NYTimes Crossword

Saturday June 11, 2016 — NYTimes Crossword No. 0507

Saturday June 11, 2016 — NYTimes Crossword No. 0507

It took me 24 minutes to resolve the southern hemisphere, except for the long horizontal at the center. It felt pretty good, until I ran into a buzzsaw in the NW, and then went totally brain dead for awhile in the NE.  

I started out in the NW today, with four wrong answers out of my first six attempts. I first filled in as “edit,” 2D: OMIT (Cut out). Then, also incorrect, 4D: INHERENT (Not learned), I said “instinct.” Thankfully both of these bogus answers contained at least some correct letters. 

I then made my first totally correct entry at 5D: AFT (Like a boat’s cockpit, usually). I next saw 19A: ATOE (Dip ___ in), but I wasn’t yet ready to abandon my first “instinct,” though by now I knew in my heart it was wrong. 

So instead, I made my third mistake (on only my fifth clue of the day) at 20A: SMELT (Get the lead out?), when I said “erase.” I’m pretty sure I’ve seen erase clued this way before, but then maybe I’m just wishful thinking. And followed that up with 25A: ARAB (Like Egypt), but I said “arid.”

I didn’t make any corrections in the North until well after the twenty-four minute mark, when I had completed the South. 

I couldn’t see my way from there in the North, and had to move on. I went to the SW, where I quickly got 42A: MARRYME (One-knee plea). I followed that up with: 51A: DUMB (Sharp’s opposite); 44D: RUMBLE (Bit of gang warfare); 43D: AQUINO (Mother-or-son Phillipine president). I then completed the SW with: 42D: MADRID (Home of the soccer team FIFA named the Club of the Century); 45D: RABBIS (Some wedding parties); 47A: AQUA (Color of McCartney’s “Sgt. Pepper” uniform); 57A: RIBBED (Like corduroy); 61A: INLIEU (As a replacement); 63A: DOESSO (Insistent retort); and 58D: EES (Experts in power: Abbr.). 

All of which gave me the long vertical, at 29D: DYNAMICDUO (Longtime nickname in comics).

I kept working my way East in the southern half, and came to 41A/48A: CREEPS/INTO (… enters stealthily), which I answered half-right as “sneaks into.”

I next got 46A: READSTO (Entertains at bedtime), and then 46D: RODMAN (Hall of Fame NBA player known as “The Worm”).

I was not helped when I misanswered 53D: SESS (Mtg.) as “appt.”

I then saw: 39D: USO (Grp. doing private shows?); and 38D: OPT (Go for it, with “in”), which clued me in that 41A was not “sneaks.”

I remembered Obama’s first presidential campaign, and answered 36D: YESWECAN (Frequent chant in 2008). 

Then I got 36D: HEDONISM (Pleasure principal), which was enough for me to resolve the SE, with: 59A: AMERICAN (Cheese choice); 62A: CASHSALE (Simplest sort of deal); and 64A: INSOMNIA (A good cure for it is sleep, per W.C. Fields).

Also in the SE were: 50A: POW (Belt line?); 54A: NEMO (Captain of fiction); 55D: MALI (Where Bambara is widely spoken); 56D: ONEA (Fit for service); and 60D: RHO (Symbol of charge density).

I had a little more trouble with: 52A: CARDS (Sharp’s handful), this took a minute to come to me; and 49D: TRACI (One of the singing Braxton sisters), not familiar with this Braxton. 

Rounded out the South when I got: 40A: HALO (Something depicted for goodness’ sake), my favorite clue of the day; 35D: ELENA (“Neapolitan Novels” author Ferrante, a total guess; and 33D: TWO (First word of Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”), although I said “tho.”

I then tried to crack the code of the long center clue. I knew it to be a question, and tried starting with “is it?” But that was wrong. This led me (lame excuse alert) into misanswering 28D: HHH (Primary loser to JFK in 1960) as “AES.”

When I realized the first word of Frost’s poem is correctly “TWO,” I then finally resolved 34A: WHATSNEWWITHYOU (Question before a personal update).

This gave me “HHH,” along with 27D: TOW (Way up at a ski resort), which led to: 27A: THREADS (They’re followed on message boards); and 32A: OHENRY (Writer who gave his name to an annual award), earlier I was thinking of Ellery Queen. 

That was enough to give me: 24D: MARSHY (Like much of the Everglades), which I think was supposed to be a gimme, but wasn’t for me. I wasn’t quite yet ready to tackle my problems in the NW, so I continued to venture eastward. 

There, I finally got: 21D: LALAW (Show title shown on a license plate), I kept trying to make it be “Vegas” — the show with detective Dan Tanna — but that was not right. From there I got the northern long vertical at 9D: MUSTBENICE (“I wish *I* had that”).

This combination gave me the corrections to two of my earlier mistakes at 20A: SMELT and 25A: ARAB. 

I then also got: 30A: LETSSEE (“Hmm”); 33A: TANS (Many vacationers bring them home); and 31D: TSTRAP (Certain sandal), which I kept insisting early on to misread as “scandal,” which did slow me down considerably. 

Thereafter I was completely stopped in the otherwise blank NE, and had to return to it at the last. So — with no other options, I ventured back to the NW to face my troubles. 

I knew Harpo (at least his character) was mute, so I tried turning the beginning of 17A into “mime,” but that didn’t work. I then remembered 15A: IMONFIRE (Single from Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”).

This gave me 8D: SEGER (Rocker with a 1976 album “Live Bullet”) which I knew, but was drawing a blank. I then got: 7D: DRAMAS (Plays with emotion?); and 6D: RIGS (Drilling sites).

This gave me the end to 17A as “GAG,” and soon I had SIGHTGAG (Many a Harpo Marx joke). 

From there I rounded out the NW with: 1D: PISA (Where Fermi studied); 2D: OMIT; 3D: NOGOAREA (Place to be avoided); and 1A: PONIARDS (Small, slim daggers), which I super wanted to be “stilettos,” but only with one “t” (so it would fit). Unfortunately spelling did not cooperate. 

The rest of the puzzle completed, I then had to go back to the NE, where I had some perimeter shots, but nothing that was giving me any comfortable put-backs. 

I stared at it forever. Refilled my coffee. And started to make choices. I wanted 12D: POROUS (Like tea bags) to be “porous,” but I was including an additional letter in my spelling, and couldn’t make it work. 

I also wanted 9A: MACPRO (Apple variety) to refer to computing products, but when it didn’t start with an “i,” I gave up too easily. 

I first got in the quadrant 10D: APT (On point). That gave me 16A: UPROAR (Major protest). I then solved 11D: CRAFTS (Common use of pipe cleaners), but only after I allowed myself again to start believing 9A could start with “MAC.”

9A: MACPRO then finally came to me. I filled in: 22A: FOAL (“Poor little” one in Coleridge’s “To a Young Ass”); and 26A: TUGS (Jerks).

I finished at the crossing of: 18A: STARVE (Extremely fast?), a terribly crafty clue; and 13D: RAVAGE (Plunder). 

And that, at long last, was that. 


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