Crunch Time

New York Times crossword May 5 / Constructed by Alan Arbesfeld

If you’ve ever felt “crunched” for time, today’s puzzle is for you: Constructor Alan Arbesfeld requires solvers to squeeze abbreviations for the days of the week into single squares. “Early entrepreneurial efforts” are LE(MON)ADE STANDS (23 Across), with MON crunched into one square; it then crosses with AL(MON)DINE (“How trout may be prepared: Var.”, 3 Down).

Other days of the week:

_ STA(TUE) OF DAVID (“Florentine attraction,” 28 Across), which crosses with VIR(TUE)S (“Good qualities,” 12 Down).

_ STE(WED) PRUNES, which was clued by a surprising attempt at bathroom humor (“Food to go?”, 43 Across) and crosses with BO(WED) OUT (“Withdrew,” 31 Down).

_ BUDAPES(T HU)NGARY (“Birthplace of Harry Houdini,” 69 Across), which crosses with GREEN (THU)MB (“Nursery gift,” 39 Down).

_ BETTY (FRI)EDAN (“Big name in feminism,” 93 Across), which crosses with A(FRI)CA (“Isak Dinesen novel setting,” 88 Down).

_ CATCHE(S A T)RAIN (“Just makes the 7:47, perhaps,” 110 Across), which crosses with U(S AT)LAS (“50-page book, maybe?” 106 Down).

_ And GOE(S UN)DER COVER (“Does spy work,” 118 Across), which crosses with ETAT(S UN)IS (“___ d’Amerique,” 94 Down).

'Crunch Time' does not refer to the Nestle's candy bar.

‘Crunch Time’ does not refer to the Nestle’s candy bar.

I figured there’d be some squeezing involved after seeing the word “crunch” in the title, a hunch that was confirmed when I ended up with CATCHE_R_ _ _ for 110 Across. Something would have to give in order to get the word TRAIN in there. Then I realized that 106 Down wasn’t just ATLAS but US ATLAS after guessing RUDI at 105 Across (“Designer Gernreich”). So I squeezed in SAT, but I was still puzzled. Was today the weekend everyone takes the SAT? If so, who cares? Why would that be the basis for a puzzle? Then I figured out the theme answer involving TUE, and it became clear.

Cinco de Mayo Dept.: I’ll take this opportunity to highlight some Spanish words in honor of today’s date marking an obscure military victory that’s often mistaken for Mexican Independence Day (which is actually Sept. 16). The doubled clue “Spanish precious metal” yields PLATA (“silver,” 63 Across) and ORO (“gold,” 121 Down). “Durango dinero” is a PESO (115 Down). And “That, in Tijuana” is ESA (126 Down).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: I thought today’s Philly shout-out was going to be a breeze when I saw “Eagles’ org.” at 93 Down. I quickly wrote in NFL … and then saw that the “L” had to be an “A” in order for 108 Across to be PAAR (“Carson’s predecessor”). Eventually, I figured out that it was BSA, for Boy Scouts of America – but it so happens that Philly has a connection there, too. On Friday, the city resolved a long-running dispute with the group stemming from its ban on gay Scouts. I’ll also throw 52 Down into this category as well: “Certain tournaments” are OPENS, and the U.S. Open is coming to the Merion Golf Club just outside Philly next month.

Haha Dept.: “George W. Bush acquisition of 2008″ is a SON-IN-LAW. Jenna Bush and Henry Hager recently had a child.

Where In The World? Dept.: “Alberta’s third-largest city, named after an animal” is RED DEER (18 Down). “Amerique du ___” is SUD (22 Down). “World’s leading exporter of bananas” is ECUADOR (90 Down). And a “Neighbor of a Belarussian” is a LATVIAN (16 Down), although I distinctly remember a clue that stumped me a few months ago in which a resident of Riga (the capital of Latvia) was called a LETT.

Rhyme Time Dept.: “Priest, in an Ogden Nash poem,” is a ONE-L LAMA (59 Across), which requires some explaining if you aren’t familiar with his quirky genius:

The one-l lama,
He’s a priest.
The two-l llama,
He’s a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn’t any
Three-l lllama.

And then Nash added a classic footnote as a kicker: “The author’s attention has been called to a type of conflagration known as a three-alarmer. Pooh.”

Need some solving tips and tricks? I’ve posted some here. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. You can also visit my Facebook page, or tweet me @crosswordkathy.

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