Monday, August 9, 2010

NYT Tuesday 8/10/10 Peter A. Collins - Metal Bashing

This Tuesday New York Times crossword has another fine thematic implementation: a little more subtle than yesterday's, being another day on in the solving week. This is the third puzzle I've blogged about that has involved word ladders (obviously a rich vein for constructors to mine); the preceding two examples were on March 2, 2010 and April 29, 2009.

Given the four-letter words in the ladder are clued normally, it's hard to see their thematic significance until you get half way down the grid (unless you look ahead). I'd in any event had difficulty in the NW corner and hadn't fathomed the LEAD clue (amongst others there) and so moved on.
 
I cannot know Pb until I become Au
I cannot know Pb until I become Au
Realization of the theme came all at once when I saw transmutation would fit 20-Across, with three minutes on the clock. I knew this was a term in alchemy, so 39-Across came immediately after. Then when I next looked at the NW and SE corner across answers, it was obvious what should go in them. I forget if I already had LOAD and GOAD at that point - when a puzzle only takes six minutes or so, much of the solving process is a blur of activity.

57a pseudoscience got filled in close to the completion of the grid, and I wondered at first if it really fit in. I think of pseudosciences as a relatively modern phenomenon, examples being belief in ESP and intelligent design. But the Wikipedia page on pseudoscience suggests the term has been around since the late 18th century and was actually first used of alchemy!
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 22d IOU {Letters from a short person?}
Solution

Peter A. Collins
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

The across answers at the corners of the grid form the word ladder LEAD, LOAD, GOAD, GOLD, as indicated by 39a alchemy {Activity associated with the word ladder formed by 1-, 10-, 70- and 72-Across}. The other long answers related to the theme:
20a transmutation {Goal of 39-Across}
57a pseudo-science {39-Across, for one}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPeter A. Collins / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares49 (26.2%)
Scrabble points290 (average 1.55)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



41d Yanni {Greek New Age musician}. New Age and for once it's not Enya! I had an advantage here: when sorting through Magdalen's compendious CD collection, I came across a lot of Yanni and remembered the name. Yanni (born Yiannis Hrysomallis) is a self-taught pianist, keyboardist, and composer. After receiving a B.A. in psychology, he instead sought a life in music though he had no formal training and could not read music. He earned Grammy nominations for his 1992 album, Dare to Dream, and the 1993 follow-up, In My Time. His breakthrough success came with the 1994 release of Yanni Live at the Acropolis (excerpt shown above), deemed to be the second best-selling music video of all time. Yanni has since performed live in concert before in excess of two million people in more than 20 countries around the world. He has accumulated more than 35 platinum and gold albums globally, with sales totaling over 20 million copies. Yanni is considered to be one of the top fundraisers of all time for public television. His compositions have been included in all Olympic Games television broadcasts since 1988, and his music has been used extensively in television and televised sporting events. His music is frequently described as "new age", though he prefers the term "contemporary instrumental".

The Doctor is IN

15a Nueva {___ Granada (old Spanish colony in the Americas)}. Presumably the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada, created in 1717.

19a cees {Broccoli centers?}. "Broccoli" has two Cs, or cees, at the center.

33d hasta {"___ luego"}. see you later = hasta luego! is in Español para los crucigramistas.

60d nolo {Part of a plea}. As in nolo contendere (a plea of no contest).

Image of the Day

Grand Tetons reflecting in Jackson Lake
Grand Tetons reflecting in Jackson Lake
48a Teton {Grand ___ National Park}. Grand Teton National Park is located in northwestern Wyoming, south of Yellowstone National Park. The park is named after the Grand Teton, which, at 13,770 feet (4,197 m), is the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. The origin of the name "Teton" is not definitive. One possible origin is that it was the name given by French trappers in the area. ("Tetons" means breasts in French) Another possible source is that the mountains derive their name from the names of one of tribes in the Sioux Nation. Grand Teton National Park was established on February 26, 1929. The park covers 484 square miles (1,250 km2) of land and water. There are nearly 200 miles (320 km) of trails for hikers to enjoy in Grand Teton National Park.

Other Clues

1a lead {Male ballroom dancer, traditionally}; 5a add up {Total}; 10a load {Laundry unit}; 14a in so {Not ___ many words}; 16a LPGA {Org. for Annika Sorenstam}; 17a stew {Oyster ___}; 18a iller {Cooler, to a hip-hopper}; 23a poet {Whitman or Whittier}; 24a boosts {Gives a leg up}; 27a scan {Swipe at the store}; 29a hes {Bucks and rams}; 32a ultra {Extreme}; 33a Hootie {___ & the Blowfish}; 35a tub {Part of a jug band}; 37a jail {Lockup}; 38a aim {Objective}; 42a net {What a swish shot swishes}; 43a slew {Ton}; 45a Kay {Mary ___ of cosmetics}; 46a war-cry {Battlefield shout}; 50a Blu {___-ray Discs}; 52a naes {Glasgow negations}; 53a adorns {Decorates}; 55a rant {Tirade}; 63a amat {Latin lover's word?}; 65a zip it! {"Shut up!"}; 66a Doos {Ski-___ (snowmobiles)}; 67a nope {"Not a chance"}; 68a Irene {Ryan of "The Beverly Hillbillies"}; 69a plat {Subdivision map}; 70a goad {Incite}; 71a eeled {Sniggled}; 72a gold {Olympic prize}.

1d list {Tilt}; 2d entr {___'acte}; 3d a-sea {Between ports}; 4d down pat {Rehearsed perfectly}; 5d anime {Manga-like art form}; 6d Duluth {Lake Superior port}; 7d delt {Shoulder muscle, briefly}; 8d uvea {Sclera neighbor}; 9d Part B {Second section}; 10d L. L. Cool J. {Rapper born James Todd Smith}; 11d open stance {Batting position}; 12d age {AARP membership concern}; 13d Das {"___ Kapital"}; 21d Sonia {Braga of Hollywood}; 22d IOU {Letters from a short person?}; 25d triers {Judges and juries}; 26d salty {Dirty}; 27d soiled {Dirty}; 28d come to Papa {Dice roller's exclamation}; 30d ethyl {___ alcohol}; 31d sue {Litigate}; 34d elk {Lodge member}; 36d BMW {Audi alternative}; 40d cab {Trucker's place}; 44d worsted {Wool variety}; 47d rated PG {Like most of the Harry Potter films}; 49d NNE {Havana-to-Miami dir.}; 51d ursine {Bearlike}; 54d Suzie {"The World of ___ Wong"}; 56d acted {Wasn't passive}; 58d dire {Ominous}; 59d Opel {Audi alternative}; 61d coal {Mine find}; 62d estd. {Abbr. on a city limit sign}; 63d Ang {Oscar-winning director Lee}; 64d moo {Jersey greeting?}.

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