Monday, September 10, 2018

Monday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: September 10, 2018

My time: 5:20.

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Jacob Stulberg treats us to some CHEESE / SPREAD in this puzzle.  This means that in four answers, there are circled letters, separated by uncircled letters.  These circled letters, being separated by every other square, spell out cheeses, which are therefore "spread."

For example, DEAD CALM ("complete lack of wind, at sea") contains, in every other letter, E/D/A/M.  Also, "zero-tariff policy"is FREE TRADE, which holds some delicious F/E/T/A.

It's not the type of theme that helps you solve the puzzle; it's really just there to admire after you've finished.  But this is a fairly hard puzzle for a Monday, in my opinion.  There are words in this one that you wouldn't expect this early in the week (BEFELL, EMBARKED ON), and more new information than I'd expect as well.

I don't know.  Maybe I just had an off day.  But I think some of the cluing is a bit tricky for a Monday.  "Shaggy grazer" is somewhat vague for YAK, and "feeling good to wear, say" is rather hard to parse, let alone a direct clue for COMFY.

We've all heard of that lovable scamp AL ROKER, but I had no idea he holds the Guinness world record for longest live weather report.  He set this record in 2014, reporting for 34 hours, to raise funds to benefit the armed forces and USO.

Two of the themed answers is in my opinion a bit abstruse for Monday.  I did fill in BURL IVES from some of the crossfill, but could not have told you he acted in the 1958 film version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  He plays the father of Brick Pollitt (Paul Newman), Big Daddy Pollitt, who is dying of cancer.  In this answer you will find B/R/I/E.

Also, BILGE PUMP ("device to remove water from a ship") isn't exactly a common household item.  Hidden within this one is some tasty B/L/E/U cheese.

Apparently Waldorf salad involves CELERY.  It also has apples and walnuts.

SHAGS to mean "retrieves, as baseballs" appeared nearly exactly a year ago, on September 7, 2017.

Clever clue: "Grp. making after-work plans?" is AARP.

Well, as AWED as I may be by the verbal gymnastics required to find words that contain words for cheese in every other letter, I have to judge this crossword by its MERIT and not its difficulty to construct.  The theme is only evident after the puzzle is solved, and I thought it was somewhat tough. AnyHOO, bring on Tuesday!

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