Limestone variety / SUN 1-13-13 / Knee-length hip-hop shirts / Steamed bun in Chinese cookery / Worshiper with a pentagram / Women's suffrage leader Carrie Chapman / Poison hemlock Queen Anne's lace
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Magic Square" — isolated 3x3 grid in the center of the puzzle is a magic square, a concept which is defined by the puzzle's core theme answer
119A: With 98-Across, 34-Down and 48-Down, what each line in the center square should do (ADD UP TO FIFTEEN / HORIZONTALLY / VERTICALLY / DIAGONALLY)
Rows are EIGHT ONE SIX / THREE FIVE SEVEN / and FOUR NINE TWO
Bonus theme answer: MATHEMATICAL (36A: Like magic squares)
Word of the Day: TALL TEES (78A: Knee-length hip-hop shirts) —
[clue is about the best definition I can find]
• • •
Congrats to Liz Gorski on her 200th NYT puzzle!
Love this non-standard grid and the non-standard numerals inside it. Once you grok the concept, though, it's Phenomenally easy. Once you've got a few of the numbers filled in, you can deduce the others, and since the others are actual answers in the grid, much of the grid just fills itself in (down to the adverbs in the main theme answer). So it's clever and surprising, but not in a way that increases the challenge. This isn't to say I didn't struggle here and there with the fill (which is mostly quite nice). Didn't know where to put OSHA and where to put whatever the other one was at 2D: Workplace welfare org. and 3D: Workplace rights org. I knew one of them was OSHA, but the only other initialism I could think of was NTSB, so I needed crosses to get NLRB. Hesitated for quite a bit until BIENNIAL came into view (54A: Poison hemlock or Queen Anne's lace)—figured that [Hitch] was RUB, but thought it might also be RUN ... can you get a "hitch" in your stockings? Y LEVEL nearly crushed me, as I didn't parse it right at first (one word???) and then thought the Mercedes were SES, giving me Y LEVEE ... also considered Y LEVER, since a lever is a tool, but there aren't Mercedes SRS, are there. In the end, I figured that since there were other better clues for both SES and SRS, SLS had to be right. Had WOW where OOH was supposed to go, and had Noooo idea what OOLITE was (22A: Limestone variety). But I'm happy to learn the word because it means I'll have a good rhyme ready when I finally get around to writing that limerick about OOCYTEs. As for other hang-ups—there were none.
There were some very cool answers I'd never seen in a grid before. I've seen TALL TEES before, but didn't know they had a name (until now) (78A: Knee-length hip-hop shirts). I've eaten many a [Steamed bun in Chinese cookery], but either never learned or forgot that such a bun is called a BAO. And [Start of an agreement that's not really an agreement] is a great way to clue the partial-yet-somehow-also-self-standing "YES, BUT ..." Can't say I've seen many SATANISTs in puzzles before (84D: Worshiper with a pentagram)—that was interesting. So was the LOWISH bidding at 122A: Like some unexciting bids. The grid features of cavalcade of crossword characters, none of them real Crosswordese but all of them fairly common to crosswords—people like Peter O'TOOLE and Frank CAPRRA and Carrie Chapman CATT and ATHOL Fugard and Ilie NASTASE (who appears here in his less crosswordesey last-name form) (126A: Tennis Hall-of-Famer born in Bucharest). Lastly, I enjoyed REAR EXIT (70A: Back door), both for its originality and its hidden "REX." It's like Liz is waving at me.
See you tomorrow,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld