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New York Times, Thursday, March 3, 2016

Author:
Andrew Zhou
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1711/11/20101/5/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3021533
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62241
Andrew Zhou

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 75, Blocks: 39 Missing: {JPXZ} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Zhou. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Andrew Zhou notes:
A couple of months back, Evan Birnholz espoused his theory that music and crossing words have much to do with one another. I've always ... read more

A couple of months back, Evan Birnholz espoused his theory that music and crossing words have much to do with one another. I've always thought that a good crossword works like a piece of Bachian counterpoint, in which both the vertical (harmony) and the horizontal (melody) are required to maintain absolute integrity.

As music theorists will tell you, in non-equal temperament, F-natural isn't necessarily the same pitch as an E-Sharp, and C-sharps could be different than D-flats, depending on how you "arrive" at it and depending on where it is "going." Equal temperament allowed for these equivalences, at least on the written score. You'll see then, pieces of music — particularly ones employing a lot of chromatic harmony — mimicking what happens in this puzzle, where it's, say, an E-flat melodically, but a D-sharp vertically. A type of musical pun.

I completed this grid relatively quickly, though admittedly, getting to the end was a series of fortunate events. Some of my favorite entries--FANGIRL and FELLINI, came after I chose to redo the whole grid post-acceptance. Interesting note: DEFLATEGATE was originally clued as a 2014 scandal, but indeed, it happened in 2015...at the 2014 AFC Championship.

Jeff Chen notes:
One of the best aspects of working with Jim Horne on XWord Info is discussing puzzles. We often have a very different take, and ... read more

One of the best aspects of working with Jim Horne on XWord Info is discussing puzzles. We often have a very different take, and sometimes he completely changes my opinion with thoughtful reasoning. It was only through some back and forth with him that made me realize there were enough things about today's puzzle that I loved; well worth the liabilities. Overall, it's POW material.

Man, this concept is going to be confusing to non-musical people

The concept will be rough for non-musicians, as the idea hinges upon knowledge of the chromatic scale. Each note can be described in two different ways, i.e. G sharp is equivalent to A flat. If only it were consistent all the way up! There are a few notes like E and F which are only a half step apart, so E sharp is not equivalent to F flat … but to F natural! Confusing, isn't it?

What finally flipped my thinking was Jim's visual interpretation (see the answer grid below). I can often take care of grid fixes, but this one was beyond my capabilities. I love the way it looks, so elegant, much more so than writing F NATURAL all into one little square — where I already had E SHARP already written.

I did have some issues. ENHARMONIC describes perfectly the idea of one note described in two ways … but it's in such an odd location, just off the centerline of the puzzle. That would have been perfectly fine if the symmetrical entry had also been thematic, but STORE SIGNS doesn't relate.

I also liked the presence of MUSICAL NOTE, but TWO TONE CARS didn't do it for me. I can see how it hints at the concept of a single tone being describable in two ways, but it doesn't feel very apt.

There was a little bit of crossword glue needed to hold things together (RESOAK, I see you), but that's not surprising considering three pairs of long crossing answers. And some great fill in FANGIRL, CURE-ALL, FELLINI, QUIT IT and I ROBOT really enhanced the solve.

So all in all, a great idea and a lot of colorful phrases overcoming the problems I had with it.

ADDED NOTE: Astute reader David Jones noted (pun intended) that STORE SIGNS actually hints at a box "storing" a musical sign. Subtly clever!

1
A
2
M
3
M
4
O
5
S
6
T
7
E
8
S
9
T
10
A
11
B
12
L
A
U
D
13
E
T
H
N
14
O
15
E
W
E
R
16
M
U
S
E
17
U
M
O
FNATURAL
H
I
18
S
T
O
R
Y
19
A
L
I
20
C
U
R
E
A
L
L
21
T
O
N
22
C
23
A
L
24
E
R
R
25
A
26
G
O
27
A
28
Q
A
B
A
29
S
I
M
30
B
E
N
31
I
32
N
33
N
U
L
L
34
L
I
M
O
35
S
36
N
E
R
O
37
V
I
N
E
38
E
G
A
N
S
39
E
C
O
N
40
I
T
O
41
F
A
N
G
I
R
42
L
43
A
B
E
44
L
I
T
45
R
E
46
S
E
C
47
A
48
R
R
O
W
49
S
T
E
E
L
50
T
E
S
T
S
51
S
L
52
A
53
G
54
A
55
C
E
D
56
N
57
I
58
C
O
I
S
E
59
W
A
F
T
60
I
61
N
62
G
63
I
M
E
A
N
I
T
64
E
R
E
A
D
E
R
65
L
O
O
K
I
N
GSHARP
66
D
EFLAT
E
G
A
T
E
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0303 ( 24,222 )
Across
1. Police rounds : AMMO
5. Anne, par exemple: Abbr. : STE
8. Transfix : STAB
12. Hail : LAUD
13. ___ jazz (fusion genre) : ETHNO
15. America's Cup, for one : EWER
16. Home to many stuffed animals : MUSEUMOFNATURALHISTORY
19. Son-in-law of Muhammad : ALI
20. Tar water, as seen in medieval medicine : CUREALL
21. Cargo unit : TON
22. What the second letter of 17-Down stands for: Abbr. : CAL
24. Bark up the wrong tree : ERR
25. In times of yore : AGO
27. Port city on the Red Sea : AQABA
29. Virtual city dweller : SIM
30. Porto-Novo is its capital : BENIN
33. Having no legal force : NULL
34. They may be stretches : LIMOS
36. Ruler preceding the Year of the Four Emperors : NERO
37. Trunk attachment? : VINE
38. First first family of Alaska : EGANS
39. Field of competition, for short? : ECON
40. Early Japanese P.M. Hirobumi ___ : ITO
41. Certain geek : FANGIRL
43. Japanese P.M. Shinzo ___ : ABE
44. Petro-Canada unit : LITRE
46. Mo : SEC
47. Pointer : ARROW
49. Shade of blue : STEEL
50. Challenges : TESTS
51. Mill runoff : SLAG
54. Got nothing back from? : ACED
56. Salade ___ : NICOISE
59. Floating : WAFTING
63. "Seriously" : IMEANIT
64. Nook, e.g. : EREADER
65. Dressed neatly and fashionably : LOOKINGSHARP
66. Gridiron scandal of 2015, informally : DEFLATEGATE
Down
1. ___ mater : ALMA
2. Savage : MAUL
3. One added to the staff? : MUSICALNOTE
4. Thomas Gray's "The Bard," e.g. : ODE
5. "50% off" and "Sorry, we're closed" : STORESIGNS
6. High-tech home gadget company : THESHARPERIMAGE
7. Having the same pitch but written differently, in a score : ENHARMONIC
8. Fixed : SET
9. Dichromatic fad of the 1950s : TWOTONECARS
10. Aviation-related prefix : AERO
11. ___ Mawr : BRYN
13. Ypsilanti sch. whose initials name a bird : EMU
14. Big U.S. import : OIL
17. Five-time Rose Bowl winner, for short : UCLA
18. Hunk : SLAB
23. Skillful : ABLE
26. Kind of pool : GENE
27. Blacksmiths' needs : ANVILS
28. "Stop that!" : QUITIT
31. Sci-fi classic featuring Dr. Susan Calvin : IROBOT
32. "Haven't heard a thing" : NONEWS
34. Pastoral setting : LEA
35. Map abbr. before 1991 : SSR
41. Film director from whose work the word "paparazzi" is derived : FELLINI
42. Library penalty : LATEFEE
45. Let stand in water again : RESOAK
48. Sale item indicator : REDTAG
52. Explanatory words : ASIN
53. Suffer some tire damage : GETAFLAT
54. Wonderstruck : AWED
55. One adept with a deck : CARDSHARP
56. Zero : NIL
57. Personally speaking, in a text : IMO
58. Top of an outfit? : CEO
60. Neighbor of Mont. : IDA
61. Bring in : NET
62. M.A. hopeful's hurdle : GRE

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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