Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sunday, January 20 - Natan Last

The boy wonder returns! Sixteen-year-old Natan Last...Will's neighbor, if I'm not mistaken...delivers his first Sunday New York Times puzzle.

And it's nothing short of brilliant.

Before I get into the theme, I want to address the discrepancy between the print and online versions. An additional clue had to be added to make it work in Across nothing after 56A will match up. Thanks to Crossword Fiend for a heads-up on this [and for letting me know that 17-year-old Natan isn't Will's neighbor...that's Oliver Hill.]

I'll include the clue numbers for both...the first will be the online number, and the paper version will appear after in [red]. I'll also post both solutions (identical, except for the numbering) at the end...large enough that you should be able to see the numbers.

Here goes...

The theme is revealed at 81 [80]A: Subject of this puzzle [and proceeding counterclockwise] (TRIGONOMETRY)...making a very nice triangle. In the paper, there is no number at the E. The online version, though, shows it as 57D, clued as [See 81-Across].

The three functions...sine (sin), cosine (cos) and tangent (tan)...each appear twice in the grid, contained in one square. The theme answers are:

12A: "The Simpsons" character who often refers to himself in the third person (DISCO STU), crossing at 15D: "Seinfeld" character (COSMO KRAMER). Two shows I've never seen, but I've heard enough about both of them.

24A: Something to play (CAT AND MOUSE), crossing with 6D: See 37-Across (SATAN)...another theme answer (see next).

37A: One succumbing to 6-Down (SINNER), crossing with 3D: Whence the line "Into the eternal darkness; into fire and into ice" (DANTE'S INFERNO)...the giveaway that we were looking at a rebus.

105A [104A]: Strip joints? (CASINOS), crossing with 70D [69D]: Like things (TWO PEAS IN A POD) favorite answer.

108A [107A]: Buttonholes (ACCOSTS), crossing with 80D [79D]: Aggressiveness (BELLICOSITY).

117A [116A]: Like any points on a circle, from the center (EQUIDISTANT), crossing with 113D [112D]: Anthem part (STANZA)...which gave away the second function. That sent me hunting for the corners where I had a lot of blanks up to that point.

Was I kidding about brilliant? And some of the fill is just phenomenal.

22A: How Mulan dresses in much of "Mulan" (as a man)...a gimme.

26A: Numbers game (Sudoku)...this may be its first appearance in a NYT puzzle.

44A: "Don't worry about me" (I'm fine).

46A: Archbishop Tutu (Desmond)...the clue was too easy for a Sunday, though.

57A: Home of Canadian P.M. Stephen Harper (Alberta).

62A [61A]: When the sun is directly overheard (at midday)...not high noon or at twelve.

67A [66A]: Facilities (restrooms).

73A [72A]: Thin-framed, big-footed woman of cartoons (Olive Oyl).

88A [87A]: Skateboarder's accessory (kneepad). I've never tried it. I had enough accidents on rollerblades...the worst injury happened when I landed on my rear and got a severe case of whiplash. That meant it was time to hang them up.

90A [89A]: Rim in which a gem is set (collet).

91A [90A]: Guessing game (Hangman)...the girls used to play that for hours.

97A [96A]: Jazz singer Nina (Simone).

110A [109A]: New York governor after Pataki (Spitzer).

115A [114A]: Drink whose name is Tahitian for "good" (mai tai). I never much cared for them, but they flow freely (and free) in Hawaii, so I acquired a taste for them.

1D: "Speed-the-Plow" playwright (Mamet).

7D: PC data reader (CD drive).

11D: What those in agreement are said to be of (one mind).

17D: "__ pro omnibus, omnes pro uno" (unus). One for all, all for one.

19D: 1950s stereotype (beatnik).

25D: Joan Rivers's daughter and TV co-host (Melissa). I hope she won't follow in her mother's the plastic surgeon. Enough is enough.

47D: "Love of loves" (my darling)...I wanted something in Spanish or French.

53D: Oaf (sad sack). Does anyone else remember the comic book character by that name?

82D [81D]: Played (gambled).

89D [88D]: Poop (exhaust).

92D [91D]: Relic (antique).

112D [111D]: Jerry Scott/Jim Borgman comic (Zits) of my all-time favorites. I feel sorry for poor Connie and Walt...

There was also some great cluing.

27A: They're left behind (estates).

32A: Saw things (teeth).

40A: It might be silver (lining).

52A: Single, for one: Abbr. (syn)...the most clever clue in the puzzle.

56A: Star in old westerns (badge). Until I figured out where they were going, I had LaRue...a crossword regular.

60A [59A]: "Great" boy detective (Nate). When I was a TA, one of the students signed his papers N8. Does that make the boy detective GR8?

78A [77A]: Chest protector (ribcage).

100A [99A]: Gag reflex? (ha ha).

125A [124A]: Salty septet (seas). I think we've had that before, clued the same way.

61D [60D]: Place for a swing (tee).

79D [78D]: "Do what you want" (I don't care).

[UPDATE: Thanks to Wendy for pointing out the error in the grids...not in one, but both! 86A [85A] clued as [Thought] is ideated, crossing with 66D [65D] Makes up? (elates). I was trying to get elaborates in there...when I knew there was a rebus...apparently I never went back and fixed things!]

With that, I'm going to wrap this up. I'm cross-eyed from going back and forth between the two puzzles.

Here are the grids, with the online version appearing first...

...followed by the print version.

And I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G


Anonymous said...

Thhe worst puzzle Shortz and cohorts have foisted on us. Since when have crosswords depended on outrageous gimmicks instead of intelligent vocabulary?

Annielee said...

I enjoyed this puzzle, impressed that a young man of seventeen created it. Way to go, Natan! I had a moderate amount of trouble with the rebuses, but then, it's been 40+ years since I took trig.
Had never heard of ambo. All in all, a fun Sunday puzzle.

Off to do the Boston Globe puzzle - it's by Henry Hook, my favorite. Have a great Sunday.

wendy said...

Fabulous puzzle. I had all but given up and then it just started to reveal itself to me - first the Trig answer then the fact that it was a rebus (thank you CosMO KRAMER ... that DANTES INFERNO thing was driving me batty).

I too love Zits. One of my very favorites. Jeremy and his mom kind of remind me of Calvin (of & Hobbes) and his mom, just an older version. I think I mentioned here previously that Jim Borgman is also the editorial cartoonist for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Love him.

Being a Canadaphile, also was happy to see Stephen Harper (though I hate his politics) and ALBERTA in the puzzle. Someday when the puzzle has an all-Canada theme, I will hit the thing out of the park. I may be the only American who does ... but I'll enjoy every minute of it.

Did think it peculiar, for a New York newspaper, to clue the current governor as the answer. I know this is a national newspaper, so it's certainly not a gimme to everybody, but I would think a sizable group of solvers are New Yorkers who should know that answer without even thinking. Otoh, in the current culture where we know more about Britney Spears than about the people who make decisions that affect our lives on a daily basis, maybe not!

Anyway, delightful puzzle, Natan!

wendy said...

Forgot to mention that I had a bad error in High Noon instead of MIDDAY, a strategically difficult place to have so many wrong letters, given its location smack dab in the middle of the circled squares. I am still amazed that I somehow muddled out of the mess without googling.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to all the sanguine comments about today's puzzle, this was NOT a satisfying effort. Yes, congrats to the youngster who created it. However, I really would like to see puzzles that are clever w/o tortuous gimmicks -- circles, three in a box letters, and ultimately an esoteric subject. Alas, am math challenged and after school happily forgot everything to do with math. High school kids writing puzzles reference their experience. Having been a Maleska fan, I like that style much better. However, I got the answers to most, even tho thrown off by thinking ant was used as an anagram throughout.

jimd said...

This was a challenging but enjoyable puzzle. I was lucky and got DIScosTU as a gimme. I was able to figure the theme out in the first 2 minutes.

I think that what makes crosswords fun is the mystery of what the builder hides in them. This puzzle was a good one regardless of Natans age, IMO.