Friday August 5, 2016 — NYT Crossword Puzzle No. 0701 — Orig.Pub. July 1, 2016
The best part of blogging my adventures in doing the NYT crossword puzzle is being transparent with my struggles. Today’s puzzle took me over two hours to complete. Of course, I drove forty-five minutes to a demolition job during that time, and spent twenty minutes on the phone with a well-known public utility, but best believe my mind was working the puzzle most of that time, and the two hours is pretty legit.
I first finished most of the Eastern hemisphere, with a pair of errors in the North, and a few blanks in the South-Central area. That all took me a little less than 30 minutes. My main problems occurred after that, out West.
I next filled in half of 12D: EMAJOR (Key of Chopin’s etude), not being familiar with the tune, I knew it would be either a Major or a Minor key, so I completed the common letters, -M–OR. This gave me enough for 22A: JET (Black). 26A: LOIS (Lane in a strip) was easy enough. This led me to 13D: RAKEIN (Collect lots of).
I early saw 16A: AIRWOMAN (Amelia Earhart, e.g.), but didn’t fill it in for a spell, as it seemed too simple, and maybe a little sexist for this gender neutral world. First I got the long vertical center clue (15-letters) at 7D: FANTASYBASEBALL (It’s rosters aren’t real) — I didn’t have any crossing letters when I got this one, and I temporarily left out “BASE” as I wasn’t sure whether it might be “Football.”
My two errors in the NE were neighbors, at: 10D: SWAY (Clout), I said “Swag”; and 9D: ARGOS (Odysseus’ faithful dog), which I misspelled “Argus.” I didn’t resolve these two errors until I struggled through 20A: DESTROY (Torpedo), when I couldn’t figure out what –STRug might be…
This held me up finishing the Eastern half, along with a pair of horizontals beneath it, at: 48A: ADEPT (Accomplished); and 52A: DOUBTIT (“Wouldn’t think so”), I went through so many mental gymnastics on this clue, it felt like a workout.
In the SW, I misanswered 43D: IMONIT (Lackey’s response) as “Yes, Sir!” Which held me up in the quadrant for quite some time. My encyclopedic knowledge of older board games easily gave me 59A: ORIENTAL (Light blue partner of Connecticut and Vermont) [Monopoly]; which only erroneously confirmed in my mind the wrong answer at 43D.
I finally got: 61A: NOTATALL (“It was my pleasure”); and noodled out 55A: CANBERRA (City called the Bush Capital), I did not know this, but suddenly Crocodile Dundee popped into my head — I was thinking Texas before that, or even Central Africa.
My second favorite clue of the day was 36D: EPIDURAL (Aid in labor management?), of course my mind went completely somewhere else. I pretty early had the second half of 35A: SQUAREBRACKET (Backslash neighbor), and got the first half early in my venture into the West. But it was a pure guess where I later finished the puzzle, at the intersecting “U” of: 32D: TRU (Tony-winning title role of 1990); and 39A: STUPA (Buddhist memorial dome). Neither of these last two are at all familiar to me.
My primary difficulty was in the NW. I was not at all confident in 31A: GIBLET (Gravy goody); and I’d never heard of the 24D: SULUSEA (Separator of the Philippines and Malaysia). That I had earlier misanswered 19A: EPA (Org. that covers Springfield in a dome in “The Simpsons Movie”) as “CDC” was not helpful.
I also had incorrectly answered 4D: TMC (Alternative to SHO) as “HBO.” The ending “BQ” at 3D finally got me thinking barbecue, and I promptly started to mis-fill that answer, too. So I handicapped myself quite effectively in the quadrant.
I finally thought of 3D: TEXASBBQ (Some southern cookin’) [my favorite clue of the day, as it turns out], and started thinking taxes on 17A: TAXCUT (Good news for wage earners), but these made me to start making some changes, and I was reluctant.
15A: ONEMAN (Not divisible, as a job) was helpful. As was 6D: ENTER (Rapping response). I never did really figure out 2D: ANAPOLIS (Brazilian city name that sounds like a U.S. state capital), but it just got filled in as I finally started answering the crossers.