Receptacle for Voldemort's soul in Harry Potter / WED 4-14-10 / Book that spans 2369 years / Carmaker name means arise out of Asia / Big busting tools

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Constructor: Jonah Kagan

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: EARTH Day? ... because that's when you turn your HEART to the EARTH? ... even though EARTH Day is Apr. 22? ... — circled squares in first theme answer spell out HEART, and in each subsequent answer the last letter in the string is moved to the front of the sequence, ending with circles spelling out EARTH. Circled letter strings are all symmetrical.

Word of the Day: ELIAS Canetti (14A: English novelist Canetti who wrote "Crowds and Power") —

Elias Canetti (Bulgarian: Елиас Канети; 25 July 1905–14 August 1994) was a Bulgarian-born novelist and non-fiction writer of Sephardi Jewish ancestry who wrote in German. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981. // In 1981, Canetti won the Nobel Prize in Literature "for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power". He is known chiefly for his novel Auto-da-Fé (Die Blendung), and for Crowds and Power, a study of crowd behaviour as it manifests itself in human activities ranging from mob violence to religious congregations.(wikipedia)
• • •

Conceptually, this theme is kinda boring — moving common letters around inside circles blah blah blah — and I don't really understand what the hook is — you go HEART to EARTH, but why? And why are HEART and EARTH appearing as the actual words HEART and EARTH and not buried inside different words? Who knows? The good thing is, the theme answers are mostly cool, and the grid itself is solid and even lovely in parts. Well, the SW corner is kinda blah, but the SE is gorgeous, and the others are just fine. Good to see HORCRUX (an NYT first) (12D: Receptacle for Voldemort's soul in Harry Potter) come out to play. That'll be a cinch for some (me) and a *&#ch for others. I don't like the "in Harry Potter" part of the clue. "Harry Potter" is not a title, it's a character. "In the Harry Potter series" would have been more appropriate. Had a huge WTF moment with ELIAS, and really, really dislike PRED (58A: Sentence segment: Abbr.), but other than that, the puzzle was very doable, and mostly enjoyable.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Dear (NEAR TO ONE'S HEART) — I think this was an answer in a very recent LAT puzzle. Some puzzle I just did, anyway. Weird.
  • 23A: What children should be, so the saying goes (SEEN BUT NOT HEARD) — I had "SEEN AND NOT HEARD" at first.
  • 35A: Home of the Ivy League (NORTHEAST)
  • 52A: It's a relief in Athens (PARTHENON FRIEZE) — this is by far the weirdest answer. Feels very forced. But then again, it's got FRIEZE in it, which adds needed 'zazz to the grid.
  • 59A: Likely to change everything (EARTH-SHATTERING)
Let me see ... any other notable screwups or revelations? No, not really. Loved the very current (or relatively current) clue on SEXY (34A: What Justin Timberlake's "bringin' back," in a song). Love the highly improbable-seeming clue on KIA (49A: Carmaker whose name means "arise out of Asia") — really, you got all that out of those three letters? Amazing. I would love to see Jessica LANGE (64A: Oscar-winning "Tootsie" actress) and Wanda SYKES (67A: Comedian Wanda) in something together, the way they're in the SE corner together. Maybe a buddy comedy. Black and white! Straight and gay! Maybe one is neat and the other messy. And they fight crime.

  • 22A: Rock band with a lightning bolt in its name (AC/DC) — AC/DC needs some new clues. These old ones are getting worn thin.
  • 1D: Book that spans 2,369 years (GENESIS) — Dang, that's a lot of years. Just for GENESIS??? I guess more time passed between Eden and Abraham than I imagined.
  • 44D: Place to see a flying camel (ICE RINK) — a nice antidote to yesterday's tired ICEAXE. Ice skating apparently has a "flying camel" and a "toe loop," but I wouldn't recommend combining them. If you google [flying camel], the first definition you get is from the Urban Dictionary and has *nothing* to do with skating.
  • 46D: Big busting tools (SLEDGES) — this one took me a fair number of crosses to get. I thought maybe the clue was going after some kind of tool that narcs use.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


PurpleGuy 12:34 AM  

The puzzle went down fairly easy, but agree with Rex that the overall theme was a big MEH !
Hand raised for SEEN AND NOT HEARD.

59A was rather appropriate since my dad is not doing well and seems to be failing. Explains why I haven't been commenting the past few days. Yesterday's puzzle theme of KINDOFBLUE was too close to home. Exactly how I have been feeling of late. Helpless as you watch your parent slip away.

NEARTOONESHEART is how my family has always been. Made me smile.

God help me, but 59A and 34A made me smile and almost choke, since that was how my last experience was described. OK, TMI !

I'm stressed and rambling.
Enjoyed the puzzle. A pleasant respite from a hard time. My dad trained me well with the NYT puzzle.

Have a great day, all.


icculus 12:53 AM  

@Bob/PurpleGuy - Terribly sorry to hear about your dad. I hope that all works for the best for you and your family.

As far as the puzzle goes, I really didn't care for the GESSO/OST crossing, as I had to just guess the missing letter there. And,while I filled it in without slowing, I feel like COL needed some indication that an abbreviation was needed.

But I did like the fact that the EARTH wasn't getting scrambled, it was rotating!

syndy 1:00 AM  

never heard of Noho,only soho-very confusing.If a sledge hammer can be a sledge is a claw hammer ever a claw? yup seen and not heard!!

Anonymous 1:34 AM  

Why doess a photo of a person labeled "Kenickieface" accompany the Wikipedia quote instead of one of Elias Canetti?

Jess Wundrin

icculus 1:50 AM  

@Jess - That's Kenickie!

Martin 2:04 AM  


Maybe you need to be under the influence. Makes sense to me.

lit.doc 2:28 AM  

[embed video of Gilbert Gottfried yelling “Sonofabitch!!”] Ok, so I’m totally effed up (non-puzzle bro’ is in town, so got a late start—look at the time stamp) but I’m determined to give the Wednesday puzzle my all. I can do this, right? It’s only Wednesday, right? So I’m like almost half an hour in, 90+% filled, and the effing power drops for about half a second and I am back on square one. I see that Rex has posted, so I’ll be back in a sec’.

Ok, so I’d figured out the earthagram. Yippie.

Baffled at HORCRUX, despite having seen the movies repeatedly (what, I’m a geek, ok?). And 58A = PREDicate, not (praise the gods) FRAG. Still, I mean, really, huh?

@PurpleGuy, I concur in your conjuctivitis (uck, sorry) re “seen and not”. And my heart goes out to you re your dad. My mom passed over spring break, and I was at her bedside at 3:30 a.m. Be strong.

@syndy, speaking as a hard-core DIY’er, SLEDGE is about as good as “one jack” (or “two”) for the tool in question.

Steve J 2:30 AM  

Meh. Theme didn't grab me (since it was circles, it had a long, arduous climb to impress me, and shuffling around the letters A-E-H-R-T is hardly any kind of payoff, not even in a bad joke). Some of the fill was interesting, but not enough to make up for a lackluster theme.

PARTHENONFRIEZE was somewhere north of forced. That answer was in about as good shape as the Parthenon itself is these days.

Really trying to wrap my head around how a Bulgarian who writes in German is somehow an English novelist. Reading further, I see he lived in England. That does not make one English. I lived in Munich for a while. That did not make me remotely German. Bad clue, from where I sit.

Also not wild about "Hoot and holler" as a clue for SHOUTS. They're typically paired as a single act. Yes, they can also appear separately. Absolutely a fair clue, but not what I consider a good one.

And it would be fantastic if we could have a moratorium on the ALOU family for a while. Fine baseball players, indeed. It seems unfair to them that crossword constructors gorge on them not because of their on-field accomplishment, but simply because they had the dumb luck to be born with a lot of vowels.

@PurpleGuy: Sorry to hear about your dad. Hope you're holding up well under the circumstances.

chefwen 2:42 AM  

@PurpleGuy - I can empathize with you, going through the same thing with my elderly parental units, one more so than the other. It is a very difficult time for all.

I enjoyed the puzzle, a couple of unknowns to me ie. HORCRUX, never did read any of the Potter books, but was able to get it through crosses, and why, oh why, can I never remember LEIA, I always want to throw an H in there somewhere.

@foodie - How many Doner Kebabs have you had?

andrea siamese michaels 3:05 AM  

Fab-u-lous! I (heart) this puzzle, Jonah!

HEART anagrammed five times within FOUR 15 letter phrases plus another in the middle!!!!!!!!!!!
How can anyone not love that?!!!

Ok, ok, I guess PARTHENONFRIEZE isn't really a phrase...but it's 15 letters and has a Z!

Did not know from HORCRUX (Jonah is, like 18, and was the youngest boy at the ACPT) so since I had ONADAtE instead of ONADARE, it took me a while...But I LOVE bringing SEXY back!!!
Thanks for the video @rex!

The only thing I felt iffy about was IPRAY crossing PRED, but I think all the puzzles this week have been fantastic theme-wise.

I don't think it has anything to do with HEART becoming EARTH, per se. It's a kind of theme that is simply about anagramming a word four or five times for the sake of it...
That's what my LEAD/LADE/DEAL/LEAD puzzle was about...And others like TAME/MEAT/META/ has no meaning beyond that. It's crushing me that folks wouldn't think that that was enough.

andrea whoa michaels 3:23 AM  

OK, I just thought of something that maybe would have unified and staved off some of the criticism...
What is he had had three or four anagrams of A-R-T-H-E and a final theme reveal: CRAZYHEART

Anyway, I'm still so impressed by Jonah I could burst

Elaine 3:30 AM  

@PurpleGuy--I think you have plenty of company: Boomers caring for elderly parents. Feeling for you.

Threw SOHO into the grid and never spotted the error til I came here. Oops.

Hand up for AND instead of BUT.

Since many of the letter progressions are not words, I would not have called them anagrams. Anyone?

I liked the PARTHENON FRIEZE just because it was unusual. Plus I got it at once, unlike HORCRUX.

r.alphbunker 7:46 AM  

What an achievement. I would like any puzzle that rotated a word in this way. The word doesn't matter. And the fact that four of the rotations appeared in 15 letter answers adds to my amazement.

jesser 7:57 AM  

@PurpleGuy: There are no words.

AISMTB, no circles. Never would have parsed the theme without Super Rex. I agree with Andrea that it's cool in its own right.

Hand up for SEENandNOTHEARD. Hand up for NFC about _ORCRUX. I guessed the H, but was still baffled, because I've never seen/heard of NOHO. Sounds like something you'd say forcefully to a TART on corner in Times Square.

TRALALA is getting old old old, but I loved TOE TO TOE, THEN WHAT and LOZENGE.

All in all, an A- in my grade book.

Clast! (Korean for "I will thank you for not clipping your toenails so close to my kimchi") -- jesser

joho 7:58 AM  

@Elaine ... you took the words right out of my mouth! Anagrams scrabble to form different words using the same letters, the operative word here being "word."
THEAR, RTHEA and ARTHE are not words. They are just the letters in HEART. I did this puzzle before bed last night and that drove me crazy! I did not like this theme!Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong about what an anagram is.

I did love 45D LOZENGE "Drop down one's throat?" but didn't love 59D, same clue: EAT.

Bob/PurplGuy, I too, understand your pain ... you have to be there as best you can.

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

I liked it, particularly WHO WON at 33A and 33D. Nicely done!

fisheti- an Italian seafood dish

Zeke 8:29 AM  

I liked the EARTH revolving, even though having got the construct at instance #2 it gives TMI, as I just threw in the last three entries. Too big a leg up for Wednesday.
PARTHENONFRIEZE as a work of beauty to me, for very ideosyncratic reasons. A PBS special a while back on the rebuilding of the Parthenon had an extended discussion of the Friezework which provided me with an enormous insight into common human misconceptions about life. Too complicated for here, but seeing PARTHENONFRIEZE made me smile.

mac 8:34 AM  

Thinking of you, PurpleGuy.

I loved this puzzle, and I think Icculus hit the nail on the head, the earth is rotating! Now is it rotating in the right direction?

My last letter was the x and that was not an informed guess, and 33d "who" had me staring for a bit. Otherwise no problems.

PIX 8:34 AM  

The NorthEast corner manages to reference the Simpons, Harry Potter, ACDC and Justin Timberlake all at the same time. I don't have actual records but I think that's the most pop culture clues that I just don't care about in the smallest amount of space that I have encountered in the Times since I started doing the puzzle seriously.

dk 8:37 AM  

SEENBUTNOTHEARD was a theme common in young dk land.

Not an EARTHSHATTERING puzzle but still strong. The FRIEZE fill was odd. HORCRUX was my favorite followed by PAILS. And, happy to see the return of GESSO a coat of which is now covering one of the Barbies.

It is sad to read about my fellow bloggers and their parents. The puzzles for me are a gentle reminder of my dad pencil in one hand, coffee in the other groaning or laughing over the fill. He would have had an inner 14 year old moment over ASS as a biblical mount. My advice (I am a doctor after all), gather up the sweet memories and consume them often.

** (2 Stars) Clears the Wednesday bar for me.

PuzzleGirl 8:41 AM  

Justin Timberlake is one of those teen stars that I thought would just fade away, but he ended up with some staying power and now I think he's awesome and super funny. Just like ... wait a minute, he's the only one. Love his appearance on the "Immigrant Tale" SNL skit. Okay, Mark Wahlberg belongs in that category too.


foodie 8:56 AM  

Hi all, from Istanbul...

I know, I should be out exploring. But needed to crash for a while and see what y'all are up to.

I forgot my crosswordese and the the name of the Korean money. So I stared at its intersection with the answer to the clue "That's..." for the longest time, and the only letter I could come up with was an "A".. So, the answer was "that's A HO"... I know, I know, it's terrible. The truth can be ugly.

This place is amazing, and Chefwen, fortunately or unfortunately I've sampled too many things already... Thinking of all the foodies, art lovers, history buffs, and, as I acquire a few words of Turkish, language lovers on this blog... That would be everyone, I guess : )

@Andrea, I love your CRAZY HEART suggestion!

@Purpleheart, I know how you feel and I'm glad you shared it with us. I found the support from this group incredibly helpful. I wish you strength. And as others have said, all you can do is be there. And prepare to feel unprepared...

Computer Geek 2 8:57 AM  

In Assembly Language there is a Rotate Right instruction that, I think, explains Parthenon Frieze.

The last letter rotates to the front so that Heart becomes Thear, Thear becomes Rthea, Rthea becomes Arthe which eventually beomes Earth so that Heart becomes Earth.

I think the constructor is a Computer Geek and uses this logic to create the transformation.

Clear as mud.

chefbea 9:04 AM  

Liked the puzzle but didn't know horcrux or sexy. Is this a first for Jonah - don't recognize the name?

retired_chemist 9:09 AM  

@ PurpleGuy - been there and I know it isn't easy. Hope it resolves with as little pain to all concerned as possible.

Puzzle felt easy but went slowly. Another hand up for SEEN AND NOT HEARD, which left me with AEROmeter @ 24D and some local confusion. 42A was AHA and created yet more confusion (@ 36D and 33D) for a while. HORCRUX - total blank. Needed all crosses. Guessed right on RONIN, ACDC, and LEIA.

Should the clue not have indicated the abbreviation, COL. Mustard?

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Regarding "Horcrux," which is definitely cool: Jonah Kagan, today's constructor, is an undergrad at Brown University. Emma Watson, who plays Hermione in the Harry Potter films, is also an undergrad at Brown. Perhaps "Horcrux" is a tribute to her??

Gubdude 9:20 AM  

SEENBUTNOTHEARD made me think of the Milford Academy from Arrested Development. Where children should be neither seen nor heard. Classic.

HORCRUX was my favorite clue. Love the Harry Potter series so that was a gimme. And I think that clue might technically be correct.

The P in IPRAY was my last letter to fall. Took me a while to figure that one out.

OldCarFudd 9:20 AM  

PurpleGuy,all good wishes. I hope things go quickly and peacefully. My father died of Alzheimer's (God's ultimate insult) and my mother of small strokes, osteoporosis and general increasing debility. I empathize; this isn't easy.

Good puzzle. A theme doesn't have to be new to be well executed. Other than pred, I liked it.

The Corgi of Mystery 9:20 AM  

I think the added elegance to the theme comes from the fact that the letters rotate in order, and that the circles are symmetrically placed in the grid. Nice Wednesday overall -- I love that the grid is bursting with 6+ letter answers on top of being full of theme.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:25 AM  



Fabulous job of construction. Unfortunately, as @Zeke said, once you had the first two theme answers, the rest were automatic. But fabulous nonetheless. These were not simply anagrams but followed a rigid pattern, increasing the difficulty (of construction, not solving).

Cath 9:38 AM  

Didn't have too much trouble with this one, except for getting stuck with the OHO/WHO cross. Had AHA from the beginning and when I was left with WHa, All I could think of was why giving me yay... which totally messed up THENWHAT and I had no idea what 36d was... at which point I said, screw it, I'm going to bed.

I didn't have trouble with the COL Mustard abbreviation because I think the version of the game I had as a kid just had "Col. Mustard" on the cards... but maybe not.

I'm in the SEENandNOTHEARD camp, too. Realized it was wrong when I couldn't parse ONnS.

Figured out the theme and its rotation early on... wanted PARTHENONFRIEZE to be eARTHEN something but knew that was wrong because the last one was EARTH something.

Had frag for PRED, as my professors always seem to be marking essays with it.

I agree, though. Lots of pop culture, of varying ages.

Parshutr 9:42 AM  

Handup for not real anagrams. Liked PARTHENONFRIEZE.
@purpleguy...sad news, but take comfort in the fact that you and your father had a good relationship. In other words, listen to dk's advice, and gather up the sweet moments, les petit bonheures...not everyone is that fortunate.

MikeM 9:44 AM  

PurpleGuy – My dad passed away this very day 10 years ago. After 4 agonizing months in a nursing home, it was horrible. But lean on those close to you, these are the times you really need each other. Best wishes… Mike

JenCT 9:47 AM  

Boo for PRED, and agree COL should've had an abbreviation. Nice to see NOHO instead of SOHO for a change. How about DUMBO?

@PurpleGuy: my sincere condolences.

Vega 9:57 AM  

I loved this puzzle! Am I the only one who thought that the last 15, EARTHSHATTERING, was in fact the theme reveal? I had a total a-ha moment when I got there, and thought it was super-clever, above and beyond the letter rotation.


Anonymous 9:59 AM  

icculus and Martin,

Aha,so it's an actor named Jeff Conaway as Kenickie, a character in "Grease" Never heard of either.

I'll rephrase the question, "
Why does a photo of a Jeff Conaway as Kenickie in "Grease" accompany the daily space-filling Wikipedia word-fact quote instead of one of Elias Canetti? Conaway/Canetti?

Maybe one does need to be "under the influence," as it still makes no sense to me. If the Word of the Day is now to be erudite, perhaps a simple link to Wikipedia or another reference would be more appropriate.

Expecting a smug reply...


Jess Wundrin

Paul Winston 10:18 AM  

Elias Canetti looks a lot like a young Jeff Conaway

SethG 10:38 AM  

I've seen the PARTHENON, but not its FRIEZE. foodie, forget the doner kebabs, go straight for the lahmacun. As much as you can. With lemon juice.

Steve J, living in Munich didn't make you German, becoming a German citizen would have. In 1952 Canetti received his British citizenship.

Rex, maybe you should have used a picture of a cannoli instead.

Two Ponies 10:45 AM  

Until I came over to Rex's house I was bored with this puzzle. So bored that my mind was wandering to the point that I wanted Peanuts for the flying camel. I was thinking of Snoopy in his Sopwith Camel.
Now I see that I really missed the genius of this one. @ icculus Thanks for pointing out the rotating earth. @ vega, I love your earthshattering idea as well. Too bad the depth of this puzzle escaped me.
Ronin is a great movie I have seen several times. Highly recommended. There are several fantastic car chases as well as good acting and plot twists.
@ PurpleGuy, You mentioned your dad here recently, on a birthday perhaps? I'm really sorry. Both of my parents died suddenly (not at the same time.) My dear grandfather passed with enough forewarning that I was able to take the time to be sure he knew how much I cherished my childhood moments with him. It was good for both of us. Take care.

Jonah 11:07 AM  

Hey everybody,

I love hearing your reactions to the puzzle. There are so many comments I want to respond to, but I'll try to keep it somewhat short.

For anybody who had misgivings about the theme, I totally understand. Anagram themes where the anagrams aren't real words don't do it for me either. That's the entire inspiration for this puzzle! The whole point is ordered letter rotation instead of arbitrary letter scrambling. I don't think I've ever seen it before. I wanted to make the circles symmetrical since Rex always complains about arbitrary circles - guess it wasn't enough, haha ;)

I definitely did consider EARTH SHATTERING as a theme revealer, but like I said before, EARTH wasn't being shattered, just rotated.
@andrea I like CRAZY HEART too!

I was soooo surprised that Will left in the Justin Timberlake clue. I think he tried to leave in my younger references since we used the puzzle in the Brown Crossword Puzzle Tournament last weekend. Oddly, he did edit out some of my throwbacks. This one was probably too easy:

"__ are you? __, __, __, __" (The __ lyric)"

Sorry about SEEN AND NOT HEARD! I went back and forth on that one a few times, but the BUT felt right in the end.

Thanks again for all the support and criticism! Reading the blog comments is one of my favorite parts of being a constructor.

- Jonah

Zeke 11:08 AM  

All this talk of Conway/Conetti/Canolli makes me hungry for my favorite lunchtime treat, a big steaming bowl of ConettiOs

Bob Kerfuffle 11:14 AM  

@Jonah, or anyone -

I am old and out of touch. How do we fill in the blanks in ""__ are you? __, __, __, __" (The __ lyric)"?"

jesser 11:17 AM  

The Who is a rapidly aging rock group. Insert 'Who' into each blank. These are some of their more famous lyrics. I am not a big fan. -- jesser

retired_chemist 11:18 AM  

@ Jonah, good job! Thanks for stopping by. I do think SEEN AND NOT HEARD is the more common phrase, but, hey, the BUT is fine. No apology needed.

joho 11:22 AM  

Can you see me? I'm eating my words.

@Vega really let me see this puzzle for what it is: genius!

Like @TwoPonies I was dense.

@Jonah ... you really made it clear. Thank you so much for stopping by. Congratulations on this brilliant puzzle and your being published! Rotating! Bravo!

archaeoprof 11:30 AM  

@Jonah: really good puzzle! PARTHENONFRIEZE made my archaeo-heart go pitter-pat. Loved THENWHAT, HORCRUX, and LOZENGE.

Question: if SoHo means "south of Houston" why don't we say "Sow How"??? I'm just askin...

@PurpleGuy: looking back now some years later, those last times with my parents are more and more dear to me. The old song says it's the laughter we'll remember, but maybe it's the tenderness too.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

As mentioned elsewhere, the correct adage is "...seen and not heard.".

lit.doc 11:45 AM  

In the harsh light of day, and with my blood-alcohol level no longer in low-Earth orbit, I retract my dimissive "yippie" re the earthagram.

@Jonah, this is the most amazing use of circles and pseudo-anagrams I've ever seen. Freaking brilliant.

dls 11:45 AM  

Some day I want to see "Nashville NHLer" for PRED.

Martin 12:04 PM  


London's Soho was named in the 17th century, after a fox-hunting and battle cry. (You can get you head blown off before you get "tally ho" out, and "yoho" attracts all the wrong types.)

Since London Soho is arty and cool and NY Soho is the Bowery without the charm, the incorrect pronunciation is part of the plan to jack up real estate values. The real marks are out-of-towners who pronounce Houston Street "you-ston" anyway, so the British pronunciation kills two birds.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:09 PM  

From "Lily the Pink", as learned at camp:

Reginald Utter
Had a t-t-t-terrible stutter
He could hardly say a word
So they gave him
Medicinal Compound
Now he's seen
but never heard.

retired_chemist 12:10 PM  

@ dls - someday I want to see "anti-inflammatory medication, familiarly" for PRED.

Sometimes a Nashville PRED must take PRED........ or do athletes' steroid tests fail to distinguish between corticosteroid anti-inflammatories and anabolic steroids?

Moonchild 12:16 PM  

Very cool puzzle Jonah.
Nice to see some originality.
Thanks for the inside scoop.
I love your Who clue much better.

I'm OK with "seen but not" since that is exactly as I remember it.

Never heard of NoHo but I do know my Simpsons so no problem there.

I didn't know that author either and I doubt I will remember it.

In my next incarnation I want a name full of vowels like the Alou family so I can be in the crosswords too.

Sorry about your father PurpleGuy.
I'm sending gentle thoughts.

Dave 12:24 PM  

as Gubdude has suggested, harry potter (the character not the book) is himself a horcrux for voldemort's soul. so the clue is accurate.

Tinbeni 12:29 PM  

There was a similar puzzle in the LAT where the rotating theme word was 'turnstiles' on March 11 this year.
But the 'stile' letters just turned.
Here at least you went from HEART to EARTH. (something to something)

Found it humorous that SEEN BUT NOT HEARD was crossed by SHOUTS.

Also, liked the WHO/WON cross, a question I ask many times during baseball season. And, as such, I can take an ALOU.

@PurpleGuy: I toast your 103yo dad everyday at sunset.

archaeoprof 12:43 PM  

@Martin: thanks for that background. I really had no idea. My two daughters live in NYC, and they were growing tired of my asking...

Tinbeni 12:56 PM  

Forgot to add, nice avatar!

Also, as a rule (for me) the circled letter thingy
doesn't make it.

Here, and I can't say this more strongly, you rotated the letters, in order from HEART to EARTH.
The three other circled words were the 'give away' of
the theme.
I like the fact, in your comment, that you said:
"Anagram themes where the anagrams aren't real words don't do it for me either."

Where it didn't "work for me" in that LAT on 3/11/10.
It "worked for me" today.

I look forward to more of your puzzles.

fikink 1:10 PM  

@Bob/Purpleguy, members of this community have known for years now that I am caring for my father-in-law and make him a part of many of my postings, as we still do the puzzle together.
Know that our thoughts and support are with you through these sad days.
@Foodie is correct (and @Bill from NJ would tell you, too) that Rex's creation, this blog, is a whole lot more than the diversion of crossword puzzles and has been a source of strength for many of us. Keep the faith and know we are here.

p.s. Jonah Kagan, I greatly enjoyed this puzzle and saw all the reconfigurations of EARTH as how it turns. Good job!

Cath 1:34 PM  

""__ are you? __, __, __, __" (The __ lyric)"?"

Honestly, I only know this song from its use as the intro theme for the CSI: Las Vegas.

I didn't even know that it was a The Who song. I would have certainly had no issues with it if it were clued that way, though... but yes, possibly too easy.

I did like the symmetry of the circles. Unless there's a reason for no symmetry, like the fun land mass shaped ones a while ago, I think it really makes the puzzle seem more together.

Clark 1:40 PM  

@Jonah -- For me, it was the symmetry of the circles (on top of the rotation) that made this work.

I saw the Simpsons the other day and took note of the Aunts. Payoff today in the puzzle!

@Purpleguy -- I join the gang of those hoping you find your way through rough times.

Van55 1:40 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle very much and appreciate it even more now that I have read Johan's reaction to the blog.

NOHO is north of Houston St. in NYC, as SOHO is south thereof.

SRTA is overused for my taste, as is the ALOU family.

ArtLvr 2:41 PM  

@Jonah: it's really awesome.

@Bob: take comfort in being there now... your father will still be with you as you are with him.


fergus 2:46 PM  

Maybe the theme could be called a 'letter ladder' or an 'orthography loop?' Regardless, the letters' revolution -- in symmetrical places, no less -- elicited both entertainment and admiration from these quarters. A bit surprised at the Meh takes.

Best circle puzzle in a long time. And even a bit KNOTTY for a Wednesday.

chefbea 3:04 PM  

@purple guy - Me too. I join in with all the thoughts and prayers

chefbea 3:05 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sfingi 3:36 PM  

Getting the theme made it fast, but not particularly interesting.
The idea of ordered rotation, though, is good.

As @Steve said - So, how is Elias Canetti English? And is that he as a young man? Why Kenickie?

2 Naticks: WON crosses WHO, since WON was new to me and WHO was whatever.

2nd Natick - HORCRUX crosses SEXY, both new to me and the 2nd ungrammatical, thus unguessable, also.

Fey helped me rememember DEY.

Never heard of NOHO or Mt ASS (in the Bible!).

@(Can't find you, now) - Didn't know the Bowery had charm, but I guess it depends on which decade.

Like @Icculus - COL Mustard - is Wed. the day of the week when puzzlers don't have to tell you it's an abbrev. any more? I started with "hot."

Beautiful day here - looking forward to driving on the Gov. Thomas E. Dewey Thruway to pick up another friend at the airport.

RE: Noho - One of my inmates asked, "What state grows potatoes?" I said, "Idaho." He said, "I da pimp?" I should have written him up, but I was laughing too hard.

Remember :Children should be seenand not hurt? Still timely.

What are Doner kebabs - eaten by the Doner Party at the Doner Pass?

@PurpleGuy, OldCarFudd, MikeM and Fkink - many of us are in this position, but in some ways I feel luckier, since the worst is over. My mother has dementia and has been in the Home for 15 months. Before that, I retired early and stayed with her. First it was taking her car away, then putting half her house off limits and fall-proofing the rest, then when she began falling anyway and wandering, it was the Home. In some ways, I've already mourned her. She doesn't know me, but I feed her and we sing old songs.

Steve J 4:02 PM  

@Seth G: Thanks for that. I missed the citizenship bit in my skimming last night. Although, as my Scottish friends would quickly point out, British citizenship simply made him British, not English. ;-)

@Two Ponies: I agree with you. The comments today revealed a lot of dimensions to the puzzle that I didn't see while solving it. The letter rotation is indeed clever, and while I still dislike circles, at least they're not randomly scattered all over the place. I appreciate this much more now that I get it.

@Jonah: I don't think an apology is necessary for SEENBUTNOTHEARD. I've heard both over the years. And googling the phrases shows about a two-thirds/one-third split between the two variants ("and" does have more results).

@Sfingi: I was thrown by Mt Ass at first as well. Then I remembered that a "mount" is also what one rides. And a lot of people in the Bible rode asses.

PurpleGuy 4:05 PM  

Thank you all for the many kind words, thoughts and prayers. It has helped more than I can express here.
I feel that it will probably happen tonight in his sleep.
The way we all wish we could go.
There was no pain, and he is aware of me.
I am extremely grateful to have had such a long relationship, and to have been able to provide the care.
I have many fond memories to treasure, and I would never have gotten into the NYT puzzle if it were not for my dad.

Shanti/Peace - Bob/Purpleguy

lit.doc 4:10 PM  

@Sfingi, I'm stumped. What's ungrammatical about "sexy"?

sanfranman59 4:11 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Wed 12:53, 11:52, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:19, 5:49, 1.09, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Warm thoughts to all of you out there caring for family in need. In case anyone's interested, there's a thoughtful article about this topic in this month's Atlantic. (I hope you don't need to be a subscriber to use that link.)

PIX 4:28 PM  

@PurpleGuy...lots of blankets and keep the room body temperature drops they sometimes become uncomfortable...(cannot cite scientific evidence; based on personal observations.)...peace

andrea heard but not seen michaels 4:47 PM  

many hearts, in all configurations, with you today.

great that you chimed makes such a difference and I love how even some of the early nay-sayers have now "rotated" around to see what you were going for!
I love EARTHSHATTERING as a reveal even tho they weren't technically shattered.
With the one letter rotation and symmetry, I think you, like Timberlake/Timbaland (there is a puzzle in there somewhere) have brought techy back!

Glitch 5:43 PM  


Saw the circles, scanned the clues for a "reveal", found none (a plus).

Finished and saw what was "going on".


If were going to have circles, this is the way to go!


@PurpleGuy / Bob

Peace to your Dad, you, and all around you.


Elaine 5:54 PM  


The capital M on Mustard was a hint for a proper noun, I thought; this saved me from putting in 'hot.' Had that been correct, I believe that mustard would not have been capitalized. Using 'Abbr' would have given too much away.

I see someone else has explained 'mount.' That clue made me smile.

Maybe 'bringing back sexiness' would have been more grammatically correct; but then it wouldn't have scanned, right? I didn't know the answer, but SE_Y did not leave too much to the imagination. (ha)

retired_chemist 6:13 PM  

@ Purple Guy - we are all with you. I echo peace to all.

Stan 6:55 PM  

Dude! The puzzle rocked... A little more intellectually demanding than just an anagram-theme, but that's fine. Something new, actually.

PurpleGuy (and others): My thoughts and support. I'm another Boomer who is dealing with a parent's End of Life issues (my Mom) and dealt with many kinds of care-giver issues over the last decade.

Ryan 7:15 PM  

Was I the only one that thought of the theme as being "a change of heart"?

dk 8:05 PM  

I never get the circles and all that rebus poop. And then @Ryan comes in with this change of heart thing.

All I can think about is The movie Space Balls with the I (heart emoticon) Uranus on the bumper of the space RV. Well... there is also the mount of the bible ass thing, but whose counting.

Pardon me I am still stuck on the sense of community and caring that occurs on a crossword blog -- for Pete's sake.

My sister is hot for the Timberlake guy. She likes to boot scoot... what is a WASP to do.

Ok, enough random neuron firings for the end of the day. Hmm, maybe I will watch the Untouchables.

Thank you agin Rex for creating this... err, blog.

@Purpleguy, it seems we got your back.

dk 8:07 PM  

One last thing, Watched the latest 24 last night. @Acme, fall for anyone but Jack.

@OldCarFudd.. welcome back

Two Ponies 8:41 PM  

@ Ryan, I like the way you think.

@ dk, This place has me all verklempt today. Pretty amazing stuff.

@ PurpleGuy, Earlier this week we had a clue about being in the arms of Morpheus and that seems appropriate today. That's the way I want to go.

Tinbeni 8:47 PM  

My best friend had a T-Shirt that said
"I've had a Change of Heart"

His transplant was on 12/3/95.

jesser 9:39 PM  

@PurpleGuy: Earlier I said there were no words. I was wrong. Sir Rabindranath Tragore said, "Death is not extinguishing the light. It is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come."

We all live perilously, miraculously close to the dawn. Your Dad had 103 x 365 to bewonder. May we all be so fortunate. May you, my friend, find peace. He'll find many parents of ours Out There. May they dance...


Sfingi 9:40 PM  

@Elaine and Steve - Thanx. Mount Ass. Repressing.

@LitDoc - SEXY is an adjective, not a noun. You might bring "sexiness" or "sexy stuff" back. Realize, I've neither heard nor heard of the song and would need the answer that fell in to make sense, at least. To have it grammatically make sense would sure help. As it is, I left the X blank - I didn't know HORCRUX and had only _ORCRU_ there. So, I was looking at SE_Y. Is it a name, even an odd one? Is it something that means, say, "life" or "music"? It seemed to be working as a noun. SEXY is not a noun. So I said WTF.

Bill from NJ 9:46 PM  


You are finding out that this is more than a crossword puzzle diversion site but a true community.

@fikink - I hope your FIL and fellow puzzle mate is doing better.

your average blank 9:55 PM  

@purpleguy peace be with you

sanfranman59 10:18 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:44, 6:55, 0.97, 48%, Medium
Tue 6:40, 8:49, 0.76, 7%, Easy
Wed 12:50, 11:52, 1.08, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:40, 0.97, 48%, Medium
Tue 3:32, 4:30, 0.79, 11%, Easy
Wed 6:05, 5:49, 1.05, 70%, Medium-Challenging

lit.doc 2:35 AM  

@Sfingi, thank you so much for coming back. Reread the clue and saw, as did you, that SEXY[NESS] or somesuch was needed.

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