Avast ye mateys! I’m Maddie Bender, and I do the New York Times crossword as both a hobby and a way to fill long silences with my coworkers during our lunch break. A couple of factoids about me:
- I started attempting crosswords two years ago, with limited success. Nowadays, I can usually get through weekdays sans hints and a Saturday or Sunday if I read the New York Time’s Wordplay Blog (http://wordplay.blogs.nytimes.com/)
- Latin is a guilty pleasure of both mine and the writers of the New York Times crossword, apparently. Expect overexcitement for every clue alluding to Rome/Latin.
- I’m a sucker for bad puns— my favorite reaction is the exhale-groan that comes from an answer like MARX AND LENIN (29A: Red giants)
- My New York Times crossword subscription ends in September 🙁 Still looking for backers on my GoFundMe page.
Now buckle your swashes and hold onto your eye-patch, because today’s puzzle is pirate-themed!
Solving time: 33 minutes, which is average for me.
Puzzle quality: The theme was cute, and I especially appreciated the pirate clues outside the reveal ones, but I was nowhere as pleased with this puzzle as last Tuesday’s spider-themed crossword. Today’s might not be one of the A-LISTERS (39D: Top celebs), but it’s one of many that MAKE PAR (29D: Finish a hole between a birdie and a bogey).
Theme: The big reveal today was a TREASURE MAP (59A) that gave phonetic hints to the starts of three other clues… pretty abstruse wording for “X marks the spot” wordplay. So from EX POST FACTO (17A: Retroactively, at law), the aforementioned MARX AND LENIN, and—is this even a word?— DESPOTICALLY (44A: How Ivan the Terrible ruled), we get EX…MARX…DESPOT. Hehehe. Other themed clues include ARRR (67A: Pirate’s interjection), BUCCANEER (11D: Pirate), and the head-scratching OLD SEA DOG (35D: Pirate, informally). Maybe this is actually a synonym for pirate, but the fact that I have never heard it might account for why it took nearly five minutes for me to correct “Oldshadog.”
(figure not drawn to scale, obviously)
Head-scratchers: There were a treasure trove of these today, from EARVIN (63A: Magic Johnson’s real first name), which I was erroneously told was “Irving,” to ROUE (34D: Dissolute man), to the maddening UNS (61D: Little ___). What?! Was that clue supposed to be even a little helpful? They could’ve at least given an apostrophe. Also, raise your hands if you’ve ever said “The YOLK’S on you!” (38A: “The ___ on you, classic gag line). As I expected, not even a hook in the air.
Clue of the day: DJ SETS (66A: Music mixes at a nightclub) isn’t a particularly witty clue, but as a member of a generation to which the New York Times crossword does not typically cater, I am always happy to see attempts to appeal to the youth (or the little UNS? Still bitter).
Latin of the day: Other than the wonderful EX POST FACTO, we have but a measly EGO (62A: Roman “I”)
Your fellow piratess, Maddie Bend-ARRR