Saturday, September 18, 2010

NYT Sunday 9/19/10 Kevin G. Der - Just D'Indy

old hat {Passé}? Well yes, but my sigh after realizing the theme from 22-Across was one of satisfaction not boredom. I knew I was in for a fun time and this Sunday New York Times crossword did not disappoint. In case something about it seems familiar, puns on composers' names appeared as recently as the July 7 daily puzzle in the NYT, with one answer identical (Haydn, go seek).

I definitely felt at home with the theme, but also the non-thematic aspects, only getting into trouble as a result of red herrings, such as Alero for the {Once-popular Olds} at 13-Across, rhino for {Zoo heavyweight} at 50-Across and she-devil for {Succubus} at 11-Down. This cluster of problems meant progress on the right hand side always lagged that on the left.


Gryptics by Les FoeldessyThey're crosswords, but not as we know them. I'm indebted to Les Foeldessy for drawing my attention to Gryptics, an example of which is shown to the right (scanned from the cover of Les's first Gryptic collection in book form).

The idea is that you fill in the squares so that six words read across and six words read down, including the letters outside the main 6x6 block. For example, the second across word looks to be cobblestone; filling that in makes it easy to get the second word down as librarian; and so on.

While I don't think Gryptics spell the end of conventional crosswords, they're fun to do and would fit well in the games page of any newspaper. The ones in the Gryptics book seem fairly straightforward, but it's presumably possible to make them more or less difficult by removing or adding given letters in the central square.

Les has kindly offered a few of the books for us to give as prizes in our NPR Sunday Puzzle "Pick a Range" competition; so if you fancy a copy, make sure you read Magdalen's post on the NPR puzzle over the next few Sundays and pick your range in a comment.
Solving time: 30 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 34a Yankee {Union representative?}

Kevin G. Der
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


"Musical Play". Puns on composers' names:
22a Bizet as a beaver {"Carmen" composer-turned-dam builder?}
29a  think outside the Bachs {Embrace more than just a family of Baroque composers?}
39a Chopin spree {Romantic overindulgence in nocturnes and mazurkas?}
55a flying off the Handel {Singing a "Messiah" piece too quickly?}
66a national Liszt party {Countrywide music celebration in Hungary?}
83a Haydn go seek {Part of a children's game with the Father of the Symphony?}
93a my big fat Grieg wedding {Grand nuptials whose only music was "Peer Gynt"?}
105a grasp at Strauss {Try to capture the Waltz King?}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersKevin G. Der / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 77 (17.5%) black squares
Answers138 (average length 5.28)
Theme squares126 (34.6%)
Scrabble points623 (average 1.71)
Video of the Day

53a aeolian {___ harp}. An aeolian harp (or wind harp) is a musical instrument that is "played" by the wind. It is named for Aeolus, the ancient Greek god of the wind. The traditional aeolian harp is essentially a wooden box including a sounding board, with strings stretched lengthwise across two bridges. It is placed in a slightly opened window where the wind can blow across the strings to produce sounds. The strings can be made of different materials (or thicknesses) and all be tuned to the same pitch, or identical strings can be tuned to different pitches. The sound is random, depending on the strength of the wind passing over the strings, and can range from a barely audible hum to a loud scream. If the strings are tuned to different notes, sometimes only one tone is heard, and sometimes chords.

I've known of these "instruments" since childhood, but never seen or heard one, so it was a lot of fun picking out a clip. Above is Stanley Hershonik of, who makes indoor instruments. There are also some wonderfully sculptural harps for the garden at Mohican Wind Harps.

The Doctor is IN

38a ces {These, overseas}. ces is "these" in French.

61a Ob-La- {Song lead-in to "di" or "da"}. Referencing Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by The Beatles.

113a agua {Laguna composition}. water = agua is in Español para los crucigramistas (laguna is Spanish for "lagoon").

3d Kaz {Second baseman Matsui, to fans}. I.e. Kazuo Matsui.

41d shoe {Last thing}. A shoe is made on a last.

43d RPI {Upstate N.Y. school}. RPI = Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is in The Crucy League.

44d EPA {Spill-fighting grp.}. EPA = Environmental Protection Agency is in Alphabet Soup.

54d editor {Mad person?}. Mad = a magazine is in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

57d Flo {Mel's Diner waitress}. Flo is Polly Holliday's character in the hit 1970s sitcom Alice.

90d Odetta {"Glory, Glory" singer}. I.e. Odetta Holmes (1930–2008).

Image of the Day

Ovid among the Scythians
Ovid among the Scythians (1862)
88a Ovid {Poet depicted in art alongside the Scythians}. Ovid among the Scythians (1859 and 1862) is the title of two oil paintings by French artist Eugène Delacroix. The second was painted after the first version's "unusual composition and strange scale of the figures provoked criticism, even among Delacroix's admirers such as Baudelaire and Gautier, although artists like Edgar Degas were deeply impressed." Delacroix "had first painted this subject in 1844 as part of the decorations for the ceiling of the Library of the Palais Bourbon in Paris". They depict the life of the Ancient Roman poet Ovid when exiled by Augustus to the Black Sea port of Tomis in south east Romania, in Scythia, where he spent his last eight years and wrote poems such as Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto. Scythians were an Ancient Iranian people whose way of life was described by Herodotus in his Histories as "nomadic" and Ovid himself called them a "wild tribe". Above is the 1862 version.

Other Clues

1a juke {Diner fixture, informally}; 5a ajar {Not stopping the draft, say}; 9a apse {Cathedral feature}; 13a Ciera {Once-popular Olds}; 18a opal {Producer of a colorful ring tone}; 19a Luke {It mentions the Prodigal Son}; 20a Baha {___ Men ("Move It Like This" group)}; 21a Lenten {Kind of season}; 25a old hat {Passé}; 26a mist {It hangs around the Amazon}; 27a arced {Not straight}; 28a over ice {Not neat}; 33a CIA {Org. in the "Bourne" series}; 34a Yankee {Union representative?}; 35a mahi {Hawaiian fish, on some menus}; 36a adit {Mine entrance}; 46a rarefies {Distills}; 49a gains {Some gridiron yardage}; 50a hippo {Zoo heavyweight}; 51a Aldrin {Buzz in a rocket}; 52a Omsk {Oblast bordering Kazakhstan}; 60a eye {Sightseer?}; 62a anti {Opposing}; 63a PST {It's eight hours off from 49-Down: Abbr.}; 73a at worst {If all else fails}; 76a weal {Fortune}; 77a oh dear! {"This isn't looking good ..."}; 78a Serra {Missionary Junipero ___}; 79a I hear {It might start a rumor}; 81a Marietta {Ohio city named for a queen}; 86a den {Place of corruption}; 87a nein {Ja's opposite}; 89a voodoo {___ economics}; 92a ENT {Otolaryngology: Abbr.}; 101a apogeal {Climactic}; 102a eider {Cousin of a goldeneye}; 103a REOs {Some old runabouts}; 104a Erwins {Physicist Schrödinger and others}; 110a velvet {Upscale upholstery}; 111a iota {Hint}; 112a coot {Geezer}; 114a esses {Twisty turns}; 115a sway {Command}; 116a Edna {Dame ___}; 117a Chex {Honey Nut ___}.

1d job {It might be found in a plant}; 2d UPI {Longtime news inits.}; 4d elemi {Aromatic resin}; 5d Alaska {Purchase of 1867}; 6d just once {"Even if it'll never happen again ..."}; 7d aka {Alias}; 8d rebates {Taxpayers' hopes}; 9d abaci {Noisy counters}; 10d paved {Smoothed over}; 11d she-demon {Succubus}; 12d ear {Pink Mr. Potato Head piece}; 13d celeb {Gossip topic}; 14d Indra {Hindu god of thunder}; 15d ethic {Work ___}; 16d reach {It's measured at arm's length}; 17d antes {Gets in the game, say}; 21d love-in {Peaceful protest}; 23d tiny {Peewee}; 24d Erse {Highland tongue}; 28d oh hi! {"Funny meeting you here!"}; 29d tidally {How current events may happen?}; 30d hair dye {It helps you change the locks}; 31d ukes {Strummed instruments, for short}; 32d taps {Lager sources}; 33d carafe {Wine order}; 37d Teri {Garr of "Tootsie"}; 39d cash {Till fill}; 40d hike {Bring up}; 42d pill {It can be popped}; 45d eon {Years on end}; 47d fin {Bass part}; 48d ingots {They're worth their weight in gold}; 49d GMT {See 63-Across}; 52d of an {Wink ___ eye}; 53d Antz {1998 film featuring Princess Bala}; 56d obit {Something of yours you'll never see}; 58d hail {Greet loudly}; 59d ans. {Opposite of a ques.}; 63d preteen {Many a Little Leaguer}; 64d stating {Setting forth}; 65d tyrant {Monocrat}; 66d Nord {France's ___-Pas-de-Calais}; 67d Aran {___ Islands, group at the mouth of Galway Bay}; 68d -A-Wee {Bide-___}; 69d leak {Publicist's headache}; 70d Lar {Choreographer Lubovitch}; 71d Phi {___ Beta Kappa}; 72d Aden {Port SSE of Sana}; 73d ash {Contents of some cones}; 74d tea {Crumpet's go-with}; 75d wry {Not straight}; 79d Is It {"This ___" (Michael Jackson album)}; 80d hedgerow {It may extend about a yard}; 81d meow {Persian's call}; 82d Anderson {News anchor Cooper}; 84d go fast {Sell quickly}; 85d oval {Like the Ford logo}; 86d dog race {Track event for gamblers}; 89d veep {#2}; 91d odor {It's often carried around a gym}; 93d Maeve {Irish novelist Binchy}; 94d Ypres {W.W. I battle site}; 95d bowls {Gets the ball rolling?}; 96d I give! {"Uncle!"}; 97d genes {Offspring's inheritance}; 98d riata {One thrown from a horse}; 99d I'd say {"In my opinion ..."}; 100d Isaac {Singer of sewing machine fame}; 105d GIs {Grunts}; 106d Tod {Mann's "Der ___ in Venedig"}; 107d ugh! {Cry of distaste}; 108d sue {Go after}; 109d sax {Big band member, for short}.


O.C. said...

Always impressed by these NYTimes Sunday constructions. A lot goes into one. Hard to keep straight all the fill words already in use, when doing a manual construction, but still resist the urge to use the PC software. By the time you're done writing 140 or so good, as-original-as-possible clues, feels like you've almost written a novel.

Kevin Der is a young and very impressive cruciverbalist with very entertaining themes. Grasp at Strauss was so desperate it was downright hilarious, and hence one of my favorite theme entries!

Crossword Man said...

I've not attempted a 21x21, but can well imagine the difficulties of avoiding duplicates ... and answers having a common root, even with software. Personally, I find the jumbo puzzles less fun than the 15x15s, but Kevin's was certainly one of the better Sunday ones from my POV.