Wednesday June 8, 2016 — NYTimes Crossword No. 0504
I guess The Sacramento Bee print staff either didn’t get the memo, or lost the memo. Maybe it was printed in such low quality that they could not read it? I’ve been complaining for months that when the NYT crossword uses shaded squares (a common Wednesday thematic element), The Sacramento Bee 🐝 fails to print the shading. This can make solving the puzzle both more difficult and less satisfying. I will contact an editor and see if this recurrent mistake cannot in some way be permanently resolved.
I did have a little difficulty with today’s crossword. Mostly in the center, but also a little in the NE, and quite a bit in the SE. Partly I misanswered a couple clues, had at least one misspelling, and just plain didn’t know a few words. I do not believe the lack of shaded squares caused my problems, but I do think that perhaps I might have enjoyed the puzzle more had they been included in this fishwrap.
I started in the NW, and though it was challenging, solved it pretty readily. I did not know Franz 1A: LISZT had composed the “Dante Symphony,” plus I was unsure of the spelling of his name, but noodled through on the strength of vertical crossers. I was guessing on: 1D: LISPS (Imitates Sylvester the Cat), but only because it was still early and the coffee hadn’t yet kicked in; and 4D: ZORA (Novelist ___ Neale Hurston), which I am pretty certain is correct, but I don’t know this.
My first two answers were at: 20A: PREACH (Speak the gospel); and 21D: HOI (___ polloi). I knew 25A: AOUT (Month in l’ete) almost instinctively. But for some reason took forever at resolving the crossers: 29A: LIFER (Big house party?), which is odd considering my association with such individuals; and 26D: UFOS (Sci-fi craft), as I was stumbling over the plural definition of “craft” [very clever Mr. Jacob Stulberg, very clever].
15A: LONGFELLOW (Author of an 1841 poem that contains the line spelled out by the shaded squares) took me quite awhile. I was double-handicapped, both by the missing shaded squares (can’t say whether I would have recognized the poem, as I do not yet know the content of these mysterious squares), as well as my mis-answer just above at 6A: ANITA, which prevented me from getting any of the vertical crossers.
I actually resolved 19A: INFILTRATE (Enter surreptitiously, as an organization) first, without a single crossing clue to confirm. I was very proud of myself when I finally solved 10D: AFLICKER (Not steady, as a light), and started to make some gains in the NE.
I still do not know the meaning of 11D: DLR (Canon offering, for short), and can only imagine it to be a more advanced type of camera equipment, perhaps a “dual-lens reflex” (DLR), rather than a “single-lens reflex” (SLR). [Again, it is my refusal to nix Mr. Dan Marino from today’s crossword puzzle which leaves me in this uncomfortable conundrum.]
Enjoyed the SW, starting at 38A: PELE (One-named athlete whose real first name is Edson), though I had to resolve half the quadrant to get this one. This included: 33D: TEARSTAIN (Sign of a crying jag), which was quite crafty; and 34D: ALTAMONTE (___ Springs, Fla.), which I did not know but figured it out.
Also loved seeing Ella 64A: FITZGERALD (Vocalist known for the 1944 song whose title (and first line) appear in the shaded squares). [Now I really want to know what is in those infernal shaded squares!]
Had more than a little trouble in the SE, starting with misanswering two anchor clues at: 63A: POLIO (Vaccine target), I said “Virus”; and 68A: NASAL (Like the sounds “m” and “n”), I said “Tonal.” Not helpful at all.
My real challenge today was in the center. I was Lost in Space on the two long vertical center clues: 7D: NONSTEROID (Like hormones synthesized from amino acids); and 30D: RUMORMILLS (Where legends are born?). The clues are particularly tricky (at least to me), and that I had misspelled 55A: TRACI (Actress Lords) as “Tracy” was no help at all.
Also, I did not know 39A: ISOMER (Chemical cousin). I have a good friend who is a Chemistry Professor, under the illusion that I am wicked smart, who might be terribly disappointed in me for having trouble on this one.
I did get: 40D: ESAU (Missing name in the tongue twister “I saw ___ sawing wood …”); 50A: MUSE (Become absorbed in thought), but only after I had misanswered “Mull” [reference “ilk,” above]; 44A: IOS (Hand-held platform); 36A: ORU (Tulsa sch.), I have friends who’ve graduated from Oral Roberts University; and finally 29A: LIFER and 26D: UFOS, which is where I finished.