Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Wednesday, May 12, 2021, Tracy Gray

Every once in a while in the New York Times Crossword puzzle, you get the odd number. And that odd number today is 5. (Glad that worked out!)

The revealer is nestled, oddly enough (see what I did there?), in the SW corner at 67A: Alberto ___ (hair care brand) ... and a hint to 16-, 27-, 38-, 46- and 61-Across (VO5). It turns out that the name stands for "5 vitamin oils, and strangely enough was invented in Culver City, California, the home of NPR west. Not that that has anything at all to do with the puzzle.

In fact, in this puzzle, the VO5 refers to five phrases with the initials V.O. I definitely noticed the initial initial, but the second ones escaped my attention, so the revealer was something of an Aha! moment. Of these theme answers, I'm fond of a VINORDINAIRE, although I also like a vin extraordinaire, if I do say so myself. It is odd (okay, that's the last time, I promise) that Georgia has the VIDALIAONION as its official vegetable. New York's is sweet corn, a fact I knew nothing about until I googled it just now.

PANSY face

I enjoyed the pair of clues at 19A: Guadalajara gal pal (AMIGA) and 32A: Grenoble gal pal (AMIE). Cute that they chose two cities that started with the same letter. On the same international note, 4D: A slice of Italy? (SALAMI) made me smile. We enjoyed some very fine examples of that cured meat when we were over there. I liked the ones with fennel the best.

Did I know that MAHI mahi meant "very strong? I did not. I ate some in Hawaii, I feel certain. Now that I look it up on Wikipedia, I see that it's one of the fishes associated with ciguatera poisoning. This is a syndrome which Neurologists have to know about, mostly so they can pass their boards examinations. Certainly around the Northeast, it's not very common at all.

This has turned into a travelogue of Colum's deep dive into Google and Wikipedia. So it just remains for me to say that IHOPE you enjoyed your personal solve and my musings.

- Colum


  1. I seem to encounter one bugaboo per puzzle, and this one was the key to the whole thing. V wasn't working. So I entered 'FIVE', rebus-style. No go. So I gave up and of course, kicked myself to learn I should have entered the numeral! I guess I wasn't thinking sufficiently laterally. VIDALIAONION was a new one for me.

    Thanks for the musings Colum - a pleasant read as always!

  2. I noticed the theme after the VIDALIAONION entry, which I was able to get with a few crosses, and entered VO5 (in Across Lite which, as you know, has problems). But when I finished the puzzle, I did not get the Happy Pencil. I looked about and saw no problems, so like Philbo tried [FIVE], which also didn't work. Then I tried "V" to no avail. Finally, I asked the program to "Reveal" that square, into which it entered an "F" and the Congratulatory Pencil appeared. Terrible. I actually finished in around 6:30 (fast for me for a Wednesday), but the official time after all of the above was 7:09. I was happy for the crosses of Chichen ITZA because I'd never have gotten that one, though I hope to visit there some day, unlike, say, Tel AVIV.

  3. I wanted 51A to be a themer, but alas, even if OLAv were to supply the V, there wasn't an O to be had. Of course that was fortunate, because VO6 wasn't around either, so it all worked out in the end.