NYTimes Crossword

Tuesday August 9, 2016 — NYT Crossword Puzzle No. 0705 — Orig.Pub. July 5, 2016

Tuesday August 9, 2016 — NYT Crossword Puzzle No. 0705 — Orig.Pub. July 5, 2016
I was a little confused by the timing of a pirate-themed puzzle in July? National Talk Like A Pirate Day is in September (I know this because it happens to fall on the birthday of my first born). But I’ll go with it… 

There are seven (!!!!!!!) themed clues on a Tuesday. I first completed the SE corner, and early answered the reveal at 59A: TREASUREMAP (Pirate’s guide that’s hinted at phonetically by the starts of 17-, 29- and 44-Across). These three clues are: 17A: EXPOSTFACTO (Retroactively, at law), I knew this, but still started filling it in as “ipso facto” duh; 29A: MARXANDLENIN (Red giants), I was thinking Astronomy; 44A: DESPOTICALLY (How Ivan the Terrible ruled), by the time I got here, I was looking for the balance of the phonetic phrase, and I was quite pleased when I saw it. The beginnings of these three are “EX-MARX-DESPOT”; phonetically, “X marks the spot!” Clever, huh? 

There were an additional three themed clues, at: 67A: ARRR (Pirate’s interjection), as I sit here wondering, how many pirates actually said, “Arrr”?; 11D: BUCCANEER (Pirate), a not-very-satisfying clue, really… ; and 35D: OLDSEADOG (Pirate, informally), which I did not know, and was not helpful to me at all in the SW corner, which took me FOREVER!! 

Before I went to the SE corner, I first answered two clues, one correctly, and the other not. I started at 1A: ETTA (Jazz legend ___ James), whom I love. Next I misanswered 38A: YOLKS (“The ___ on you!” (classic gag line)), by filling in the non-punny alternative, “Joke’s” — this caused me some slowdowns later. 

I love (Funnyman Carl) 15A: REINER. I like the word 10D: GROVEL (Abase oneself). I didn’t know 43A: PETREL (Long-winged seabird). My favorite clue of the day was 40A: SPELT (Went letter by letter, British-style).

I messed up twice on 29D: MAKEPAR (Finish a hole between a birdie and a bogey). First relying on my mis-answer at 38A, I said “Even Par.” Once I realized that was wrong, I then mistakenly said “Made Par.” 

In the SW, I had my most difficulty, misanswering four clues. The only ones I got right on the first shot were: 65A: NOG (Yule beverage); and 52D: OMEN (Portent). I had troubles with: 52A: OHARA (Maureen of “Miracle on 34th Street”), I didn’t know it and mis-guessed “Omara”; 58A: MUD (Joe), I wasn’t thinking coffee, and wrongly said “Mac”; 62A: EGO (Roman “I”), I was way off base, and stabbing in the dark misanswered “Eta” — the correct answer is much more satisfying; this potpourri of incorrectness gave me a nonsensical reply to 53D, and only when I figured out it was “HUGO” (Science fiction award) did this corner finally come together. 

19 minutes today. No gold medal on a Tuesday. 

NYTimes Crossword

Monday August 8, 2016 — NYT Crossword Puzzle No. 0704 — Orig.Pub. July 4, 2016

Monday August 8, 2016 — NYT Crossword Puzzle No. 0704 — Orig.Pub. July 4, 2016

I got 1A: RAIMI (Sam who directed “Spider-Man”) right off. Around my house, directors and actors of favorite movies, especially those of comic book heroes, are a common topic of conversation. We also debate who makes the better Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield or Tobey McGuire? Of course, now there is a third modern choice, with Tom Holland, who, even though his body of work is so far minimal, we think may end up to be the best of the three. 

I was a little slow to notice today’s puzzle was first published on Independence Day. I actually first resolved the theme, and then noticed the original publication date. The reveal is at 48A: FOURTHOFJULY (Holiday suggested by the starts of 20-, 26-, 36- and 42-Across, literally). The four themed clues are: 20A: JEDGARHOOVER (Longtime FBI chief); 26A: UHAULRENTAL (Van for moving day, maybe); 36A: LDOPA (Drug used to treat Parkinson’s), which was completely foreign to me; 42A: YCHROMOSOME (Male characteristic). These four spell out J-U-L-Y, each start being 1/4 of July. Too clever? Too simple? 

I made an early mistake which slowed me down at 21D: DHL (FedEx competitor), I said “UPS.” My other mistake was at 24D: OHGOD (“This is terrible!”), to which I answered “Oh Gee!” 

My biggest problem of the day, however, came in the form of a word I didn’t know, but feel like maybe I should have, at 32D: LEMMA (Helpful thereom, in math). Being a math term, I’m surprised I don’t know this word. Maybe that was taught in one of those years of school that I skipped? I dropped out of high school, dropped out of college, and one day went to law school, where I graduated near the top of my class. I am mostly self-taught in mathematics and the classics. It is my thirst for knowledge which mostly defines me. Coupled with my suspicion of authority, and disdain for formal education. I only attended law school because I needed it was a necessary step along the path to my chosen profession, one which I no longer practice, and now despise. But still, learning for the sake of knowledge, I totally support. My problem with formal education is that it largely is an indoctrination, and boxes in free-thinking, rather than encouraging true knowledge and curiosity. 

But still, had I attended school, maybe I would know “LEMMA” — so was it all really worth it? 

19 minutes on Monday. A little slow to start the week. 

NYTimes Crossword

Saturday 8/6/16 — NYT Crossword Puzzle No. 0702 — Orig.Pub. July 2, 2016

Saturday 8/6/16 — NYT Crossword Puzzle No. 0702 — Orig.Pub. July 2, 2016
I was super busy today — had to drive to Fresno for work, which is three hours each way, to look at a couple of upcoming building wrecks. Fun stuff, but still a long day. Finally made my way to the crossword and dinner at Panera around 6:30pm. I ate my chicken and rice soup, and finished the Saturday puzzle in a leisurely 45 minutes. I will probably catch a movie on Netflix before bedtime. Saturday is an early turn-in night for me, as I have three church services on Sunday where I play guitar, starting at 7:20am. 

I started in the NW, and first got 17A: REDVINES (Licorice candy that was originally raspberry-flavored). I was pretty confident, as I also saw the crosser 4D: DIVES (Low bars). I also got 23A: ELYSE (Alex’s mom on “Family Ties”), I wasn’t certain of the spelling, but I guessed right. I saw 15A: ANDIMOUT (“That’s it … too rich for me”), but only the “I’M OUT” part for now. I also saw 2D: ONEAL (NBA star with size 22 shoes), but “Shaq” didn’t fit, so I gave up and moved on. I had to return to the NW near the end, but it wasn’t the last thing I completed. That honor falls to the SE. 

I next moved to the SW, and was able to finish the quadrant. I actually started with a bold mistake at 47D: SLOAN (MIT’s ___ School of Management), I had no idea, but I figured it started with an “S” [see 46A], and for some reason I said “Salem.” Not even close, but it got me started. 

I next got: 55D: ESTA (___ noche (tonight: Sp.)); and 60D: HES (“___ Mine” (hit of 1957 or 1995)). I then got the bottom crossers at: 65A: SEENAS (Considered to be), which I also misanswered as “Deem as,” but this made me realize “Salem” was likely wrong, and quickly prevented me from getting married to the word; 59A: KIBOSH (Put an end to), which I also misspelled “Kabosh”; 63A: IMLATE (Words said in a rush); and 54A: STALE (No longer crisp, in a way).

I actually got 32D: WATERSKIS (Has fun getting towed?) before I answered 46A: REYS (“___ Theme” tune from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), as I wasn’t sure whose theme we were talking about, but I was already leaning that direction.

33D: ALONETIME (Recharging period) gave me the correction to “KIBOSH.” I also answered wrong at 35D: RAD (Old dope?), I said “Red.” 38A: ALEAST (Rays are in it) gave me the fix for this one. 

In the NE I first answered 9D: FED (Like parking meters). This was hard for me, as I wanted 9A: FATLIP (Fight memento) to be “Bruise,” but I admit the correct answer is so much more satisfying. 

Next I got 12D: LINERNOTE (It may be a credit to the band). I then made another mistake here, when I said 31A: NET (Get in the end) was “Nab.” My favorite clue of the day is also in this area, at: 36A: ONELOVE (Classic song with the lyric “Let’s get together and feel all right”).

Competing the NW, I had a heck of a time remembering 7D: MUELLER (Robert ___, FBI Director from 2001 to 2013). That I had misanswered 25A: LUGS (Totes) didn’t help [I said “Bags”].

In the SE, where I finished, I made a mistake that held me up quite a bit at 62D: YTD (Accounting abbr.), I said “Deb” which isn’t even partly correct. Once I saw 49A: OTTER (Oyster cracker?), things started breaking loose for me in the quadrant. And 66A: SEEDLESS (Barren, in a way) also really helped. I knew I had it once I got 64A: EMOTICON (Small show of one’s feelings).

I finished at the crossing of: 41D: SMUT (Blue books?); and 56A: TINO (Two-time All-star Martinez), who I don’t know. 

NYTimes Crossword

Friday August 5, 2016 — NYT Crossword Puzzle No. 0701 — Orig.Pub. July 1, 2016

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 first got 34D: ZAC (Country’s ___ Brown Band). But I saw none of the crossers right away, so I looked for easier fare. 

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… 

In the South, I really had a hard time figuring out 44A: ISO (One-on-one basketball play, slangily) [isolation], which is a term I know, but it sure wasn’t coming to me. 

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. 

I was mostly guessing on the trio of clues which rounded out the SW, at: 42D: FIGARO (French daily with “Le”); 47A: RIMA (Feature of un poema); and 42A: FIES (Cross words).

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. 

Worthy of closing mention is the 33A: YAZOO (Mississippi feeder), which I’m sure I’ve heard of, but I truly did not know. 

NYTimes Crossword

Thursday NYT Crossword Puzzle — 8/4/2016, No. 0630, Orig.Pub. June 30, 2016 

Thursday NYT Crossword Puzzle — 8/4/2016, No. 0630, Orig.Pub. June 30, 2016 
Welcome back readers! I’ve taken a few weeks off from blogging about the NYTimes crossword puzzle for personal reasons, but I’m back. And thank God for that. 

Today I first solved the key to the four themed answers at 38 & 39A: TOP OFF (Refill to capacity … or a hint to interpreting the clues at 17-, 27-, 46- and 61-Across). Though I never did resolve the meaning of this hint until after I was completely done filling today’s grid. 

In solving the four long horizontal (15-lettered) themed clues, I relied about 90% on crossers, and 10% on puzzle-solving skills or pure inspiration. It would have been oh so much easier had I been mentally prepared to decode the theme, but alas, my brain was a little slow so early this morning. I finished this puzzle in 38 minutes. 

The themed answers were: 17A: DEFECTIVEBULLET (BOB — AKA DUD [cut off the top half of the letters, Duh]); 27A: ADOREDSUPERSTAR (TB8L — AKA IDOL); 46A: SHAPEDLIKEANEGG (8V8TD — AKA OVOID); 61A: BRIGHTLYCOLORED (VMD — AKA VIVID (pretty nifty, and harder to see than the others, not that it slowed me down, as I had no clue… ).

I was most impressed with myself when I answered (mostly right) the paired clues at 9 & 10D. I had no crossers at that point, and just sort of saw it. 9D: EMU (One of the 10-Down birds in the world). 10D: TALLEST (See 9-Down), I said “largest,” but it was close enough to lead me to the correct solution.

Never heard of 45A: EDNA (Novelist O’Brien), and had to rely upon my fledgling knowledge of the Spanish language at 31D: TARDE (Afternoon, to Alejandro) to resolve the sector. In fact, that’s where I finished, with 32D: ALONG (As a companion). It took me forever to see “AN EGG” at 46A. 

My only other mistake today was at 69A: ENOS (Book of Mormon prophet), I was guessing when I said “Amos.” I should have known, though, since I’ve read the Book of Mormon cover-to-cover at least four times. 

I knew 16A: MAUVE (Light violet), but didn’t fill it in, and was kind of surprised when it turned out to be right. 

My favorite clue of the day was 64A: BEDEW (Moisten, in a way). I never would have guessed it. I was reliant totally on crossers, and smiled when I saw it, as this is a word I rarely see, and I would never think to use — but will now figure a way to work it into conversation. 

I liked 45D: ENCLOSE (Pen) — I was thinking writing. Also 43D: SPONGES (Heavy drinkers, informally), I wanted to say “Sloshes,” but held my water. And I must mention 4D: SEEKERS (Positions in Quidditch), just because. 

NYTimes Crossword

Thursday July 14, 2016 — NYT Crossword No. 0609 (Orig.Pub. June 9, 2016)

Thursday July 14, 2016 — NYT Crossword No. 0609
I don’t feel I was especially brilliant this morning. I just think the theme was a little thin for a Thursday. 27 minutes, which is fairly quick for me this late in the week. 

First, a shout out to @cheryldell, Publisher and President of The Sacramento Bee 🐝. She promised to take care of the recurrent printing error in her paper, also known as The Mystery of the Missing Shaded Squares (in the NYT crossword puzzle), and she did. I’ve been MIA for a few weeks, and so as far as I know today was the first puzzle with shaded squares since she became aware of the problem. I noticed no misprinting today. So thank you Cheryl Dell! 

To the puzzle…  

The shaded squares, on a downward diagonal, left to right, in alternating squares along the center spine, spell out the word SILENT. This is a clue to two themed answers, at: 49A: [SILENT] MAJORITY (…large but not often vocal voting bloc), which I solved very early on, and gave me the shaded squares; and 21A: [SILENT] PARTNERS (…investors not involved in the management of their businesses). I think a little overly simple for a Thursday themed puzzle.

I didn’t know a couple answers, and guessed wrong a few times. For example: 10D: KRONOR (Swedish money), I misguessed “Kronas”; 33A: AKINS (Claude who played Sheriff Lobo), I said “Rains.” Also: 43A: TORTONI (Trattoria dessert), I did not know this one; which is paired with 26D: GELATI (Trattoria desserts), I had incorrectly said “Gelato,” missing the plurality, and had to correct later. Then there was the intersection of: 46D: EMAJOR (Key with four sharps), which I had first guessed as a minor key; and 45A: LEONINE (Strong and proud), I wanted to misspell it “Lionine” (which doesn’t even look right), but there is no key of “I Major.”

24D: AIKIDO (Modern Japanese martial art) gave me fits, as I had misanswered 33A: AKINS, and had to resolve this error to complete the section. 

Loved seeing Rob 25D: REINER (“Stand by Me” director, 1986). Love that movie. He also directs one of my top five favorite all time movies, “The Princess Bride.” So Mr. Reiner is A-ok in my book. 

Learned something at 47A: BOZ (Dickens pen name). Thought 41A: MATTE (Photo finish) was cute. 

I didn’t get 17A: AISLES (Pair of big jets?). I do now, but it was totally missing me at 5:30 a.m.

I appreciated 48A: HYMNBOOK (Singer’s volume). Also liked 23A: CARRIAGE (Baby transport). 

Fun was 16A: RAVE (Party that might start after midnight). And my favorite clue of the day was 10A: KNOB (Opening part).