Tuesday, August 16, 2016: “Artoo Detoo”

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 9.06.09 AM

Solving time: 7:16, which might be my fastest time ever for a Tuesday crossword. This puzzle is as easy as they come.

Puzzle quality:


Sadly, you can’t see R2D2 in this poster.

Theme: Each of the theme answers consists of two words. The first has two R‘s in it, and the second has two D‘s in it. This results in the theme revealer ARTOO DETOO (65A: “Star Wars” droid … or a phonetic hint to what’s found in 17-, 26-, 41-, and 52-Across), which literally has two R’s and two D’s. Theme answers include…

  • SURFER DUD(17A: Guy shouting “Cowabunga!,” say)
  • ROGER MUDD (26A: Onetime CBS News anchor) Factoid of the day: Roger Mudd was the journalist who conducted this famous botched interview with Ted Kennedy, where he struggled to explain why he wanted to be president:
  • NARROWLY DEFINE(41A: Lacking broad application). It’s pretty unusual for a Tuesday puzzle, at least from my experience, to have a theme answer that is so long that it stretches across the entire grid. Nonetheless, this clue was still quite easy to get from the surrounding downs.
  • REAR ENDE(52A: Rammed from behind)

Say hello to the final week of Popular Discourse’s blog posts on the New York Times crossword puzzle, since I have to head off to college. Say hello also to my 100-day streak on the NYT crosswords! Solving the puzzles on a daily basis has certainly been frustrating from time to time with Will Shortz’s giant Rolodex of obscure proper nouns, but overall it’s been a blast.

100 days also seems like a really long time. When I started the streak, I was still a high school senior, drifting from one class period to the next just yearning to graduate. Over the span of those 100 days, I’ve been to nine countries on trips that weren’t even planned until the very last minute, for the most part. I’ve partaken in activities that I would’ve never pictured myself doing (I’m looking right at you, flying trapeze workshop), I’ve overcome some phobias that were ingrained deeply in my psyche, I’ve had exotic cuisine like crickets (which sounds like ew! initially, but actually tastes fine) and deep-fried turtle, and I’m happy to say that I’ve pushed the boundaries of who I am. The puzzles were the one consistent aspect of a summer that was perpetually changing for me, and I appreciated the assurance of knowing that I would solve a crossword on any given day, no matter what part of the globe that I was in and no matter what new risks I was taking.

Anyway, onto today’s puzzle. I solved this as soon as my plane touched down in LAX, and I thought that I was going to take longer than usual since I was feeling under the weather, maybe from all that cold Welsh weather. To my surprise, however, this puzzle was incredibly quick for me; this is one of few Tuesdays that I’ve solved in under 10 minutes, and as I noted above, it might in fact be my fastest Tuesday ever. My only mistake was at the very end, when I thought that Trebek’s first name was ALEC and not ALEX (64A: Trebek with all the answers), which is pretty silly of me given that I used to watch Jeopardy! on a daily basis.

There are plenty of novice-friendly clues here, like 19A: Romney’s 2012 running mate (RYAN, but you already knew that) and 50A: Like rappers Wayne and Kim (LIL). The long downs added some spice to the puzzle, including CAR DEALER (34D: One offering test drives) – which hasn’t appeared in the NYTimes crossword since April 2010 – and DO YOU MIND (11D: “Um … excuse me?”) – which has only ever been used twice before as an answer. Quite original for a Tuesday. Oh, and of course, there’s the theme answer NARROWLY DEFINED, which is making its crossword debut today.

cartoon 8-16

Discounting the theme answers, the only other clues that I had some trouble with were 1A: Sounds from schnauzers (ARFS), since I wasn’t aware that the word “schnauzer” means “a medium- or small-sized dog of a German breed, and 71A: Celtic tongue of the British Isles (ERSE), even though I was closer to the British Isles this past weekend than I ever will be for a long time. Oh, and BLUTO (7D: Popeye’s brawny rival for Olive Oyl), because I just haven’t seen/read *nearly* as much Popeye as Will Shortz seems to have. Maybe I’ll get on that in my final week of summer vacation.

See you tomorrow,
Kenneth, lowly serf of Crossworld


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