Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015, David Steinberg


I really zipped through this puzzle today. I had no clue what the theme would be (and neither did any of you, I'm sure), until I'd finished the whole thing. I recognized that there was a huge amount of icky fill, but it was all very straightforward, so nothing held me up at all.

Which made the reveal kind of awesome, to be honest. I'm sure there will be some out there in the NYT blogging world who will say it wasn't worth it. To me, it absolutely was. 62A: Old rush participants ... or a three-part hint to what can be found in this puzzle's grid or clues (FORTYNINERS)... or parsed a different way, forty-nine Rs.

Let's take a moment to appreciate the artistry here. Yes, there are 49 Rs in the grid, but even better, every single across answer and every single down answer has at least one R in it. And then, there are 49 Rs in the words that make up all of the clues. I may have miscounted, but I think the 49th is the R in Across. That's attention to detail.

Then, the two long theme answers, MARGARETFARRAR and REARVIEWMIRROR, each have 5 Rs, while the two shorter theme answers, RIGHTASRAIN and FORTYNINERS, each have 2 Rs. I like the symmetry. And by the way, how about the clue for 46A: Where you might see the word AMBULANCE behind you... I really enjoyed that.

Okay, so there was a price to pay, and it is a fairly hefty one. AFR RRS RCA NCR UAR ISR GRE GRRS SRO RUR ARG REI NPR ROY RWE AARP NRA, just on a quick glance through the grid. And even the longer stuff, such as BADPERM, is pretty iffy. And hey! MRED shows up yet again!

1A: Gooey campout goody (SMORE) gets an A-, because who doesn't love that stuff? And my favorite clue-answer pair is 22A: Prime oyster season (RMONTHS). That's quite a way to shoehorn an R into an answer!

So, for me, at least, I give it a thumbs up. It's way out there for a NYT puzzle, and I like the variety.

- Colum


  1. 10:43
    I wasn't quite as zippy as Colum but it wasn't too bad. I had no idea of what the revealer meant, and didn't study the puzzle whatsoever, but it's quite a feat, especially the number of Rs in the clues part. Crazy! I hope this is the last we'll see of MRED for awhile, and speaking of old, GOMER Pyle? I needed all of the crosses for MAGYAR (49D Native Hungarian), but they were all fair. And may I say that even I knew Brett FAVRE. I didn't, however, know MARGARETFARRAR, and SAPOR is not in my daily vocabulary, but I'll give this puzzle an overall thumbs up, but not an enthusiastic one.

  2. 5:56

    Wow. I didn't study this one either, as it has been kind of a hectic week (basement water leak early on, and since then things have just been kind of a blur), but I've got to hand it to the kid and give him an R for effoRt. It is, as you say, very well executed. The theme, that is. And knowing him (the way I actually don't), I know he must have enjoyed getting MARGARETFARRAR in there. He's the driving force behind an effort to digitize all the Maleska puzzles (, and a real scholar of the NYTX's history.

    It's kind of a perfect Wednesday. Theme-heavy, almost to the point of self-destruction, but there's always a part of me that enjoys these crazy feats. Thumbs up from this corner as well.

    p.s. I love how ORRERIES comes back in Friday's 1D.