12.28.08 -- Going Around in Circles

Sunday, December 28, 2008
GOING AROUND IN CIRCLES, Puzzle by Patrick Berry, edited by Will Shortz
ORBITS, and its clue -- 7A. What this puzzle’s eight concentric rings (uncircled and circled) represent -- is the simple explanation for a very complex-looking layout. Is it worth it? Well, it really depends upon one’s propensity for amusement with the impossibility of square orbits comprised of all those circles (electronic version) or shaded squares (dead-tree version), uh, well, perhaps a square orbit is just fine… the world was once flat!
Actually, this is a rather flat crossword for a solver, best worked with total disregard for its gimmick -- those circles (or shaded squares) are of little help in the solution and exist but to define the orbit of a
PLANET (124A. One of these can be found reading counterclockwise somewhere in each concentric ring). SUN (70A. Appropriate center for this puzzle) is as is stated the center entry of the crossword, incongruously crossed by GOUDA (60D. Semisoft cheese from Holland).
After one has completed the crossword, there is the task of finding a planet "in each concentric ring” -- innermost to outermost in order. Curiosity alone and duty to blog caused me to ferret out each and every one with less and less amusement upon each revelation. I see no reason to list the planets -- that very well could alienate any reader who has at least mastered the likes of say, the alphabet.
MOON (5D. Make impossible demands) provides a satellite entry next to our planet, and very close to MERCURY. Oh, damn, there I did it -- well, it’s too late now -- VENUS, EARTH, MARS, JUPITER, SATURN, URANUS and NEPTUNE. Wait!, there’s PLUTO bent out of shape in the lower left corner inside Neptune’s orbit, which, in fact, happens in the life-size version of the solar system.
The bulk of the entries are slaves to the gimmick, but some are from another… uh, planet.
Across: 1. Harry’s pal at Hogwarts; 4.
Hit 2004 film with many sequels; 13. Wooden peg; 18. Pressed for time; 20. 1968 N.B.A. All-Star Dick; 22. IRENE Adler of Conan Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia”; 23. Georgia’s Fort PULASKI, site of an 1882 surrender; 24. Malevolent look; 25. Rubber gasket; 26. Gratis; 27. Lincoln Town Car, for one; 28. Patriots’ Day mo.; 30. Big ox; 31. Prefix with political; 32. BELLY dance; 33. Six-Day War combatants; 35. Entrance; 38. Actress RAE Dawn Chong; 40. “Nascar Now” channel; 42. Medevac worker; 43. Way to go; 44. Dog biscuits and such; 47. Formulator of the Three Principles of the People; 52. Gopher-wood construction; 53. Submarine egress; 54. Ruination; 55. Infra’s opposite; 56. King famous for frightening people; 59. Like some campaign ads; 62. Pomeranian’s bark; 63 Sic PASSIM (bibliographical term); 64. Elementary particle; 65. Actress / model Connie; 68. On land; 70. Appropriate center for this puzzle; 71. Frozen food company; 72. Exterior decorator?; 74. Beautify; 76. Let one’s anger show; 79. E-mail address ender; 80. Treasure sought in “Titanic”; 82. Heavy metal band?; 83. Stuck in the mud; 86. Storm; 87. No longer working; 89. Cuff feature; 90. Satisfies as baser instincts; 92. Husband, in Hidalgo; 93. “RENO 911” (comedy series); 94. Fed. Purchasing org.; 95. Long-range weapon, briefly; 97. According to; 98. The Auld Sod; 99. Childhood skin affliction; 103. Goes around; 106. Where a pin may be made; 108. Greenwich Village campus, for short; 109. Poorly; 110. Volkswagen model; 111. BBC panel show regular Phill; 115. Brand of basketball; 117. Something it’s not always wise to share; 119. Generally; 120. Grace POOLE (“Jane Eyre” character); 121. 1960 Bobby Rydell hit; 122. Electricians; 123. Ready to play, you might say; 125. Behave, 126. Go down.
Down: 1.
Philbin’s “Live” co-host; 2. Responsibility; 3. Simba’s mate in “The Lion King”; 4. The Everly Brothers “Wake Up Little SUSIE; 6. Little bit; 7. Scale-busting; 8. “Gaspard de la Nuit” composer; 9. Tack room items; 10. Veneer patterns; 11. First-time driver, often; 12. Porker’s pen; 13. Museum displays; 14. Yossarian’s tentmate in “Catch-22”; 15. “Mack the Knife” songwriter; 16. Lassitude; 17. Pantyhose brand; 19. Worn out; 21. Bigelow beverages; 29. Rodent, to a raptor; 32. Red food dye source; 33. All together; 34. Roman rebuke; 35. Comprehend; 36. Trunk in your trunk; 37. Plays; 39. Ireland’s ARAN Islands; 41. Exam for H.S. jrs.; 45. Rein-A treats it; 46. Region near Mount Olympus; 48. “In a pig’s eye!”; 49. Controversial 1987 expose by ex-M15 agent Peter Wright; 50. Cartman’s first name on “South Park”; 51. Bay Area county; 54. Oatcakes popular in Scotland; 57. Discreet attention-getter; 58. Exclamation in “The Farmer in the Dell”; 61. Tunes that might make you want to get out on the floor?; 64. Romeo’s reckless friend; 66. Legal claim on property; 67. Writer Ferber; 69. Hull scrapers; 72. Desk-borrowing worker; 73. Top 10 hit for Sarah McLachian; 75. Harvest; 77. Nicholas Gage memoir; 78. Possessor?; 81. Ray a k a the Hamburger King; 82. Poet’s inspiration; 84. Sharpness; 86. Preordained; 88. Bursts open; 91. Pedestrian safety feature; 92. What Mr. Spock suppressed; 93. Leave one’s post, possibly; 96. Lee with the 1960 #1 hit ”I’m Sorry”; 99. Bungling; 100. “Skip to MYLOU”; 101. Hoax; 102. GLOW stick (trick-or-treater’s accessory); 101. Make up (for); 105. Painter of a Zola portrait; 107. In different places; 110. Jack’s partner in rhyme; 111. Cloak-wearing “Star Wars” race; 112. Rolaids rival; 113. Big-screen beekeeper; 114. Propelled; 116. OLE Miss; 118. Domino dot.
All in all, this is a crossword with many twists and turns, bright spots and black holes, but it makes it into orbit and out of this world -- it may take a while, but after all,
getting there is half the fun!
For today’s cartoon, go to
The Crossword Puzzle Illustrated.
Click on image to enlarge.
Puzzle available on the internet at
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games
If you subscribe to home delivery of The New York Times you are eligible to access the daily crossword via The New York Times - Times Reader, without additional charge, as part of your home delivery subscription.


Leon said...

Terrific post. Loved the picture of the print version with the expanding sun.

DONALD said...


Thanks and a Happy New Year!

cornbread hell said...

wow. genius post. gravitational grid, skewed pluto, o-rings... and a belly dancer, too! good stuff.
happy new year.