Smallest Indian state / THU 7-4-13 / Professor Bobo of Mystery Science Theater 3000 / English king nicknamed Longshanks / Car slangily
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Constructor: Barry Franklin & Sara Kaplan
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: THE FOURTH OF JULY (57A: Date on which 17-, 24- and 36-Across died) — apparently three of the first five PRESIDENTs (49A: See 17-, 24- and 36-Across) died on this date:
- THOMAS JEFFERSON [One of the first five 49-Acrosses]
- JOHN ADAMS [One of the first five 49-Acrosses]
- JAMES MONROE [One of the first five 49-Acrosses]
Word of the Day: GOA (23A: Smallest Indian state) —
Goa [...] India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its western coast. Goa is India's richest state with a GDP per capita two and a half times that of the country as a whole. It was ranked the best placed state by the Eleventh Finance Commission for its infrastructure and ranked on top for the best quality of life in India by the National Commission on Population based on the 12 Indicators.Panaji is the state's capital, while Vasco da Gama is the largest city. The historic city of Margao still exhibits the cultural influence of the Portuguese, who first landed in the early 16th century as merchants and conquered it soon thereafter. Goa is a former Portuguese province; the Portuguese overseas territory of Portuguese India existed for about 450 years until it wasannexed by India in 1961.
• • •
Happy Presidential Death Day, everybody!
PRESIDENT. Here's another PRESIDENT Still another PRESIDENT Today's date. The End. It took two people to make this? Huh. OK. Fill on this one looks positively radiant next to yesterday's crime scene of a puzzle, but it's still not what you'd call "good." NW corner has some color but awkward AOKS and lengthy partial ASTAGE kind of mucks it up. JU-JITSU is of course fantastic (esp. crossing BOITANO—so athletic, this puzzle). "Jiu-jitsu" appears to be the more common spelling, but JU- is acceptable. But the rest of it just kind of clunks along, although I will say my friends are currently (right now, on FB) raving about the clue at 39A: Professor Bobo of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," e.g. (APE). That seems obscure as heck (I watched "MST3K" for a good while and don't remember Professor Bobo at all—I think I stopped watching after Joel left) but this clue gets some major "Trying To Be Interesting" points. In fact, all such points in this puzzle are earned by this clue alone.
I thought the humorist at 6D: Humorist who wrote "Happiness is having a scratch for every itch" (Ogden NASH) was NAST. Wanted NYQUIL at 1A: Insomnia medicine (AMBIEN). Tried RUS. for ROM. (29D: Neighbor of Ukr.). Had some trouble coming up with NO CATCH because, while it is indeed a [Baseball umpire's call], it's not exactly an everyday one. Forgot BROKAW preceded Gumbel (3D: "Today" show host before Gumbel). As I understand it, flexitarianism (-ism?) is a way of eating, not a time-limited "diet," so I don't like the clue for DIETED much at all (30D: Was on a flexitarian plan, maybe). Toughening up an otherwise easy puzzle were clever clues at 36D: Chain stores? (JEWELERS) and 45A: Pump for a heart, e.g. (ANALOGY). Not often that my graduate studies help me out with a puzzle, but I've actually written an article dealing with The Hammer of the Scots, aka, Longshanks, aka EDWARD I, so that clue was nice (27A: English king nicknamed Longshanks). You may remember him from such movies as "Braveheart" (which is what my article was actually about).
Hoping for something a little more inventive tomorrow. It's good to be back home and at the keyboard again. Thanks to all my substitutes, who did a great job, from what I could tell. I mostly stayed away from the computer as much as possible last week—Family and the gorgeous Oregon coast provided sufficient distraction. Had fantastic view of MT. HOOD (2D: Home to North America's only year-round ski resort) as I flew into Portland and spent most of the week in a big house on the beach with my extended family (parents, siblings, nieces & nephews). Not a ton to do in Bandon, OR, but I'm not much of a "doer" anyway. Mostly slept, read, hung out with my family, and walked the beach for miles and miles and miles. Not a bad life, for a week or so. Currently in a red-eye fog, not having properly slept in something like 48 hours now. A four-hour red-eye flight is a Useless Thing. Gives you a 2.5-, maybe 3-hour window in which to get all your sleep for the night. So under optimal conditions you'll get to sleep maybe three hours. I'm 6'3", didn't have a neck pillow, and flew coach, so ... conditions Not Optimal. But it's a small price to pay for such amazing down time. Portland just rocketed to the top of our "Places We Might Live Next" list. Minneapolis better step it up...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld