NYT Crossword Answers: “Enigma Variations” Composer
WEDNESDAY PUZZLE — Congratulations to Victor Barocas, who is making his 18th appearance in the New York Times Crossword.
I felt that Mr. Barocas’s puzzle was pretty tough for a Wednesday puzzle, although I had an inkling of what the theme might be before I reached the revealer, which helped me fill in some of the circled letters. Don’t you just love when that happens? You’ll be plugging along at a puzzle and suddenly notice that some letters in circles appear to be repeating, and it’ll dawn on you, Hey, that’s the theme!
Before we talk about that theme, though, let’s take a look at some clues that may have given solvers some trouble today.
10A. “The ‘Toreador Song,’ for one” is an ARIA — specifically, it’s from the opera “Carmen.”
15A. I know not everyone is a fan of using the word ADULT as a verb (“Fulfill mundane but necessary responsibilities, in modern lingo”), but, as a millennial, I admit I do call undertaking tasks like going to the post office or filing fees ADULTing.
20A. “Does pranks with rolls, informally” is the clue for TPS, short for “toilet papers.”
28A. Today I learned about Lil REL Howery (“Actor/comedian Lil ___ Howery”), who was in “Get Out” and also starred in his own self-titled television show “REL.”
35A. Solvers who live outside New York City could be forgiven for not knowing that NOLITA is a “Manhattan neighborhood next to SoHo.” It comes from condensing “north of Little Italy” into one word.
54A. I love the optimism in the clue “Beings not (yet) proven to exist” for ETS, or extraterrestrials. It’s not for lack of trying!
6D. I fell for the misdirect in “Org. promoting canine care,” thinking it would be a veterinary organization of some sort. Instead, it’s the American Dental Association, or ADA.
8D. If, like me, you didn’t know REL at 28A or ELGAR (“‘Enigma Variations’ composer”), you may have had to guess at this crossing. Somehow, I was able to pull the correct letter from wherever ELGAR was buried deep within my brain.
11D. When a clue is in French, the answer will most likely also be in French. “Pépin le Bref, par exemple” is French for “Pépin the Short, for example.” Pépin was a king, or, in French, un ROI.
45D. “It’ll dawn on you” is a lovely clue for DAY.
48D. Finally, “Up-start?” is the clue for SHORT U because the word “up” starts with a SHORT U sound.
This puzzle features four groups of circled letters that illustrate the puzzle’s theme, which is revealed along the bottom row: LIES UNDER OATH (“With 71- and 72-Across, commits perjury … or what can be found four times in this puzzle”) . Each set of circles contains a different “oath” in the top row, and under each oath you’ll find the word LIE.
The first set of LIES UNDER OATH that I encountered was GOSH, contained within the entry CARGO SHIPS, over the word LIE, contained in YALIE. The other OATHs are EGAD (in MEGADEALS), DRAT (in BOND GEARIO) and DANG (in DANGHE SIGNS). These are mild OATHs indeed, but lying under OATH is a serious crime that I would caution against, regardless of how tame the OATH might be.
I appreciate Mr. Barocas’s commitment to ensuring that his OATHs were all literal and figurative four-letter words. In his notes below, find out about the rejected options that were the wrong length.
Greetings to all from Minnesota, and I hope that 2023 is starting off well for you. The constraining theme ended up giving the puzzle a bit of an odd pattern — it’s a long way from 5D to 63D via the white squares, and I don’t like having a grid in which a single black square could isolate a section. But the fill came out OK, and I managed to get four different LIEs under oaths in there. I liked that all four were four-letter oaths with LIE under the last three letters. That ruled out GOLLY and GEE (and CRIMINY was a nonstarter), but we all make sacrifices. I hope that everyone enjoyed solving the puzzle as much as I enjoyed making it. And remember, kids, don’t lie under oath.
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