Sunday, August 21, 2011

Canonized fifth-century pope / MON 8-22-11 / 1982 Harrison Ford sci-fi film / Landon who lost to FDR in 1936 / Doughnuts topologically speaking

Constructor: Milo Beckman

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Directions — theme answers start with the words RIGHT, LEFT, STRAIGHT, UP, and DOWN, respectively

Word of the Day: ALF Landon (38A: Landon who lost to F.D.R. in 1936) —
Alfred Mossman "Alf" Landon (September 9, 1887 – October 12, 1987) was an American Republican politician, who served as the 26th Governor of Kansas from 1933–1937. He was best known for being the Republican Party's (GOP) nominee for President of the United States, defeated in a landslide by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election. (wikipedia)

• • •

This is a very nice-looking grid, especially for a 78-word Monday puzzle. The short stuff was largely inoffensive, and the longer stuff felt very fresh. Didn't see theme until I was done—the theme itself was the only part of the puzzle I wasn't thrilled about, mainly because ... well, spatially, it was bugging me. These are directions ... where? In relation to what. I told me wife, "if there's an UP and a DOWN, and a RIGHT and a LEFT, then there should be a STRAIGHT and a BACK. I mean, there are three axes, and we get opposed directions on two of those axes, but only one direction on the third." To which my wife responded, "Oh, believe me, I know. That's the shape I make with my toes." I told her I was going to quote her, and I just did.

I stumbled badly in the beginning of the puzzle with that LEFT TO ROT error and an even more stupid AORTA error at ATRIA (21D: Heart parts). Still, I managed to recover and tear through the rest of the grid, coming in at just under 3 minutes.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Anti-abortion position (RIGHT-TO-LIFE) — so much for the NYT puzzle being an instrument of liberal propaganda. This puzzle even has a "Life begins at conception" clue on FETUS (55D: Baby-to-be)

  • 24A: Abandoned, in a way (LEFT TO DIE) — morbid. I had LEFT TO ROT at first.

  • 39A: Not shown in theaters (STRAIGHT-TO-VIDEO)

  • 51A: Satisfactory (UP TO SNUFF)

  • 60A: Having no illusions or pretensions (DOWN-TO-EARTH)

As if LEFT TO DIE weren't disturbing enough, we have the lovely image in the 1-Across clue: [Handkerchief stuffed in the mouth, e.g.] => GAG. Not the most upbeat way to start your Monday: with abortion controversy and images from a horror film. If [Superannuated] means OLD, why in the world does anyone ever use the word "superannuated?" Also, why is "Cry to a horse" even part of the clue at 20A: Cry to a horse that's the opposite of "Giddyup!" ("WHOA!"). Presumably [Opposite of "Giddyup!"] would work just as well. I mean, who else are you saying "Giddyup!" to??? Hmm. On second thought, don't answer that.

Lil' Kim : Whoa by BLACKMUSICS

I like "BLADE RUNNER" (28D: 1982 Harrison Ford sci-fi film) and I especially like the novel it's based on: Philip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" I'm in the middle of the (epic) comic book adaptation, which threatens to go on forever. I also like doughnuts, topologically speaking or otherwise (TORI).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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