Far East unit of weight / THU 8-6-15 / Direct-deposit payment for short / Night Tripper of music / Worshiper of Jah / Beach abutter
Thursday, August 6, 2015
Constructor: Gary Cee
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (except for that one cross ... yeah, you know the one ...)
THEME: By the by — a "literally" puzzle, where phrases structured "___ by ___" are, literally, place "by" (as in "alongside") one another. So the "by" is supplied / inferred by the adjacency of the two phrase parts:
- BAPTISM (by) FIRE (3D: With 14-Down, literally, grueling initiation)
- TRIAL (by) JURY (22D: With 27-Down, literally, a Sixth Amendment right)
- AS IF (by) MAGIC (35D: With 36-Down, literally, beyond rational explanation)
- LEAD (by) THE NOSE (52D: With 42-Down, literally, control completely)
counseling intervention that draws on various theories of alternative medicine including acupuncture, neuro-linguistic programming, energy medicine, and Thought Field Therapy (TFT). It is best known through Gary Craig's EFT Handbook, published in the late 1990s, and related books and workshops by a variety of teachers. EFT and similar techniques are often discussed under the umbrella term "energy psychology". // In physics, an effective field theory is a type of approximation to (or effective theory for) an underlying physical theory, such as a quantum field theory or a statistical mechanics model. An effective field theory includes the appropriate degrees of freedom to describe physical phenomena occurring at a chosen length scale or energy scale, while ignoring substructure and degrees of freedom at shorter distances (or, equivalently, at higher energies). Intuitively, one averages over the behavior of the underlying theory at shorter length scales to derive a hopefully simplified model at longer length scales. Effective field theories typically work best when there is a large separation between length scale of interest and the length scale of the underlying dynamics. Effective field theories have found use in particle physics, statistical mechanics, condensed matter physics, general relativity, and hydrodynamics. They simplify calculations, and allow treatment of Dissipation and Radiation effects . //
n. A newt in its juvenile terrestrial stage, especially the reddish-orange form of the North American species Notophthalmus viridescens. // (actually...) Electronic funds transfer (EFT) is the electronic transfer of money from one bank account to another, either within a single financial institution or across multiple institutions, through computer-based systems and without the direct intervention of bank staff. EFTs are known by a number of names. In the United States, they may be referred to as electronic checks or e-checks.
• • •
EFT / TAEL today, I will eat my virtual hat. This is a truly terrible cross for a number of reasons. First, it involves terrible fill. Both parts. No good. EFT you want to avoid if possible, and TAEL you really really really want to avoid, as it is pretty much textbook crosswordese (foreign 4-letter unit of whatever that most US solvers don't know and that no one would ever put n their crossword if they weren't desperate / tired—As a good friend of mine just said: "I knew 48D because I've seen the Crossword Compiler default word list. Thumbs down."). Then there's the fact that EFT has a much more common clue. If you're gonna cross crosswordese (i.e. junk) for god's sake don't get cute. I had no idea what EFT was until I looked it up. Never heard of it. How in the world is that clue better than the salamander clue? It is unusual, which *can* be a plus, and it's harder, which *can* be a plus, but when you are dealing in abbrevs. that not everyone knows—and I can't say this strongly enough—Every Cross Must Be Rock-Solid Fair. And TAEL just isn't. Lastly, there's another fix: just go letter string EFG and GAEL. Or, you know, you could tear out *everything* that isn't theme material and start over, which is probably what should've happened here today, as the fill is weak all over. The lesson: avoidable death crosses will ensure that people don't remember any other damn thing about your puzzle. Why would you shoot yourself in the foot like that?
This theme type is common enough on Thursdays. A "literally" theme, where some word (e.g. "over" "under" "in" "through") in a common phrase is supplied / inferred by the way the phrase's component parts are arranged. Seen it a lot. There are only four examples here. That's not a lot. None of them are scintillating or the good kind of surprising. I waned my trial to be by fire, so BAPTISM took me some time, and AS IF was unexpected in its two-partedness, so that one made me work too. It's a cute enough idea. Not a DOOZIE (25D: Humdinger), but OK. And yet I don't think it really rises to what a Thursday NYT should be. Certainly not as executed here. And the fill pretty much ruins whatever good stuff the theme brought to the table.
["... with their sharpies and their guns"]
- 1A: Part of a harvest festival decoration (COB) — this took some doing. It's accurate enough, but since normal humans only ever use the phrase "corn cob," it didn't leap to mind.
- 45A: Orbital low point (PERIGEE) — to my credit, I remembered this instantly. To my humiliation, I spelled it like nine different ways before I got it right.
- 5D: Common Halloween costume (HAG) — Again, I think normal humans call them "witches," but I guess HAG is acceptable. I had BAT.
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