Sunday, April 18, 2021

Sunday, April 18, 2021, Johan Vass


Hey, everybody! Or should that be "hay," everybody? 

I'm back for another week of hopefully scintillating commentary on the NYT crossword puzzle. Props as always to my co-bloggers for their fine work. 

Warm weather has come back to the northeast, which comes as a welcome change, especially for those of us who have two puppies in the house. Better to play outside than inside, let me tell you. And one of the classic rites of Spring is the annual dismay when looking at the lawn, which turns to mild hope as the grass turns green once again, only to revert to dismay when one realizes just how much moss is making up the green.

But enough about my lawn. Let's talk about the crossword!

Today, the theme is revealed at 103A: Item hidden somewhere in this puzzle (where is it?) (NEEDLEINAHAYSTACK). Well, despite the multiple attempts to convince us that it will be hard to find, the shaded squares and the unshaded across answer in the middle of it make it quite easy to discover. An argument against the shaded squares, again, although to be fair, I might not have figured it out without them.

I love that the word "needle" is hidden in NEEDLESSTOSAY, where the hard L has to turn into a softer L to make the hidden word. I am also impressed by the actual HAYstack, where so many down answers relied on combinations of H, A, and Y. YAHEARME? Also fun to have MISSIONIMPOSSIBLE, ITSALOSTCAUSE, and the clever GRASPING/ATSTRAWS along the sides.

JAKE and Elwood

I can see that the theme necessitated the extremely odd grid shape. Look at those cups of black squares in the north and south! Despite that, the solve flowed pretty well. And I had a lot of fun with the tricky clues, which started at 1A: Not express, in a way (LOCAL), referring to trains. 6A: Second person in the Bible (THOU - not Eve) followed. 

There are a ton more, like 16D: Subway fare (FOOTLONGS - nice hidden capital), 35A: Foreign correspondent, maybe (PENPAL). I enjoyed the consonantless OUI and the vowelless MMHMM. And how about ADAMWEST crossing POW

I give it a thumbs up overall.

- Colum


  1. Love, love, love this puzzle!For all the reasons you say, Colum, and because I felt proud of myself for finding the NEEDLE!

    Also it reminded me of a very cool Motown song from my youth:

  2. Enjoyable enough, but once I got the first two HAYs, I filled in the remainder and the word NEEDLE off of the N, so there's that. The rest went really fast for me (21:10). I've been looking at the older MISSIONIMPOSSIBLE shows. They are somewhat entertaining, but there are many similarities from show to show. Lots of great answers in the grid, and I definitely come down on the side of enjoying the puzzle, but, not to be NASTY, it seemed TOOEASY to me.