This is the second in a week of puzzles by Patrick Blindauer, all of which make up part of a "meta" challenge. The challenge will somehow be announced through the Saturday puzzle, and a selected few correct entries received by the NYT by 6pm Sunday will win one-year subscriptions to the puzzle. I will refrain from talking about any of the meta elements, should I be able to discern them, until Monday, October 27. If you're not sure what a meta challenge might be, you can read about one that was done by Patrick Berry back in 2011 on this page. (I promise, no Rick-rolling this time!)
So, how was today's puzzle? Pretty good, I thought. The three fifteens are all clued the same way, with "TIME," and they are all normal enough. MARATHONERSSTAT is a little odd, maybe, but I guess it makes sense. WHATPRISONERSDO is my favorite of the three.
The ?? crossing for me today, and one I guessed wrong on, was REHM (1D: Talk show host Diane of 31-Down (NPR)) and ELISA (14A: Actress Donovan of "Clueless"). I didn't know either of those two, and guessed A, probably because of Rahm Emanuel. Oh wellz.
XACTO (5D: Craft knife blade) and XRATED (13D: Like "Midnight Cowboy," originally) look kind of cool. Those two, plus SQUEAK (22D: Tiny complaint), SAWYER (Fictional prankster), HUMVEE (21D: Gulf war vehicle) and NAVYSEAL (38D: Elite fighter) make me think "pangram," but there's no Z. There are loads of Vs, though. One of which is in SVEN (48A: Kristoff's reindeer in "Frozen") prompts me to say that Frannie and I watched that movie recently on the recommendation of our niece, and we liked it quite a bit. I found it refreshingly different from what I expected.
ALOUS (23A: Baseball family of note), OPES (58D: Unlocks, in verse), and ELIA (2D: "On the Waterfront" director Kazan) are all old standbys, but MIGRATOR (3D: Seasonal traveler), DINOSAUR (6D: Natural history museum display), RHINOS (47D: Big chargers in Africa), and the pairs of ADO/APU and AVA/EVE were nice touches, and more than made up for the few crosswordsy things. I'd say this was an above-average Tuesday.
I don't know about you, but I find this whole meta thing kind of exciting! I can hardly wait for the weekend!