An OLIO post today starting with another wonderful email. Yesterday I heard from Alla Bean and she's given me permission to quote her here. Alla lives in Switzerland, in a small town founded by Julius Caesar called Nyon. Her native language is Russian but she also speaks French, which meant she had an easier time than most with 1 Down yesterday since she knew Tutelle in French meant guardianship.
I've been doing NYT Sunday Crosswords, which I get on Saturday at "IHT", for a few years now. I've made quite a progress over the years, and now solve or nearly solve the puzzles in a day. It's quite a task for me, since I am not an American, I don't live in America and English is not my mother tongue, though I am married to an Englishman.
So I use Google without any guilt feeling, and all kinds of dictionaries — online ones or from my bookshelf, since most of American trivia, especially in sport or entertainment, is not known to me. But I've certainly learned quite a lot from doing XWords. Few months ago I came across Rex Parker's blog and via (itinerary word) his blog got to yours. So I can check the answers earlier.
Enjoyed this Sunday crossword, witty and clever. Missed only one main clue: STAGECOACHES, because I didn't know BASTE for WALLOP and couldn't think of DEBATE for CAMPAIGN FEATURE. DREIDEL is also new word for me. I'll look it up in the dictionary.
Thank you for your blog.
People outside the U.S. worry about American cultural hegemony. Local traditions sometimes have a hard time competing with American movies, video games, music, and novels. I grew up in a country that still limits the percentage of American content that can be aired on TV or radio.
Crosswords might seem snobbish to some, but they tend to represent America well as they get syndicated around the world. Sure there's the odd DATE MY MOM reference which amuses us all, but crossword don't play to the Date My Mom audience. There's a respect for knowledge, for precision, for creativity, and for intelligence that isn't shared with all other cultural exports. It's not a constructor's job to make sure the homeland looks good in the eyes of the world. It's just nice it works out that way when she or he creates a great puzzle.
I don't usually blog about the Second Sunday Puzzles because my database isn't smart enough to handle non-standard crosswords but yesterday's Going Too Far by Eric Berlin is great fun. Check it out.
Speaking of high-brow cultural ambassadors, Elvis Aron Presley entered the army at Memphis, Tennessee on March 24, 1958 and now exactly 50 years later that extraordinary event is immortalized in a Monday puzzle by David J. Kahn (answers.) This puzzle is remarkable for the amount of theme squares jammed into a Monday-level grid including this one that is even more themey than it first appears. I like that. It was also entertaining to learn a new fun fact about a former Secretary of State.
Update: The constructor of today's puzzle, the infamous Mr. Kahn, is speaking about crosswords Wednesday evening at the Mid-Manhattan library, 455 Fifth Ave. in NYC.