Sturdy tree in beech family / THU 9-11-14 / Canadian pop singer Lavigne / Rapunzel's prison / Cowboy's home familiarly / Yellow-centered bloomer / Partner of Dreyer / Cow in Borden ads
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Constructor: Patrick Blindauer
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: "Change Of Heart" —
Note: "This crossword was the most-discussed puzzle at Lollapuzzoola 7, a tournament held in August 9 in New York City. The event was directed by Brian Cimmet and Patrick Blindauer. Hint: The title is key to solving the puzzle. Time limit: 45 minutes."Across answers are incompatible with the Downs unless you "change" their "hearts" (i.e. middle letters). Sure, you get the wrong answers in the Acrosses, but you get the Downs right, *and* you've got a plausible grid to boot, with real words / phrases / names / abbrs. resulting from all the changed "hearts." (All "heart" "changes" shown in red on the grid above)
Word of the Day: GERARDO (7D: "Rico Suave" rapper) —
Gerardo Mejía (born April 16, 1965), better known as simply Gerardo, is a Latino rapperand singer who later became a recording industry executive, and more recently a youth pastor. Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, he and his family moved to Glendale, California, when he was 12 years old.
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I don't know what to say about this puzzle. Hard to talk about fill quality and all that in a puzzle that's so thematically constrained. I do think it's important that all the Downs be Super-famililar, especially the ones that go through Across "hearts," because technically those crosses are not true crosses, i.e. normally you have two chances at every letter—the Across and the Down—but not here. If you don't know a Down that runs through an Across "heart," then the only thing that can help you is knowing that the Across, even with the changed "heart," has to form a real possible crossword answer. But you can't really *know* that about the puzzle except by inference, probably after you've already completed the puzzle. This is all to say that I fear for the people who have never heard of GERARDO. GE- are really the only plausible letters to lead it off, considering they're the only ones that make sensible Acrosses, but again, if you don't know that you need to make sensible Acrosses (there's nothing tell you you do), and you aren't up on your one- (maybe two-) hit wonders from the early '90s, then yikes.
I think that's all I have to say today. I predict feelings will be mixed about this one. I'm torn. I kind of wish there was something tying it all together, something punchy and unifying, something more than just the title. But it's unique and ambitious and memorable—all good(e) things.
Weirdest moment—realizing just now that the [spoiler alert!] in the clue for EARTH (26D: "Planet of the Apes" planet [spoiler alert!]) was referring to the end of the movie. I thought it was referring to the puzzle itself, i.e EARTH is, literally, a "Change of HEART." Needless to say, thinking that EARTH was a theme answer caused some, uh, confusion. I kept waiting for other changes of HEART, like, uh … HATER? I don't know.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld