NYTimes Crossword Answer: Music Education Method
SATURDAY PUZZLE – It’s only to be expected that we had scorching Saturday grills in this hot July; today’s is no exception. I felt optimistic initially after finding several forays, but found myself hopelessly stuck in a central position. The end result was as long a solve time as when I get a few pieces of short filler, then stare at a puzzle for a while.
John Lieb has been making puzzles for The Times for nearly a decade, but it’s been about a year since his last (another tricky Saturday, working with Brad Wilber). Today’s grid has a fairly low word count and is wide open, which means there are large expanses of solid white squares which make it difficult for the builder and the solver. There’s also an entrance that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen before, which doesn’t happen very often to this elder.
15A. It’s lovely how this entry, stating “Monodon monoceros, more colloquially”, intersects with 5D, “Animal whose name means, literally, ‘nose'”. We know a nose job is rhinoplasty, and we know RHINO (5D) is short for “rhino”. So “monoceros” is, uh, “un ceros” (“one horn”). “Unicorn” interestingly matches 15A, but the entry here is NARWHAL, that arctic whale with the extravagant tusk.
31A. This aviator, the “first person to fly solo around the world (1933),” has appeared in Times riddles over the years, but only in part, by his first name. WILEY POST is a start. Another fact about Mr. Post is his famous disappearance: in 1935, he crashed in Alaska in a plane that was also carrying actor Will Rogers, killing them both.
37A. I recognized this clue, “Circuit building block”, as a calculation, but found a “logic map”, which is close but not quite correct. The correct answer is a start and refers to one of many switches in a digital circuit that handles various inputs, a LOGIC GATE.
13D. It’s a nice twist! I got the entry for “Opposite of cut” on the crosses and was perplexed: WAIT. “Cut”, in this case, refers to skipping school, for example, to attend a Cubs game.
22D. There will be solvers in the audience who will jump on this clue, “Music Education Method”. I had to cut this course. I figured I’d end up deducting it, which didn’t happen, or putting it on crosses, which did – although I had to search online to check my work and find the origin of SOLFÈGE, which made me lose my head.
I noticed the phonetic elements “sol” and “fè”, which could be “fa” as in “do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do”, but I didn’t think of it because the sequence was reversed (“sol fa” instead of “fa sol”). It turns out that SOLFÈGE, or “solfège”, is a form of solmisation, or the assignment of a specific syllable to a corresponding musical note. This practice dates back at least a thousand years, to an Italian monk who chose syllables that made up a mnemonic for a hymn (which did not include a deer, a female deer, a long, long way to go, or a needle pulling thread ).
Over the past few years, I’ve admired and enjoyed unthemed puzzles with wide-open middle sections – especially by Ryan McCarty (he’s got plenty of mind-blowing puzzles!) – and wanted to try writing one myself. . Also, getting a non-themed puzzle accepted these days – with so many builders writing such wonderful puzzles – was a challenge, so I thought I’d try something I hadn’t done before. (My rejection pile is full with unthemed 70-word puzzles. …)
Doing the grid took a lot longer than usual, but I was lucky to have flexibility in the NW and SE corners by having the ????SCIENCE and ALPINE??? letter patterns. ?? work with. As a longtime teacher of AP Statistics, I was happy that one of those niches became DATA SCIENCE. Also, for a long time, the WHO IS THIS entry was WHO IS THIS, and thankfully the first led to much cleaner and more interesting padding. Hope this provides a fun Saturday challenge for solvers!
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