65A: “Executive producer?” = WHARTON. University of Pennsylvania’s business school can be said to “produce executives.”
I loved this theme. Perhaps a bit tough for a Tuesday, but an occasional challenge is always nice. After all, we do crosswords to stretch our brains, and the reinterpretation of phrases like these has us doing just that. HAT TIPS are in order for Mr. Smith and Ms. Burnikel.
32A: The “buds” in the clue “They come with buds” had me thinking about flowers and friends first. However, the correct answer is IPODS, which come with earbuds.
39A: Occasionally, some clue-answer combinations are tough from the answers themselves, even though the clue is quite descriptive. SAD DAY didn’t come to mind immediately, though how else could it have been clued for a Tuesday audience? This is its Times debut, too.
5D: Another Times debut that surprised me, as I filled it right in the grid without crossers. Were you familiar with SUE BEE?
23D: I had no idea what cane blades were, but this is a great example of where pattern recognition is just as valuable as an expansive trivia background. Let’s say you saw this clue, and only knew that the answer was O _ _ E. How many other musical instruments do you know that follow this letter pattern? You should be able to tentatively fill in OBOE and then check your crossers; perhaps guessing on that second O will help you figure out ORB at 33A.
25D: Hot MICS “can cause trouble” by allowing people to hear comments that you didn’t intend to make publicly. “Mics” are short for “microphones.”
57D: You always have to be careful in deciding between AAH and AHH. Here, even if you were unfamiliar with 62A, OH HENRY looks much more plausible than OAHENRY.
Harry Smith: Late last winter, NBC News producer Kori Lynch wanted to know if I had any interest in doing a story on Will Shortz and the 75th anniversary of the Times Crossword. As a fan, I could not pass up the opportunity. We covered the big puzzle competition in Connecticut which Will started and still runs. [This is the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. See you there in a few months? —S.E.] And eventually made it to his home for the big interview. The place is a riot. There are stacks of ancient newspapers. Piles of puzzle books. Artifacts and ephemera from his lifetime as a enigmatologist. And then there are the submissions. Hundreds of envelopes from around…