Biblical land with ivory apes peacocks — WEDNESDAY, Jan. 6 2010 — Alignment celestial bodies / Native of India in British army / Garment in Gujarat
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Constructor: Julian Lim
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: ALL WISE (38A: Like King Solomon ... or an oral hint to 17- and 62-Across and 11- and 29-Down) — theme answers have no vowels but Y, i.e. ALL WISE => All "Y"s
Word of the Day: OPHIR (54D: Biblical land with "ivory and apes and peacocks") —
Ophir (Hebrew: אוֹפִיר, Modern Ofir Tiberian ʾÔp̄îr) is a port or region mentioned in the Bible, famous for its wealth. King Solomon is supposed to have received a cargo of gold, silver, sandalwood, precious stones, ivory, apes and peacocks from Ophir, every three years.
Yipes. Felt like a total meltdown. Never got a flow going. Started by butchering the NW (how is ARF "thin?"), and then just stumbled through the rest of it. Never got properly got the theme. Figured it had something to do with "Y"s before I ever hit the middle, but there were different numbers of "Y"s and the "Y"s appeared in different places, so I had no idea what was going on. Never heard the phrase ALL WISE before. ALL knowing, ALL seeing, ALL powerful, yes. I believe it's a common Solomonian epithet, it's just not a phrase that came easily for me. Don't like the tenuous connection between ALL WISE and the theme answers. ALL WISE would seem to indicate that every letter is a "Y," which of course makes no sense. Floundered through this one and yet still somehow ended up, when I was done, at third on the NYT leader board, which to my knowledge has never happened before (I don't usu. compete against the clock, but still...). Looks like lots o' people struggled with this one, so I feel somewhat better. If I hadn't been a constant solver / blogger, I don't know what I'd have done with stuff like SYZYGY (a gimme bec. of past appearances) (49D: Alignment of celestial bodies), SEPOY (just saw it yesterday when reviewing last year's Words of the Day) (70A: Native of India in the British army), and LESAGE (high-end crosswordese) (47D: "Gil Blas" novelist).
- 17A: Race energetically past? (fly spryly by) — this was death. I kept misparsing it and seeing FLYS -RYLY ("dryly?") BY. Today's puzzle was hard, in large part, because the theme phrases are not in any way real / inferrable. They're just bizarre.
- 11D: Where an old wanderer is interred? (gypsy crypt)
- 29D: What Romeo and Juliet had to do? (sync trysts) — seems wrong. This would imply that two trysts are going on simultaneously, wouldn't it?
- 62A: Native African's musical beat? (pygmy rhythm)
- 33A: Todd who directed "I'm Not There," 2007 (Haynes) — not exactly a household name, though he's pretty accomplished. I associate him most strongly with "Safe" (starring Julianne Moore), though the only movie of his that I've actually seen is "Far From Heaven" (really good).
- 1D: Thin bark? (arf) — how is this "thin?" ARF is a real, full bark. "Thin?" Pfft. Boooooo.
- 3D: Grammy winner for "Amarantine" (Enya) — blindsided, though I'm sure I've seen the clue before. Four letters, ENYA, Four letters, ENYA, come on, brain!
- 22D: "... so long ___ both shall live?" ("as ye") — I imagined that this was the part of the vows that you repeat after the minister, so I had "AS WE."
- 25D: Garment in Gujarat (sari) — man, I really really had no idea where Gujarat was. Sounded Mexican to me. It shares many letters with Guadalajara, for instance.
- 27D: 2008 title role for Benicio Del Toro (Che) — did not see whatever movie this is. Wanted WOLFMAN, but that's forthcoming.
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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