Tuesday, 3/15/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/14" plug="tuesday-31511" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]3:29[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/14" plug="tuesday-31511" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]4:57 (Neville)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/14" plug="tuesday-31511" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"]8:12 (Evad)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/14" plug="tuesday-31511" puzz="Jonesin'" anchor="jn"]3:38[/time_hdr]

Hey! The ACPT is mere days away. The charming and delightful SethG will hold down the fort whilst the rest of the Fiend blogging team carouses at the tournament and schmoozes over dinner. I’m glad that the tournament’s moved back into March to maximize that spring break binge vibe.

Jeremy Newton’s New York Times crossword

3/15/11 NY Times crossword solution 0315

This is one of those themes most of you are enchanted by, but that leaves me sort of cold on account of not fully understanding all this business of notes and keys and whatnot. I can recognize, though, the incredibleness of that string of circled letters representing the notes of ODE TO JOY, placed at different heights to match their placement on a music staff (and requiring three-way checking of 15 Down entries and nine Acrosses). I had my husband hum it for me and sure enough, it sounds just like the theme to Everybody Loves Raymond. This might well be my favorite musical crossword theme ever.

“Theme” is a musical term too, and it couldn’t be more apt today:

  • 16a. BEETHOVEN composed…
  • 20a. ODE TO JOY, which starts out with the notes EEFGGFEDCCDEEDD.
  • 57a. It’s played IN C MAJOR
  • 62a. …on your PIANO KEYS.

There’s a lot of oddball short fill, exemplified by 46d: DUZ, ["Eazy-__-It" (double-platinum album by Eazy-E)], and the weird plural 66a: ORZOS, [Rice-sized pastas].

Better fill (and cool clues) includes the following:

  • 4a. [Some muscles or sorority women, informally] are DELTS. Nice two-way clue. Deltoids or Deltas, take your pick. I’ll work on my deltoids.
  • 47a. Instead of cluing ADD as the simple verb, they went with [Tendency for one's mind to wander, for short]—attention deficit disorder. Certainly a familiar abbrev these days.
  • 70a. You gotta bring your A GAME to the ACPT. That’s your [Best competitive effort, informally]. Unless you haven’t been solving as many puzzles over the past year, in which case I encourage you to bring your B game, as I’m doing.
  • 1d. I love “MY BAD.”
  • 3d. Don’t recall ever seeing the full phrase TSETSE FLY in a crossword before. It looks cool in the grid.
  • 25d. -ENNE is a [-trix alternative] in the category of “old-fashioned ‘wimmin is different’ suffixes.” If you know what’s good for you, you won’t describe me with a word ending with one of these suffixes. The word editor, for example—it’s not male by definition, so don’t label Tina Brown the “editrix-in-chief” of Newsweek.
  • 38d. I can’t help reading [Order to Rex] and thinking of crossword blogger Rex Parker. Next time there’s a woebegone Times crossword, I will be tempted to say “SIC ‘EM, BOY!” (Not that he’s cornered the market on criticizing flawed puzzles…)
  • 41d. Three cheers for the YWCA. But it’s more feminist than feminine, if you ask me. I just read a radical feminist’s essay on the performance of femininity, an insulting Dove chocolate commercial, and “the cut-throat world of pantyhosiery.” Thought provoking, for sure.
  • 49d. D’OH! I couldn’t make sense out of [Small, medium or large: Abbr.]. SIZE doesn’t have three letters, nor does it have a 3-letter abbreviation. Aha! ADJ. is short for adjective. I love this sort of clue, where you need to look beyond what the word means to what the word is.
  • 53d. Do you know the etymology of SCUZZ? One dictionary says it’s probably a derivation of disgusting. Huh. Who knew?

Gary Steinmehl’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

LA Times crossword answers 3/15/11

Gary takes the REPS from a PR firm to the gym in today’s puzzle. It’s not REPresentatives, but REPetions of exercises at the ends of the longest entries in the puzzle:

  • 20a. Coming around the bend, they’ve hit the [Last leg of a race], it’s the HOME STRETCH! Shouldn’t this be the last theme entry? I think that would be just a little bit cooler.
  • 27a. The [Chocolate bar with crisped rice] is a NESTLÉ CRUNCH bar – one of my favorites at Halloween.
  • 49a. [Overseas news-gatherers] are the FOREIGN PRESS. REUTERS, which I wanted, wasn’t nearly long enough.
  • 59a. [Very little, in slang], is the fun DIDDLY SQUAT. Maybe Gary was saving this jewel for last. I see what you did there, Gary.

In opposite corners we see the sort of rhyming GIVEN NAME and BOARD GAME. Those are pretty good, but I prefer ZEPHYRS, clued as [Gentle winds]. ZAGAT is a fun name, too. Z is just a fun letter, I guess.

Now, 31d is a [Rectangular computer key], and the answer was ENTER. Did anyone else start with SHIFT like I did? It used to be that the enter (or return) key was an irregular hexagon. Now I’ll grant you that the enter on the number pad is rectangular, but this threw me off. Not as much 45d: [Card player's goof] did, though. Not MISPLAY. Not MISLEAD. MISDEAL. Lots of multiple possible answers for a Tuesday puzzle – I appreciate the challenge.

Favorite clue: [Bean town?] for LIMA. Lima beans! Cute!

Updated Tuesday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “In Concert”—Evad’s review

CrosSynergy 3/15 crossword answers

Is constructor Bob Klahn performing at a venue near you? No, here “in concert” is taken three other ways:

  • LIKE-MINDED
  • SIMPATICO
  • ON THE SAME / WAVELENGTH

These are tough puzzles to work out since all three theme answers have the exact same clue. Top that with some characteristically challenging clues from Mr. Klahn and I had quite the workout:

  • Hadn’t run across the word CHARY before methinks. It’s clued here as [Rather cautious], but it reminds me of one of PeeWee’s pals from his Playhouse.
  • I liked the juxtaposition of the clues [Secret Squirrel, for one] (AGENT) and [Squirrel's sanctuary] (NEST)
  • [Players with multiple heads] sounds vaguely salacious to my ear; here it’s the innocuous VCRS.
  • Had to look at the clue [Prompted nasal protraction] for a while; it’s referring to how Pinocchio’s nose extended when he LIED.
  • Interesting repetition in a couple of clues: [Dingbat or ding-a-ling] (YOYO, had me thinking of Edith Bunker), [Grim Grimm guy] was an OGRE, and [Sticker sticker] was GLUE.

If nothing, Bob is all about alliteration: [Stretchy seaside sweet] (TAFFY), [Far from frumpy] (CHIC), [Much-married Mickey of moviedom] (ROONEY, which also has a nice connection to Father FLANAGAN of the movie Boys Town), [Hissing honkers] (GEESE), [Cocksure comment) (I CAN), [Stunned and speechless] (AGHAST), [Sapporo soup] (MISO), [Golf green gripper] (CLEAT), [Short sci-fi sage] (YODA), [Meadow mouse] (VOLE, I had MOLE first) and finally, [Migratory minnow muncher] was our good friend the TERN.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “High High, Captain!”

Jonesin' crossword answers 3/15/11 "High High, Captain"

If you aspirate an H sound at the beginning of the syllables “aye, aye” (which sounds like “I, I”), you’ll have to change the spelling to something like “high high” to have real words, as seen in the puzzle’s title. The four theme entries build on the H + “I, I” model:

  • 20a. The S.S. Minnow becomes the HESS/HESS MINNOW, a small [Fish co-owned by pianist Myra and ex-Jets owner Leon?]. Never heard of Leon H.
  • 30a. [Doubly-demonic rapper/actor?] clues HELL HELL COOL J.
  • 39a. [Gathering where everyone's all, "What up, everybody?"] clues a “HEY, HEY!” MEETING, which plays on A.A. meeting.
  • 51a. [Poet who elicits a lot of giggles?] is, of course, HEE HEE CUMMINGS.

The changed letter pairs spell out SS LL AA EE, which doesn’t mean anything. (And that’s fine.)

I was just about to e-mail Jonesin’ editor Matt Gaffney about the clue for 43a: HCG, [Homeopathic diet drops in 2011 health news]. What I’ve seen in the news is stories of doctors prescribing a costly hormone used in fertility treatment, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), along with a 500-calories-a-day diet. Then I Googled and lo and behold, the homeopathy scammers are selling something called “HCG drops” too, which presumably are a lot cheaper than the $1000 hormones, but considerably more costly than the active ingredient, which is, uh, water.

Seven clues and answers:

  • 44a. NICK [___ Jr. (Sprout competitor)] refers to cable channels aimed at young children.
  • 55a. ["ER" actress Julianna] MARGULIES is now the star of The Good Wife, which gets rave reviews. Haven’t seen it yet.
  • 56a. [King of the gods, in Hindu mythology] is INDRA.
  • 5d. [Herbal remedy whose name suggests it does a lot] is ALL HEAL. Unusual to have both herbal and homeopathic products in one puzzle. We see a lot more pharmaceuticals in the grid, don’t we?
  • 10d. BOING BOING is a [Humorous news website whose logo is a girl with a jackhammer]. Great entry.
  • 25d. METHANE GAS is a [Biofuel from cows]. It’s harvesting it that’s the hard part.
  • 36d. ["Whatever" grunt] clues “MEH.”
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27 Responses to Tuesday, 3/15/11

  1. Jeff L says:

    I found the NYT theme extremely problematic. Ode to Joy is a poem by Friedrich Schiller that Beethoven set to music as part of the fourth movement to his ninth symphony. There is no “work” called Ode to Joy aside from the text of the poem itself – one would never call one melody from one movement of a symphony a “work.” And the melody to which Beethoven set the poem is not in C Major at any point in the symphony. For this puzzle, the melody was transcribed to C major so that the puzzle’s trick could be executed (if it had been in the original D major, many of the notes would require sharps), though no mention of that exists. Finally, the fact that PIANOKEYS is a theme entry seems completely arbitrary to me. It could’ve been CLARINET or HARPSTRINGS or YOURKIDSTOYXYLOPHONE and it wouldn’t seem any less appropriate to me. None of this affects the actual solving process or the quality of the fill, which is solid, but the puzzle’s theme just doesn’t work here, at least with the current wording.

  2. ArtLvr says:

    A very enJOYable puzzle — but it should be noted that Schiller wrote the ODE used by composer Beethoven in the last movement of his Ninth Symphony. Also, the key given for the Symphony No. 9 is D minor, though the puzzle’s use of piano keys from the C major scale makes sense in the context of the puzzle! in the Symphony, the Ode is in D major.

    Well done, anyway.

  3. Amy Reynaldo says:

    At last! My musical ignorance permits me to like a musical crossword MORE than the rest of you instead of LESS.

  4. Neville says:

    Well, I quite liked the NYT puzzle (so much that I got distracted while speed solving)! The tune, which Beethoven did come up with, is easily transcribed. I think it works nicely, especially with the diatonic steps up and down being represented visually as well as by notes. Yes, it’s originally in D, but the grand thing is that you don’t have to play the tune in D. I agree that PIANO KEYS is a bit tenuous, though.

  5. Harry says:

    People! It’s a puzzle! Besides, whether Beethoven called it that or not, that tune is universally known as – and published under the name of – “Ode to Joy.” So it’s in C. Big deal. I’m a musician, so I know all about it, but it doesn’t pay to overthink these things: it just gets in the way of solving. It’s a puzzle, and a pretty good one, at that! I ended up starting the puzzle towards the middle and was very thankful when I saw the circles start to fill in and could write in three of the theme answers just by humming the tune.

    And I think having “might” in the clue for 62A makes the PIANO KEYS entry just fine.

  6. Rex says:

    Apparently I’m the only crossword blogger who didn’t think of me upon encountering the SIC EM BOY clue.

    The circles contain the notes *and* represent the placement of those notes on the staff? I mean … come on. That’s badass. I appreciate the quibbles related to precision of terminology, but I just don’t care in this instance. Except for “People! It’s a puzzle!”— what Harry said.

    rp

  7. I agree with Jeff that seeing the ODE TO JOY transcribed from its written key into C MAJOR was annoying, as I have perfect pitch and it doesn’t “sound” right in my head. To me, tonal dissonance is as serious a point of contention as quibbling over debatable definitions of words. But I also agree with the community that the construction was clever and the solve worthwhile.

  8. joon says:

    i agree with rex—this was indeed badass. SIC’EM, BOY!

  9. Jeffrey says:

    Ditto (with the likers)

  10. Howard B says:

    Loved this one. ‘Ode to Joy’ (That is what it was titled in the music sheet), in a very simplified form, was the first piano tune I remember learning during lessons as a kid that felt like playing a true piece and not just a basic primer “chopsticks / practice scales” exercise. I loved the sound of it even in that basic form, and this puzzle brought back nice memories. The notes represented in this puzzle were the basic notes I remember playing (yes, also in the simplest key of C major).

    Nits aside, that’s what this piece would be most familiarly known as to most people and even, I suspect, most solvers. Nicely done!

    I should take lessons again.

  11. Meem says:

    What Harry said! This is a fabulous puzzle. Five stars on the Fiend scale.

    LAT was also clever: stretch/crunch/press/squat. Plus zephyrs and sequins!

    The Klahn is also solid construction. Just not as much fun as the other two.

  12. John E says:

    I have to agree with Jeff L that I don’t think of “Ode to Joy” as a work by Beethoven, but rather a work of poetry that was incorporated into his Ninth Symphony. That said, I am sure there are plenty of people that consider O2J as a Beethoven work who can relate to this puzzle – sigh.

    I thought it was very creative and will equally welcome the constructor who incorporates Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder into a crossword puzzle.

    Liked SCUZZ and MYOPIA and the adjacent Simpsons fill.

  13. SethG says:

    I gave this puzzle 5 stars, maybe my first such rating, before I saw the comments about the problem. Now that I understand more, my rating persists.

    Sometimes we get biblical or Platonic quotes, and the answers always seem to be in English. Why is transcribing the notes any different? And when we need to draw musical notes or treble clefs (or boats or whatever) on the puzzle, sometimes the results don’t look exactly like a musical note or a treble clef or a boat or a whatever.

    So yeah, I’m on Harry’s side. (And were this in my domain of expertise, I hope I’d be as charitable…)

  14. Howard B says:

    I maintain my 5 rating for the Times because the notes and title refer to the *familiar* name of the piece – the most likely to cause the “a-ha” moment for the most people. It’s the most effective way of getting the constructor’s message across, and I loved it for this.

    If anything though, there may be a slight tweak needed in that 20-A clue, even if the work referenced (indirectly) is by Beethoven. The title may not be the one by the composer, but the recognized melody is correct. I’d say the clue lands in a very gray area, and there is a valid point made to that. However, it takes nothing away from the puzzle itself. The key signature is also referenced clearly and is not claimed to be the original. No issue there :).

  15. Martin says:

    Today’s reactions have to include some kind of record for nuttiness. Rex’s first commenter used the expression “epic fail” because the theme (theme theme?) was transcribed from D to C. Epic fail? Tonal dissonance?

    Some of us are cursed to cringe at civet cat or calla lily, and others are physically pained by the suggestion of The Ninth in the wrong key. How dare the Times!

  16. Daniel Myers says:

    A brief rest from the musical mayhem – Anent SCUZZ, the OED says that it’s probably an abbreviation of DISGUSTING, but perhaps a blend of SCUM and FUZZ – We may now return to the clashing of keys.

  17. Dan F says:

    Absolutely 5 stars for the NYT. Loved it, no nitpicks from this musician.

    And a preemptive 5 stars for Tyler’s Onion puzzle, because I won’t be online tomorrow.

  18. Anne E says:

    Loved it also, despite noticing all of the issues. Two of my favorite concerts ever were the Beethoven’s 9th concerts I sang in – Beethoven appeared to have had no interest at all in whether or not chorus singers could actually sing this piece, and as a result both times it was a wild, wild ride. During some of the more extended sections high in the vocal ranges, I probably would have appreciated a downshift to C major!

    And I believe the Schiller poem is actually “An die Freude”, which literally translates to “To Joy”, not “Ode to Joy”, so why cavil at how this puzzle treated it? Brilliant work!

  19. Jeff says:

    Total agreement with the likers. Haters gotta hate, and certainly they bring up valid accuracy points, but heck, this was a tremendously fun solve!

  20. Jeff L says:

    Surprised and happy to see most people had the complete opposite reaction from mine.

    The C Major thing – to me, it feels like someone took a famous phrase written in Latin, translated it to English for placement in the puzzle, which is obviously fine, but then had INENGLISH as one of the theme entries to describe that phrase without any mention that it had been translated. It wouldn’t be wrong, but it would be – odd?

    But I’m clearly overly sensitive on this one. Kudos Jeremy and cheers to all.

  21. sbmanion says:

    I don’t know which I enjoyed more, the puzzles or the comments. I am not so ignorant of Beethoven that I was unaware of Ode to Joy, but I am certainly so ignorant that I did not have any idea about C versus D or that it was a Schiller poem. And CIVET cat was a great bonus.

    And the puzzle was brilliant.

    What I got a kick out of was seeing people go crazy over something that the rest of us either didn’t know or didn’t care about–something that I used to deal with all the time when my sports nits generated nothing but yawns or got to hell from the music types. Incidentally, perhaps due to Martin now being a test solver, there have been very few sports nits in the past few years. Golf is pretty much the only sport left that has any element of occasional tone deafness.

    Thus, I am forced to live vicariously through the nits of others. And I say that the major reason to read all the fora is to learn about such things as C versus D or that the civet cat is not really a cat.

    Keep up the good work!

    Steve

  22. Jeff says:

    P.S. Liked the LAT puzzle today too, good puzzling day! But are stretches done in reps? Crunches, presses, squats, yes. What am I missing?

  23. Plot says:

    Stretches are technically done in reps, though they aren’t traditionally thought of in that way (possibly because many weightlifters don’t do them; stretches are actually thought by some to impede performance in a workout). Really, anything done repetitively can be done in ‘reps’, though from a lexical standpoint, it’s obviously a bit of a reach.

    I also need to pile on further kudos for today’s excellent NYT. I found myself humming Ode To Joy halfway through in order to remember the note progression and fill in the rest of the circles. Much more fun than the average Tuesday fare.

  24. Meem says:

    Amy: I know you are off to ACPT, but think about this . . . Now that you and Evad have given us stars, how about a “recommend” or “like” button on entries? I feel a bit stupid saying “What Harry said” or “What Martin said.” But I don’t feel an urge to say it all over again. Thanks for thinking.

  25. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Meem, you’re looking for Facebook functionality! I know. I wish the “Like” button was everywhere so I could express my approval without actually having to compose a sentence. I also wish TiVo/DVR functionality was universal. “Wait, what did she just say? *rewind 15 seconds*”

  26. Meem says:

    Rewind, indeed! So keep thinking and tax Evad’s cleverness. Know you will win. BTW: Good wishes for a fast pencil this weekend.

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