SUNDAY, Aug. 19, 2007 - Elizabeth C. Gorski

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Buried Treasure" - symbol for gold (AU) is inserted in squares around the grid; these "AU" squares, when connected, form the outline of a "heart" - 26A: With 113-Across, 1972 song lyric hinting at this puzzle's theme ("I've been a miner for a / heart of gold")

[In the printed grid, right, "$" = AU]

A very clever, multi-layered theme. I feel very fortunate to have figured out the theme almost immediately. Had the I'VE B part of 26A, then started getting annoyed at what seemed to be some messed-up, variant spelling at 33A: Scene (tableAU) - what did they want, TABLET? TABLEU? Then noticed that the cross - 27D: Lover boy (beAU) - needed an AU too - knew that AU = gold, looked back at I'VE B and filled the rest of it in instantly. Thrilled to see that it all fit. Even with that big head start, I found challenging pockets. it's a weirdly shaped grid - it doesn't have rotational symmetry and you can't get at the center except from underneath (much trouble in the upper-center region - more on that later). After complaining about people's apparent ignorance of Steffi Graf yesterday, I got floored by not one but two female sports star clues today - one of them clued in relation to 1988, just as the GRAF clue was. Karma. Luckily, I guessed both their names correctly.

  • 44A: Kristin _____, six-time swimming champion at the 1988 Olympics (Otto)
  • 120A: Tennis player Smashnova (Anna) - that's an insanely good name for a tennis player, but ... a pretty long way to go for ANNA.

The GOLD answers:

  • 28D: Overseas Mrs. (FrAU)
  • 36A: Victorians (AUssies)
  • 39A: Outdoor shindigs (luAUs)
  • 34D: Letters from Greece (tAUs)
  • 41A: "Your mother wears army boots!," e.g. (tAUnt)
  • 35D: Mideast's House of _____ (Pancakes ... I mean SAUd)
  • 58A: "Homage to Clio" (AUden)
  • 58D: Author who wrote "One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other" (AUsten) - I love love love the AUsten/AUden literary meeting of minds here; clever
  • 59A: Some shavers (BrAUns)
  • 54D: Extol (lAUd)
  • 61A: Pianist Claudio (ArrAU) - if he weren't in the crossword fairly frequently, he'd have given me fits
  • 77A: Child-care provider (AU pair)
  • 77D: Sound (AUdio) - I had ECHO here at first, not realizing it involved a theme square
  • 79A: Capital city about an hour by plane from Miami (NassAU)
  • 97A: European air hub (De GAUlle)
  • 100D: Park Avenue, for one (AUto) - constructors like to throw this make at you because it's got built-in misdirection

I'm tired, so I will discuss just a few thorny parts.

I had a nice little blank 3x3 square in the upper heart of this puzzle for a while. I knew AU went in there somewhere, but at first I tried to put it too high - second square in 53A: First Shia imam (Ali). Turns out it went one square down - in BRAUNS. Did not think -INI (55D: Magician's name suffix) was really a suffix. Is HOUD- a root word? And ARA (53D: Constellation near Scorpius) is always the last constellation I think of, in that I don't think of it ever.

Waiting for my wife to finish puzzle so she can explain 36A: Victorians, e.g. (AUssies) to me. Oh, I think I just got it. There must be a place name in Australia named Victoria ...? I hope so. Had no idea what MELANITES were (17D: Deep black garnets) - some kind of stone, it seems. MELANITES intersected with OTTO (above) at the "T," so I was guessing there.

Oh, I should note that the Neil Young aspect of this puzzle is continued in two more long, symmetrical answers in the SE and SW of the grid:

  • 68D: Atomic number of the special parts of this puzzle which, when connected, form a 113-Across (seventy-nine)
  • 64D: Like 113-Across (by Neil Young) - that one threw me at first because I had BYNEI and thought "what the hell sort of word is that?"
Finally, some tricky names:

  • 11D: Missy _____ with the 2002 hit "Work It" (Elliott) - gimme for me, though I didn't know she had the double-L and double-T version of this last name.
  • 10D: Bill who created the comic strip "Smokey Stover" (Holman) - I will confess that I've never heard of this guy.
  • 74A: "The Baptism of Christ" painter _____ della Francesca (Piero) - I'm semi-proud of guessing this off just the "P," figuring that PIERO was the most likely Italian name to go there.
  • 40D: German-born Hollywood actor _____ Keir (Udo) - wow, now that's a name. I'm sure I've seen the name before, but he's not registering.
  • 66D: 1954 Jean Simmons movie ("Desiree") - GENE Simmons has a reality show on VH1 now.
  • 43D: Author Janowitz (Tama) - she used to appear with far greater frequency than she does now. Her name is crossword AU, but quickly became crosswordese, I think, and is now avoided if possible (like her writing - just kidding! never read it).

The other reason ANNA Smashnova was so hard for me was because I figured she must have a far crazier name than ANNA (see Orange's frequent assertion that if the person seems uncommon, the name is probably uncommon as well - not so in this case). So I had AN-A and the Down cross was NOT helping - 104D: French department in Picardy (Aisne) - is "department" a geographical place? Yes, a department is sort of like a county, apparently. Seven years of French and I can't make sense of a simple clue like this. Ugh.

Good night

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


PuzzleGirl 12:52 AM  

Took me a while to figure out the theme. I was confused by TABLEAU but didn't catch on until after I was also confused by TAUNT, AU PAIR, and AUSTEN. Just a big ol' ball of confusion here. Had the same problem you had putting the AU in 53A instead of 59A.

When I got to the tennis-playing Smashnova clue I thought "Oh for crying out loud! Someone just made that up!"

Not a big Neil Young fan. Had the tune going in my head for quite a while before I figured out the words (for me it's always gone "I've been a something for a heart of gold...").

PuzzleGirl 1:03 AM  

Oh, and I got a kick out of 15A, March of _____ and 111D, _____ of March.

Anonymous 1:37 AM  

The first AU I got was at the end of NASSAU. Then I went looking for them, and it surely helped me solve the puzzle.

Rex, I think the reason you never think of ARA is that you almost never see it, since it is in the southern hemisphere.

Personally, I have never been able to appreciate the voice of Neil Young. To me it's like fingernails on a blackboard. But I did remember the line from HEART OF GOLD. However, I didn't see that the AUs connected into the heart shape until you mentioned it, Rex.

How about the other Neil, SEDAKA?

Who knew a radiator had an AIR VALVE?


Thought ballerinas dance EN POINTE, not ON TOE.

Haven't we had enough UTNEs for a while?

Norm 4:00 AM  

HOUD- isn't technically a root word, but every small-time magician in America can call him/herself "the great [JONES]INI" so I think it works suffix-wise.

kirkmc 6:13 AM  

Wow, this one threw me for a while, but when I got to DEGAULLE and saw it didn't work, I knew it couldn't be a blatant mistake. I had figured out the lyrics, then it clicked, but it took a while to find all the double-letter spots. I actually got SEVENTY-NINE pretty early on, because I had enough letters to see it couldn't be any other number, but I didn't think to check what element that matched. Sigh.

Karen 7:00 AM  

I got the error message, and spent ten minutes trawling for the error...I had NSA instead of NSC (I thought ODIA looked like a reasonable word, too). What's a good way to remember the difference?

Please also explain Sao Tom, that crossing with the obscure Holman was trouble.

I otherwise liked the puzzle, although I don't like Neil Young's singing either, and couldn't remember the lyric.

quisnam 8:54 AM  

It's interesting how the key to these sorts of puzzles can reveal itself to different solvers. I often read through all the clues on Sunday without filling in any answers, but when I got the the Auden/Austen clues, with a glance at "Buried Treasure," I figured it out. So I thought it would be fun to see if I could find the other buried gold--got Tau/luau, audits, Arrau, Saud/taunts, all based on knowing one of the crosses, and then gave up and started n iat the top. Interesting-looking board at that point, and great puzzle. But if I hadn't taken a course on Auden/Thomas in college, I'd still be at it.

Scott 9:09 AM  

OK, OK, but isn't this like the third time in the last few weeks we've seen this chemical symbol stunt? It's cute, but can't we give the Periodic Table a rest for a few months?

Neil Young may not have much of a voice, but you have to admit -- he's a very mediocre guitarist.

jls 9:57 AM  

hafta credit the nyt forum for this factoid -- but today is chinese valentine's day -- whence this seemingly out-of-season puzzle. remember that the chinese calendar is lunar, whence the discrepancy in the date cited in the (dated...) article:

be mine



hobbyist 10:11 AM  

Theme pretty easy but I liked the strands in a diner. Guess only I and people in diners dare to say the s word. Pasta is so pretentions.

hobbyist 10:13 AM  

I meant pretentious. So sorry as try to live minus pretentions.

Orange 10:30 AM  

Karen, the NYT's applet often doesn't know how to display special characters, so [___ Tomé] showed up as the mystifying [___ Tom?]. That irked me enough to devote a paragraph to it on my blog—it's usually easy enough to figure out what's missing when a question mark appears in the middle of a word, but at the end of a clue? Deadly.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

ESIREE made me guess YESIREE

From there RE--IEY looked pretty strange

Fun puzzle. Lots of aha's for me.

mmpo 12:05 PM  

I had __SIREE and guessed NOSIREE. :)
Re. Neil Young songs running through our heads (gee, doesn't anyone here like Neil Young?) could have been worse; it could have been a puzzle based on "A Horse with No Name."

Wendy 12:40 PM  

mmpo, yes, someone here likes Neil. I love Neil, actually! Someday I'm going to write an essay on what the albums Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and After the Gold Rush meant to me during my college years, if I can just figure out how to put it in words. I do believe he's at his best with Crazy Horse musically, but I just think the world of him in general. If anyone else here is a fan, and hasn't seen the documentary HEART OF GOLD, I would recommend it. My only criticism of it is that Emmylou Harris has had so much work done on her face (or she has a very bizarre make-up artist) that she looks like a ghoulish porcelain doll, and standing next to Neil with his beaten-up visage, it's almost too much to look at.

karmasartre 12:59 PM  

I love Neil's work. The voice is an acquired taste. It took Neil himself a while to acquire it, I guess -- when he started in Buffalo Springfield, Richie Furay sang most of the Neil-penned ditties like "On the Way Home".

"A Horse with No Name" was by the group America.

I enjoyed the puzzle and its theme. I also had problems in the ALI / BRAUN / READIED area, even though I once had a Braun razor.

I fell for "Jalapeno feature". I kept trying to think of the word used in discussing the chili heat scale (Scoville Units -- a lot of good that would have done).

Not sold on TARRING for Besmirching. I could see aspersing, defaming, slandering, denigrating, smearing...TARRING just seems more physical.

Rex Parker 1:00 PM  

Damn, Wendy, way to bring the hurt down on Emmylou. I generally like her voice.

I do like Neil Young. He sings a couple of songs with Linda Ronstadt on his late-80s album "Freedom" that are very, very beautiful.

I'll take Neil Young over ENYA (in my puzzle, and out) Any Day Of The Week.


Anonymous 1:05 PM  

I think that Neil Young is a very fine composer of excellent music whose laryngectomy needs to be finished.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Wasn't Neil Young "...searching for a heart of gold"?

Chip Ahoy 1:27 PM  

Au=$, cute. You gotta appreciate symmetry with the Au's -- makes things so much easier. My favorite entry; some Victorians = Au ssies. Enjoyed this puzzle, always enjoy E. Gorski's work. I'm off to study the 95 departments of France.

Wendy 1:29 PM  

I'm just sayin' ... if one no longer looks human, that's too much work! Stop the presses, as it were! I was kind of surprised that it hadn't somehow affected her voice, actually. She is a wonderful singer. Now of course maybe she's never had a lick of anything done and she just looks younger and smoother as she grows older. I know that's what's happening to ME ... ;)

Nothnagel 1:31 PM  

I love love love Liz Gorski's puzzles. Plain and simple.

I, like Rex, figured out the theme from the TABLEAU / BEAU crossing and filled in the lyric immediately after that. I was fortunate to have started in that corner, so I didn't have a lot of post-rebus-discovery erasures to contend with.

Stupid coincidence of the morning: the tea I was drinking while solving today's puzzle is a blend called Golden Monkey.


GK 1:43 PM  

Could I beg some technical assistance? I download the puzzle file to my Mac and then work it using Across Lite. My son explained how to enter multiple letters in a single square. But when I unlock the solution tomorrow, will the program recognize that the AU's are correct?

Fergus 2:15 PM  

Both Emmy Lou and Neil Young are way up there in my Pantheon. They sing very well together, too (viz. "Wrecking Ball from 1995). "ZUMA" took over from "Harvest" and "After the Gold Rush" in my college days. "Like a Hurricane" an all-time great.

Recently saw the lamentable "GOYA's Ghosts, and discussed the PIERO picture with a visiting twelve year-old who had grabbed an art history book while we were waiting for his Mom. Minor coincidences.

So, a TACET is a musical symbol. The only thing I could think of was Trema, which I think is some diacritical mark indicating ... possibly a silent letter?

I had AUSTERE for the Victorians, and then remembered all the ockers from Melbourne I used to work with. They were proud sponsors of Victoria, and were in no way austere. Huge AUSSIE company that brewed Foster's Lager, which was pretty much on tap whenever one felt like it. Bygone era of workplace dissipation -- London in the late 80s.

Completely flummoxed by the PUPU platter, and yet it didn't appear to warrant any comment?

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

GK - When you unlock the solution tomorrow, in each square where there should be an "AU", there will be an "A".

karmasartre 2:37 PM  

Fergus --

PUPU = Hawaiian antipasta

Ulrich 3:22 PM  

What I liked most about the puzzle was that it was the first in a long time to make use of the grid as a VISUAL phenomenon--I'm an architect and attracted to this sort of thing. I started to get tired of one puzzle after another being based on some WORD game.

jae 3:27 PM  

A very clever and very enjoyable puzzle. I also got the theme early on and 68d clued me as to where the other au squares were. I also like Neil. I played the Deja Vu album alot in grad school. Saw him do "Harvest Moon" on Letterman sometime in the 90s and remember being very impressed.

Ulrich 3:35 PM  

To Rex re. department: When it comes to regions, the French "departement" (notice the e) should NOT be translated as "department"--it should be called "province"--very sloppy cueing/editing on the part of the puzzle originators.

Sven 4:53 PM  

To ulrich: The French Embassy website describes Metropolitan France as "divided into 22 regions and subdivided into 96 departments." Department is the English translation of departement. I see no problem with editing.

Michael 5:09 PM  

They did a heart theme like this for last Valentine's Day, where the clues had heart (♥) symbols in them instead of gold (Au), but both puzzles had the shape of a heart.

flailer 5:57 PM  

anonymous at 1:13, I thought Neil was also "searching for a heart of gold," information that only comes to me via a high school mix tape. Googled the lyrics, and it turns out he was-- but also mining, earlier in the verse. He leave no metaphor...unflogged.

gk, could I beg some tech help from you-- or your son? How DO you get Across lite to enter multiple letters in the same square? Like Rex I entered my own little symbol.

Ulrich 6:23 PM  

To Sven: If the French do not know that translating French "departement" (I do not know how to do the accent in this editor) into "department" is at least highly misleading (as Rex's puzzlement shows), the worse for them. It reminds me of sloppy German journalists who habitually translate English "billion" into German "Billion", which is 1000 x the English billion and makes, in this mistranslation, Bill Gates a man of unimaginable wealth. The point is: two words that look the same across two languages may not mean the same in each, an error that seems particularly easy to make, as the French and German examples show, in translations FROM a language.

Fergus 6:40 PM  

Comme ma professeur a dit au lycee, il des bonnes amis, et des fausses amis en la traduction.

This warning works the same in variants of the same language ... think of how many misunderstandings come up just between Brits and Americans, for example.

Took me a long time to comprehend the true meaning of the phrase (which I think is from Shaw), "two countries separated by a common language."

Fergus 6:48 PM  

Oops, I left out a couple of words in the francais above, but so what -- the English conveys a similar point.

French experts: would you say Il y a, or Ils y ont, when the subjects are both multiple and plural?

Fergus 6:54 PM  

And I should get some gender agreement going with the nouns and the adjectives. Dug myself into a hole there, didn't I?

Linda G 7:08 PM  

Count me in with those who like Neil Young...and those who LOVED this puzzle. I didn't catch the theme until TAUNT, but it was such fun to hunt for buried treasure after that one. I didn't see the shape of the heart until I was blogging and entered the clue for 68D...then I colored it in with my yellow highlighter. Ooooh...aaaah.

Ulrich 7:24 PM  

Today, sloppy editing seems to be my shtick--another example in this otherwise very enjoyable puzzle: The German actor's name is Udo Kier, not Keir, a big difference to a German because the pronunciation is very different. It's the reason why it took me so long to get this answer although he and I are actually from the same town in Germany.

Fergus 7:58 PM  

Linda G, I did something similar with my green Flair -- only to wish that the rigors of symmetry would allow for an arrow shape to pierce the central heart.

Betsey 8:20 PM  


To insert multiple letters, go to edit menu, go down to insert and you will have the option of "multiple letters". At least in my mac version this works.

CrsWrdLvr22 8:36 PM  

Loved the puzzle. Like Neil Young (esp this song) so I got the theme, lyrics immediately. Hated 6A One really doesn't go to a diner for spaghetti - of course, it's offered and one might order it if really in the mood. Eggs and burgers, perhaps some Greek fare, but spagheti? I'd rather go to a trattoria.

Nancy 9:25 PM  

On my mac, using Across Lite, after selecting the square, I hit the escape key and up pops a little box where I can type in several letters. Easy as pie.

ayoung 10:38 PM  

I'm an avid tennis fan so I knew about Anna Smashnova. Couldn't believe that that was her real name. Oh, no, I said when she married and took her husband's name. Unhappily for her she divorced but did go back to her maiden name.

Sven 12:27 AM  

Keir for Kier is worth noting. Thanks for the clarification with your hometown buddy. Department as an "administrative unit in France" is also listed as the 4th of six definitions of the word "department" in the American Heritage Dictionary. Since Rex was confused, I take it as a clever clue. It is clearly not a case of sloppy editing or mistaken translation.

Anonymous 2:38 AM  

Ulrich - I'm afraid your example of "English billion" being 1/1000 of a German billion is a bad one.
It's not a question of language but country. What British and Germans call a billion (1 million million), Americans call 1 trillion. What Americans call a billion, the others call a thousand million.

Ulrich 10:02 AM  

To Sven: I can accept your view--thanks for teasing this out.

To anonymous: I wholeheartedly disagree. Translation happens between languages, not countries. So, when German journalists translate "billion" in an American source into German "Billion", they make an error of translation. What I should have clarified, though, was that the language in question was not English in general, but American English.

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

One source of information I came across claimed that Houdini (not his real name) adopted his last name from a French magician whose last name was Houdin. (Actually it was a hyphenated last name.) Allegedly, adding the suffix "i" to Houdin results in the name meaning "little Houdin." Don't know if this is correct, but if it is the clue is quite in error.

Judgesully 4:38 PM  

Had the "N" from NEC, the "A" from Sedaka, the second "S" from Asner and then, for the life of me could not figure out why I did not know "Nassa." DUH! After the light shown forth, I thought this to be a fairly straight forward effort except that they kept up with the obscure Neil Young references. Always thought that CSN were better off without Y.

PuzzleGirl 5:48 PM  

If you google magician +"the great" you'll find Rodini, Candini, Cardini, Fredini, Newdini, Zucchini (ha), and two references to a Steve Martin skit The Great Fyndini or The Great Flydini (not sure which one is accurate if not both). I don't think the puzzle meant to refer only to Houdini.

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

It was The Great Flydini - and all sorts of strange stuff came out of his fly. It was absolutely hysterical. Thanks for the reminder.

Susan 9:13 PM  

Gene Simmons has a reality show on A&E - not VH1.

Love your website! Nice to know I'm not the only one who doesn't know Ara is near Scorpius.

Anonymous 10:39 PM  

I'll bet Ultra Vi likes Neil Young. I always ranked him way above CS or N. I was just playing Harvest Moon last week on my guitar.

Now the reference to Missy Elliott - that was what I call obscure. I would be much more likely to pick up on a reference to Elliott Randall (the amazing guitarist from "Reelin' in the Years" era Steely Dan).

Today is my 45th birthday, and by my remarks, I have just proven myself to be an old fart.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

I'm late doing this puzzle; do it in the Seattle PI and I've been on vacation....

but no one mentioned there are *two* interlocking hearts. The AU clues, plus the one formed by the black squares in the grid. It's upside down, and a bit flattened and ragged, sure, but I certainly see a heart with the point at the black square under 10d and the lobes formed by the end of 91a and beginning of 93a.

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