Pause word in psalms / SUN 5-1-16 / Eyelike opening in architecture / Pirate's mate in literature film / Red giant in constellation cetus / Language descended from Old Norse / Pro-consumer ideology
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Constructor: Joel Fagliano and Byron Walden
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (more Easy for me, but those big open spaces might slow you down)
THEME: "Stellar Work" —theme clues look like normal clues marked with asterisks, but in order for the clues to make sense, those asterisks must be interpreted as standing for the word "STAR":
- CABLE CHANNEL (22A: *Z, for one)
- RIGHT SIDE (38A: *Board)
- UNITED AIRLINES (42A: *Alliance member)
- BROKERED A SETTLEMENT (60A: *Ted talks, say) (this answers is drifting into Green Paint territory...)
- ROMEO AND JULIET (87A: *Crossed pair)
- ED MCMAHON (89A: *Search party)
- ACTING CAREER (110A: *Let's hope)
Mira (//, also known as Omicron Ceti, ο Ceti, ο Cet) is a red giant star estimated 200–400 light years away in the constellation Cetus. Mira is a binary star, consisting of the red giant Mira A along with Mira B. Mira A is also an oscillating variable star and was the first non-supernova variable star discovered, with the possible exception of Algol. Mira is the brightest periodic variable in the sky that is not visible to the naked eye for part of its cycle. Its distance is uncertain; pre-Hipparcos estimates centered on 220 light-years; while Hipparcos data from the 2007 reduction suggest a distance of 299 light-years, with a margin of error of 11% (wikipedia) (I have no idea what half of this means)
SMEE-on-SPEE action in the NE, and the AGRO-LOMA HALIDES aren't particularly beautiful, but the grid felt very sturdy and well made overall. We're not looking at anything scintillating here. We're looking at what *should* be NYT-average, but isn't. It's above-average. NYT B.
Theme didn't register for me at first because I just figured "Z" was some CABLE CHANNEL I hadn't heard of. There are nine thousand of them, so why not? Only with the UNITED AIRLINES clue did I see what was going on. Really enjoyed OWN GOAL and PI DAY. I taught some English translations of Psalms earlier this semester, and we talked a bunch about the odd word "SELAH," so that was easy. Surprised OCULUS didn't get the OCULUS Rift clue. Do they speak FAROESE on the Faroe Islands? They do! I weirdly just ran across the Faroe Islands today in a soccer story, of all places. Seems that the coach of Leicester City (which is about to win the Premier League title) was the coach of the Greek national team last year but was fired after his team lost to ... the Faroe Islands (a country with a population < 50K). So ... there's some FAROESE-adjacent trivia for you! (Not sure why NYT is spelling the country "Faeroe Islands." Perhaps some conflation with Spenser's "Faerie Queene"? Who knows?)
Thought FORAGE might be SILAGE. Thought NAMIB was NEGEV (or NAGIV to be precise ... but the NEGEV is middle eastern, not southern African). I am now amusing myself by making rhymes and nonsense phrases out of the answers in the SW ("ADESTE HESTER, MR. MISTER!"), so I should probably go.
ICYMI—here's the "Future of Crosswords" podcast (under 7 minutes) by Tufts University student Julia Press, featuring me, Dan Feyer and others. And here's the Ollie Roeder article about the "punishment" handed down to plagiarizing crossword editor Timothy Parker (spoiler: it's not much of a punishment). See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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