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Wed puzzle – Congratulations to Dan Cabrera, designer of the Wednesday puzzle, on his third appearance in the New York Times Crossword. Mr. Cabrera’s last mystery was a veritable whirlpool of Thursday A challenge that requires analysts to plot their answers on a grid… literally. Today’s riddle, while not entirely puzzling, is certainly fun: it features a visual representation of a theme that brought to mind this xkcd cartoon (Spoiler thread in the link).
I’ll say more on this topic below, but first, let’s get into some of the more rigorous guides in This Wednesday’s Web.
21a. We’ve seen evidence similar to “Did you find diesel in street racers?” for VIN once before, but it’s funny the second time around. (For those who don’t get the joke: Actor VIN Diesel is best known for his role in the “Fast & Furious” movies, where he races the streets.)
34a. You learned from the crossword puzzle that the “adult stage of insects” is IMAGO.
52a. “The site of the terrible fall?” is EDEN – specifically, a file man error.
65 a. I liked the idea of a “performer who might step on some toes?” For the BALLET DANCER – Specifically, BALLET DANCERs often “step” on Especially Toes.
2 d. I didn’t really know what “building suite” meant for ELL, but some online research confirmed what the term was referring to wing that run perpendicular to the main part.
6 d. Wow, it’s been a long time since the last appearance of the AAR, Europe’s crossword puzzle favorite and “the longest river entirely in Switzerland”. It last appeared in the New York Times puzzle in 2017, but in total it has appeared nearly 300 times.
8 d. The idea of ”When ‘Time Warp’ is sung in the musical ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ isn’t a particularly hard guide for the ACT I, but I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to include a video of ‘Rocky Horror’ in my wordplay column!”
27 d. ETO, short for European Theater of Operations, was “WWII War Zone, for a nutshell”.
39 d. I had to think about this a bit! “Half D” is CCL, if you’re calculating Roman numerals: D equals 500, and CCL equals 250.
54 d. “It’s bound to be eaten by cattle” is a fun clue to BALE: straw hay is bound (usually with baling twine) for transport to a place where cattle eat it.
This puzzle features a neat visual theme in which three alien ships (the shaded entries) illuminate three unsuspecting victims (in circled letters). The subject entries all contain the same clue (“science fiction pot”), and the kidnappers are included in longer lyrics, with clues ending with the sounds they might make upon realizing they are trapped. All of this has been strung together by the detector at 58A (Tractor Beam), and evidence of this is “rays of science fiction energy that may absorb terrestrial bodies, as shown three times in this puzzle.”
First, at the top of the grid we have a flying saucer with a cow (inside entry Sa cow) was caught in his tractor beam. The key to SCOW is “garbage vector.” [Moooooooo!]The “garbage taker” is a SCOW, however [Moooooooo!] It could only be the sound of an angry cow on its way to meet its captors.
NEXT, WE HAVE MOTHERSHIP HIDDEN CAR RUNNING IN THE ENTRANCE OF BARCAR (“A place to have a drink while traveling [Hooooonk!]“). I wanted [Hooooonk!] to point to a goose, but in retrospect I can see why a car would be a more logical target – especially since GEESE pops up elsewhere in the puzzle.
An unidentified SPACECRAFT finally found a man in its beam, who was found in the entrance of MAGIC MAN (“1976 hit by Heart”). [Heeeeelp!]“).
I enjoyed the visuals of this theme, and I hope the alien kidnappers bring COW, CAR, and MAN home safely. Now let’s look at Mr. Cabrera’s musings.
Remember when we were all talking about aliens a few years ago? This was definitely an inspiration for this person!
There is a lot to like and a lot to not like about this puzzle. It was accepted two years ago, and I still think, visually, that puzzle is cool. I really like the way the gray squares and the circled letters work together to create an original grid. And I love adding the editorial team to the various New York Times crossword puzzles [screams] inside the clues. This was a nice touch! But, in order to have multiple symmetrical entries with center intersections, both the feature set and grid layout ended up being an absurd limitation. So my apologies for some awful uses of crosswords in this puzzle. Hope you all are still enjoying!
As always, thanks to The New York Times for taking a chance on one of my posts – it’s such an honor.
Finally, I’m going to end this by giving a quick shout out to my Uncle Charlie, Aunt Elise, my cousin Michael and my mom, Ann, all of whom do crossword puzzles daily and would love to see their names in this column!
Want to submit a crossword puzzle to the New York Times?
The New York Times Crossword has an open submission system, and You can submit your puzzles online.
For tips on how to get started, read our series,”How to make a crossword puzzle. “
The turning point
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