Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sylvia who played Queen Mother in Queen / THU 10-6-11 / Extinct kin of kiwi / Mad face / Moroccan topper / Eastern nanny

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Easy


Word of the Day: Sylvia SYMS (67A: Sylvia who played the Queen Mother in "The Queen") —
Sylvia M. L. Syms OBE (born 6 January 1934) is a British actress. She is probably best known for her roles in the films Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957), Ice-Cold in Alex (1958), No Trees in the Street (1959) , Victim (1961) and The Tamarind Seed (1974). She remains active in films, television and theatre. (wikipedia)
• • •

"Silly" in this case = supremely lame and predictable. So predictable, in fact, that (unlike with most quotation puzzles) I tore through this in record Thursday time—under 4 minutes. Most of the non-theme answers are short (3-5 letters) and most of the clues are very (even painfully) straightforward, so despite not having any idea about the joke at the beginning, I tore through all the crosses and pieced the first part together. Once I got HANES, the entire rest of the joke fell limply into place. I don't think I hesitated much at all. I somehow got Leroy NIEMAN stuck in my head where Alfred E. NEUMAN (5D: Mad face?) was supposed to go; I wasn't sure what kind of spelling I was going to see on those Sinister laughs (HEH HEHS), and I have no idea who this SYMS person is. Otherwise, I was typing as fast as I could read the clues. Coolest thing about this puzzle is EAR PIECE (9D: Standard-issue item for a Secret Service agent).

I have TOD Browning's "Freaks" sitting on my DVR (58A: Browning who directed "Dracula," 1931), waiting me to have a creepy horror movie binge sometime this month. I'm always happy to see MOA (21A: Extinct kin of the kiwi), as extinct N.Z. birds make me happy (still haven't seen HAAST'S EAGLE yet, but I hope to someday—those suckers were massive. Pick-up-a-MOA-and-fly-off-with-it" massive. The clues on AMAH (64A: Eastern nanny) and FEZ (63D: Moroccan topper) are straight out of the mustiest of crossword cupboards. I have nothing more to say about this puzzle. Congrats to crossword phenom Joon Pahk who won of "Jeopardy" for the third time last night. He was partially pre-empted by the sad news of the death of Steve Jobs, but CBS returned to regular programming in time for Final Jeopardy (one of the easiest ones I've ever seen—answer: Don Quixote), which Joon and the others all got right. Joon, who was leading before Final Jeopardy (thanks to some score recalculating during the commercial break), bet the bank, so ... yeah, wow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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