Grasslike perennial / TUE 6-14-16 / Krupp ironworks city / Greek philosopher of paradox fame / Forage beans / Dangerous virus strain named for its original outbreak location
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Constructor: Tracy Gray
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: EASY DOES IT (58A: "Not too hard now" ... or a homophonic hint to 17-, 23-, 35- and 48-Across) — themers are two-word phrases, first word "E," second word "Z"
- EBOLA ZAIRE (17A: Dangerous virus strain named for its original outbreak location)
- EMILIANO ZAPATA (23A: Mexican revolutionary)
- ED ZWICK (35A: "Legends of the Fall" director, informally)
- ERONGENOUS ZONES (48A: Sensual areas)
Edward M. Zwick (born October 8, 1952) is an American filmmaker and Academy Award winning film producer. // His films include Glory (1989), Legends of the Fall (1994), The Siege (1998), The Last Samurai (2003), Blood Diamond (2006), and Defiance (2008). Along with Marshall Herskovitz, Zwick runs a film production company called The Bedford Falls Company (inspired by the name of the town featured in Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life). This company has produced such notable films as Traffic and Shakespeare in Love and the TV shows thirtysomething, Relativity, Once and Again, and My So-Called Life. // He was one of the recipients of the Academy Award for Best Picture for Shakespeare in Love; he was also nominated in the same category for Traffic. // Despite sharing a surname and being in the same profession, Edward is unrelated to fellow director Joel Zwick. (wikipedia)
• • •ANA NANS ERES PSST make that corner mildly creaky). 74 words is pretty low for a Tuesday. Why not give some of those white squares to the middle of the grid and take a little pressure off the corners? I can answer my own question, actually—the themers likely presented a severe challenge, given the Z-abundance and the general theme density. I mean, how else do you explain the absurdity that is ED ZWICK. EDWARD would've sat nicely in the middle of the grid too, and the whole jury-rigged "informally" contrivance could've been ditched. *But* that would've created perhaps an untenable level of theme density. So, compromise compromise compromise. The puzzle is at the very least interesting looking, and those corners were an exciting challenge to get through in normal Tuesday time (I managed to come in just under normal, actually). I really wanted to rate this puzzle "Easy" or "Easy-Medium" (for I hope obvious reasons), but with those corners and those proper nouns, this is likely to play Medium, possibly even Medium-Tough. Again, 4 a 2s day.
If I could design a picture to go with this write-up, it would be a passel of ELSAS eating their NANS. Those plurals are painful, but I think that together they could make magic. EBOLA, I know. EBOLA ZAIRE, hoo boy, not so much. I needed Every Cross for the ZAIRE part. I did not there were strains (or, rather, I did not know there were strains with names that I was supposed to know). The more I look at the NE corner, the more I love it. I think AT-BAT is ridiculously clued. "Slugger" has zero zero zero to do with the "datum" (ugh, that word) that is the AT-BAT. A "slugger" connotes a batter who hits for power. But an AT-BAT has absolutely nothing to do with slugging. You can stand there and never move the bat off your shoulder and get an AT-BAT. This clue drains "slugger" of all meaning. It also subjects me to "datum," which I just don't like on aesthetic grounds. Also, why is "Baseball" in that clue at all? If you'd had [Slugger's stat], who's going to go "Do they mean hockey?"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. for one brief, dizzying moment I sincerely thought 7D: Many a "Guardian of the Galaxy" character could be ALLEN. "Were there lots of guys named ALLEN in that movie?" I asked myself for approx. 8 nanoseconds.
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