Sunday, February 12, 2023

Sunday, February 12, 2023, Christina Iverson and Samuel A. Donaldson


Hello, fellow crossword puzzle lovers! I'm back, raring to go for another week of NYT puzzle reviews. Since last I published a blog, my younger daughter has left for a semester in Italy. I sometimes wonder why I didn't elect to take a semester abroad during college. The weird answer is I didn't want to miss being in any Gilbert and Sullivan productions. I can't recall now exactly which ones I did during my Junior year, but I'm pretty sure one of them was The Mikado. So, worth it?

But all that's beside the point. Today's puzzle is all about literal representations of four phrases that are slang for "economizing." And they're all beautifully done, in my opinion. We have:

1. CUTTINGCORNERS: not only are three squares in the NW and SE corner absent from the grid (instead of having black squares), the circled letters just inside the missing squares spell SAW and AXE. Lovely!

2. PINCHINGPENNIES: rebus alert! BI[CENT]ENNIAL[CENT]ER at 12D has the slang for penny stuck into a single square.

3. STRETCHINGABUCK: 58D: Not in a relationship (SSIINNGGLLEE) takes the synonym for a one dollar bill and elongates it.

4. MAKINGENDSMEET. The best of all of them, obvs. In the middle of the grid, the gray shaded squares that meet at the central black square are four synonyms for the rear end (CAN, BUM, ASS, BUTT). Hah!

INCAN pyramid at Chichen Itza

Meanwhile the remainder of the grid is excellent as well. How about 78D: The main antagonist? (PIRATESHIP) - as in "On the main," or asea. 48A: Senior partners? (PROMDATES) had me guessing for a while. Even 51A: Bussing on a bus, for short (PDA) and 127A: Smokey spot, for short (PSA) elevate 3-letter abbreviation crosswordese.

I appreciated RATE and MASS near to each other, as both relate to Newton's second law (F=ma). 103A: Like some modern maps (GENOMIC) is nice. Finally, nice call out to Gustav HOLST, English composer of the latter part of the 19th and first part of the 20th centuries, best known for The Planets suite. It's amazing how little of the rest of his oeuvre I am familiar with: two band suites and the St. Paul suite. Maybe it's time to do a little listening!

- Colum 


  1. Wow, I roared through this one, not really paying attention to the theme, and then crashed against the rocks of the NE corner. As a Canadian, 'BICENTENNIALCENTER' was not familiar to me so took a while to figure out. This was a good puzzle for its resistance to pressure.

    Hope your daughter enjoys her Italian semester! (How could she not??)

    1. Thanks, Philbo! She's having a blast of a time so far. Also, as an United States resident, I was unfamiliar with the arena name, but got it from context. Still took a while, though!