New York Times crossword answers for Thursday, February 8, 2024
Go to: Topic of the day | Difficult evidence
Thursday Puzzle – The first time I heard that Sam Donaldson was coming to the annual American Crossword Championship, I was very excited. Mr. Donaldson has been ABC’s highly respected chief White House correspondent for as long as I can remember, and there were rumors at the tournament that he enjoyed doing crossword puzzles, too.
So you can imagine my confusion when a man who was decades younger than the veteran journalist approached me and introduced himself as Sam Donaldson. It turns out that the puzzle maker was a law professor in Georgia with the same name as the reporter.
I was not disappointed. I made a friend the other day, a very nice guy who happens to enjoy crossword puzzles. Also, this may be why he is now using Samuel A. Donaldson in his secondary. This is his 39th New York Times crossword puzzle, and I’m happy to see him again. Also, this may be why he is now using Samuel A. Donaldson in his secondary.
In four places, two subject entries are next to each other in the same row. Please note that the topic guides are not italicized or starred, but you’ll know you’re on to something when the answers don’t make sense. I know. Welcome to Puzzle Thursday.
At 18A, the answer to the clue “Crossing the highway” is written as PASSOVER. Now, I’ve been to quite a few Easter celebrations in my life, and none of them have been held on a public road. There should be more to this entry. In fact, it would make more sense if you flipped the word around and made it transcend.
Now let’s look at 19A. The answer to “failed” in Mr. Donaldson’s network is under, but the “corrected” answer would be under.
“So why were the answers reversed?” I hear you asking.
Because the revealing clue reads “The axiom of dating…or a hint to the interpretation of four pairs of answers in this puzzle.” The answer is that opposites attract, and that, my friends, is why the topic entries are meaningless as written: Opposites, above and below, attract – next to – each other.
If you need help with the other three topic pairs, please click on the links below to see the answers.
1 a. “Reality check?” In Mr. Donaldson’s puzzle are CAPTCHAS – those online tests where you have to click on every square containing a bus, for example, to prove that you are a real person and not a robot.
47 a. The Internet initials SMH stand for “shake my head,” which is what you do when responding to something “unbelievable.”
49 a. In this mystery, “Road Runners?” They are things that run on the roads, but they are not birds. They are car engines. And if your first thoughts when reading this guide are “Meep meep!” Or Wile E. Coyote, this is what a real Road Runner looks like:
2D. This is a multi-layered guide that gave me a great “aha” moment, if you’ll pardon the expression. The exclamation point “Now I remember who sang ‘Take on Me’!” refers to A-HA’s song, and then an “aha” moment hits you when you realize that remembering is the “aha” part.
9 d. The flu bug goes “viral in the winter.” At least it’s not transmitted via social media.
14 d. EGGOS are food items that were “originally called Froffles”, which was a portmanteau of the words “frozen” and “fritters”.
30 D. The first thing that came to my mind after reading the guide “Where Do Trailers End” was about the trailers people live in, but there was no answer for that. This evidence suggests falling behind, and those who fall behind end up last.
34 D. “Start to fix” fits into the common pattern of crossword clues, which often feature “start to __” combinations. I tend to automatically think of the first letter of the name, in this case F. But in this puzzle, the answer is the prefix PRE. get it? Prefix prefix. 53 D. When you see the word “again” in the clue, most often the answer will begin with RE-. To “Split hairs again?” It is rezoned.
54 D. My philosophy – and apparently the puzzle editors’ philosophy – is that if you want to find a fairly ordinary word like HEATH, you’d better go all out and make it a clue about a line from Shakespeare that may or may not be about farts. (“As Lear exclaims: ‘Strike, wind, and split your cheeks!’)
67 D. “Dog” is slang for feet, and “dog on cat?” It is a claw.
70 D. “End of days?” Not an inspired prophecy, but the end of the word “days.” The answer is the letter ESS.
The gimmick for this puzzle was easy to envision but difficult to execute.
Finding pairs of compound words or two-word phrases that can be interchangeable is easy enough, but the two words or phrases have to be really different. For example, transcendence and possession are not an interesting pair because their meanings are similar.
Once I had a good enough theme set, the challenge was to cram four examples of the theme with a central detector. This imposed a lot of restrictions on mobilization. After a lot of massaging, I had a serviceable mesh.
The hinting was the fun part, and I’m glad to see that many of my guides have been cut, especially those for 1-Across and 2-Down. Most of the good leads aren’t mine, but the ones that made you groan were all mine.
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