Hau pioneering physicist from Denmark / THU 4-26-18 / Bell Atlantic merger partner of 2000 / Greek peak on which Zeus was hidden as infant / Mideast city with stock exchange / Classic catalog provider

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Medium (or brutal, depending on how you navigated that ridiculous proper noun crossing at 28A/23D)


THEME: "with respect to this answer's location" — themers are phrases where the number of the clue is the first part of the phrase; theme clues refer you to other answers in the grid, which provide the real clues. Thus:

Theme answers:
  • 1A: 5-Across, with respect to this answer's location ((1) OVER) — because (the number of the clue) OVER is a BOGEY, which is the answer to 5-Across: Golf score
  • 24A: 22-Across, with respect to this answer's location ((24) SEVEN) (22A: Without stopping = ENDLESSLY)
  • 40A: 41-Across, with respect to this answer's location ((40) WINKS) (41A: Time out? = NAP)
  • 50A: 46-Across, with respect to this answer's location ((50) FIFTY) (46A: In fairness = EQUALLY)
Word of the Day: LENE Hau, pioneering physicist from Denmark (23D) —
Lene Vestergaard Hau (born November 13, 1959 in VejleDenmark) is a Danish physicistwith a PhD from Aarhus University. In 1999, she led a Harvard University team who, by use of a Bose-Einstein condensate, succeeded in slowing a beam of light to about 17 metres per second, and, in 2001, was able to stop a beam completely. Later work based on these experiments led to the transfer of light to matter, then from matter back into light, a process with important implications for quantum encryption and quantum computing. More recent work has involved research into novel interactions between ultracold atoms and nanoscopic-scale systems. In addition to teaching physics and applied physics, she has taught Energy Science at Harvard, involving photovoltaic cellsnuclear powerbatteries, and photosynthesis. As well as her own experiments and research, she is often invited to speak at international conferences, and is involved in structuring the science policies of various institutions. She was keynote speaker at EliteForsk-konferencen 2013 ("Elite Research Conference") in Copenhagen, which was attended by government ministers, as well as senior science policy and research developers in Denmark (wikipedia)
• • •

Not hard to understand this theme, but weirdly awkward to describe. I think of "this answer's location" as referring to its position in physical space, not its clue number, so the theme clue phrasing was hard to understand at first. I saw that OVER was just to the left of, or before, or adjacent to BOGEY, and I didn't quite get how OVER's "location" was relevant. Also, OVER itself seemed to want to be a direction. I quickly saw, though, that its clue number was relevant. Anyway, "location" is not the most helpful or accurate word to use in the theme clues, but like I said, you can suss out the meaning without too much trouble, I think. I liked the theme fine. The rest of the grid, though, had some major issues, the biggest of which is a proper noun crossing which should be Lit Up Neon for any constructor, any editor, any proofreader, dear lord, somebody intervene. RYN / LENE is a goshdarn absurdity. Everyone knows Rembrandt, but that "van RYN" part is far far less well known, and when you cross the "N" with LENE ... holy moses, that is rough. LENE Hau sounds remarkably accomplished, but a. she's hugely obscure, as crossword names go (if she weren't, you'd've seen HAU by now), b. her name is highly uncommon, c. her name is largely uninferrable. That *entire* NW corner should've been gutted and redone. I see that there is the little problem of *two* different theme answers being involved, but when you end up with RYN / LENE, *and* you have ANSE (!?!?!), which is possibly more obscure than LENE, I mean ... you really oughta rethink what you're doing here. I beg all constructors to erase ANSE from your wordlists. It's rank obscurantism and makes people want to punch their crosswords (even / especially those of us who know it).


Always tricky to figure out verb phrases that end in prepositions. Should be a word for that wincey hesitation that comes when you write, say, OPENS ... INTO? ... er ... ONTO ... no? ... how about ... oh, really, IN ON? Huh. EASED BY was less difficult to figure out, though even then I considered "IN" before "BY." I had trouble with the Japanese airport NARITA (27A: Airport serving greater Tokyo) because I now have an interference problem from the popular manga NARUTO, which I have also seen (though far less commonly) in crosswords. But beyond that, and the entire WNW area, there weren't many snags in this one. Pretty smooth sailing. Theme was complicated-seeming, but honestly didn't cause many STRUGGLES. I liked it, but I wish constructors would understand that your clever theme won't be what people remember if you can't handle the fill in the rest of the grid. One **** crossing like RYN / LENE, and the whole thing blows up in your face.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Here is a hilarious bit of editorial self-defense from the *last* time the NYT tried to foist LENE on the solving public (h/t Andy Kravis). For the record, I prefer *this* LENE, but mostly I prefer no LENE.

P.P.S. ALL is duped in this grid (7D: GO ALL / 42D: ALL HERE), which isn't great form, but someone else pointed it out to me, so I can't get too mad about it.

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Diana 1969 Bond girl / WED 4-25-18 / Toffee candy bar / Christian inst in Tulsa / Office inappropriate briefly / Online aid for finding contractor

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Constructor: Adam G. Perl

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (4:01)


THEME: angles — circled letters both form and spell out angle types, and then there's a revealer clue: 36A: Is an expert on this puzzle's theme? (KNOWS EVERY ANGLE)

Word of the Day: Diana RIGG (10D: Diana ___, 1969 Bond girl) —
Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth RiggDBE (born 20 July 1938) is an English actress. She is known for playing Emma Peel in the 1960s TV series The Avengers (1965–68), and Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones (2013–17). She has also had an extensive career in theatre, including playing the title role in Medea, both in London and New York, for which she won the 1994 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. She was made a CBE in 1988 and a Dame in 1994 for services to drama. (wikipedia)

• • •

Adam Perl writes the crosswords for the annual Finger Lakes Crossword Competition, so I've solved many of his puzzles and worked with him at the tournament for several years now. I typically find his puzzles slightly challenging, in that I just operate on a different wavelength for some reason, but this one actually went down easier than normal, perhaps because the theme had almost no effect on my solve. I finally got KNOWS EVERY ANGLE (after dropping in KNOWS EVERYTHING at first), and then somewhere in the back of my brain a little voice went "uh, so, those circled squares probably form angles or something" but the bigger voice in the front of my brain went "shhh, I'm working here!" Knowing the theme might've helped me a little, but it's more likely that it would've distracted me and taken me out of my rhythm. I usually find that if I try to get ahead of myself and fill in themers early (i.e. before I get to their section of the grid via normal progress), I don't actually gain time at all. I think if I'd been thinking straight, I might've been able to pick up a few seconds in the SW by putting in the letters in ACUTE, but it's just as likely I would've lost those seconds and more trying to figure out what the hell the letters in the SE were doing—I'd've wanted to write in OBTUSE, but of course that's already in the grid in the NW. If I ever knew what a REFLEX angle was, I completely forgot. Thus, keeping my head down and just plowing ahead without much attention to the theme was probably the smart move.


Having the revealer be in a third-person verb phrase is *slightly* awkward, and honestly REFLEX and OBTUSE look identical, so it's hard to appreciate the distinction. It's an OK theme with an OK revealer. The fill gets wobbly in places (ROBT, UNS, PARAS, ALIENEE (the longest crosswordese?), NATANT (!)), but mostly it just gets very old-fashioned and familiar: EER OED ETNA MPAA ATT INT ORU OGEE etc. But the longer Acrosses in the NW / SE keep things interesting, as do the long Downs (loved ANGIE'S LIST in particular) (28D: Online aid for finding a contractor), and PIROGI are delicious (8D: Ravioli relative), so while this puzzle wasn't exactly to my taste, it also wasn't particularly off-putting. It was a puzzle!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Explainers:

  • 16A: Kings' guards may be taken in it (NBA DRAFT)—the Sacramento Kings are an NBA team
  • 62D: "Towering" regulatory grp.? (FAA)—because they oversee control ... towers ... I assume
  • 8A: Legal assistants, for short (PARAS)—as in "PARAlegalS"

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