Maurice who painted Parisian street scenes / SUN 3-20-16 / Black white sneaker lingo / Regenerist brand / Streaming video giant / 1999 rom-com based on Pygmalion / jacet phrase on tombstones / Small-capped mushrooms / Hero of kid-lit's Phantom Tollbooth / Band with Ben Jerry's flavor named for it / Old Spanish kingdom
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Double-Crossed" — Note:
The word that's spelled out: REMAINDERS (because every letter in every theme answer is used exactly twice ... except one)
- HIPPOCRATIC OATH (27A: *Doctor's orders?)
- "SHE'S ALL THAT" (38A: *199 rom-com based on Shaw's "Pygmalion")
- LOS ALAMOS (42A: *Manhattan Project site)
- BAR MEMBER (56A: *Lawyer)
- PRIDE PARADE (58A: *Event with rainbow flags)
- UNDER DURESS (70A: *Pressured)
- SETS A DATE (73A: *Makes wedding plans)
- MIAMI-DADE (86A: *County that includes much of Everglades National Park)
- PRETTY PENNY (90A: *Tidy sum)
- GOES UNDERGROUND (103A: *Hides out)
capital of Kazakhstan. It is located on the Ishim River in the north portion of Kazakhstan, within Akmola Region, though administrated separately from the region as a city with special status. The 2014 census reported a population of 835,153 within the city, making it the second-largest city in Kazakhstan. // Founded in 1830 as the settlement of Akmoly (Kazakh: Ақмолы) or Akmolinsky prikaz (Russian: Акмолинский приказ), it served as a defensive fortification for the Siberian Cossacks. In 1832, the settlement was granted a town status and renamed Akmolinsk (Russian: Акмолинск). On 20 March 1961, the city was renamed to Tselinograd (Russian: Целиноград) to mark the city's evolution as a cultural and administrative centre of the Virgin Lands Campaign. In 1992, it was renamed Akmola (Kazakh: Ақмола), the modified original name meaning "a white grave". On 10 December 1997, Akmola replaced Almaty to become the capital of Kazakhstan. On 6 May 1998, it was renamed Astana, which means "the capital" in Kazakh. // Astana is a planned city, such as Brasilia in Brazil, Canberra in Australia and Washington, D.C. in the United States. The master plan of Astana was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. As the seat of the Government of Kazakhstan, Astana is the site of the Parliament House, the Supreme Court, the Ak Orda Presidential Palace and numerous government departments and agencies. It is home to many futuristic buildings, hotels and skyscrapers. Astana is a centre for sport, having been set to host the Expo 2017. Astana also has extensive healthcare and education systems.
• • •
REMAINDERS is the mot juste, to be sure. It just feels like a kind of sad magic trick. "I finished your puzzle, and it was nice, and ... oh, there was something to it? Oh, OK, explain it to me. Oh, ha ha, wow. Good one." It has to be explained. The solver doesn't just Get it in the course of solving. Therefore, :(
As a bloated themeless, this one works quite well. It's a lot sassier and more interesting than most Sundays tend to be, and never drifts into the doldrums of cruddy boring fill. The long Downs are marvelous (SPEECH BUBBLES! NICOTINE PATCH!), and there are some neat up-to-date thing like MODS (short for "moderators") (47D: Chat room policers, informally) and APPLE / CEO / TIM Cook. I have seen MODS a few times lately as friends of mine have gleefully reported on the sad attempts of a certain disgraced crossword editor to erase information about himself on his wikipedia page. Let's just say the wikipedia MODS weren't amused.
The only trouble I had with this one was ASTANA, which I'm just never going to remember, and LLC / CARB (34D: Cousin of inc. / 45A: Engine part, briefly). I wanted LLB and LLD at first, and my knowledge of engines is not, uh, great. To me, a CARB is a starch thing, a bready pasta-y thing. Engines have "cams," right? That's the engine part I know. Anyway, that little intersection caused a hiccup. But otherwise, I sailed through this faster than I've sailed through any NYT Sunday in a long time. Sometimes I finish a puzzle so fast I simply don't notice the theme (this typically happens on Monday or Tuesday). But today, it wouldn't have mattered if I'd taken the time to smell the roses—the theme was invisible. I wish there's been a way to push the theme into view or to make it somehow more ... relevant to the solve.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. if this theme seems familiar ... Patrick Berry! (from Sep 2007) (may as well accidentally duplicate the best!) (I say the same thing about the theme, use the same visuals ... it's crossword Groundhog Day)
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