The Saturday May 31 puzzle by Robert H. Wolfe (answers) is a killer. Yes, I know, Amy finished it in 3:48 but it was just over the line for me, too hard to be fun. I had to resort to looking up answers multiple times. Rather than try to be amusing or clever today, I'll just list some of the tough clues. I'll end with a math quiz. By the way, my answer pages now all have links to thumbnails of all other puzzles by the same constructor. I added that a while ago but didn't mention it so I'm not sure how many people noticed.
The Wreck of the Mary Deare was a film Hitchcock was going to make but didn't. William Pitt, the First Earl of Chatham, was Secretary of State during the Seven Years' War (aka French and Indian War.) Pittsburgh is named for him. I'd give my eye teeth to be able to play tennis like Nadia Petrova. If you forget the lyrics, you can sing na na na rather than be silent as a clam. Ceres was discovered in 1801. Last year NASA launched the Vesta probe which will visit Ceres in 2015. Toni Sailer was the first skier to win all three Winter Olympic alpine events in 1956. Toni is a he, short for Anton. I studied atomic spectroscopy in grad school but I still have no idea what n radiation is. I may have that wrong or maybe I was sick the day that was covered. Second hand is a devilish answer for tick source. Dies non juridicus or non-judicial day is when courts don't sit. Postmosaic (after Moses) describes the part of the Torah after the first five Moses-written books. Chichewa is an official language of Malawi. Good grief. That's a lot to expect someone with my tiny brain to know.
I liked PBS for Oscar show airer. Oh, that Oscar. And speaking of the playwright William Inge, I re-watched Picnic yesterday. It's a rare case of a good play also making a fine film. The plot is straightforward but the intensity of the sexual tension is amazing even 50 years later. Crossword solvers should eat oreos while viewing it.
Also, I kept changing my mind about which Marx Brothers video to add to my previous post. I ended up using the contract scene from Night at the Opera. Click here and scroll down to see it.
Update: PhillySolver sent me this link which has photos and bios of several constructors including today's. "Robert H. Wolfe, 57, a veterinarian from North Woodmere, New York, has been married for 32 years and has two grown daughters. He has been creating crossword puzzles since 1974. Bob is also a long-distance runner, and writes poetry, screenplays and novels."
I promised a math quiz and here it is:
Today's puzzle has 68 words. (Mr. Wolfe's previous effort had 58, close to the record low of 52.) Those are all even numbers. Of the 4524 daily puzzles in my database, all but eight have an even word count. If you're curious, the eight oddities are 8/9/2007, 10/31/2006, 8/8/2006, 8/2/2006, 9/29/2005, 11/29/2001, 10/27/2001, and 3/16/2000.
Why are almost all word counts even in weekday NYT puzzles? What properties are necessary for an odd word count? Send me your proof or add it as a comment. The most elegant gets, uh, a valuable prize. Yeah, that's it.