NYT Crossword Answers: Actress Gasteyer of “Saturday Night Live” Fame
Theme of the day
This puzzle has five Across entries with shaded and crossed out squares. Bars are new to me – I’m not sure I’ve seen them in a standard American crossword puzzle before – but their purpose becomes clear soon enough in the resolution.
Each of the sets of shaded squares, closed by the bars, contains the letters ART in various configurations. The first of these is S |TAR| QU |ART| ERBACK, with shading and bars to distinguish the words ART from the rest of the entry. In the second topic entry we have |RAT|TRA| PS, and it becomes obvious why the bars were needed. Unlike the first thematic entry, in which the letters ART were separated by QU, the second thematic entry had them back to back. Without the bars, it would just look like six shaded squares in a row, with no indication that the theme hinged around the grouping of the letters is RAT and TRA.
There are three other long Across entries that complete the theme, and the powerhouse actually has ART in it. Three different configurations (this is also the phrase Mr. Cheng noticed in his gym that inspired this theme).
At 37D, we meet the revealer: “Various creative mediums… or a clue to the variations found in the shaded squares. Ah! The various creative mediums in question are ART FORMS, and the three letter blocks we encountered throughout the grid are SHAPES of the word ART, reconfigured in every way, some used more than once.
Reading the origins of this theme in Mr. Cheng’s notes made me appreciate his art even more. They say there is no consideration for taste in ART, but there is no doubt that crossword puzzle construction is, indeed, an ART FORM in itself.
I was in the gym one day (that was before Covid), and a graph on a 33A versus age wall, which I hadn’t paid much attention to before, suddenly seemed to have a interesting property – and a puzzle was born. It was by chance that it developed into different ways of looking at ART.
With 69 letters dedicated to the theme, there wasn’t much room left for the bonus material, so my goal really was to make the filling as smooth as possible.
As usual, the Times team improved the index a lot – well done for 46D, which was new to me.
Builder Logs: The puzzle was submitted in February 2020 and accepted in October 2020.
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The tipping point
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