SUNDAY, Dec. 30, 2007 - Elizabeth C. Gorski

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Frosty the Snowman" - circles in shape of snowman spell out first line of the song, with the rest of the opening verse broken into four more theme answers...

Saw the circles, thought "snowman ... Frosty ..." and that was that. Once I realized that the rest of the song was going to be in the puzzle too, I went searching for all the theme answers and filled them in first. Only three days ago my daughter asked me to sing this song because she was playing it on violin, and while "Rudolph" sounded perfect to her, she just couldn't get the feel for "Frosty." I'm just happy to be able to confirm that I did indeed have all of the opening lyrics correct. This puzzle is a pretty astounding architectural feat - you've got the snowman shape filled with Frosty's name, then four more theme answers plus a bonus tie-in answer: 107A: Provider of an old silk hat, e.g. (as depicted at the top of this puzzle) (haberdasher). As for that hat ... let's just say that the vaguely snowmanish shape works; when you start asking me to consider the black squares ... well, the hat works OK, but the problem is that the black squares form a kind of snowmanish outline of their own, but it's distorted and odd, and then what am I supposed to make of the black spaces in the middle of the snowman? Does Frosty have Terminator eyes? (see 89D: Kyle _____, "The Terminator" hero - REESE) Is his nose somewhere around his waist and his mouth in the vicinity of his crotch? Because that's what I start seeing when I look beyond the simple outline provided by the circled squares ...

This took me over 20 minutes on paper, but I have two good excuses.

  1. This puzzle is 23x23, 2x2 bigger than your normal Sunday puzzle
  2. When I print the puzzle out from AcrossLite, the grid is forced into the size of a normal weekday grid, and the clues are super tiny as well, so just reading the numbers in the squares can be rough. I was hunched over this damned puzzle just trying to read it properly, which added another level of difficulty
  3. This puzzle made up for the easiness of its theme with many reasonably challenging non-theme moments

Theme answers:

  • 16 circled letters, starting in square #34 and proceeding roughly counterclockwise, spell out: FROSTY THE SNOWMAN
  • 3D: Lyric, part 2, after "Was a" ("jolly happy soul")
  • 134A: Lyric, part 3, after "With a" ("corn cob pipe")
  • 16D: Lyric, part 4 ("and a button nose")
  • 114A: Lyric, part 5 ("and two eyes made out of coal") - I'm guessing this was the bit that necessitated making the puzzle as big as it is; it spans the grid from W to E

Somewhat rough stuff:

  • 1A: Land of 300+ islands (Fiji) - wanted FIJI, but the "J" felt iffy, then I got all the lyrics to the song, and bam, FIJI.
  • 42A: Class in factories (proletariat) - got it without ever looking at the clue (always like doing a run of short Down answers in order, bam, bam, bam, etc.). As for PROLETARIAT, coincidentally, we watched the relevant episode of "Battlestar Galactica" last night (conditions of workers in mines / fuel processing plant are horrible ... strikes, brutality, etc.)
  • 19A: Borodin's "Prince _____" ("Igor") - I have no idea what this refers to. Omigod it's a 19th century Russian opera about a 12th century epic hero. Didn't see that coming.
  • 23A: Wright wings (ells) - CRAAAAP! The rationale for this Just occurred to me this very second. Not Orville and Wilbur, but Frank Lloyd. @#$#$#@! Good one.
  • 27A: Shed some light on? (solarize) - this is a verb? Really? It seems it's typically used in photography to refer to a certain kind of overexposure, although its general meaning is just "to expose to sunlight," so if you are lucky enough to live in the right climate, you could go out and SOLARIZE yourself right now.
  • 100A: Cole Porter's "You Don't Know _____" ("Paree") - I hear it's Gay.
  • 125A: Horizontal molding pieces (fascias) - yikes. New to me. Yesterday I learned that HOB is a fireplace shelf ... he said, non-sequiturly.
  • 7D: One who can't have everything? (co-heir) - ick and ouch. I mean, I get it, but when you just have parts of it, it really doesn't look like a word.
  • 67D: Long Island Rail Road station (Roslyn) - whatever you say.
  • 78A: Dec. holiday plans? (R and R) - please no email today about how RANDR is not a word. Always be on the lookout for R AND R, Q AND A, and R AND B.
  • 56A: Poker great Ungar and others (Stus) - this STU is now a gimme for me, but I would still prefer that the clue refer to the Disco great, not the Poker great.
  • 63A: Rain forests and grasslands, e.g. (biomes) - Wasn't this a movie with Pauly Shore? What's weird about this answer, which looks nuts to me, is that I just had BIOTA as an answer recently, and I feel like it was clued nearly the same way. Whoa, it was one week ago today, in fact, and the clue was [Flora and fauna]. Weird.
  • 131A: Wolves (mashers) - this feels ... stretched. Hmmm, "a man who attempts to force his attentions on a woman." I guess that's wolfish. Wolves need better PR people.
  • 96A: Bourg's department (ain) - what what what? Oh, right, "department" as in French county or state or subsection or whatever. Here's a satellite map.
  • 123A: "The Oath" author Frank (Peretti) - no idea who this is. Well, no wonder. [angry rant redacted]
  • 141A: Herbal tea (tisane) - I have a lot of tea in my house, and this answer floated up out of nowhere, but it feels pretty specialized to me. No?
  • 12D: Forage plant (cow pea) - I'm pretty sure I've balked at this answer before, but what the hell, I'll balk again.
  • 28D: Giant successes? (runs) - lo, the irony.
  • 35D: Writer Willy who popularized space flight (Ley) - how does a writer popularize space flight??? I guess space needed an advocate back in the day. This dude is German, btw.
  • 57D: Accord of 1985? (used car) - well, not in 1985 it wasn't.
  • 58D: What icicles do (sparkle) - always? Sometimes, maybe.
  • 77D: "The _____ Cat" (Tom and Jerry short) ("Zoot") - did Tom wear a ZOOT suit, and was there then a riot in which Tom got the crap beat out of him? Well ... I was joking, but ...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

74 comments:

PhillySolver 9:16 AM  

Shoot, first I thought of the Borg from Star Trek and what they might call a department and then tried to get to another train of thought, but "to resist was futile."

Was it Frosty that cried, "I'm melting" or was that a witch from Oz?

Clever Puzzle and I am glad that the Sunday Puzzle was not another trip to the dark side that I experienced this past week.

One more challenge in 2007...see you tomorrow.

wendy 9:17 AM  

For future reference - use the Print on Two Pages function in Across Light and you will be able to focus much better on your appointed task!

eiandphil 9:56 AM  

Good Morning, Your Majesty:

Does the Tournament allow spectators? I'm WAAAAAY too chicken to sign up. I fear my ego would never recover.

Eileen

Pinky 10:10 AM  

I don't get MASHERS either. I had MASKERS for wolves (masking as sheep?), that made 132 down look like KOREA...making Chick the new old testament prophet

COHEIR was the one that just wouldn't come to me, even after my one and only google ATHOL.

Good puzzle today, greatly assisted by the image of a snowman, even though I didn't get the circled cues.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Masher is an old-fashioned word for a wolf which is, itself, a pretty old-fashioned concept. Today he would probably be called a sexist pig.

Doris 10:14 AM  

"Mashers" is a piece of Victoriana. One envisions guys in straw boaters and striped jackets coming onto damsels in large feathered hats. The damsels are behaving with unbelievable coyness by today's standards. Cf. the early 20th century musical "Floradora."

Now can't get the damned Frosty song out of my head even though I'm trying to replace it with Mahler, et al.

Doris 10:16 AM  

Whoops! Misspelled "Florodora." I'm sure everyone noticed.

marcie 10:42 AM  

I for one found this a fun and welcome respite after the workouts of the last few days. Getting the circled letters gave some toe-holds where needed. A few unknowns or toughies, including Athol (no comment on the name and lithping). Since I don't live in a place where real icicles form with regularity, the tinsel 'icicles' on my tree always sparkle...

The construction was creative, and in looking at the grid I see a smiling Frosty with a top hat.

Orange 10:42 AM  

Eileen, you can register for the tournament as a noncompetitor, meaning you can do the puzzles (I think they give you a batch of puzzles...maybe not) but not turn them in for grading, and attend the group activities like Friday-night games and the wine reception.

Rex, re: fascias and hob: My cat's breath smells like cat food.

Orange 10:44 AM  

P.S. And also A AND E on cable TV, A AND W root beer, C AND W music, and on rare occasion, M AND MS.

marcie 10:52 AM  

randr catches me EVERY time. I'm like Charlie Brown and Lucy and the football, with that one. I think it could be there daily and I'd still puzzle over a word ending in dr, still look for a tropical island somewhere starting with ran....

kalisah 11:01 AM  

Arrrggh. I HATE when I fall for randr.

I totally didn't even notice the snowman picture. I was trying to figure out how the hell to make Professor Hinkle fit in 107A.

eiandphil 11:04 AM  

Marcie: You're not alone. RandR and RandB get me every time. I finally caught onto BandB.

Eileen

jordanboston 11:19 AM  

Somebody's been spending their RANDR watching reruns of America's Next Top Model. Tyra Banks two days in a row?

jae 11:41 AM  

Very clever and enjoyable. Getting the song early definitely helped.

We also had BIOMASS recently.

I was going to say I don't get SLASHES but I just now got it, so nevermind.

BTW My name is John (not SEAN) and its been one day since I've googled.

profphil 11:46 AM  

Was Giant successes /runs a baseball clue or a theatre clue? I thought it was a theatre clue as when a play runs for a long time but I now realize it probably is a baseball clue as in home-run. (I never think in terms of teams and sports if it can mean anything else. It's an, unconscious process of resistance from my early years but that's for another time.)

Dan 12:01 PM  

I'm surprised to find that everyone seems to like this one. There was some good stuff in there, but I didn't like the fact that just recognizing the lyric gave you all the long answers for free, and there were way too many "Pacino and others"-type silly three-letter answers for me. De gustibus!

Ulrich 12:02 PM  

First a detail re. "wolf": In German, a meat mincer is sometimes called a "Fleischwolf" (literally, a meat wolf)--I wonder if that usage is behind the clue.

Now a general comment: I was disappointed in the theme. I did not know the song, and so had to solve all the verse lines. They don't seem to scan right if you don't know the melody, and standing by themselves, don't really make a charming verse. So, it seemd to me that the constructor tried to embellish a non-charming verse with all kinds of gimmicks, like putting the first line into circles and creating a vaguely snowmannish image with the black cells. I'm getting positively nostalgic when I remember great New Year's puzzles of the past, like the count-down to the ball drop from a few years ago.

ArtLvr 12:04 PM  

I got off to a dumb slowish start today, thinking clockwise instead of counterclockwise -- but I soon knew which way I was going. I did not google anything, though it would have been better to try that route at the end!
"Avalons" might have been a clue for something to eat, like those Samosas of two days ago, if one is not a car savant or Ley person. And I held onto "Askew" for 5A (not straight, like "awry") a bit too long, after giving up "dieter" for 7D (one who can't have everything?) so I guess "coheir" was my favorite answer, along with "bedspread" (fit for a king). Funny how the harder ones were my easier ones: old "mashers" echoing old golf clubs, "mashies".
And what would we do without the French, from chefs and treaty cities and herbal teas? I didn't check it, but think the department in France is "departement" and I know there's an accent aigu over the first "e"... a teaser.

Jim in NYC 12:26 PM  

Only 5x Orange today. Woo-hoo!

(Or was Orange a bit off her game today?)

ArtLvr 12:26 PM  

d├ępartement ∑;) le chat

billnutt 12:27 PM  

So what's YOUR favorite version of "Frosty the Snowman"? Mine is the duet between Leon Redbone and Dr. John.

After getting my gluteus maximus kicked the past three days, I was hoping for a relatively easy Sunday. Thought I had it, too - got the theme rather quickly, and things fell into place rapidly.

UNTIL - the SW. Wow. Here were my two main problems:

I assumed "High-hats" was a verb, not a noun, so I had SNEERSAT. That stuck around for a while.

For "Timid words," I saw the ID, and assumed it would be "I'd ..." but NOTHING else was happening. It wasn't until I sat the puzzle down for a while and looked at it again that I realized "Oh, it's I DARE..." and then things fell into place.

I resolutely refused to google the author of THE OATH, so I was stuck with _E_ETTI for quite a while.

Sooooo... It was rougher than I would have liked, but I made it.

Rex Parker 12:40 PM  

People complain all the time when they simply don't know something. This is understandable - I do it not infrequently - but it's not really a valid criticism of the puzzle. If you know the song (it's exceedingly common knowledge in the U.S.), then no sweat. The fact that it gave away so many letters ... that meant nothing, really, as the puzzle was BIGGER today (more puzzle to enjoy) AND the non-theme fill was good and chewy enough not to be a total breeze. Tons of non-theme 8+-letter answers. All in all, good stuff.

rp

Hobbyist 12:48 PM  

I don't buy ashen and cadaverous being synonyms.

Ulrich 12:51 PM  

Rex (in case you're referring to what I said): I did not complain about not knowing the song--if anything, not knowing it made the puzzle more interesting. My point was that not knowing the MELODY seems to make the verse less appealings. If I would complain about not knowing things in puzzles I would choke--having grown up in a different country, just about EVERY reference to baseball, pop culture etc gives me fits.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Having grown up without Christmas and its cartoons and songs, I did not know the verses to Frosty the Snowman. It wasn't until I noticed the circled letters which I had filled in when I realized it was frosty snowman (I had not yet filled in the "the."). My heart sank as although I knew the tune and the first 3 words of the song, I did not know any others and I would be therefore be at a great disadvantage. At one point I had eyes of clay instead of coals and it looked perfect. Luckily, I looked over the crosses and got coal.

As I was able to finish the puzzle without Googling,even without knowing the verses, I felt that this was a good puzzle. When a puzzle can only be solved if one knows the theme and not from its crosses too,I find it frustrating and unsatisfying.

Jerry20020 1:03 PM  

Doris: I tried Mahler but had to go to Beethoven's potent Ode To Joy setting.

Didn't we have 'biota' recently?
An ecological system?

Jerry20020 1:08 PM  

Orange: Fascia seemed strange to me, getting sidetracked by the Roman 'fasces' and distracted by its histological meanings.

I don't recall any references to it in architectural contexts.

Ulrich 1:14 PM  

jerry20020: "Fascia" or "fascia board" is the standard name for the trim board at which the roof rafters end at the eaves. Underneath it is the horizontal "soffit" board filling the gap between the fascia and the wall.

karmasartre 1:15 PM  

I agree with Rex re. Frosty's image. I even tried squinting at the center for thirty seconds, then focusing on a blank wall, and all I saw was an image of the Buddha.

I f(l)oundered at the PAREE / REESE crossing. Thought the hero The Terminator was Sarah Conner's son, hence a Conner, hence tried forcing in Conor. Drat. Also, didn't know the PERETTI "P" (or even that genre of fiction).

@billnutt: My favorite "Frosty the Snowperson" is the version by the Ronettes on the Phil Spectre XMAS album. Hal Blaine, the wild session drummer, was a miracle.

@everyone who was tuned in a month ago or so when we were discussing out-of-control quote mark usage: I just noticed that the Beatles' album named "Love" -- a wonderful remixing of Beatles' music made for the Cirque du Soleil / Beatles show named "Love" -- has a different title on the front of the CD jacket than on the spine: It's LOVE on the front, and "LOVE" on the spine. Guess the spine-writer was quoting the front-writer.

I was a bit surprised to see a Frosty theme this late in the season, I expected a New Year's resolution theme or somesuch. One thing conspicuous by its absence this season was the traditional XMAS greeting from Don Imus: "ho, ho, ho".

Not much time left to fulfill last year's resolutions.....

Orange 1:31 PM  

Hobbyist: I suspect Will Shortz and/or Liz Gorski used a thesaurus, as Roget's lists "cadaverous" under "ashen."

Ulrich, here's the Frosty version my generation grew up with on TV.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Orange, the soundtrack (song only) doesn't seem to match the rest of the cartoon (unidentified characters & dialogue in addition to the living snowman). Sorry if I'm stating the obvious.

Rex Parker 1:59 PM  

@Ulrich - thanks for the "soffit" definition. I just came across this word for the first time last night while reading Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" (which, if you are at all inclined to depression, you should avoid Like The Plague).

rp

wendy 2:01 PM  

Oh goodness gracious. Today is a red letter day because I finished a Sunday puzzle without a single google! If I've achieved this previously, I've already forgotten it.

Another oddity is that I woke up with the final two answers in my head - for some peculiar reason I struggled over the intersection of R AND R with USED CAR, but it was literally bursting out of my brain when I became conscious this morning. I don't believe that's ever happened before either.

I'm starting to count Liz Gorski as one of my favorites. I do enjoy her cluing and so many of the answers are lovely. There are too many to name today. Although I am an American, I guess the specifics of Frosty have never been one of my fortes, so although I was working my way through the lyrics I couldn't fill them all in at first because I really didn't know them verbatim even singing it in my head. JOLLY was the last word to give way, actually. Was I ever glad when it did!

I wanted Vagabond for VAGRANTS (obviously doesn't fit but according to my Funk & Wagnalls is a synonym)and Trickle for SPARKLE but any other missteps were minor and didn't last long.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

I don't usually get sports clues either. Is a single member of a team called the singular of a team? I might have gotten 'Giants successes' more quickly (although I too thought of the NY Giants and bogged down a bit trying to fit 'runs' with a football team).

Dick Swart 2:04 PM  

Trivia:

'wolves' as a clue for 'mashers' ties in with 'zoot' cat - both 40's-50's slang and both featured in many cartoon shorts. Wolf whistles and Bob Hope. Zoot suits and Zoot Sims. For a great wolf- see Tex Avery's Swing Shift Cinderella (1945, the year after The Zoot Cat).

Have a Hubba Hubba New Years!

wendy 2:04 PM  

Rex, if you get through that, I highly recommend The Border Trilogy if you haven't already read it. McCarthy is a force of nature.

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

I was raised with a slightly different version of Frosty. Sure slowed me down a bit today.

A biome is the habitat in which the biota live.

martin m. 2:09 PM  

Profphil is likely correct on Giant/runs as a baseball clue. Football (U.S.style) can have short or even negative runs. Theater/theatre can have a short run, which was the goal in "The Producers." Well, I guess it would have been a success for Max, but not the angels.

Ulrich 2:17 PM  

Orange: Thanks for the tip--one of the side effects of doing these puzzles is that I'm catching up gradually on slang, pop culture of the 50's and 60's etc.

Rex: I also read The Road--and being European, my only complaint is that the end appears artificially upbeat. Remember, for us a happy ending in a movie is when everyone is dead (it puts them out of the misery of life) :-)

Kumar 2:29 PM  

Clever and ejoyable puzzle.

For those of us getting home delivery of the NYT, the Sunday Magazine gets delivered a day earlier which makes for a pleasurable Saturday afternoon with the Sunday puzzle.

If you have ever smashed the front of your car, you have likely replaced the fascia, the (slightly) flexible plastic part that spans the width typically above, on and below the bumper.

So if I knew this, how come the only part of the puzzle I did not get was the one that included this, huh?

Michael 2:41 PM  

How common are unsymmetrical NYT puzzles? I know there have been some before, but maybe not so many.

I know the song of course (being from the U.S.), but lyrics have never been my strong point and I had to work them out.

I was wondering why there seemed to be so much stuff in this puzzle...

NYTAnonimo 2:47 PM  

I would like to take vocabulary words that are new to me and put them into a program that would test me on them in a format similar to this. Would be grateful for any links that you know of. Even if you aren't an Oprah fan you might be interested in her interview with Carmac McCarthy Rex. And you can just about bet that any book she recommends is depressing!

Anonymous 2:57 PM  

Take a colored pencil and connect the dots[the circled letters with Frosty the Snowman] and you'll get a snowman with a face and body, hat on top but apparently no "eyes made out of coal" or "button nose".

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

A fun way to test your vocabulary and help donate to charity at the same time is:

www.freerice.com

NYTAnonimo 3:09 PM  

That's the program I referenced anonymous 3:04. I'm looking for one that I can load specific words into, ie. the new ones from this puzzles.

Glickstein 4:13 PM  

To Michael who asked, "How common are unsymmetrical NYT puzzles?" Today's IS symmetrical, you'll notice, though not in the usual way. As for how common are differently-symmetrical NYT puzzles, maybe once or twice a year.

Ulrich 4:32 PM  

To anonymous who said: "Take a colored pencil and connect the dots[the circled letters with Frosty the Snowman] and you'll get a snowman with a face and body."

Very perceptive--kudos for seeing this! Now the title really makes sense, and it (almost) reconciles me with this puzzle.

Michael 4:38 PM  

To Glickstein:

I'll agree that this puzzle is semi-symmetrical, but I'm wondering what you mean when you say it "is symmetrical...though not in the usual way."

Rex Parker 4:42 PM  

@Ulrich et al - the very first thing I say in my write-up is that the circles are in the shape of a snowman. I thought this was the most obvious thing about the puzzle. I don't see a "face," but head and body, yes, clearly.

RP

Rex Parker 4:43 PM  

It's not semi-symmetrical, it's Perfectly Symmetrical. It just doesn't have the 180-degree rotational symmetry that you're used to seeing on 99% of your puzzles. Today's puzzle has L/R mirror-image symmetry. Different kind of symmetry, but still symmetry.

rp

Ulrich 4:48 PM  

I stand corrected and apologize. I know one should read everything in a thread before sticking one's own two cents in, but people make mistakes.

Michael 4:51 PM  

thenks, Rex and Glickstein: Now I understand why the puzzle is symmetrical. Spatial relations are not my strength.

Having made three comments already, I exit for the day

Leon 4:52 PM  

The Snowman figure is easier to make out if you blink a few time. You should be able to see a nice big smile.

Lots of doubles in this puzzle: two outs and two ones in answers, two accord and two lord's workers clues.

billnutt 5:17 PM  

By the way, is the woman who constructed this puzzle the same person who constructed the legendary Empire State Building puzzle of a few years ago? If so, I'm very impressed. And if not - I'm still impressed. This was a very clever concept for a puzzle.

billnutt 5:20 PM  

karmasartre, you have great taste. The Ronettes version of "Frosty" is great. I saw Ronnie Spector at a small roadhouse right after Thanksgiving, and she did that number as an encore. Her drummer was no Hal Blaine, but he was quite good.

Anonymous 6:01 PM  

Let's clarify the symmetry issue mathematically. First, the "symmetries" people have in mind are motions of the plane (i.e. the paper or screen) which set the grid down on top of itself. Let's call any of these a "possible symmetry of a puzzle." Then call one of these an "actual symmetry of a particular puzzle" if it sets black cells on top of black cells and white on white for that puzzle. It is a mathematical theorem that there are exactly 8 possible symmetries for a square puzzle. For any particular puzzle, you can now ask which of these 8 symmetries it has. Both Glickstein's comment and the last three sentences of Rex's comment on symmetry are on the mark about today's puzzle -- it has different symmetries than commonly appear. However, I would not call it "perfectly symmetrical." I'd reserve that term only for a puzzle which has all 8 possible symmetries. To me, doing otherwise is to use the term to mean "it has the symmetries it has" -- not a terribly useful concept.

For those who are interested, here are the 8 symmetries. Four are rotations: rotate through 90 degrees once, twice, three times, or four. (The last of these does nothing and sometimes called the "trivial symmetry".) For the other four, just follow each of the four rotations by the L/R mirror-image symmetry Rex mentions.

mac 6:09 PM  

I like my Sunday puzzle a little tougher, that's when I like the fact that it is bigger. Enjoyed today's. Not knowing the lyrics to the song, I really tried to find a spot for "carrot nose" (I do know my snowmen).
Tisane is a french word for herbal tea, but it is a bit of an old-ladyish word.

Anonymous 6:10 PM  

Oops -- I was sloppy at the end of my post on symmetry. I should have written that the four rotations are: rotate _clockwise around the center point of the square_ through 90 degrees once, twice, three times or four. (The last of these does nothing and is sometimes called the "trivial symmetry.")

Mark 6:20 PM  

Gorski missed a good little opportunity after 90A "Lord's worker" (vassal) and 144A "Lord's worker" (serf) to clue 126D also as "Lord's worker," instead of "Harpist, of sorts" (angel).

Ulrich 7:28 PM  

To anonymous on symmetry: I had retired as far as this blog was going, but your contribution made me change my mind because I LOVE geometry, and I sincerely, utterly sympathize with you. I wish people would use the term 'symmetry' in the mathematical sense. But that is not going to happen, and expressions like "motions of the plane" will remain utterly incomprehensible to many (I hope I'm not patronizing here). As far as crossword lingo goes, there is only "regular" symmetry, which comprises the rotation by 180 degrees about the center point, and "left-right" symmetry, which means a reflection about a vertical axis through the center. I have never seen a crossword puzzle with a reflection about a horizontal axis (althought the William Tell diagramless of some months ago had a partial reflection of that kind).
But look at the Friday grid: Doesn't it have all of your symmetries? And note how it came across: It was called "pretty".

Jerry20020 7:53 PM  

Ulrich: thanks for the info in terms very much closer to home than, say, its use in classical Greek architecture.

You are very fortunate to not know the tune to Frosty -- every year we hear it over and over again in stores, on TV, everywhere. There is such a paucity of Christmas music available that the few standard items are repeated endlessly.

Besides it is too artificially cheery and sacharine for any European to enjoy.

Dick Swart 7:55 PM  

Mac -
Right on re: 'tisane', the preferred beverage of Hercule Poirot to an English 'cuppa'.

Orange 10:31 PM  

BillNutt: Yes, this is the same Liz Gorski who crafted the Empire State Building puzzle. Her specialty is Sunday puzzles with a visual kick.

As for symmetry, the New York Sun has published several themeless and themed crosswords that have neither 180° rotational symmetry nor left/right symmetry. Sometimes people deem the loss of "prettiness" worthwhile, and sometimes people bemoan the loss of symmetry because the puzzle isn't quite special enough to merit the rule-bending.

Doug 1:27 AM  

Loved this puzzle. No goofy pseudo-words (well, hardly any and the few were reasonable) and just enough arcane knowledge to make it fun.

Didn't get into the theme until the HABERDASHER clue (which I didn't answer until later) that got me to look at the hat, and then the cirlces fell into place. But was he a HAPPY JOLLY SOUL or the other? With A MOUTH MADE OUT OF COAL? Instead of running the alphabet I had to run the parts of a face! A MOUTH, TWO EARS, ahhh TWO EYES!

Lovely piece of construction. Took me 90 minutes, in between the hockey game and some food, which made for a nice Saturday evening. Had to consult Orange who conveniently posts the night before when I do the puzzle, and had a nice read of Ellen Ripstein's blog that she referenced. There's a photo of Liz Gorski and Will Piscop (sp). I imagined her to be a grandmotherly type, but she's not at all.

Orange 1:39 AM  

Doug: Fred Piscop. He edits the Washington Post Sunday puzzle, which (alas) bites the dust in April.

Anonymous 12:44 AM  

Hobbyist said...
I don't buy ashen and cadaverous being synonyms.


Just think of the typical anorexic woman...

Bob 9:33 AM  

I saw the snowman and filled in ALL the theme answers first. Kind of disappointing. I find that the fun is solving the theme.
I can't believe I was totally stumped on RANDR. I feel so dumb.This is a lesson learned.

Ger 3:06 PM  

Sun Jan 6, 2007
Well! This puzzle (great! by the way, ) had me going all over the place. (Funny, initially saw the tophat and outline and thought 'snowman', yet Frosty just didn't fall out of my head). I don't think I've made sooo many wrong fills in one puzzle before. Finally sorted out the NW after opening with 2D: IGLOOS. After some guessing, 4D: IRSAGENTS showed itself and sorted things out. Anyway, on I struggled; kept writing down the circled letters until the theme finally! materialized. Doh! Now I sing along, filling in the lyrics (again showing many wrong guesses). A long time ago I posted 'what the hell is a QANDA?' This time 'what the hell is a RANDR?'. Maybe next time ...
p.s. 40A: MANILA was just so right, until it wasn't.
Lovely puzzle
My regards to Liz Gorski; you construct, I solve (somehow). T'will never be the other way round.
belated Happy New Year ..

Ger 3:26 PM  

Sun Jan 6, 2008 (unlike my above post, it's 2008! really!)
Just one teeny little objection.
129D: Gordon Lightfoot lyric. It's not 'I BEST'.
Lyric:
You can't jump a jet plane
Like you can a freight train
So I'd best be on my way
In the early morning rain

cheers..

Rex Parker 3:40 PM  

Please check before posting corrections. WS more than double-checks the validity of his fill, I assure you. While I'D BEST makes better grammatical sense, my very cursory poking around confirms "I BEST" as the more common rendering. W/O an actual album / liner notes in front of me, I can't confirm anything official. But I wish people would Check before jumping in with their "corrections."

Best,
RP

Pat 6:14 PM  

So close - so freakin' close... I fell victim to the RANDR and USEDCAR clues - specifically the 'D' intersection. I had everything else but that 'D'. I scrolled through all the letters and still nothing made sense. Maybe next week :-)

Chris 9:17 PM  

someone explain the answer "palpate" for 104D: "feel one's way around"? what am i missing?

i liked "toy gun" for the 31A clue "artificial heat". not familiar with the terms of "bobstay" or "stere" (my 1,000,000 crossword dictionary had "cord" for the latter). "tisane" was a new one too.

didn't realize it was supposed to be a picture of frosty until the very end. i can't get the "magic eye" pics to work either ;-)

Not Just a Week But Almost 2 Later Cathy... 1:39 PM  

Tisane was used frequently in the novel I just finished reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon) set in 1760 and featuring a wise woman herbal healer type of character - she would often instruct the kitchen staff to make a tisane of peppermint or a tisane of cammomile (sp?). I am guessing it is not just a cuppa' but more of an elixer, though still technically "tea". She also PALPATEd the abdomen to make sure the internal organs were all intact.

I finished about half this puzzle very quickly, the just could not crack the rest. I set it aside and forgot about it for almost another week, when I googled quite a bit to get the rest.

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