries. He and Scooby are the only characters to appear in all iterations of the franchise. (wikipedia)
LEAP DAY (and on the correct day, hurray). The selected days are all over the map, with the last one ("Boxing") being one we don't even observe in the U.S., but it's still a familiar holiday, so no foul there. I will say that when I finished and then looked up in order to figure out what the heck the theme was, I first saw MOTHERS and LABOR and thought this was going in a very different direction. A birth-related direction. But then I saw VETERANS and ah, yes, right, leaping, days, etc. Got it. I wish novice constructors (and some veteran constructors, hint hint nudge nudge) would study this grid to see what Monday-smooth should be. Clean clean clean. Nothing to make me Wince. Of course there are less-than-ideal entries; every grid has them. But there's nothing forced or obscure or oddly unfamiliar, and yet, magically (i.e. through actual craft and attention and care), the fill is wide-ranging and varied and interesting, and the long answers are not wasted on boring junk: SEX PISTOLS (30D: Johnny Rotten's punk band, with "the") and GROUND ZERO (11D: Where the 9/11 Memorial is), both very nice. Tight theme, clean fill, flashy long stuff—this *should* be the regular, everyday quality of the Monday puzzle.
Mostly sailed through this (2:44!?) but I had one pretty good ridiculous (and slightly time-consuming) mistake along the way. Put down SHAGGY and then checked out the Acrosses down there in the SE. Couldn't get any of them at first glance, so threw ASST across and worked on the Downs. Faced with S--- at 57D: Edible part of a sunflower, I went with the first flower part I could think of that fit in the spaces provided: STEM. Considering sunflowers grow on giant stalks, I'm guessing the stem is about the *least* edible part of the sunflower. But my brain doesn't operate in reality on Monday puzzles. It operates in the realm of Pattern Recognition. There's very little thought involved. And most of the time this allows me to move very very fast. But some of the time it means I eat STEM. You take the good with the bad, I guess.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]