Saturday June 18, 2016 — NYTimes Crossword No. 0514
If I said I loved solving the NYT crossword puzzle and then writing about it, I would be understating just how much fun this is for me. This Saturday morning I completed my crossword while eating a leisurely breakfast at one of my favorite spots, Pancake Circus [2101 Broadway, Sacramento, CA], and now I’m Blogging about it while waiting on my haircut across the street at Anthony’s Barbershop [2408 21st Street, Sacramento, CA]. To me, this is a good life.
I started out with a mistake, which I noticed immediately and soon corrected. I saw the clue for 27D (“Cross my heart”), and thought it was 27A, where I misanswered “Bra.” Honest mistake [LOL], as I remember those 1970’s TV commercials with Jane Russell. I dated Jane’s great-neice a time or two when I was a teenager. [Hi, Jessica Henry!] Happy (almost) Birthday to Aunt Jane [Born June 21, 1921].
With this opening error, I felt obligated to straightaway correctly answer 27D: IPROMISE, and did not move until I noodled this one through (didn’t take long). I then got: 52A: EMTS (Revival VIPs, perhaps), which felt like a risk, but turned out to be correct; 33A: PERM (Tightener of locks), pretty clever; 37A: REPO (Golf takeback, maybe), I was thinking “Mulligan,” but it didn’t nearly fit; and 41D: DUES (Union jack?). One of the things I love on a Saturday is that the answers are not usually very esoteric, but they tend to be quite neatly and craftily clued.
I stayed in the SW, and next got: 34D: MORSELS (Tidbits); then 48A: INNEED (Hard up). It is difficult to describe exactly how I felt at this point. It was sort of an optimistic confidence, as if I knew the balance of the crossword would be challenging, but that I could handle it. [Probably sort of how Steph Curry and The Golden State Warriors are feeling right about now.] [LOL]
I finished off the quadrant at the ten-minute-mark, with: 40A: OVERDONE (Like some food and flattery); 44A: MEASURE (Piano bar?), love the musical clues; 50A: SOULS (Charon’s passengers); 28D: BEEVENOM (Material used in apitherapy), my Dad was a beekeeper [Happy Father’s Day Dad!! I love you!!!], and so I know just about everything one can know about raising bees and getting stung, including that “Api” is the root of “Apiary” [a bee farm] — but I’ve never before heard of “Apitherapy” — sounds painful.
I then didn’t fully resolve the more central 22D: LOANWORD (Spanglish or Franglais component) — in fact this was one of the last clues I answered — but I was confident enough to fill in the “W” in WORD.
There I saw 32A: LDS (Grp. with many missionaries), but had to confirm with 11D: UNEARNED (Like runs caused by errors), before I was willing to take the leap of faith. [I grew up LDS, so I’m very familiar with Mormon Missionaries.]
I then got: 9A: SOUR (Off-key), like a sour note; 12D: REDNECKS (Hillbilly sorts), which felt daring; 20A: JOETORRE (Skipper whose #6 was retired in 2014), this *IS* The New York Times crossword puzzle, after all; 10D: OILDRILL (Part of a rig) [we are looking forward to the upcoming film about “Deepwater Horizon”]; and 24A: LINC (“The Mod Squad” role), which I saw early, but waited to confirm — used to watch the show on UHF, Sacramento’s Channel 40, after school.
Also then got: 14A: THINE (What’s now yours); 16A: TOILED (Put one’s nose to the grindstone); and 14D: TOAT (Flawlessly) [To a “T”]. I had to wait till the very end to get the crossers: 9D: SHINOLA (Polish giant, once), my only reference here is a Dadism about knowing “____ from Shinola” [Thanks Dad!]; and 26A: ALEK (Supermodel Wek), who is quite stunningly beautiful, though I didn’t know her first name. That is where I finished at 60 minutes today. One hour on a Saturday, not terribly horrible.
But first, I still had a lot of work to do. I answered all the corners before I made any headway at all in the center area. In fact, I had the most trouble with a quartet of north-central crossers at: 21A: TOOLCASE (Where many nuts are housed), I had misanswered “Tool cart”; 18D: ROSEATE (Optimistic), kind of a new word for me — meaning I don’t recall this one at all — and I am not completely sure it means what I think it means; 16D: TWEEDLES (Lures with music), which is, I am sure, a skill I must better develop; and 18A: RWANDAN (Like President Paul Kagame), of whom I had no clue, but now that it is filled in, I recall him — and which finally led me into answering my ultimate pair of clues at 9D: SHINOLA and 26A: ALEK.
I didn’t have much trouble in the NW. I first saw: 8D: SEA (Arabian); then 13A: LOCAVORE (Farm-to-table advocate), which I got only because I remember it from an earlier Saturday crossword puzzle. I already had 19A: LORI (Actress Singer of “Footloose” and TV’s “Fame”), I met her once, playing her Cello in a basement practice room at the music building of BYU [told you I grew up Mormon, right?]. She was in town filming “Footloose.” We hung out that afternoon, and she even gave me a ride home in her rental car. LOL — so now you can use me in your Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
I then solved: 3D: OCELOT (It’s name comes from Nahuatl for “jaguar”), which was the result of puzzle-solving, and not at all language skills; 5D: OVATIONS (They’re often standing when the curtains are lowered), I thought defendants; 1D: SLAG (Some industrial waste); 17A: GELATIN (Moldable kitchen stuff); 15A: AVEMARIA (Words recited before “gratia plena, Dominus tecum”), a half-guess; 2D: NOVEL (Cutting-edge); 1A: SNOCONES (Colorful carnival offerings); and 4D: CAMAROS (Z28 and ZL1). These gave me two I did not otherwise know, at: 6D: NORI (Sushi wrapper); and 7D: ERIN (Mayo’s place).
It was late when I resolved the other central clues, including: 25A: SNOOZED (Drifted off); 30A: SAWZALL (Cutting-edge device named for its versatility), we use these regularly in my work; 35A: NBATEAM (Bucks, etc.), I was thinking money; 23D: COWBANE (Plant poisonous to cattle), totally working off logic and word root meanings here; and 20D: JAZZAGE (Setting of “The Sun Also Rises” and “Some Like it Hot”) — where do I even begin here with how much I like this clue? — 1. You had me Mr. Jeff Chen (Puzzleman) at “setting sun”; 2. A “J” and two “Zs?,” come on now; and 3. Combining Ernest Hemingway and Marylin Monroe in one clue? — pure genius. My day is complete.
However, first we must discuss where I had my most troubles of the day, in the SE. I opened the corner by answering incorrectly at 42A: FLOG (Promote to annoyance), as “spam” — I was sure I was right; Alas I was not — and from there exacerbated my problems with another misstep at 43D: GETIN (Pickup line?), to which I had said “model.”
It took me quite a bit of brainpower to overcome these difficulties. I was helped with: 49D: COP (24-Across, for one); 46D: ALDA (He played the U.S. president in “Canadian Bacon,” 1995), an educated guess; and 47D: DENS (Fox network?), more than just a little clever. I then got: 49A: CELLMATE (Cooler person to live with?), nicely clued; 51A: OLDLATIN (Language of the Twelve Tables); and 53A: PLAYPENS (They corral kids), I was thinking nanny-goats, but couldn’t make it work.
45D: FELL (Hew) helped me to get 45A: FAULTED (Criticized). Next I got: 39D: ROTATE (Move like a tornado); and 36D: MALLMAP (Store locator, maybe). I finished the quadrant on the crossing pair of: 31D: LAWFULLY (By the book); and 42A: FLOG, which I don’t think I ever would have solved but for the crossers.
So there you go…
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!!