Sunday, May 14, 2023

Sunday, May 14 2023, Sid Sivakumar

 Greetings all from the Northlands!  Philbo here, back for my second week of NYT crossword blogging - and this is my very first Sunday puzzle review.  First things first - a hello to my loving mother, who does the Sunday crossword, and whose day it is!  Hi Mum!  Happy Mother's Day!

Now on to business, with what I found to be a diabolically tricky Sunday offering.  The theme is "Alternate Endings" and I didn't think too hard about it at first, which led to massive confusion almost immediately.  "Person with a stopwatch" must be TIMER, right?  No!  it's 6 letters, not 5.  And "Meat-and -vegetables dish..." must be GUMBO?  (Hey, I dunno.)  And on that confused note, I meandered over the grid, dropping in the odd gimme - like 'French for "between"' = ENTRE; "Small fox with unusually large ears" = FENNEC - how has that word stuck in my brain since childhood? and MISSILE Command, into which untold numbers of quarters were deposited in my youth...and it was only upon getting the ZIPPER MERGES revealer, largely from the crossers, that I twigged to what was going on, and clever indeed it is:  pairs of Down entries starting out on their own and then their final letters merging, alternately and ZIPPER-wise, in a single shared entry below, with the alternate letters forming a valid phrase of their own!  🤯    So for example, "Person with a stopwatch" and "Meat-and-vegetables dish" went like this:

TIMEKE and jamba ---> lEaPyEaR

 See?  Neat, eh?  And the merged part LEAPYEAR stands on its own!  I think this is genius.    There are five of these, distributed evenly throughout the grid, which today has an interesting left-right symmetry, imposed I think by the theme.

Along the way, the grid was liberally sprinkled with obscurity and trickily-clued answers, enough that I never really got going at the speed I'm used to solving at (and kudos to Mr. Sivakumar for that).  A bit of an "eeew" moment at "Tablet you might take in the bathroom" (IPAD)

Executive summary: great, challenging puzzle!  17:12 for me and a battle the entire way.

A demain mes amis!





1 comment:

  1. Hi, Philbo! I'm glad you enjoyed the puzzle. I FWOE -- MERGER instead of MERGES because I didn't read the clue carefully. Didn't get the theme until I came here. Thanks for the review!