Birthplace of cuneiform writing / SUN 12-12-10 / Actress de Ravin Roswell Lost / Soul singer James 1990 #1 hit I Don't Have Heart / Lorelei's locale
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Constructor: Karen Young Bonin
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "The Wish" — Read "Wish" as "W is H," i.e. "W" is changed to "H" in familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, clued wackily.
Word of the Day: SUMER (51A: Birthplace of cuneiform writing) —
Sumer (from Akkadian Šumeru [...] approximately "land of the civilized lords" or "native land") was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. // The dynastic period of Sumer spans the Uruk period (5th millennium BC), followed by the proto-historical early dynastic period (early 3rd millennium BC) and the dynastic period of Sumer proper in the mid 4th millennium BC, until the conquest of Sumer by the Akkadians around 2400 BC. Native Sumerian rule re-emerged for about a century in the so-called Sumerian Renaissance of the 21st to 20th century (short chronology). // The cities of Sumer were the first civilization to practice intensive, year-round agriculture, by 5000 BC showing the use of core agricultural techniques including large-scale intensive cultivation of land, mono-cropping, organized irrigation, and the use of a specialized labor force. The surplus of storable food created by this economy allowed the population to settle in one place instead of migrating after crops and grazing land. It also allowed for a much greater population density, and in turn required an extensive labor force and division of labor. Sumer was also the site of early development of writing, progressing from a stage of proto-writing in the mid 4th millennium BC to writing proper by 3000 BC (wikipedia)
- 23A: Tempo for a stringed instrument? (HARP SPEED)
- 25A: Nine Muses after dieting? (THIN SISTERS)
- 34A: Alien attackers' goal? (GLOBAL HARMING) — for those who claim a liberal bias in the NYT puzzle, let me point out that this answer crosses OBAMA...
- 68A: Rush hour control? (HASTE MANAGEMENT)
- 99A: Choice of the right door on "Let's Make a Deal"? (HINGED VICTORY)
- 116A: Like tuned-in listeners? (READY TO HEAR)
- 118A: Orlando team water boy, e.g.? (MAGIC HAND)
- 16D: Flock after a rainstorm? (CLEAN SHEEP)
- 73D: Tortoise's opponent after finishing second? (SILVER HARE)
- 1A: Lady Bird Johnson's middle name (ALTA) — this is an example of the short icky stuff I was talking about. See also ... a bunch of stuff: 15A: Year the emperor Frederick II died (MCCL), 21A: Last word of Kansas' motto (ASPERA), 22A: Wings on an avis (ALAE), etc.
- 39A: 22 of the 26 letters of the alphabet, in D.C. (STS.) — as in "streets." Not a great answer, but the clue is pretty good.
- 46A: Part of a presidential motorcade (ESCORT) — this felt awkward. Which part *isn't* an ESCORT?
- 79A: Actress de Ravin of "Roswell" and "Lost" (EMILIE) — Nooooo idea. Never watched either show.
- 82A: ___ Red Seal (classical music label) (RCA) — Hmmm, I guess that's right. I mean, I think I might own one or two discs on this label. I know Red Seal mostly as a short-lived paperback publisher.
- 93A: Soul singer James with the 1990 #1 hit "I Don't Have the Heart" (INGRAM) — I barely remember this song. I wasn't listening to much radio then, because (as I've explained before), that was during the worst period in pop music history (1987-91). INGRAM's name anagrams to MARGIN, ARMING, and GARMIN.
- 102A: Lorelei's locale (RHINE) — hmmm, don't know what this is. Turns out, it's a big rock.
- 122A: Fictitious Plaza resident (ELOISE) — very memorable. A great book for reading to kids.
- 2D: Capital city whose name means "place of the gods" (LHASA) — from wikipedia: "Lhasa literally means "place of the gods", although ancient Tibetan documents and inscriptions demonstrate that the place was called Rasa, which means "goat's place", until the early 7th century."
- 5D: Popular German beer, informally (ST. PAULI'S) — is this the same as St. Pauli Girl? I've never seen anyone drink it, so I wouldn't know what it's called "informally."
- 9D: Manischewitz products (MATZOHS) — somehow this seems weird in the plural.
- 37D: Cabo da ___, westernmost spot in continental Europe (ROCA) — hey, another rock.
- 43D: Nautical pole (SPAR) — took me far too long. Couldn't get geographical poles out of my head.
- @fleetwoodwack Going to a party in Natick. No, really.
- @emelina I am in an abusive relationship with crossword puzzles. Intervention, please. Or just some puzzles solved!
- @ElayneBoosler My eye surgeon was so impressed I was in NY Times Xword puzz. on surgery day, he threw in a free vagazzling.
- @ c_morrison Woman opposite me on train doing crossword trying 2 work out how 2 spell dyslexia. She reckons it's spelt with a 'c'.
- @parisreview The pattern of the thing precedes the thing. I fill in the gaps of the crossword at any spot I happen to choose. – Vladimir Nabokov
- @skybellarts How did I miss this? Thanks to today's NYTimes crossword I now have a word to add to my scrabble playlist, pfui.
- @HERCOOLASS Me and white dude in the back wit me could really care less bout WTF this teacher sayin..homeboy doin a newspaper crossword puzzle
- @Its_Death You know what sucks about immortality? Sunday afternoons. Saved the world from armageddon this morning & done the crosswords. Bored now.
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