Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wednesday's New York Times puzzle solved: April 18, 2018

My time: 11:05, very average.  They can't all be gems.


Perhaps one reason I didn't solve this one very fast is that I didn't understand the theme.  Even when the grid was complete, I didn't see it.  Peter A. Collins and Bruce Haight constructed this puzzle, which claims that the Screamin' Jay Hawkins classic "I PUT A SPELL ON YOU" hints at what happens three times in its solution.

I didn't see it.  I don't see it.  I'm looking for it.  Nothing.  Finally, hours after the solve, I see it.  The letter string H-E-X appears directly over the letters Y-O-U.  TOOTH EXTRACTION ("it creates an opening at the dentists' office") is over EMPTY OUT.  MATH EXAM ("it might involve x, y, and z") is positioned over JOYOUSLY.  And CORN CHEX is on the right edge, neatly sitting atop the YOU in the Hawkins song title.

So, no aha moment.  In fact, I'd have been more engaged and impressed if each HEX and YOU had been shaded or circled, and then the song title had been clued more vaguely ("much-covered song hinted at in this puzzle's shaded squares"), to give it a sort of punchline.  As it is I feel a little like someone who finished a run and then was told that he lost a race he didn't know he had entered.

Anyhoo.  We also get MOO MOO and BAA in this puzzle, so it isn't all highbrow.

New to me is Frank NITTI, Al Capone's right hand man, nicknamed the Enforcer.  He later became head of the Chicago Outfit when Al went to the big house for cheating the feds out of their vig.

You don't need to know much about Bobby ORR to write his name in when told he's a player whose number rhymed with his jersey.

Pachelbel's Canon in D appeared a while back, but now we are told that its key is D MAJ.

"Colorful, conical candy on a stick" sounds like cotton candy, but here what is wanted is ASTRO POP.  Not a fixture of my personal childhood but apparently a fan favorite for many, these are transparent tricolor lollipops designed to look like rockets.  Launched in 1963, they were created by two former rocket scientists who had worked on the space program.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I thought that the TACHYON was a science fiction invention, not a theoretical particle posited by professional physicists in 1967.  The special property of these particles is that as they gain energy, they lose speed; their slowest possible speed is the speed of light (186,000 miles per second).

I couldn't stop thinking about elephants after reading "lump on a trunk," but of course it's BURL.

Yes, a new word for me: NON-U, British slang for a Cockney or any other yobbo not in the upper crusts.  I kept reading it as one two-syllable word, rhyming with beaucoup.

Clever clues: "Ones making a case for drinking?" is SODAS.  "One who talks on the phone a lot?" is SIRI.  "Kingdom that's spread throughout the world" is ANIMALIA.

YOW.  This was a difficult one, with not much of a reward.  I mean, I admire the way the fill is arranged, but I've SCENE more fun puzzles. OH YES.


  1. I would have done so much better on this one without the "clue." Like you, I couldn't find the theme until I checked with Rex Parker the next morning. In the meantime, I kept resisting "Tooth Extraction" because I was trying to figure out some way that I's would be spelled with U's. One of my least favorite in a streak of (now) 36.

  2. I didn't even think about replacing the I's with U's, though that's certainly a logical inference to make based on the clue. This was a badly executed and presented idea, unfortunately.


Sunday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: August 9, 2020

                              My time: 19:28 , not too shabby for a Sunday! Theme: SHIPSHAPE, as shown when you connect the "dots"...