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New York Times, Thursday, March 3, 2016

Author:
Andrew Zhou
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1811/11/20108/15/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3021633
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61241
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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