British poet/critic Sitwell / WED 3-2-16 / Muscular Japanese dog / Corrida combatant / Setting for highest-grossing movie of 1939 / Drive popular light-powered watch / Circus horn honker / George whose name is lead-in to film
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Constructor: Fred Piscop
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: pasta puns —
- 20A: Politician in charge of pasta? (ZITI COUNCILMAN)
- 40A: Pasta, apparently? (ORZO, IT WOULD SEEM)
- 58A: Card game with pasta for stakes? (PENNE ANTE POKER)
Ed McBain (October 15, 1926 – July 6, 2005) is one of the pen names of an American author and screenwriter. Born Salvatore Albert Lombino, he legally adopted the name Evan Hunter in 1952. While successful and well known as Evan Hunter, he was even better known as Ed McBain, a name he used for most of his crime fiction, beginning in 1956. He also used the pen names John Abbott, Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, Ezra Hannon, Dean Hudson, and Richard Marsten. (wikipedia)
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ORZO, IT WOULD SEEM doesn't make much sense. Not enough context for it to be amusing. [Pasta, apparently] is way way too general a clue for ORZO, IT WOULD SEEM to apply. Also, you have to pause (after ORZO) to make grammatical sense of the answer, in a way you wouldn't when just saying the base phrase. Bah. The other two seem like actual, viable puns, but [shrug]. And then the grid—it's all short stuff, all dull / ancient. This crossword actually seems nostalgic for a time when crosswords were more terrible. See the clue on OREO (35D: Dessert item that was clued as "Mountain: Comb. form" in old crosswords). Seriously? This puzzle belongs in 1986, and while I know there are some who long for Reagan's America, as it relates to crossword puzzles, this is not a nostalgia anyone should be getting behind.
Looking it over, I have no idea why it didn't play Easy. Possibly the puns, which I just couldn't make sense of. I had ZITI COUNCIL--- and still didn't know. COUNCILLOR? It's possible that once I got a whiff of the fill (right away), I just checked out mentally, and went about solving the whole thing half-heartedly, with worse and worser political speeches playing in the background. Is it possible that I would have enjoyed this puzzle had the soundtrack not been so dispiriting and heinous? No, it is not. But I might have disliked it slightly less. Slightly. I mean, there is Nothing of interest outside the three themers, and even with the themers, "interest" is being very kind. Missteps? Well, I had WHAT? for AHEM (1A: "Beg pardon...") so that was exciting. Also TRICE for TRACE (8D: Tiny amount). LADED for LADEN (53D: Filled with cargo). My mistakes are about as interesting as the puzzle was. I should go to sleep now.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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