Asian gold bar measure / SUN 10-14-12 / Old Brit coins / Our Town opera composer / Comic strip with Pig Rat / 2010 movie plot to steal moon / River through Orsk / African region including Khartoum Timbuktu / Hindu title of respect / Soap discontinued in 2011
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Constructor: Todd Gross
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Media Start-Ups" — Theme answers have same initials as TV stations
Word of the Day: TAEL (105D: Asian gold bar measure) —
1. Any of various units of weight used in eastern Asia, roughly equivalent to 38 grams (1 1/3 ounces).2. A monetary unit formerly used in China, equivalent in value to this weight of standard silver. (freedictionary.com)
• • •
SOVS (8D: Old Brit. coins), TAEL, or FRIT wins for most "Are you kidding!?" so let's call it a tie. Wait, it's a four-way tie if we throw in one-R LARY (13D: Three-time All-Star pitcher Frank). It's very hard to believe that any of those answers were necessary. It continues to be dismaying to see how little overall fill quality seems to matter in NYT puzzles any more. With only seven theme answers, the fill in this thing should be much, much better. As a better constructor than I said (just now, on Facebook):
7 theme answers & 97 theme squares shouldn't strain the fill so much. For some reason, Todd G used a 132-word grid. Why? Max is 140 and he should have been a lot closer to it. No one notices the lowish word count. Everyone notices the horribly obscure entries.The NW is a dreary, tired, foreign, partial mess. The middle has stuff your constructing software always suggests but *you* are supposed to reject, like OLEOLE (56A: Repeated phrase in "Hot Hot Hot") and "SO RARE" (61A: 1937 hit with the lyric "You're like the fragrance of blossoms fair"). God knows whose idea ROOFLET is, wow (47D: It might extend above a side door). A couple of the Downs are good, like "DESPICABLE ME" (60D: 2010 movie with a plot to steal the moon) and TAPE DECK and FALSE NAME and SHORT HAIR (I like dogs), but most of the fill is solidly in the tired-to-yeesh range. Non-scintillating themes always make weak fill stand out more. Themes that are just Pretty good need to have a lot of value added in the non-theme material. Also, I wouldn't cross WHIR and WHIR and I wouldn't have SØREN and SORENSEN (82D: Ted who wrote "The Kennedy Legacy") in the same grid. Not in a million years.
- 23A: Special attention (TENDER LOVING CARE)
- 28A: Against one's will (NOT BY CHOICE)
- 44A: Soap discontinued in 2011 ("ALL MY CHILDREN)
- 63A: Comic strip with the characters Rat and Pig ("PEARLS BEFORE SWINE")
- 80A: M.R.I., maybe (TOTAL BODY SCAN) — "full-body scan," which is what I wanted, gets about 8x the google hits
- 104A: What dead men are said to do (TELL NO TALES)
- 108A: With "The," former sketch comedy program on CBS—fittingly enough ("CAROL BURNETT SHOW")
Also, from now on, when I say/write "WTF?!" in relation to some obscure / insane / horrible word or phrase in the grid, please know that those letters now stand for "What the FRIT!?" (106D: Glassmaking material).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Happy birthday to my beloved Sandy.