Tuesday June 14, 2016 — NYTimes Crossword No. 0510
If the crossword puzzle never were challenging, it would cease to be fun. I don’t even attempt most puzzles, because I know they are too easy. In that case, it becomes just an exercise of placing letters in boxes. I love the puzzle-solving aspect the most. That it involves words and puns and riddles to be solved is just a bonus. It is the thinking that I crave.
I started today in the NE, with: 10A: INSO (Not ___ many words); then 13D: ORR (Boston Bruin great); 16A: SEER (Oracle); 10D: ISAIAH (Book after Song of Solomon), love the Bible clues; 11D: NEVADAN (Many a resident on Lake Tahoe), a local [to me] geographical reference; and 12D: SEESAWS (Vacillates), would love for this to have been “Flip-flops,” but it was not nearly long enough.
I continued southwesterly, along the diagonal, and next got: 28D: TACIT (Implied, but not stated), which I initially misspelled “tacet”; 29D: OARS (Sculls); 30D: NBA (Magic and Wizards org.); 36D: NOOR (Former queen of Jordan); 32A: SAAB (9-3 automaker), which was in yesterday’s puzzle [love the throwbacks! Lol]; 41A: OUIS (Alsace assents), which corrected for me “TACIT”; and 35D: ROI (Reine’s husband).
From there: 46A: TOMSWIFT (Boy genius of old teen fiction); 38D: ETC (And everything else, for short); 48D: WEAR (Have on). I was stopped for a moment on 38A: ENS (“Annie” characters), I was thinking “orphans” and not letters.
That got me: 50A: CREPE (Relative of a blintz); which led to 40D: SMELTED (Refined); and convinced me of 38A: ENS.
I was then able to complete the SW with: 52A: ILEA (Parts of small intestines); 60A: AGED (Like fine wines and cheeses); 63A: WADS (Mouthfuls of chewing gum); 47D: SPEEDS (Barrels along); and [partially] 56A: PETER___ (“Network” Oscar winner).
Having completed the center diagonal section, without much problem, I then ventured eastward, along the southern corridor. Upon making the turn, I immediately misanswered 57D: FEN (Swamp) as “Bog.” I followed this up with a second error at 51D: BOCCE (Lawn game) when I said “Darts.” This stopped me in the South Central District for quite a while.
Next were: 42A: OASES (Havens); 45D: SEN (Jack Reed or Harry Reid: Abbr.). Then: 43D: SAMARIA (Biblical city in Palestine); 55A: RAP (Genre first included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007); 37D: EARDRUMS (Catchers of some waves), of course I was thinking surfers; 62A: MIEN (Appearance); 49A: MORALE (Team esteem); and finally 44D: ELAPSED (Passed, as time), I was trying to make this one some type of leisure activity.
Next was 49D: MIGHTY (Powerful). Only then was I able to resolve the puzzle’s reveal at 51A: BIRDMAN (Best Picture of 2014 … or what 18-, 23-, 28-, 34-, 46-, and 56-Across each is?). I saw [and loved] Birdman, when it was first called “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance,” but still it took me forever to see it today in my morning crossword puzzle. Not that I found knowing the reveal today to be overly helpful to me.
I next got: 51D: BOCCE; 64A: NOSEY (Poking around in other people’s business); and 54D: ONES (Cash register compartment), which I had nearly answered earlier, but got gunshy after my dual mistakes in the area.
I still didn’t know 56A: PETERFINCH, but had enough to know that FINCH is a bird. I vaguely remembered 53A: MOOG (Famed synthesizer), more as a bit of crosswordese, rather than the musical instrument; but didn’t know 53D: MILO (Mindbinder of “Catch-22”), and was reliant upon crossers, plus pretty confident due to the alliteration. [I read the book like thirty years ago…]
Now knowing the theme, I realized 18A: EARLWEAVER (Longtime Orioles manager in the Baseball Hall of Fame) must be a “bird-man,” but I was not aware of the bird species WEAVER. [Or is it because he was an Oriole?] Plus, I am not familiar enough with Australian geography confidently to answer 9D: NSW (Its capital is Sydney: Abbr.) [New South Wales]. But I noodled it through. Sorry that the great Earl Weaver is not that well-known to me.
15A: AEGIS (Sponsorship) was not on the top of my mind, but I figured it out. But only after I got: 5A: CLOWN (Cutup); 6D: LEAKY (Like a faulty pipe); 7D: OGRE (Shrek, e.g.); 8D: WILD (Word repeated before “West” in a film and 1960s TV series); and 21A: SKED (TV Guide chart, for short).
I then went to my last bastion (or was it my dungeon?) in the NW, and got 2D: BALCONY (One set in a “Romeo and Juliet” production). As a sophomore in high school (my last full year of high school, as it turns out), our class took buses to the Crest Theater on K Street Mall in Sacramento, CA and watched Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet [Thank you Mr. Jack L. Sanchez].
In the order I resolved the balance of the crossword puzzle: 31A: MYMAN (“Dude!”); 4D: SAVANNAH (Oldest city in Georgia); 23D: JIM (Brown or Rice), I initially said “Tim” [I was thinking of Raiders greats, Tim Brown and Jerry Rice]; 27A: INANER (More foolish), don’t know why I don’t like this word; 3D: CHATHAM (Georgia county of which 4-Down is the seat), a total guess; 23A: JOHNJAY (co-author of the Federalist Papers), I figured out “JOHN,” which gave me 23D: JIM, but “JAY” was a choice between a “J” or “K,” and I went with the alliteration, only because I like that sort of thing — that a “Jay” is a bird occurred to me only after I filled in the square — [I guess I should know who is John Jay, but sorry, I just don’t]; then I competely guessed on my final square, the “A” at the intersection of 24D: JENA (Actress Malone of “The Hunger Games”) and 34A: HARTCRANE (“The Broken Tower” poet) — don’t know either of these individuals.
Like I said, sometimes it’s a challenge. And I appreciate sometimes having to employ a lot more puzzle-solving skills than just pure trivia knowledge in completing the daily New York Times crossword puzzle. Thank you David Kwong (puzzlemaker) for an enjoyable jaunt to start this Tuesday.
32 minutes today, start to finish.