Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Thursday 8-30-07

Man, maybe I shouldn't take a day off. This puzzle kicked my keister -- well, not the puzzle itself, which I solved without much problem, but figuring out what was going on with the theme took forever.

SPOILER WARNING: Don't read any further until you've done today's New York Sun Crossword Puzzle. New York Sun puzzles are every bit as fun and challenging as the more well-known New York Times -- No, you know what, they're better. That's right, I said it, the New York Sun's puzzles are better than the New York Times's puzzles, and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to be Peter Gordon and to keep putting out this superior product and have everybody just blog, blog, blogging and yak, yak, yakking about the Times, Times, Times. Look, if you don't have time for two great puzzles a day, do the better one, do the SUN -- (we now return you to your regularly scheduled spoiler warning) -- and they're indisputably better in one way -- they're free. If you'd like to read about an unbiased head-to-head competition between the Sun and the Times puzzles check this out. Or if you're ready to decide for yourself you can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here.

"Self-Reflective" is by Steven Ginzburg and at the puzzle's theme is described -- well, hinted at -- at 54A: Florida lake in which you could view the unchanged vertical reflections of 18-,28-,35-45-, and 54-Across (OKEECHOBEE)

The four other entries referenced by this clue are:

18: Natalie Maines, for one (DIXIE CHICK)

28A: Put one's foot in someone else's mouth (KICK BOXED)

35A: Twice nueve (DIECIOCHO)

45A: It
can be balanced (CHECKBOOK)

I looked at those for a long time and other than noticing that they had more than their share of C's and K's I got nowhere. CHECKBOOK was almost an anagram of OKEECHOBEE but not quite. The "vertical reflection" thing just made my head swim. How do you have a vertical reflection of a horizontal entry?

After way too long something niggled at the back of my brain. I wrote down all the unique letters in these entries. In alphabetical order they were: B C D E H I K O X, and something about that looked familiar. I remembered some riddle or something somewhere about flipping letters vertically and having them remain the same. All of these letters will do that -- in upper case at any rate -- and they are the only ones that will do that. So that's it, the themed entries are all composed of letters that are vertical reflections of themselves.

Pretty cool, huh? I mean, a major mental workout but still cool.

Other entries of interest:

1A: Carrier letters (USS) Got off on the wrong foot right off the bat here -- I had UPS, thinking package carrier not aircraft carrier.

9A: Starship chart topper (SARA) Oh my god, I am such a Star Trek: The Next Generation geek I couldn't figure this one out. I knew it had something to do with the USS Enterprise not the mediocre followup to the Jefferson Airplane.

16A: Start of many Ocean Spray juice flavors (CRAN) Yep, and I think I tried them all when I thought my messed-up back was actually messed-up kidneys. Although it doesn't start with cran- my favorite way to consume cranberries is in Craisins, Ocean Spray's sweetened dried cranberries. Now that's good stuff there.

There were some gimmes in this puzzles like 33A: One side in a famous family feud (MCCOYS) and 37D: Muesli's cousin (GRANOLA) which was balanced out by some toughies 48A: Pole vault metal? (GROSZ) I don't really get. Is "grosz" Polish for "gold"? 36D: Court call (OYEZ) I don't get either.

62A: Works on a kakuro puzzle (ADDS) Kakuro is supposed to be the next Sudoku. It actually requires some basic math skills unlike Sudoku where are you need is logic. One thing they both have in common is that I suck at them.

52A: Voicer of Sylvester (MEL) Obviously that's Sylvester the cat, Tweety-Bird's bane and Mel Blanc. I'm just curious as to why they clued it as "Voicer of. . ." and not just "Voice. . ."

10D: Second word of "Mr. Roboto" (ARIGATO) "Domo Arigato" which is Japanese for "Thank you very much." So that's Spanish, Polish, 30A: It's divided into comtes (ETAT) is French, whatever the heck OYEZ is, and now Japanese. You have to be multilingual to solve this one -- either that or or have spent a large portion of your youth listening to bands like Styx.

That's all for today. Let's do it again on Friday. Friday's by the way is by Francis Heaney and Patrick Blindauer, so it ought to be a good one.


Rex Parker said...

Even with your explanation, I don't get it. I mean, I do, but 54A: clue says I can see the vertical reflections of the other entries in OKEECHOBEE, but there's an "X" in DIXIE CHICK and not in OKEECHOBEE ... what the hell? From where I sit, the clue on 54A is just terrible. Or is the puzzle suggesting that if you literally dipped the words into a lake (any lake) halfway, you could still read them because of the reflection? My head does indeed hurt.


Norrin2 said...

Yeah, you know how some puzzles just become more satisfying and more mentally tantalizing the longer you think about them? This ain't one of those puzzles. I guess he wanted an interesting way of expressing an unusual theme and he couldn't fit all those letters in one entry. The lake thing is a tad disappointing, though.

kratsman said...

After I finished, I held the puzzle upside down in front of a mirror and saw what was going on, themewise. Okeechobee=mirror, I rationalized.

Howard B said...

Top half of each letter is the reflection of the bottom (imagine a mirror across the midpoint of all the letters).
|/ \/
|\ /\ (K, X, etc.)
Yes, it's a little strange, but I do like that they also found a theme answer in Spanish (DIECIOCHO) that fit just as well. Sort of interesting to note that its numeric equivalent, 18, is also reflective in the same way (if you write the one as a vertical line).

Or maybe I just need to cut down on the coffee.

rhonda from kansas said...

I'm not sure what it means, but "Oyez" it what the court bailiff calls out when he's calling the court to order. I interpet it as "Hear ye" or something like that. Doesn't seem like Latin, but maybe.

Matt M. said...

Some thoughts:

(1) Loved the theme. Was not put off by it in the least.

(2) I would say that "a little logic" is the most basic of all math skills. (Though I still wish Sudoku would just die already.)

(3) Thanks to Orange, I know that "grosz" is a unit of currency in Poland. (Vault as in bank vault!)

That is all.

Linda G said...

Jeez, this was hard.

The Roman numeral multiplication actually opened up the southeast quadrant for me.

OKEECHOBEE was a gimme. Lived not far from there, and that's where my ex lives...although he used to live in Texas.

altony55 said...

rex parker,

I feel your pain.

norrin2 and others, I've read your explanations about this puzzle's theme, but I still don't understand them. Maybe I'm just thinking too hard about it, but could someone maybe try to explain it to me again? (Did you ever get it, rex?)

Anyhow, norrin2, I also like ST, TNG. But my heart really goes out to ST Voyager. (I just can't get enough of that Seven of Nine.) Here's something to think about. You can get all seven seasons of ST TNG at for about $450 before tax. That same seven seasons of Voyager will set you back $910 before tax, which is more than twice the amount of money. Now, I'm thinking, "Enterprise" was captained by a man, but "Voyager" was captained by a woman. Is there some sexual bias here? What do you think?