Jump to: Tricky Clues
FRIDAY PUZZLE — I believe that if you asked 10 solvers for their opinions on a given crossword, you would most likely receive 10 different answers. Even though they solved the same puzzle, their experiences would have been highly personal. That’s part of what I love about unraveling knotty clues and learning new things from crosswords: You usually get back even more than what you put in.
I really enjoyed solving Jem Burch’s grid, but even though it was packed with lively entries and clever clues, I will admit that I struggled. There was a lot of jumping around and filling in bits and pieces where I could gain a toehold. Eventually the answers came together and I sat back to admire the finished puzzle.
The triple stack of 11s in the center was a lot of fun — THANKS A HEAP, QUANTUM LEAP and BUNNY SLOPES — and the rest of the grid sparkled as well.
But it was the abundance of misdirections and tricky clues that really won me over. “Green house?” as a clue for ATM — “green” being slang for money — was outstanding. So was “They’re inclined to help beginners” for BUNNY SLOPES (Get it? Inclined, like a hill!).
So what say you? Hard, easy or, as Goldilocks said, just right?
If it was difficult, don’t be too hard on yourself. Next week you may crush the Friday puzzle with the tricks you learned this week. And maybe you will be more on the constructor’s wavelength. That’s the nice thing about daily crosswords: Each one is a new adventure and a new chance to get things right.
1A. The clue “Boom box contents?” is not about the gooey innards of a radio and cassette player, it’s about the contents of a box that goes “Boom!” The answer is TNT.
37A. I don’t know why I never looked this up, but today I learned that the common crossword entry LOA means “Long, in Hawaiian.” Solvers usually see that as part of the volcano Mauna LOA.
1D. The clue “One hoping to catch a break” is not about being lucky. I have never surfed, but based on my research, an obstruction, such as a rock, can cause a wave to “break,” which a SURFER may ride on.
5D. My household makes up a large percentage of the THIN MINT Girl Scout cookie market, but, apparently, we’re not alone in loving them if those slivers of deliciousness make up “Roughly a quarter of Girl Scout cookie sales.”
6D. Eating at the Danish restaurant NOMA is on my bucket list. For now, I own its chefs’ famous book about fermentation. Has anyone eaten there, and does it live up to its “Best Restaurant in the World” accolades?
10D. The “Flow chart?” in this puzzle is not a diagram, but an OCEAN MAP, which shows the flow of the currents.
27D. The “High roller?” is not a powerful gambler. It’s one who rolls a plane high in the sky, or a STUNT FLIER.
35D. “Inspiration” can mean to inhale as well as to motivate, and BREATHS require that inhalation.
36D. “Disciplines” is not a verb in Mr. Burch’s puzzle. It’s a noun, and those “disciplines” are AREAS of study or practice.
I’ve always been in awe of Robyn Weintraub’s ability to effortlessly produce triple-stack themelesses that pack in tons of fresh phrases with hardly any trade-offs. This puzzle was very much inspired by her work. I also seeded my grid with 34-Across, which I’d been trying to squeeze into a puzzle for a while. Although the relatively open structure imposed a lot of constraints on the fill, I managed to include several phrases of personal significance: 13-Down had been on my mind thanks to a geology class, and I’d just learned a lot of about 6-Down while researching Scandinavian cooking. I was happy to include 53-Across because that’s the industry my dad (and primary test-solver) works in. And 7-Down is one of my favorite players on the United States women’s national soccer team, not least because she scored in the exhilarating 2015 World Cup final.
Writing clues has always been a bit of a struggle for me, so I’m very grateful to the editing team for its help in that department. But I was also happy to see a few of my favorites make the cut, particularly the clues for 27-Down and 10-Down, which I felt especially pleased with.
Happy solving everyone!
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