Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014, Tracy Gray and Jeff Chen


Well, this is the second Sunday in a row that we've enjoyed. I wonder if that's a record?

All snarkiness aside, this was really quite nice. I enjoyed the full symmetry of the grid right away, but it took us putting our heads together toward the end to figure out exactly why it had such a look and what was going on. We looked at the unchecked squares and saw, W, N, and E, and quickly realized part one, that the compass points had something to do with it. Then, shortly after that, we saw that our main problem areas were in symmetrical sections. AHA(S)! For a moment I wondered whether each quadrant would be represented by its respective location - NW, N, NE, E, SE, etc. - but that was quickly overruled, and then it all fell together. The only question, which we did not get right at first (I wanted the more natural NSEW or even NSWE), but when that didn't work, we remembered the old NYTX maxim "Across is more important than Down" and WENS (gross) got the "Well Done!"

Nothing too long today, which I think is partly why I liked this one so much. It was more like a big weekday grid than the usual Sunday 21x21. Know what I mean? Nothing over a ten (or, with the rebus, eleven). Sure, there was a lot of familiar material, but I don't know… it just didn't bother me.

Plenty of nice fill - JUNKET (20A: Some politicians' trips), ORSON[WE]LLES (33A: Film director who said "I think an artist has always to be out of step with his time"), SCRAMS (87A: Hightails it), BEFUDDLES (80D: Discombobulates) - and fun, clever, answers - PDA (71D: Bussing on a bus, briefly?) (lovely), OPER (28A: Abbr. not found on most smartphones), and TIM (117D: "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" enchanter) ("You're a busy man, o Tim").

A couple of unknowns - MASER (83A: Atomic clock part), and ZENO (37A: Paradoxical figure?), and of those two, the more interesting to me is the latter, a fifth century BCE philosopher famous for using paradoxes. He is also credited with being one of the first to use the reductio ad absurdam argument, and - Huygens alert! - one of the first to discuss the idea of mathematical infinity. This, in fact, was the foundation of some of his paradoxes. Here's my favorite of the three I just read about on Wikipedia -

Arrow paradox[edit]

If everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always occupying such a space at any moment, the flying arrow is therefore motionless.[12]
– as recounted by AristotlePhysics VI:9, 239b5
In the arrow paradox (also known as the fletcher's paradox), Zeno states that for motion to occur, an object must change the position which it occupies. He gives an example of an arrow in flight. He states that in any one (durationless) instant of time, the arrow is neither moving to where it is, nor to where it is not.[13] It cannot move to where it is not, because no time elapses for it to move there; it cannot move to where it is, because it is already there. In other words, at every instant of time there is no motion occurring. If everything is motionless at every instant, and time is entirely composed of instants, then motion is impossible.

Now there's a good definition of being INIDLE (95D: Not going anywhere)!

Lastly, since we're talking about Greeks, wouldn't it have been better if the 97A: Last Oldsmobile (ALERO) had been the Omega?

- Horace


  1. Untimed, but went pretty quickly. Did the iPad version not have the compass rose in the middle of the puzzle? Seeing that in the print version led me to put the IN[N]ER, TH[E]IR, and the W and S of the other two words, which I didn't fill in until much later, in first off. I figured out the rebus in the SW corner. I love that the rebus squares are in all the right places. I too enjoyed the Monty Python reference. "Some call me... Tim?" 54A: Game with falling popularity? was excellent on two fronts. WHICHEVER was a better answer than the one I first chose: WHosoEVER. Very nice overall.

    Isn't Zeno the one who suggested that you could never get to where you were trying to get to, because you always have to cover half the distance first, and there's always another distance you have to cover half of, and so on?

    You also referred to some question you didn't get at first, the answer to which was WENS. I do not have any such question in the print version. Where was it in the grid?

  2. The iPad App only had black squares in the center. Yes about Zeno. Also said that a faster runner could never catch a slower one who had been given a head start for a similar reason. And the quetion was not written, but was just how to order the ordinal points so that they would be accepted by the App as correct. WENS worked. The others didn't. The (gross) comment referred to the word wens, because they are icky.

  3. 47:28
    I put in NS/WE and it took that just fine. I tend to think there would have to be some flexibility in the programming there because otherwise there'd be too many people ticked off that they didn't get a happy message.

    I loved the map theme. I got it with UNSER and the ORSONWELLES/ACORNSQUASH cross, although not immediately, I'll admit, but with just those two. None could be anything else.

    I liked seeing BEFUDDLES in the grid. And I did see the compass rose in the middle using my Chrome browser on a PC.

  4. 91:08
    I didn't completely figure out the theme until I was around 70 minutes in, then it all fell quickly. I had some sticking points, but I should have figured it all out faster since I got the U[NS]ER/IS[WE]AR cross pretty close to the start. I'm a fan of ZENO's and have studied a bit of his stuff. REARENDED could be more Huygens Fill, even with the provided clue of 59A Hit from behind. SOAPED is a bit more of a stretch, as is MISTLETOE. BOLL[WE]EVILS was nice to see, as were the aforementioned BEFUDDLES and ORSON[WE]LLES. I've never seen GIRLS, but I hear it's funny, and I'm a fan of BETSY (118A Actress Brandt of "Breaking Bad"). I agree that this was more enjoyable than a typical Sunday, I think due to the rebus.