Rippled and lustrous / THU 8-25-16 / In a comfortable position / In a state of entanglement / Gymnastics position
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Constructor: Andrew Zhou
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: THE ROAD TO HELL—The road to hell is a PAVED ROAD, paved with GOOD INTENTIONS, and the road spans this crossword grid diagonally. Hell is a single square rebus. Literally. Also ST BERNARD may be responsible for the saying "The road to hell is paved with good intentions"
- PAVED ROAD (6A: What the circled squares in the puzzle symbolize)
- SEAS (HELL)/RAISE (HELL) (66A: Beach souvenir)/(49D: Cause a commotion), with the "Hell" getting rebus'd in the last box in the grid, and becoming the terminus of the PAVED ROAD
- GOOD INTENTIONS (The circled letters; the pavement)
- ST BERNARD (65A: French abbot thought to have originated the saying depicted symbolically in this puzzle)
• • •
Hi-- Lena here for a quick sub-in. This is an awkward theme. See how awkward my theme description ended up being? Outside of the two longer theme entries being symmetrically placed in the grid, the sum of all the parts feels haphazard/clunky. I barely even realized that ST BERNARD was part of this puzzle's theme because when a clue starts with "French abbot" I immediately look for cross clues to bail me out and be done with it.
I didn't know (9D: Romanian composer George): ENESCU and the clue didn't even make me feel bad about since there's no "most famous/beloved/important" before "composer." In addition to being a great composer his surname is itself composed of great crossword letters. It took me a bit to get GREEN PEAS (18A: Goya or Del Monte product) because I was looking for "can" somewhere in the answer. Those companies don't produce peas, they produce canned/dried/frozen peas. I had another production issue with (47A: Where many drafts are produced) BAR-- I get it, but "produced" is weird and ultimately doesn't make the clue witty/funny to me. Even if the answer was about cold air coming through a window, I wouldn't say "brrr this window is producing a draft." Why not go with "flow?" Drafts flow through windows and flow into glasses. Windows are made of glass... lots more opportunities for cleverness if you ditch the stuffy "produced." It's Thursday, go nuts.
I liked the conversational SNAP OUT OF IT (30A: "Focus!") right before HERE I GO (38A: Announcement after a deep breath)-- very cinematic. Also BE THERE (42D: "Show up... Or else!").
I got RONCO (15A: Brand with a trademark on the phrase"Set it and forget it") right away, but definitely didn't remember that the phrase referred to an in-home rotisserie! I thought it was an egg timer or something but no, it's a tricked out toaster oven that fits two (TWO!) chickens inside.
Perhaps RONCO is also responsible for the SLEEP SOFA (57A: Something pulled out before turning in)? The answer didn't give me any technical difficulties but I certainly hadn't heard that abbreviated form of sleeper sofa before.
Crossword staple SOD gets a clever clue here (21A: Soccer coverage?) and we get a better-than-average "first letter spelled out" clue for VEE with (8D: Village leader?). GITMO gets a pretty neutral clue, huh (39D: U.S. Base in Cuba, for short). While, sure, it's literally a base in Cuba, it's also a place where people are tortured and detained and *that* is what it's known for. Don't be coy.
<record screech> Oh wow, POGS (6D: 1990's fad)! I was the right age for POGS but the wrong kind of kid (the only time I was bullied to my face by my peers was when I asserted that Vivaldi is more talented than New Kids on the Block-- BAD MOVE, LENA). I definitely side-eyed POGS just like NKOTB-- they're just ugly pieces of cardboard. I was about to specify that I was referring to the POGS but:
The puzzle gets a B from me because it's the first day of college for many and you gotta set the bar high-- at least for the first few weeks. Gotta write a few SEE MEs. I really don't like the single rebus square move, the ST BERNARD trivia adds no fun, and while I do like the visual of seeing a road lead straight to hell the rest just isn't tight enough or challenging enough.
Signed, Lena Webb, Court Jester of CrossWorld
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