Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NYT Wednesday 4/14/10 - A Change of Heart

With this Wednesday New York Times crossword, I waited patiently for an explanation of the circled letters without getting one. Of course I could see that anagrams of AEHRT were appearing in each answer, but it wasn't till I was done and noted the regular progression of the sequence (with tail moving to head each time) that I realized what had been achieved and why the theme spoke for itself.

In addition, the positions of the anagrams are symmetrical and in an approximate line along the diagonal. A great implementation of the idea, especially considering there are a generous 69 theme squares. Of the five long answers, only Parthenon Frieze seemed at all strained, but I see that I'm being unduly harsh about that too, as the answer is a regular entry in Wikipedia at least.

I turned down a few blind alleys, notably at 33-Down where I had why, not who. In this way, I innocently ended up with yay! for the {Palindromic explanation} at 42-Across. This error, and others like it, help to explain the doubling in solving time from yesterday.

A more worrying problem was the intersection of 10-Across NoHo and 12-Down Horcrux. I knew of the former, but in a city replete with such nicknames, couldn't rule out a similarly-named neighborhood with a different third letter. Being no fan of Harry Potter, I was clueless about the down answer. In this case I just had to go with the neighborhood I knew and hope for the best ... which worked out today.

It was surprising to encounter a new "English novelist" at 14-Across ... all was explained when I checked out Elias Canetti in Wikipedia: only a naturalized British citizen, he didn't write in English. "English" may not be a complete lie, but it's hardly helpful either!

I was excited this week to hear of a new crossword series starting up: Peter Gordon of Fireball Crosswords fame is now editing "The Post Puzzler", which appears in the Sunday Arts and Style section of The Washington Post and also online. The series kicked off with an excellent themeless (or nearly so) example from Frank Longo. Magdalen and I will add this to our regular solving fare.
Solving time: 10 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 44d ice-rink {Place to see a flying camel}
Solution

Jonah Kagan
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

HEART cycles progressively into EARTH in the long across answers:
17a near to one's heart {Dear}
23a seen but not heard {What children should be, so the saying goes}
35a north-east {Home of the Ivy League}
52a Parthenon frieze {It's a relief in Athens}
59a earthshattering {Likely to change everything}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJonah Kagan / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 5.08)
Theme squares69 (35.8%)
Scrabble points292 (average 1.51)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



29a 'Tis {"___ the last rose of summer" (start of a Thomas Moore poem)}. The Last Rose of Summer is a poem by Irish poet Thomas Moore, who was a friend of Byron and Shelley. Moore wrote it in 1805 while at Jenkinstown Park in County Kilkenny, Ireland. Sir John Stevenson set the poem to its widely-known melody, and this was published in a collection of Moore's work called Irish Melodies (1807–34). Here it is sung by Celtic Woman.

The Doctor is IN

10a NoHo {Big Apple neighborhood west of the East Village}. NoHo is short for North of Houston Street, in contrast to SoHo (South of Houston).

14a Elias {English novelist Canetti who wrote "Crowds and Power"}. Elias Canetti (1905–1994) was a Bulgarian-born naturalized British citizen who wrote in German. Crowds and Power is the English translation of his 1960 study Masse und Macht.

31a steer {Head out on the ranch?}. "Head" = head of cattle, which could be a steer.

34a sexy {What Justin Timberlake's "bringin' back," in a song}. Reference to SexyBack.

56a Leia {Princess with a blaster}. Princess Leia Organa is an excellent marksman and a legendary wielder of the blaster.

58a pred. {Sentence segment: Abbr.}. pred. = predicate.

12d Horcrux {Receptacle for Voldemort's soul in Harry Potter}. A Horcrux is a Dark Magic device created to attain immortality.

34d sta. {Where to catch a bullet?: Abbr.}. sta. = station, where you might catch a bullet train.

39d opp. {Right to left, e.g.: Abbr.}. opp. = opposite, which "right" is to "left".

44d ice-rink {Place to see a flying camel}. A flying camel is spin in figure skating.

54d O'Hara {John who wrote "Appointment in Samarra"}. John O'Hara (1905–1970) was a best-selling novelist.

Image of the Day

Chicago El

61d els {Chi-town trains}. I've seen els numerous times in movies and crosswords, but never in the flesh and certainly not to travel on. The oldest section of the 'L' started operating in 1892, making it the second-oldest rapid transit system in the Americas after New York. The 'L' has been credited with helping create the densely built-up city core that is one of Chicago's distinguishing features. The 'L' consists of eight rapid transit lines laid out in a spoke-hub distribution paradigm focusing transit toward a central loop (which is also commonly referenced in crosswords). Although the 'L' gained its nickname because large parts of the system are elevated, only 56.4 miles of the 106.1-mile system is elevated.

Other Clues

1a gesso {Painter's primer}; 6a Srta. {Mex. miss}; 15a hood {Thing to look under}; 16a in on {Privy to}; 20a Emma {Actress Thompson}; 21a nuit {When la Tour Eiffel lights up}; 22a AC-DC {Rock band with a lightning bolt in its logo}; 27a ins {Electees}; 28a ass {Mount in the Bible}; 30a rue {___ the day}; 33a won {Korean money}; 39a Otto {Director Preminger}; 42a oho {Palindromic exclamation}; 43a pails {Many sand castle molds}; 47a pro {Not con}; 48a sue {Take to court}; 49a Kia {Carmaker whose name means "arise out of Asia"}; 51a Col. {___ Mustard}; 57a whoa! {"That's big news, dude!"}; 62a Alou {Baseball's Moises}; 63a tart {Like lemonade sans sugar}; 64a Lange {Oscar-winning "Tootsie" actress}; 65a TASS {Cold war news source}; 66a stay {Canine command}; 67a Sykes {Comedian Wanda}.

1d Genesis {Book that spans 2,369 years}; 2d element {Gold or silver, but not bronze}; 3d Siamese {Like the cats in "Lady and the Tramp"}; 4d Saran {Clear kitchen wrap}; 5d Ost {Sunrise direction in Berlin}; 6d shouts {Hoot and holler}; 7d Ronin {1998 De Niro film}; 8d toe-to-toe {In direct competition}; 9d ads {Google moneymakers}; 10d niece {Lisa Simpson, to Patty or Selma}; 11d on a dare {How one might go bungee jumping}; 13d Ont. {Que. neighbor}; 18d onus {Burden}; 19d hahs {Derisive laughs}; 24d baro- {Prefix with -meter}; 25d Tina {Fey of "30 Rock"}; 26d Dey {Susan of "L.A. Law"}; 32d Eno {Musician Brian}; 33d who {"... that's ___!"}; 36d roué {Player/preyer}; 37d then what? {"And after that?"}; 38d spar {Exchange jabs or gibes}; 40d tra-la-la {Light refrain}; 41d toreros {Stars in a ring}; 45d lozenge {Drop down one's throat?}; 46d sledges {Big busting tools}; 48d shah {Persian monarch}; 49d knotty {Full of difficulties}; 50d if at {"___ first you ..."}; 53d Titus {"___ Andronicus"}; 55d I pray {Start of an appeal}; 59d eat {Drop down one's throat}; 60d sts. {Urban grid: Abbr.}.

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