Mandela player in 2013 biopic / THU 7-14-16 / 1940s film critic James / Dance craze of 1910s / Piano designer of New York Times building / County seat on Arkansas River
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Constructor: David J. Kahn
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: PHONETIC (60A: Like the alphabet that includes the answers to the starred clues ... and an anagram of the eight circled letters) — grid contains the phonetic alphabet words that represent the letters in PHONETIC:
Renzo Piano, OMRI, OMCA (Italian: [ˈrɛntso ˈpjaːno]; born 14 September 1937) is an Italian architect and engineer, who won the Pritzker Prize in 1998. Architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff said of Piano's works that the "...serenity of his best buildings can almost make you believe that we live in a civilized world." // In 2006, Piano was selected by TIME as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was selected as the 10th most influential person in the "Arts and Entertainment" category of the 2006 Time 100. // In August 2013 he was appointed Senator for Life in the Italian Senate by President Giorgio Napolitano. (wikipedia)
• • •Don't have much to say because there's really not much here. This theme seems astonishingly slight. I keep looking at it waiting for some secret, special, AHA feature to make itself known, but so far, no dice. The grid contains the eight words that represent the letters P, H, O, N, E, T, I, and C in the PHONETIC alphabet. That is all. What am I supposed to do with that? There is literally nothing interesting about it. The grid is just an ordinary grid. All I can do at this one is shrug.
There were some sticking points, but then the rest was quite easy. Had trouble getting APPEAR from 17A: Surface, and really had trouble getting the part after OVER in OVERTIP (4D: Be generous to a fault, in a way). OVER- ... something. Also had ETA for 37A: Forecasting figure (EST.), which really gummed up the west. Other than that, the only real problem I had was not knowing who RENZO Piano was (cool name, though I do hate the horribly self-indulgent / self-referencing clue) (36A: ___ Piano, designer of The New York Times Building). But again, all I can do is describe my solving path and point out a few unremarkable features. This puzzle gives you nothing. It's the definition of filler. A placeholder. Thursdays are supposed to be cool, twisty, baffling ... even the failures are usually ambitious. This just sits here.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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