Saudi Arabian province / SUN 7-25-10 / Silas Marner foundling / 1940 Fonda role / WNW Grand Canary Island / Patron saint of goldsmiths
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Up Starts" — theme answers are familiar phrases in which the initial letter has been bumped one space UP the alphabet, creating wacky phrases etc.
Word of the Day: ASIR (56A: Saudi Arabian province) —
ʿAsīr (Arabic: عسير) is a province of Saudi Arabia located in the southwest of the country, named after the confederation of clans of the same name. It has an area of 81,000 km² and an estimated population of 1,563,000. It shares a short border with Yemen. Its capital is Abha. Other towns include Khamis Mushayt and Qal'at Bishah. The governor of the province is Faysal ibn Khalid (appointed May 16, 2007), a son of the late king of Saudi Arabia, Khalid ibn Abd al-Aziz. He replaced his cousin, Khalid al Faisal who, on the same date, was made governor of Makkah Province. (wikipedia)
I think the NYT must be suffering from a dearth of decent Sunday submissions at the moment. This one is pretty lifeless. A weak concept, infinitely reproduceable (i.e. we could come up with possible theme answers All Day Long)—and one that has Been Done, in various forms, for sure. Further, there is only one good play on words in the whole bunch of theme answers — CORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY — and even that one only made me wish that the first word were PORN and the puzzle were ... well, completely different, theme-wise. Meanwhile, quality of fill is apparently not of anyone's concern today. It's a yawnfest, with some creaky ugliness here and there. The ASIR / TENERIFE (33D: It's WNW of Grand Canary Island) area in particular reeks of a "whatever" attitude to the non-theme entries. Almost makes me think a computer filled this grid with little human oversight. EPPIE (1A: "Silas Marner" foundling) and IGER (84D: Media exec Robert) = unwelcome odd names that don't get us anything pretty. LISSOM is an odd, long variant (72D: Willowy: Var.), and ODORED is, well, ODORED alright. I just don't see anything noteworthy or remarkable here today. At All. This puzzle is a good example of why so many puzzle-lovers I know simply don't bother with Sundays—just big, not interesting.
I spoke too soon. Now and forever, I will always love FRED ROGERS (19A: PBS figure from 1968 to 2001). Put him in your grids all you want, I'll never complain.
- 23A: Cause for Adam to refuse the apple? (FAST OF EDEN)
- 28A: Precamping preparation? (TENT PACKING)
- 35A: Christmas, for Christians? (SEASON TO BELIEVE)
- 51A: Bountiful harvest? (DREAM OF THE CROP)
- 67A: Independence Day barbecue serving? (CORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY)
- 86A: Unnecessary part of a jacket? (HOOD FOR NOTHING)
- 98A: Ultimatum from a spouse who wants nicer digs? (MOVE ME OR LEAVE ME)
- 106A: Refusing to watch football on New Year's Day (NIXING BOWLS)
- 119A: Nathan's annual hot-dog contest, e.g.? (EATING GAME)
- 46A: Locale in a 1968 Beatles song (U.S.S.R.) — had -SS- and actually had to stop and think. Embarrassing. Wore out the White Album when I was in college (20 years after the White Album was released).
- 49A: British P.M. during the creation of Israel (ATTLEE) — I'll always think of him as "that guy who, after the war, beat Churchill." Also as "that guy with the odd name I learned about from crosswords."
- 117A: 1970s-'80s horror film franchise, with "The" ("OMEN") — I've said it before, and I'll say it again: late-70s / early-80s period had the Scariest horror films. Less gore, perhaps, but Far more terror. Everyone looks grainy and pallid and nightmarish.
- 122A: ___ Chaiken, creator and writer of "The L Word" (ILENE) — news to me. Normally, this answer gets [Actress Graff] as its clue, so hooray for the new.
- 127A: Magnetic induction unit (GAUSS) — learned this word from a puzzle I did almost immediately prior to doing this one. Coincidence!
- 11A: Self-motivational mantra ("I CAN") — I don't buy this as a "mantra." "I THINK I CAN" or "I CAN DO IT" or "DOGGONE IT PEOPLE LIKE ME," maybe. "I CAN" on repeat just makes you sound loony.
- 16D: Patron saint of goldsmiths (ELOI) — yeah, this clue doesn't make this answer less gratingly crosswordesey. In fact, the irksomeness is only amplified.
- 39D: Maker of the trivia-playing computer program Watson (IBM) — Watson = onetime IBM chairman, not Dr. Watson. Big name in these parts. Eponym of Binghamton University's School of Engineering.
- 70D: 1940 Fonda role (JOAD) — as in Tom. As in "The Grapes of Wrath."
- 114D: "On&On" singer Erykah (BADU) — Let's listen to something a little more recent and ... revealing:
And now your Tweets Of The Last Several Weeks — puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:
- @Johnedale Pooping with a crossword is like pizza with ranch. Once you have it, it's hard to imagine it without it.
- @fotobug1900 Woman in car next to me is doing crossword puzzle!
- @Nerdandahalf1 Why are Tuesday crosswords always the hardest?
- @rosannecash I got so many emails & tweets about this- Thanks! RT @susanchamplin Congratulations on making an appearance in today's NYT crossword puzzle.
- @mummyblogger Someone just found my blog by googling 'How to do the crossword sex'. What is crossword sex?? Sounds fun...
- @JCGiggles In the middle of a pep talk, my mom asked: "What was the song by the village people-- something about a man?" It was for a crossword puzzle
- @jamesmitchem Girl on the train next to me is totally cheating on her crossword puzzle. She is literally just making up words.
- @thatgrlmichelle all these kids in my ir class are so smart..they like, read time magazine and do the nyt crossword and drink green tea and perrier. wtf.
- @HeidiPdot I'm pretty sure Olympia Dukkakis is sitting across from me here at Starbucks on Spring Garden...I think she's doing a crossword puzzle. ;)
- @r_wolfcastle Die Will Shortz Die for your crossword answer of a never-nominated actress in a 62-yo crap remake that also was not nominated for anything
- @thatpuzzleguy TOLU crosses MEALIE in today's USA Today crossword. I know it's Thursday, but Christ.
- @nuttylichee still super bummed that the answer to this crossword clue "Ruins an oboe?" is WRECKS REED instead of my original choice, BREAKS WIND.
- @CMYKaboom Today's Lesson: AM New York's crossword is far inferior to the Metro's. I think my cat could solve it. And my cat is blind. #crosswords #nyc
- @LeBronJamesEgo DOING THE SUNDAY CROSSWORD IN THE NY TIMES. WHAT'S A SIX LETTER WORD FOR "SEXY AMAZING MAN WHO IS THE BEST AT BASKETBALL?" LOL YEAH I KNOW.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. Shortz defends JEWFRO and other allegedly "offensive" words in his puzzles. http://nyti.ms/dqCj5V