NYT Sunday Puzzle – September 16, 2012

NYT Sunday Puzzle - September 16, 2012

Title: A Giant Crossword

Theme: Jack and the Beanstalk

I really did not expect to be able to finish this puzzle, let alone do it with no errors. I had no idea what the title meant, or what to make of the major clue (3-Down), or how the circles fit into the scheme of things. Plugging away all over the grid, I managed to fill in enough squares for 3-Down to have the proverbial light bulb go off. This led first to easily filling in 50 Down (where hardly any squares had been filled) and then to understanding how the starts of 54-, 33-, 30-, and 14-Down as well as the letters in the circles all fit together. Definitely a challenging puzzle with several moving parts that was fun to work out.

3-Down. With 50-Down, cry made in [the circled letters] after the starts of 54-, 33-, 30-, and 14-Down.
54D. Not much of a try = Feeble attempt
33D. Oil, for one = Finite resource
30D. Exhibit apoplexy = Foam at the mouth
14D. Make a mistake = Fumble the ball
3D. I smell the blood
50D. Of an Englishman

The circles spell out “Jack and the Beanstalk” and are arranged to resemble a beanstalk.

Other interesting answers:
5A. Safecracker. Answer: Yegg. The first time I heard this word was many years ago when I was in a Hebrew school Purim musical whose storyline involved hiring yeggs.

36A. Grandpa Munster portrayer. Answer: Al Lewis. I immediately knew his first name but his last escaped me until I filled in some other letters.

71A. 2000 Ricky Martin hit. Answer: She Bangs. Though I’ve heard of him, I know zip about his music.

39D. Septic tank worker? Answer: Anaerobe. I’d never heard this word before and only got it right by filling in the surrounding clues. My dictionary says it’s an organism that needs an oxygen-free environment in order to grow.

100D. William _______Henley, “Invictus” poet. Answer: Ernest. This drove me crazy. I know the poem and the poet but was blanking on his middle name. Finally filled in enough letters to get it. This happens to be one of Michael’s favorite poems. I was sure he’d know the correct answer straight off, but because I don’t cheat, I didn’t ask him until after I finished. I was right. He did.

“Invictus”

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

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