Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle: British running great Steve / SAT 7-27-13 / Fictional amnesiac portrayer / Election-related nonprofit since 1990 / Tynan player in Seduction of Joe Tynan / Severn Meadows poet Gurney / Presentation by Bill Clinton in 2007 or Bill Gates in 2010
Word of the Day: IVOR Gurney (35D: "Severn Meadows" poet Gurney) —
Ivor Bertie Gurney (28 August 1890 – 26 December 1937) was an Englishcomposer and poet. [...] Gurney wrote hundreds of poems and more than 300 songs as well as instrumental music. He set only a handful of his own poems, the best known being Severn Meadows. His best-known compositions include his Five Elizabethan Songs (or 'The Elizas' as he called them) and the song-cycles Ludlow and Teme and The Western Playland, both settings of poetry by A. E. Housman. [...] Gurney is known both as a poet and composer and his reputation in both arts has continued to rise. Edmund Blunden, at the urging of composer Gerald Finzi, assembled the first collection of Gurney's poetry which was published in 1954. This was followed by P. J. Kavanagh's Collected Poems, first published in 1982 and reissued in 2004. It remains the best edition of Gurney's poetry. Gurney is regarded as one of the great World War I poets, and like the others of them, such as Edward Thomas whom he admired, he often contrasted the horrors of the front line with the beauty and tranquillity of his native English landscape - these themes were explored in the 2012 musical play A Soldier and a Maker. (wikipedia)
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Well this was a pleasure. Started out a bit tepid in the NW (some good stuff held together with junk), but once I threw down ROCK THE VOTE (22D: Election-related non-profit since 1990) and then got HUG IT OUT (40A: Resolve a bromance spat, say), the puzzle seemed to open up and become much more interesting. I hate the expression 'NUFF SAID (as it's usually said by morons who have not, in fact, said enough), but I love it in the grid (32A: "No need to go on"). Feels fresh and colloquial. SEXTED is, uh, timely (23A: Turned on a friend, maybe?). PIECE OF WORK is fantastic (10D: Difficult sort).
I have two complaints: one, plural suffixes should never be allowed ever ever ever—they are the most not-a-thing thing in crosswords and should crawl off somewhere to die (see, today, -EERS); two, I finished the puzzle much too quickly. Could've used some thornier cluing. If I got even a little bit stymied, there seemed to be a gimme just waiting for me. APER / TELE / DDT were gimmes right off the bat, which made the NW easy even though I couldn't think of MATT DAMON for a while (I was looking for character, not, as clue instructed me, "portrayer") (1A: Fictional amnesiac portrayer). ROCK THE VOTE I got off just the "R" and I don't think I would've needed even that. Annabeth GISH (24D: "Mystic Pizza" actress Annabeth) and EL CID (14D: Title role for Charlton Heston) were simple—the latter's in the grid all the time, and the former ... well, I was the right age for "Mystic Pizza" and that actress's name stuck, for some reason. The IMPS and TERSE clues were transparent. Got TED TALK off the "T" (and, again, don't think I would've needed even that) (41D: Presentation by Bill Clinton in 2007 or Bill Gates in 2010). B-TWELVE easy once you've got the "B" (39A: Vitamin in meat, milk and eggs). I need a little hurt in my Saturdays. It's the day I turn mildly masochistic. Make Mine Thorny!
My one big "Wha?" moment came in the NW, where I was sure the [Big Indonesian export] was TEAS and so had PRES. for 19A: Head Start program service, briefly, which I could not comprehend. For good reason, it turns out. The answers were TEAK and PRE-K. What's weird is that I didn't want TEAS because I had TEA- and couldn't think of anything else; I actually wanted TEAS before I had any letters, which is why I was so certain it was right once the T, E and A fell into place. Danger Zone! Loved the clue on MALE NURSE (59A: Member of a medical minority), and "PLEASE, SIR" made me smile (it's a much parodied line—I've aped it myself from time to time) (62A: Start of a Dickensian request). Took a few beats for me to figure out what NSC stood for (and also to remember what the "Abbottabad raid" was) (60D: Grp. involved in the Abbottabad raid). Made me wonder if I had an error there at first, but the crosses checked out (and I eventually remembered that NSC meant National Security Council). Not much else to say, as the puzzle seemed like it was over before I'd begun. A fun brief time was had by all (of me).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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