The Cross Nerd: “Freestyle #39”
Spoilers ahead for Peter Broda’s latest, FREESTYLE #39. If you like hard puzzles, do yourself a favour and solve it before reading on.
This one came out back at the start of February, but I only recently noticed and solved it. Obviously I should check Peter’s site more often! Anyway, it’s really hard — the high word count (72) allows for a lot of fresh entries, and the cluing is great but gave me more trouble than I’d have expected. I think it just hit a lot of my knowledge gaps, and then I got stuck in fixed thinking mode so I couldn’t see my bad guesses. For example, I was way overthinking 21D: Basket/ball game (JAI ALAI), but way underthinking COURT FEE (37D: Legal tender?)
Took me longer than an NYT Saturday, and I still finished with three errors. Instead of KILAUEA Volcano in Hawaii, I had GILAUKA, which I knew had to be wrong, but the crosses didn’t help me.
Lots to like here. Let’s do a rundown of the best entries and clues:
- 12A: KOOPA SHELL (“Rainbow Road” or “Shy Guy Beach” projectile) – This was a total gimme, so I figured the puzzle would be easy. Ha ha, nope. I cleared the NW without much trouble and then hit a brick wall.
- 32A: 4 OF PENTACLES (Its artwork may depict a quartet of discs or coins) – Putting a number into a freestyle puzzle is so mean! I felt amazing when this finally clicked.
- 58A: PEOPLE FOOD (Object of much tableside begging) – Great entry, especially right on top of SCOOCH OVER (62A: “Gimme some room”). Very pet friendly corner.
- 6D: REDFACE (Some Washington fans wear it out of pride (and prejudice)) – Great clue. I don’t have a lot of room to talk, I guess, as our local CFL team is the Edmonton Eskimos.
- 8D: AL WILD CARDS (Yankees and Astros, in 2015) – I knew exactly what this clue was getting at, and I still couldn’t see the answer. I kept wanting “semi-finalists” or similar.
- 10D: ERIN (Crossword blogger Milligan-Milburn) – Hey! I know her!
- 23D: LG 4K OLED TV’S (23D: Some cutting-edge 10-syllable Best Buy buys) – This was infuriating, even once I figured out the 4. The O stands for “organic”, apparently.
Peter is a fellow Canadian, so I appreciate the shoutouts to Louis RIEL and the Barenaked Ladies in K-CAR. And of course, I’m never going to mind a reference to one of TLC‘s best songs.
Very little glue — when RSA is the worst thing in your grid, you’re doing well. Great puzzle, very challenging.
I’m still fangirling over this. Warm fuzzies every time I look at it. ❤️