Wednesday Puzzle – If you think of crossword puzzles as a mental exercise, then you might want to equip your brain with a warm-up activity. Some see the mini as their friendly way into the puzzle of the day. My own routine consisted of a cup of coffee and a long, absent-minded glance from my apartment windows with a glassy look in my eye. If I can, I like to go completely blank before a solution: no ideas, just positive vibes.
After today’s puzzle game — designed by Matt Fox and Victor Sloan in their first collaboration — I think I need a better warm-up. No positive feedback could prepare me to challenge these clues. I definitely worked up a sweat, but I’m cramping all over from the lack of preparation. Off.
Is there such a thing as a foam roller for your brain? (I hear you say it’s something called a “martini,” and I’ll be looking for one after sunset.)
Entries with existing themes come in pairs, intersecting one another in a way that evokes a common expression. For example, in 3-Down: “With 14-Across, the first (and last) gift of a seasonal song.” Most of us know the Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” in which the singer receives a PARTRIDGE (3d) in the pear tree (14a).
Cross a 10D with a 15A, and you’ll discover “the reason for some hoarseness”: a frog in one’s throat.
It just so happens that all expressions also contain animals — a nice flourish, but visual wordplay doesn’t have to be appreciated.
And speaking of crossword warm-ups: If you’re a beginner at solving this grid and find this grid acceptable, consider trying Thursday’s puzzle. The clue of the day and the clues require some of the same lateral thinking required for last week’s mysteries. Just refer to this guide to use the “Rebus” function first, because Thursday themes sometimes cram more than one letter into a single square to achieve the desired effects.
17a. Not all “cold sauces” are AIOLIS, but all AIOLIS are served cold, as their primary ingredient is mayonnaise. (Hot mayonnaise sounds like nightmares, or the name of a punk band you don’t need to see.)
25a. The former “Middle East coalition, for short” was the United Arab Republic (UAR). Brief may also describe the age of the United Arab Republic: the alliance that was a political union between Syria and Egypt, It only lasted three years.
40 a. We say that the person who “lose everything” is broke. As we say, the person who risks everything “goes.” to break,” though that last phrase has it Echoes of victory rather than fail.
44a. The “fruity red” referred to here is not a type of wine but a color: CERISE (from French for “cherry”).
63a. EURO AREA appeared Only once before in the New York Times Crossword and was completely foreign to me as “currency territory”. I didn’t even know there was such a thing! (what currency do they use in “Twilight ZoneDo you have to open it with a key? category? i’m done; I will stop.)
1 d. Standing for the sound made by rain or a light footfall, “Pit-A-PAT” makes for a beautiful, albeit impossible to guess, vocal conversation. I suspect that, like me, some of you have been thrown away by the invisible hyphen or having alternate forms like “pitter-pat.”
11 d. You really have to sit with the “flat sign, maybe” before you realize that the “apartment” in question is an apartment, and the “sign” in front of it will read “TO LET”. (I’ve spent far too long trying to figure out a rebus that would turn this entry into a TOiLET – as if that answered the clue in any way.)
15 d. The use of Japanese “straw mats”, known as TATAMIS, goes back to the past to Japan in the eighth century. In the 21st century, not only are these mats a popular form of decor, but they’re also a handy word for Spelling Bee whenever you find yourself with a T, A, M, and I.
46 d. As I kiss my “Hi, Mom!” Is the correct spelling here, it wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. The scene I consider most “stereotypical” of a jumbotron is the Kiss Cam, in which an explicit camera forces spectators to lock lips at the behest of a screaming crowd.
not shiny: I’m excited to see this puzzle worked on my birthday! After a previous Times puzzle, Victor wrote to me interested in building crosswords and had no shortage of theme suggestions. After he identified expressions like “pigs in a blanket,” it occurred to us that we could represent those expressions using an up and down cross.
Since the last puzzle, I’ve started graduate school in architecture and hope to find more time to create crossword puzzles.
Victor: This puzzle is dedicated to the memory of my father, Gilbert Sloane, who passed away peacefully on May 24 at the age of 94. While he did not see the puzzle in print, he knew it had been accepted. When we visit, we’ve been working on the puzzle side by side. I got the idea for the theme from a book on English curiosities, and realized there were a number of animal expressions in the same form. Matt kindly agreed to work with me. I learned a lot in our collaboration.
I am a rheumatologist with the Peace Corps (I was a volunteer from 1981-1983). This October, my wife, Sandra Gong, and I will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. We are proud parents of two adorable daughters, ages 24 and 19.
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