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