Tuesday, July 12, 2016: “Broken Bones”

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Important note: Because of some bug, the NYTimes Crossword online app keeps deleting one letter in the grid after I’ve finished each puzzle. That yellow square should be a “T,” meaning that 34A is GOTTI and 26D is SAT BY.

Solving time: 27:17, which is longer than my time for a typical Tuesday and qualifies this puzzle as somewhere between medium and challenging, leaning on the challenging side.

Puzzle quality: On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the painful sensation of TRIPPING AND FALLING and 10 being getting blessed by Mother Teresa at CALCUTTA, I’d say about a 5.

Theme: BROKEN BONES.” Essentially, each pair of shaded clues represents a bone that gets “split apart” by the grid. For example, we have “UL” at the end of 24A and “NA” at the start of 28A; combined together, they formed “ULNA.” All in all, there are four broken bones:


Thought of the day: Life is just a series of SLIPS AND FALLS, made worthwhile by the fleeting BLISS in between.

Not much time today for even an illustrative cartoon of the day, so I’m going to keep this relatively short.

I enjoyed today’s cutesy theme, but it certainly required the constructor to fill the grid with some MURKIER (46A: More obscure) clues than I’ve seen on an average Tuesday. I would be surprised if HAS AC (31A: Is ready for the summer weather, for short) has APPEARED IN (11D: Is part of the cast of) a puzzle before, especially a Tuesday. I thought for the longest time that the clue was supposed to be read as HASAC (without the space in between the “S” and the “A”)  and was almost certain that I was missing out on some cultural reference. USE AC might have been a better solution to the clue, since you can have AC before the summer but not use it until the heat arrives that season. Of course, however, that alternate answer wouldn’t have worked with the theme.

I wrote NATTERED (28A: Went on and on) into the grid after I had a couple letters from the downs, but I was a bit hesitant. As Mr. Oxford English Dictionary says, to “natter” means to “talk casually, especially about unimportant matters.” That definition doesn’t imply anything about going “on and on.” Maybe PRATTLED, which has just as many letters as NATTERED, would have been a more suitable answer.

RUMBA (37A: Cousin of the mambo) is certainly more arcane than its “cousin,” although it did ring a faint bell when I tried to recall it for that clue. Mr. Wikipedia mentions nothing about its relationship to the mambo, but a little bit of digging around on Mr. Google will tell you that the two dances are indeed related to each other.

I also had a bit of difficulty on the UL (upper-left) section of this puzzle. LABATT (1A: Canadian beer __ Blue) is apparently the largest brewer in Canada, a fact that I certainly wasn’t aware of since I couldn’t get the answer to the clue. Then again, I’m also too young to drink. I didn’t know that an ALL-PRO (14A: Distinguished NFL’er) is the “best player of a position during a given season,” according to Mr. Wikipedia. Additionally, I wrote ICE instead of the correct EIS (20A: Winter hazard on the autobahn) for 20A, not realizing that autobahn implied a German solution.

Other stray notes:

  • I appreciated the grid symmetry of SLIP AND FALL (17A: Take a tumble) and BROKEN BONES (55A: Injuries illustrated four times in this puzzle). I’m sure it was intentional.
  • I didn’t realize that “Chrome dome” is a synonym for baldness, so I had a bit of trouble getting BALDY (40A).
  • I thought that 36A: Military sch. would be referring to a specific military academy, but instead the answer was just a general ACAD.
  • RYAN’S HOPE (45A: “__” Hope, 1970’s-’80s soap) gets added to the list of TV shows that the NYTimes crossword has taught me about.

Kenneth, lowly serf of Crossworld


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