The crossword puzzle gets more complicated as the week progresses. Monday puzzles are the easiest, and Saturdays are the most difficult. I usually don’t solve the Sunday puzzle, because I play guitar at church on Sundays (3-4 services), and I’m conserving my energy/too busy. And although the Sunday puzzles are fun and challenging, I get more satisfaction solving a challenging Friday or Saturday crossword.
So a Wednesday crossword is pretty much middle-of-the-road. Today’s grid mostly was not overly difficult. Though I did have challenges solving each of the four quadrants. And I was done with the entire puzzle in three-quarters of the time, until I got stuck in the NE, and had to bash my head against the wall on a couple clues for another six minutes, and finally ended up just guessing.
So let’s start there, with where I ended. I’m a pretty mechanical guy (I wreck buildings for a living), but I am not familiar with the term 17:A OILCUP (Receptacle in a machine). Also, although I studied geology in community college (before dropping out and later one day deciding, “Hey, I think I’ll become a lawyer!” — long story), I couldn’t remember 12D: SCORIA (Dark volcanic rock). I wanted it to be Basalt, but it didn’t fit.
Then I misanswered 20A: ODDONE (Rara avis) as “Oddity” (in Latin, “Rara Avis” literally means “rare bird,” and refers to a unique and noteworthy individual or thing — usually in a complimentary fashion — think Doc Brown of “Back to the Future”).
Also I did not like the answer to 11D: OLDER (Word at the bottom of a Blog page), but no other answer made sense to me, either. And I didn’t know 33A: ASS (Onager, for one). [An animal of a race of the Asian wild ass native to northern Iran.]
So, as you can see, I had quite a time finishing in the NE. I finally just went with “Older” and “Odd one,” which left me to finish at the “C” intersection of “Oil cup” and “Scoria.” Not very satisfying in the end. Total time 24 minutes.
I did like the sports-related inner puzzle, including: 18A: GRANDSLAM (Baseball scoring play); 27A: HATTRICK (Hockey scoring play); 55A: FOULSHOT (Basketball scoring play); and 66A: TOUCHDOWN (Football scoring play). I’m not too familiar with the politics of the Wilson administration, so I had to rely upon mathematics and spelling to resolve 39A: FOURTEENPOINTS (Proposal of Woodrow Wilson … or what the scoring values of 18-, 27-, 55-, and 66-Across total). Even then I was a little skeptical, as “Hat trick” is valued at three points, and is not really a “scoring play” but a combination of three goals by one player in a single game, so this made me unsure whether the puzzlemaker (Tom McCoy) had valued a touchdown as six points or seven.
I started at 25A: IWOJIMA (Site of an iconic war photo), which is both my favorite clue of the day, and where we shall end.