May 17, 2016 — Tuesday Crossword — NYTimes No. 0412 (originally published 4/12/16)
That was much more difficult for me than I would expect on a Tuesday morning. There were a number of words I didn’t know, and one square was a total guess (I guessed right — I checked after). Took me 23 minutes to solve. Definitely not fast.
I didn’t bother to think through the inner puzzle until very late. It was kind of cute, but by then it didn’t help me much in solving the crossword. 57A: HAMONRYE (Common deli order … or a literal occurrence five times in this puzzle). I’ve circled the five examples of a ham on rye in the solved puzzle below.
So what did I not know? Let’s start with: 1A: ATHOL (Playwright Fugard), sorry, never heard of him; and the crosser 4D: OME (Kipling’s “Follow me ___”), which is equally unfamiliar to me. That I also struggled with 5D: LURED (Brought in — which made sense to me, but I didn’t love it, and I was hesitating on the “L” because I was so uncertain about “Athol”) wasn’t helping. Finally, I grew a set and placed the “L,” leaving me with a hole at the intersection of: ATH_L and _ME. I was sure it had to be a vowel, so knew I had five choices (AEIOU and sometimes Y). “O” seemed the only palatable choice, and I went with it. (Correct, it turns out.) Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
I had a similar problem in the SE, but not nearly as vexing. 46A: ROOTLE (Look for truffles as a pig might) is foreign to me. I was questioning 35D: DIO (One worshipped in Rome), I knew it had to be right, but “Agnus Dei” was in my mind, and I was unsure. Then, for some reason, 47D: THREADS (Clothes, slangily), 48D: LAYETTE (Complete outfit for a newborn), and 49D: EMERSON (Poet/essayist who wrote “To be great is to be misunderstood”) all gave me problems. 58D: ORFEO (“___ ed Euridice” Gluck opera)) is also unknown to me, which only compounded my issues in the quadrant. And I had misanswered 61A: EER (Always, poetically) as “e’en,” which makes no sense, but hey. It’s been one of those days. Finally when Emerson dawned on me, the corner came together, and I made peace with “rootle” (still, rootle?! On a Tuesday?).
I started at 30D: MAI (___ tai), because although I may not drink alcohol, that doesn’t mean I never did. Followed that up with: 29A: LOAMY (Like good soil); and 26D: SYNDROME (Pattern of symptoms). So I felt pretty good at the start. Then as I ventured into the NE, I encountered 9D: ACCRA (Capital of Ghana), which as of this moment I still cannot tell you if that means it is the seat of the country’s political power, or its currency.