I pulled out 9D Famously sleepy animals: KOALAS because I was convinced that it was PANDAS. All pandas do is sleep. And eat. But those things notoriously get in the way of making more pandas! Even if it’s actually for a different reason.
Theme! I now understand it!
1A Christmas classic covered by Bing Crosby and Bob Dylan, among others: BELLS. 6A Kind of gorilla: BACK. 10A Second-best era: AGE. 16D Gift of persuasiveness: TONGUE. 51D Metonym for the movie industry: SCREEN. 71A Symbol of privilege: SPOON. 70A Forks and knives, e.g.: WARE. 69A Attractive older fellow: FOX. 42D Marvel character with metallic skin: SURFER. 1D Simple solution to a big pro: BULLET.
33A With 44-Across, bit of consolation … or a feature of this puzzle’s grid?: SILVER LINING!
I pulled out 1A _ Modern (London gallery): TATE because I went there back in 2014 and saw a piece of art and felt abused. See, I had thought that there was a patched part of the wall where art had been, and I looked to see what had been there because the plaque was still up. Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t a patched wall at all but the art itself:
Tuttle’s Paper Octagonals are paper shapes that he cut from a template and glued to the wall. The orientation of the shape can vary from one installation to the next. Tuttle intends that the octagon should disappear into the wall as much as possible. Nonetheless, once noticed, the work becomes strangely present. As an object it is ultra-thin, but it still takes up an awkward place between painting and sculpture.
I pulled out 63A Readers of mss.: EDS because I didn’t know what this clue meant. Now I know, and it’s dumb and I hate it. Mms. meaning manuscripts. And who reads manuscripts? Editors! What a clue. Good going, Christopher Adams! Way better than Helms and Asner.
15A “Everlasting” candy from Willy Wonka: GOBSTOPPER. 22A Teeny-tiny futuristic machines: NANOBOTS. Really? 46A Tale of woe: SOBSTORY. 9D Orchestra once conducted by John Williams: BOSTONPOPS. 13D Some vaccine shots: BOOSTERS. The dream at the moment. 26D Places to sign in in inns: GUESTBOOK. What do they do with the guestbooks when they’re full? 32D “Peter Pan” group: LOSTBOYS.
57A 2013 Best Musical Tony winner … with a hint to this puzzle’s theme: KINKYBOOTS. Because BOOTS is jumbled up in the other clues.
I pulled out 6A Features of Sophocles plays: ODES because I hadn’t realized until I got the blue Congratulations! box that I’d done today’s puzzle from 2010. But it proves that for more than a decade ODES has been a go-to answer in the New York Times Crossword Puzzle.
17A In consecutive order: SEQUENTIAL -> (S)(E)QUENTI(A)(L) -> SEAL. 25A Just barely legit: BORDERLINE -> (B)(O)RDERLI(N)(E) -> BONE. 36A What a slow person may need: HEADSTART -> (H)(E)ADSTA(R)(T) -> HEART. 50A Slip-up: MINORERROR -> (M)(I)NORE(R)(R)(O)(R) -> MIRROR.
59A Fragile articles … or a hint to the things named by the circled letters: BREAKABLES.
Break a seal, break a bone, break a heart, break a mirror.
I pulled out 65A Baseball officials, for short: UMPS because it reminded me of the old joke of what’s the difference between a catcher’s mask and an umpire’s mask? You can see out of the catcher’s mask. And isn’t the commissioner the umpire of the league? By that standard, Rob Manfred is doing a great job. By human standards, though, garbage. Total garbage.
There was a Monday theme! Two puns!
17A Group of Washington politicians?: HOUSEPARTY. 61A Group of big rig haulers?: SEMICIRCLE.
Finished this one in 4:31. If I hadn’t made that one error, I’d have been at 4:04, which still wouldn’t have been my best.
I pulled out 121A Makes less powerful, in video game slang: NERFS because it’s a term I first heard years ago when playing Madden NFL Mobile. I used to play that game all the time. I was in a league that got mad when you didn’t do all your drives and stuff. It was super intense. Then they made the game way more interactive with live play, and it started to feel like what they had done with real Madden. I mean I really liked the game back in the 2000s, but when they started to get super duper technical with every single play and with how elaborate the audible calling was, it just stopped being fun for me. Also they messed with the controls, and when I wanted to cut left with L1 and cut right with R1, I ended up pitching the ball with one of them. I didn’t really want to learn new controls when the old ones were so intuitive.
Title Theme: What a Character!
Rather than go through every single clue that contains a circled letter, here’s what they were:
SEMI and COLON in the shape of a semicolon.
HYPHEN in the shape of a hyphen.
PARENTHESIS in the shape of a close parens.
27A Any of the groupings of circled letters in this puzzle: PUNCTUATIONMARK. 67A One of two in a jack-o’-lantern?: HYPHEN. Because there are two hyphens in the name of that carved pumpkin. 112A How to see the image formed by this puzzle’s circled letters: ROTATECLOCKWISE. 115A What’s formed by the circled letters in this puzzle: SMILEYFACE.
NO! 😉 is not a smiley face. It is a winky face. At least get it right!
I’m also a little disappointed that the puzzle didn’t automatically fill in the dots of the emoticon. I had to do it all by myself in Snip & Sketch.
I pulled out 46A Home of the only world capital to border two other countries: SLOVAKIA because I’d put in DJIBOUTI initially (hoping it was right and half-expecting to boast about it being so), and I was surprised when it was a place in Europe.
It turns out that the bottom part of Bratislava is on the Hungarian border, and the left side is on the Austrian border.
1A Cause for alarm?: BURGLAR. Be careful out there! 15A Work on some issues together?: COEDIT. Co-edit. 20A Old-fashioned endings?: DEES. Because both parts end in the letter D. 33D One who puts down a few chips?: SNACKER. Who has just a few? 40D Puts down a few chips, maybe: BETS. Let’s go, $MMAT!
I pulled 49A Nickname for Chicago’s Cloud Gate sculpture: THEBEAN because I got to visit it in 2009 (I think). It’s the only time for me in Chicago, and I got to meet some people I’m friends with to this day.
I pulled out 10A Red felt hat with a tassel: FEZ because I used to play Nouns in a Bowl with friends, but Nouns in a Fez is way more fun because you use a fez instead of a bowl. Nouns in a Bucket Hat is trendier, sure, but it’s not nearly as stable.
Theme coming soon. I’ve spent a bunch of time trying to get the table to format properly. I don’t know what’s going on with WP right now.
It’s the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Rather than entirely miss out on a puzzle, here’s one from today’s date in 2010. Why 2010? Because the days match up.
I pulled out 1D Very, very soft, in music: PPP because 11 years ago was a simpler time. PPP just meant pianississimo and not the Paycheck Protection Program. We were out of the Great Recession by September 2010. I was just about to start my final year in college. I had finished an internship at Gigapix Studios, which later fell due to the FBI’s allegations of fraud. What a time it was to be alive.
The theme of this puzzle was on of those add-to-the-word to make it a pun that actually works. I repeat: What a time to be alive.
20A Meat slice on the highest shelf?: ACUTLETABOVE. It’s a cut above but a cutlet. It works. 27A Advertising sheet blowing in the wind?: LOOSELEAFLET. Loose leaf paper does blow in the wind, and an advertisement sheet is a leaflet. 52A Dribble from an icicle?: EAVESDROPLET. This one is kind of a stretch because eavesdropping doesn’t have to do with dribbling. But 2/3 ain’t bad. Refreshing change from the 0-for-at-least-August and September of this year.