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‘In Medias Res’: Crossword Commentary

Hints and commentary on tricky clues and the puzzle's theme and comments from the constructor

<h6>Ashley Chung / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Ashley Chung / The Daily Princetonian

Happy Tuesday – it’s a new day to be publishing a crossword in the ‘Prince’ puzzles section, and we’ve got a new name in the byline. Ana Pranger is the first of our new crew of staffers to publish a puzzle, and we couldn’t be more excited to see what our section does going forward. From here forward, we’ll be publishing puzzles on Tuesdays and Fridays by our contributing constructors.

That said, read on for more on Pranger’s excellent puzzle, hints on some tricky clues, thoughts on the theme, and comments from the constructor.

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Tricky Clues

15A: I’m not personally a resident of the American interior – I’m an easterner through and through – but I do at least know that there aren’t many beaches near Utah other than those on a salty lake. This clue is instead referring to Normandy and the D-Day invasions, when the Allied troops landed on Utah Beach and OMAHA Beach as well as Gold, Juno, and Sword.

19A: If I had made this puzzle myself, I may have clued ROMA as [Princeton’s best dining hall, for short] – but to each their own. Sorry Wucox, but it’s not even close – and WUCOX would be much more difficult to fit in a crossword puzzle.

33A: We always love a Princeton-specific clue, such as this one, with PEER Health Advisors. Princeton denizen of old AARON Burr makes an appearance in this puzzle, too, in 55-Across.

11D: Ozone, chemically, is O3 – in other words, it’s made up of three oxygen ATOMs.

12D: I like that NEMO is symmetric with AHAB, perhaps the two most famous captains of maritime literature. In the clue for the former, Pranger didn’t reference “Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” but “Finding Nemo,” an altogether more heartwarming work.

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32D: We had a similar clue for ITS a few weeks ago – but it’s clear that this clue is still relevant. Its point still stands: it’s just as hard to spell as ever.

39D: Calling all Marvel fans: this clue makes up the center of a mini-theme connecting the bottom part of the grid. For those who aren’t fans of the films, NICK FURY, portrayed brilliantly by Samuel L. Jackson, is the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., a secret organization that creates the famous Avengers. S.H.I.E.L.D. fights HYDRA, the answer to 68-Across, in some of the earlier movies. And CREEL, just above at 65-Across is a lesser known character from the comics who is also known as The Absorbing Man.

54D: For first-years or others who are still new to the area surrounding campus, just north of Nassau Street there’s a restaurant called Alchemist and Barrister, or A AND B for short.

Today’s Theme

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“In Medias Res,” this puzzle’s title, comes from the Latin for “in the middle of things” and typically refers to a story that starts in the middle of the action. Here, though, “res” doesn’t mean “things” but is instead short for “residential” – this theme centers around Princeton’s residential colleges.

All six are included in this puzzle with a punny clue: [#1 res college?”] is FIRST (and as a Firstie myself, I can attest that this is true, pun or not); [Most helpful res college?] is BUTLER. The rest are left to the solver.

Theme answers are usually arranged symmetrically in the grid, but that wouldn’t be possible for this puzzle’s theme, as all the res colleges have names of different lengths. But I think it works out nicely – just as the real colleges are distributed semi-randomly about campus, so are the answers in this grid.

Constructor Notes

I am excited to be the first new constructor to publish a puzzle! I want to take a moment to celebrate Gabe and Owen, who have created amazing puzzles and now have built up a big team of new constructors.

For this puzzle, I wanted to be as Princeton as possible. As an RCA in First College, I had to include some Firstie pride in my first puzzle for the ‘Prince’, which led me to the res college theme. My favorite non-Jersey entries are the reference to Akerlof’s seminal econ paper in LEMON and the band ABBA, whose music is currently getting me through the midterms season.

Good luck this week!

Still need help? See below for the answer key:

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