Home » Detours Ahead – The New York Times

Detours Ahead – The New York Times

by admin

Jump to: Tricky Clues | Today’s Theme

SUNDAY PUZZLE — Adam Wagner, of Oakland, is a creative lead at Patreon, a monetization platform for content creators. This is his 16th crossword for The New York Times, and his fifth Sunday grid. Mr. Wagner is part of a large community of Bay Area puzzlemakers. He speculates that the overlap between tech and crossword construction may be the reason for the concentration.

There’s also a lot of traffic out there, right? This eye-catching visual theme presents a set of obstacles that made me think of the self-driving cars in San Francisco that keep popping up in the news. (Shows how auto-centric I am; don’t miss the constructor notes below, if you also mentally drove through this solve.)

There are five pairs of across entries in the puzzle that comprise this theme, all noticeable for their creative decorations. 22-, 45-, 68-, 88- and 112-Across each sport a series of boxes with diagonal yellow slashes, which I reflexively recognized as barricades, the temporary type that are set to block part of a highway, for instance. 27-, 52-, 74-, 94- and 117-Across are all made completely of gray boxes; each of those entries runs one row below a yellow-and-white “barricade,” so it’s pretty clear that there is a relationship between the two entries even before you start looking at the puzzle’s clues. This is important because these clues would be very confusing without context.

Each of the clues with the barricade within has two elements, one of which is struck out. For example, 88-Across is “P̶h̶o̶t̶o̶g̶r̶a̶p̶h̶e̶r̶’s̶ s̶e̶t̶t̶i̶n̶g ̶ DETOUR: Come in handy.” 45-Across is “H̶o̶m̶e̶l̶a̶n̶d̶ s̶e̶c̶u̶r̶i̶t̶y̶ c̶o̶n̶c̶e̶r̶n̶s̶ DETOUR: Computer port inserts.”

Solve one of these entries, though, and you’ll find that the crossed-out clue actually applies. 88-Across is FILM SPEED; the letters “M-S-P-E” fall within the zone of the yellow-slashed barricade. 45-Across is US BORDERS, which are “Homeland security concerns.”

Now, check out the clues for the second set of entries: Each of them, from 27- to 117-Across, is just “DETOUR” #1 through #5. This gives confirmation that they are related, sure, but not of much assistance otherwise.

Crossing letters to the rescue, then. 94-Across, “DETOUR #4,” sits directly beneath the “M-S-P-E” in FILM SPEED, and solves to LANE. Check 88-Across one more time, and notice that second element, “Come in handy.” If you detour from M-S-P-E to L-A-N-E, you get a whole new term: FILL A NEED. How helpful! To get from the first, struck-through element in the main clue to the second part, take a turn, use the letters in each connected DETOUR entry, and get back to the main drag.

That means that 45-Across, US BORDERS, needs to reroute to DRIVE at 52-Across, ”DETOUR #2,” to get USB DRIVES, or “Computer port inserts.”

Even though you need to completely deduce the “DETOUR” clues, once you know that they are all passageways, they’re doable. I think the first example at 22- and 27-Across might be the toughest, and it’s also my favorite. “D̶i̶c̶k̶e̶n̶s̶ c̶l̶e̶r̶k̶ DETOUR: Theatrical success” solves to BOB CRATCHIT, from “A Christmas Carol,” and then detours to BROADWAY HIT.

25A. This admiring term — describing “Formidable-but-awesome behavior” — is a debut: BADASSERY. There have been several BADASSes in crosswords past, however.

58A. “Things settled over drinks” had to involve a bill, I figured, so I wasn’t expecting a BAR BET. (Admittedly, the stake of the BET could be the night’s tab.)

75A. Drink enough whiskey and make enough bad BAR BETs and you might embody the pun in this clue, “Lose one’s balance?”. The answer is GO BROKE, unfortunately.

108A. We’re word people, so we can deduce this term for “Golden” from the Latin (and the precious metal’s chemical symbol): It’s AUREATE.

4D. I loved this riddle: “Hunt-and-peck types?” aren’t hovering over a keyboard, they’re soaring over the fields, as BIRDS OF PREY do.

70D. Enthusiasts of neat inside activities from the 2010s on may know these “Motion-sensing Microsoft gaming devices,” otherwise known as XBOX KINECTS — a nice, scrabbly entry.

72D. On the other hand, fans of messy outdoor high jinks will get this one: the “Backyard toy that attaches to a hose” is a SLIP N SLIDE, which was prototyped with a big roll of Naugahyde back in 1960, and is still manufactured.

“But Adam!” you protest, “This isn’t a tight set! ROADWAY, DRIVE, LANE, STREET, and … PATH? You can’t drive on a PATH!” Oh you poor, car brained soul. Who said anything about driving? This theme is about bike detours! You can peddle that autonormative thinking someplace else … I’ll just be here pedaling.

Stray thoughts:

The dream was to put the detours above their answers, capped off with a TAKE THE HIGH ROAD revealer. But I couldn’t pass up on BOB CRATCHIT / B[ROADWAY] HIT, so I scrapped the revealer to avoid the ROADWAY/ROAD dupe.

I also had to toss PICKET LINE/PICK [A VENUE] because the detour never reconnects with the main entry. I may or may not have noticed this only after constructing an entire grid around it.

My sister-in-law got me a hat with a portmanteau of 71A and 106D on it. I’m obsessed with it.

Fave clues of mine are 4D and 75A. Fave editorial additions are 28A, 24D, and 97A.

Glad to include some autobiographical clues on 61D (my wife and I are every couple on this show), 120A, 118A, and 110A (I’m a terrible liar, but I love getting demolished at this game).

Hope you enjoyed!

Subscribers can take a peek at the answer key.

Trying to get back to the puzzle page? Right here.

What did you think?

You may also like

Leave a Comment