Earlier this week there was a request put in for us to share a glimpse of the endless joy that is solving the Saturday NYT crossword puzzle at stately IPB Manor. So it was with great anticipation that we settled in for a blogably delicious puzzle tonight. As is the tradition, we sat down in front of the TV, each with our own xeroxed copy of the puzzle, armed with dinner (spaghetti with a pink sauce made with our first basil harvest of our garden’s summer) and a huge-assed glass of wine. While we normally solve either with hockey on in the background, or with IPB’s Official Favorite Move, “Master & Commander”, tonight we opted to go with “Intermission”. But as it turned out, no manner of scrumptious dinner or entertaining background noise could make up for one thing — today’s puzzle sucked.
First off, the majority of it went down without a fight. We had all finished nearly half the damn thing before there was any need for clue-sharing. The SE corner of it gave as much fight as a particularly stiff Tuesday, and the NE corner wasn’t much harder. 18-across flummoxed Pookie and Boomer (“Barn door features”), but when Schnookie spotted them with the further clue “It’s, uh, like… farm hardware” (Answer: Hasps), it was lights out. Without any further sharing, we all rolled relatively unimpeded into the NE corner. (Boomer needed a hand with 15-across, “It’s pictured in Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night Over The Rhone’”, and Schnookie spotted her the clue “Big Bear”. [The answer: Ursa Major.] Pookie and Boomer also needed some prodding to get 17-across, “Vaudeville bigwig”, and Schnookie’s relatively inarticulate cues of “It’s, uhhh… a phrase… Like, uh… a, uh…” somehow managed to help them both get “Top Banana”.) Again, they call this a Saturday? The only stumbling block there was 8-down, but we all were content to get all the across clues and take whatever the word they spelled was without complaint. And the word they spelled? “Rondure”. Um, that is so not a word. But whatever.