I’ve mentioned that every Saturday, Fakesister and I do the New York Times crossword puzzle together online. We do them every other day on our own. Access to the NY Times website is free, as is access to the daily puzzle. But for the ability to do puzzles together, or to access the so-called “Second Sunday Puzzle”, you have to subscribe to Premium Crosswords, which is $39.95 per year. Well worth it, in my opinion.
The reason we do Saturdays together is, well, first of all, it’s a convenient time to get together, but primarily it’s because Saturday is the hardest. The puzzles start with the easiest on Monday, then progressively become harder until Saturday. Sunday is kind of in a category all its own. It’s medium hard, but longer than any other daily puzzle. It also always has a theme, which today was “Flag Day”.
The puzzles often have “tricks” to them, the most common being what Fakesister calls a “housing shortage”. (Maybe the Times calls it that too.) For example…the clue for 1 Down in today’s puzzle is “1959 #1 hit for the Fleetwoods”. Three letters. The answer is, Mr. Blue–where blue is all in the final square. So the answer is MRB. I got that one. The 2 down clue, also 3 letters is “‘The Trumpet of the Swan author”, who turns out to be EB White, or EBW. 3 down is “Bushed”, which I also got–it’s tired, or TIR.
The problem arises when you get to 22 across. What you get is BWRSBEANCOBAIN. Which makes absolutely no sense. And I even knew what her name really is.
Now we skip to 90 across, for which the clue is “Country with a blue, white, and red flag”. The answer is France. And now, jumping back to 22 across, if you replace the BWR with the country whose flag is that color, you get FRANCESBEANCOBAIN. So the answer to “Buy real estate” is ACQUGWO (green, white, orange), or in other words, ACQUIRELAND.
How do I know this? Because I gave up and visited the Crossword blog, called Wordplay. With one exception, all 22 of the commenters remarked on what a brilliant puzzle this was. Well yes, it was brilliant, but so is astrophysics. We like our puzzles to be hard, but doable. We hate the ones that leave you feeling dumb as dirt.
So I was moved to leave my own comment on Wordplay, which as you might guess was, “I am SOOO annoyed!”