From the Astronaut’s Logbook – The New York Times

Go to: Tricky Clues | Theme of the day

SUNDAY PUZZLE — In his printed introduction, Joel Fagliano writes: “Daniel Bodily, of Woodbury, Minnesota, is a robotics research engineer. His crosswords often include a visual element, as seen here in the middle of the puzzle. Describing himself as a “left-brained person,” he notes that crosswords are “the closest thing to being an artist myself.”

I don’t know – I love the low-res video game effect in this grid layout. You may remember one of Mr. Bodily’s puzzles from the previous Sunday, in collaboration with Jeff Chen, which included a depiction of the Lincoln Memorial. There is no doubt about the creativity and artistry of these builds, and they are excellent challenges on many levels.

There are eight entries in this thematic set, at 3-, 13-, 18-, 20-, 32-, 34-, 70- and 74-Down, as well as a double set of reveals at 77- and 78- Down. Thematic clues are all italicized statements that tell a story, from start to finish; I didn’t realize this until I looked back on my completed resolution, but it’s an exciting touch. I hope solvers pick up this story arc.

Knowing the title of the puzzle, “From the Astronaut’s Log,” helps elucidate the tone of the theme. We start with 3-Down: “Woo-hoo! The engines start, all systems work and we feel great!“The entry here is HAVING A BLAST, which idiomatically means a good time, yes, but also literally describes a rocket preparing to blast off into space. (I may be alone here, but I have initially thought this entry was “all systems works”. Suitable, but too simple for the theme.)

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