Hello, everyone and hooray for those of us who survived the Great Pacific Northwest Bake-off. We need some humor here, after this frightening few days, which sadly left our region with several deaths from the heat. Hey, climate change is killing us. And happy Independence Day. Please don’t start a fire with your g**d***ed fireworks!
However today I’d like to introduce my handful of fans to Crossword Puzzlements, my New York Times crossword puzzle rant currently posted on my own blog. As a steady reader of Rex Parker King of Crosswords, I have found that a.) it’s ok to complain about the New York Times crossword editor and constructors, and b.) I’ve got my own bouquet of nitpicks to write about that differ from Rex’s.
Today’s puzzle, Saturday, July 3, 2021 (I always compose my Sunday blogs on the Saturday prior), was the usual jumble of puns, unknowable obscurities, and the occasional delightful wordplay.
Constructor: Kameron Austin Collins
The venerable NYT Crossword follows a predictable schedule: Monday through Saturday the puzzle grows incrementally more difficult. The Sunday puzzle is the biggest, and generally easy-ish because it’s themed. Each day follows a predictable pattern. For example, Wednesdays are always themed, Thursdays pop with rebuses or numbers or engaging wordplay. Saturdays are the hardest–although this one didn’t have the usual load of white space among very few black squares.
Take a look at the clue in the northeast (puzzle-talk for location).
Clue: Warning made with H.R. in mind.
This was one of the last squares I filled in, and as I had never heard of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance) Court (Govt. body that approves warrant requests for spies) I had to ask the puzzle to show me the letter. I have seen the acronym before but couldn’t quite put it together. “No Sense in Free Will”? “Nerds Stand with File Wars?” No. It stands for “Not Safe For Work”, or worse, “Not Safe For Wife”. That last definition set my “white male privilege” radar into pings of alarm. The long term problem with NYTCW has been just that. White male constructors dominate the constructor stable. Now lately, Will Shortz et al (editors who also, I read, are majority white male) have allowed women constructors through the door, not just relegating them to the easy-simple Monday but giving a few of them the Saturday slot!
The puzzle didn’t irritate me as much as some, especially the clues: “The Fly,” “The Host” or “The Thing”. Answer: creature features. And even better, “Glass home”. Answer: NPR. I’m terrible at puns and when I get one on my own, I love them.
Check out my blog for more opinionisms regarding NYTCW. Morning puzzle is one addiction, along with daily espresso, that I will never give up.
And here is a peaceful photo taken in the Peace Garden, Ragle Ranch Regional Park, Sebastopol, California.