September 06, 2008
I didn't have a pen for the Saturday NYT crossword and it's a good thing. I don't think I would have gotten through it with a pen.
Things started favorably with YOSEMITE for 14 Down, Half Dome's home. Cole even looked over my shoulder and said "That's an easy one."
But things went downhill quickly after I convinced myself that Reached the peak had to be SUMMITED. There was evidence in its favor, including POEMS crossing one of the M's (Their feet don't walk), and something ending in 'ATA' crossing the T (Improvisatory composition; more on that later). But the answer for this clue was in fact CLIMAXED, which took me a goodly long time to appreciate.
1 Across, Westinghouse/Intel award winner, e.g. (7) was one of the last answers I filled in correctly. I wrote in HIIQKID (which seemed a little dubious, but with a pencil, what the hell?) once I had the KID part of it, but the answer was WHIZKID. Things were additionally complicated by the crossing of the K on WHIZKID, which was Aptly-named Philadelphia indoor soccer team, for which I wrote in KICK, when I guess the answer is supposed to be KIXX. Guessing KIXX broke open a logjam in the upper right hand corner, which had been secured against my understanding by Fox's cousin, ARAPAHO (I don't know why that's the answer), and They come out in the spring, GEMINIS. For the latter I went through whatever flowers I could think of, DAHLIAS and others, but since flowers are a weak spot for me, I was beginning to despair. The X in KIXX got me to the solution of Where inside info is revealed, XRAYLAB.
On the Improvisatory composition. I think this is a little bit of a bad clue, since anything that is "composed" is necessarily not "improvisatory," no? Troubled by such questions, but knowing it had seven letters and ended in ATA, I discarded CADENZA as not working, then went through various erasings and rewritings of SONATA, CANTATA, and PARTITA before finally arriving at TOCCATA, the answer.
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