NYT Crossword Answers: Hawaii State Bird

I know it’s only Wednesday, but this puzzle features a trick that’s more common on Thursdays: the dreaded rebus! This is a mechanism that forces the solver to enter more than one letter in some of the squares.

The best way to recognize a rebus is if you are certain you know what the answer to a particular clue should be, but you just don’t have enough space to enter it. For me, the clue that revealed it was 32D: “Brand Hummus”. Now I to like hummus, and I knew the only branded hummus well-known enough to make it into the New York Times crossword had to be SABRA: But 32D only has four squares. Recognizing that I might be dealing with a rebus, I looked at the central key (“Legendary Himalayan humanoid”) and, based on some traversals I had already made, I deduced that it could be ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN. SA BAR traversal A BOMINABLE SNOWMAN? It must be an AB rebus!

Seven other squares in the puzzle contain these same two letters and, as A BOMINA BTHE SNOWMAN, all Across theme entries that contain a rebus actually contain of them:GRA BBED A BITE, INHA BTHISA BTHE, and A BCAD CADA BAR.

I assumed while I was solving that the theme would have something to do with an AB six pack, but actually the count goes back to eight rebus squares. Mr. Goudsmit’s clever revealer at 61A (“Basic exercises…or an eight-square clue in this puzzle”) explains that the solver does AB CRUNCHES – crushing two letters into a single square. Cared for!

Hello, New York Times Crossworld! My name is Jared. I’m a writer, a proud St. Louisian, and (as of May) a Tulane alumnus majoring in theater and political science. I did most of this puzzle backstage at last year’s spring show. (I hit my mark, I promise!)

It’s a fairly new passion for me. Cracking Jim Peredo’s January 2020 New York Times Crossword hooked me as a beginner solver and sparked my interest in creating my own puzzle. I thank him for taking the time to keep his ambitious grid clean. Every time I’m tempted to slack off on the filler today, I remember the thrill I felt finishing his puzzle at that moment.

I pride myself on my cleanliness under rebus constraints, but I wish I could have incorporated stronger entries (pun intended). INH(AB)IT(AB)LE gave me the symmetry I needed, but it’s not SANT(AB)(AB)Y.

Kudos to Phil (the perfect “gateway drug” website for budding builders) and XWord Info (a must-have resource for me every step of the way). And thanks for looking at my eight-pack!

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Edward K. Thompson