Friday, July 29, 2016: “Teachable Moment”

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Solving time: 56:55. It’s pretty surprising that my solving time for today’s puzzle almost exactly matched my Friday average. Since I had filled in less than half of the grid by the 40-minute mark, I was almost certain that my time was going to exceed 1/24th ODAY. But here I am. And here you are. Reading this. Blog.

Puzzle quality (see 5D):

If you represented crosswording as a game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker, then solving today’s puzzle would be like getting this card:



I mean, like, I guess. I really don’t know what to make of this.

For the first time since I started blogging about the daily New York Times crossword, I have relatively little to say.

Maybe my mind is still overwhelmed by the intense amount of stupidity that it exhibited on yesterday’s puzzle.

So today’s post will be a series of three connected haikus, incorporating words from the puzzle (I chose not to bold words from the grid this time):

Shack, a tramp’s kingdom
Manor, mannered for a prince
A tomb filled with air

His gleaming baubles
A bandage for the slit wrists
On porcelain skin

The tramp’s rank chest hair
Hides only from concealment
Pretense bears no odor

OK, I admit that that’s a cop-out. Here is some actually commentary on today’s puzzle:

  • The NYTimes crossword was actually the place where I learned that “to hot up” is a real phrase, where “hot” is used as a verb. So naturally, I was inclined to fill in HOTS for 1A: Gets steamy, with “up,” especially since I knew O was the second letter from ONE PERCENT (2D: Target of the Occupy Movement). That, on top of the fact that I couldn’t get SPY KIDS even though I saw its sequel in theaters, screwed up the UL for me and probably cost me a lot of time.
  • I realized almost immediately that 5D: Figure in a dark suit was a reference to cards, but somehow … couldn’t come up with SPADE. More wasted time on the upper portion of the grid.
  • I learned today that the letters INRI were inscribed on Jesus’ crucifix. In Latin, it stands for Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum. This means “Jesus the Nazorean, King of the Jews.”
  • ELSA is the most popular “Frozen” reference on the NYTimes crossword, but occasionally you will also find ANNA (33A: “Frozen” princess) lurking in the grid. I’m not sure how many “Godfather” references you can find, on the other hand, but the bodyguard Luca BRASI (24A: Luca who “sleeps with the fishes”) appeared in today’s puzzle.
  • I’ve heard the word CHURCH countless times in my life but never CHURCHY (23A: Intolerantly pious). I’ve also heard the word HANG and DOG countless times in my life but never the two paired together (32D: Like losers’ looks is HANGDOG).
  • Constructor John Guzzetta is cheating by including the entries TORIC (40D: Doughnutlike) and QAID (52D: Muslim judge of North Africa). The first one just doesn’t sound like a word, and the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t recognize the second one as a word. QAID also violates the rule that all words starting with the letter Q must have U for their second letter (unless you’re QATAR and a boss).
  • Black rails are birds that live in marshes. Hence, 19D: Rail hubs? is MARSHES.
  • The days of the week are named after gods. Tuesday, for example, is named after the English/Germanic god of war and sky. Hence, 60A: Eponyms of the week? is GODS.

Peace out fam,
Kenneth, lowly serf of Crossworld


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