sunday puzzle — Jesse Goldberg is a software engineer in San Francisco. This is his third crossword for The Times (and his second Sunday puzzle – his first, from almost a year earlier, was cute And pull a quote from a famous French kitchen, in case you missed it). Many solvers will be familiar with the daily routine of this puzzle-loving constructor: Solve Wordle, Check wordlebotPlay Spelling Bee, solving the crosswords in that order.
The fill is bright today, and there are some interesting long entries; It’s easy enough to get a little lost looking for the topic.
44a. I drew a blank on this trivia clue, “Andy Dufresne in ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ for example,” and I thought for a while it might be in-topic because I was misdirected to a homophone. it was done. I had “Syd” instead of CYD CHARISSE, which left me with the nonsense word “Essay”, as in “SaP”. funny, but only a syllable away correct description – Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins in the movie, becomes a prison ESCAPEE.
94A. This entry surprised me, although I am an owner and a huge fan. “They can get all over the floor” refers to the cheerful, rechargeable Roombas.
17d. Mr. Goldberg is a software engineer, and I wrote “Root Fault” when I saw “Server Error” with some strategic crossing letters. It doesn’t seem to matter; there is “parent directory,” but this is benign. Also, the “server” in question is not part of the computer system or restaurant staff member; it is a reference to tennis and a fault of the foot fault.
53d. “Primeval” makes me think of an old-growth forest in which people don’t fight, grumble, and make tools, but the Stone Age is a synonym.
62D./65D. I found the arrangement of these clues funny. 62D, “early ally with the Prince,” leads Morris Day (who is still traveling through time) 65D, “‘ru 4 real?,'” reminds me of a prince song.
Today’s puzzle consists of four pairs of theme entries that perform the same move, a letter shift, in which a character jumps from one entry in the pair to the next and both sentence clues make sense. There’s also a delightful reveal on 115-Across, which details the letter shift that somehow escaped me.
Another thing that somehow escaped me while solving this puzzle was the actual pair of themers. I blame it on finding almost all entries that get a letter first; They are 24-, 51-, 71- and 96-cross, and they are a barrel of monkeys.
In 24-cross, “the places where some belts are tightened?” The entry is Belly Bottoms, which is anatomically correct as a straight answer, but it is also “a play on”.last bell.” If you’ve paid attention to the title of the puzzle, you’ll nod here—”Why? Why not?” Makes sense for a topic that requires adding the letter “Y” to words and phrases for comic effect.
51-Across is amazing. “Lawyer with absurdly exaggerated humour?” becomes different from the other career pathCampi Counselor. 71-Par, “The Harvesting Machine That Needs Cleaning?” gets dark, 96-Across, “The fight between Tinker Bell and Princess Ozma?” is light as a feather: both characters are engaged in a fairytale fight.
I had solved three of those clues, which are at 29-, 58-, 80- and 108-across, before they got anywhere with their accomplices in the crime. For some reason, these were way too hard for me, and I haven’t seen the connection for a while. 29-Across, “Stephen Crane’s ‘The Red Badge of Courage,’ Like?,” resolves Combat Reed. Yes, yes, the famous war novel. got it. 80-Across was more of a headcrusher, but somehow still acceptable: “The Doctor’s details of the birth of three sons?” Solves the salad three times. Ah yes, Mr. Goldberg, very smart.
Luckily, 58-Across saved me. “Sleep Phase?” Solves the sleeper part. Ahh! In This “Slumber Party” “Well, Why Not?” In case your “Y” is missing. That means Combat Read is a play on “Combat Ready,” and, um, oh, it’s “Three times a woman,
Finally, (almost) at the very bottom of this puzzle, is that little surprise revealer at 115-across: “Be aware of the variation of the four letters in the grid of this puzzle … or a homophonic description.” I was wondering about “why looking” or the like, but this is much better. Say WISE UP TO aloud, if only to yourself—two Y ups—and pay attention to the trajectory of each letter “Y” in these theme pairs. They ride a bit every two rows and fit right in – pretty nifty!
This topic came about seriously. Luckily, I had to pay attention to the wordplay capability when the revealing phrase popped up in what I was reading. This may not be the most efficient way to generate theme ideas, but keeping your mind in “crossword mode” can sometimes bear fruit in going about your day.
Overall, the process of creating the grid was quite smooth. Since themeers only needed to remove/add a single letter, there were enough options to choose from. I struggled a bit with the position of the revealer. For those purists who like their revealer to be in the slot in the final, just know that I worked hard to make it happen, but didn’t quite pull it off. At least not without some ugly fill options that I was unwilling to accept.
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