FRIDAY PUZZLE — People don’t believe me when I tell them that there is always a way into a puzzle, even the late week ones, but it’s true. What seems to happen is that some solvers quickly scan the list of clues on, say, a Friday puzzle,, see nothing that they know on the first pass, and decide that they can’t solve it. Many times, they give up and walk away.
But take a moment to think about this logically: What would be the point of making and editing a puzzle that no one can solve? It would be like building a house with no door or windows. It might be an interesting feat, but it’s ultimately unwelcoming. So the constructor and the editors always make sure that a porch light is left on for solvers, even if that light is in a different spot for different people.
To continue this real estate metaphor, sometimes that porch light is not in a place one might expect, so it makes sense to search carefully for it, despite the penalties for trespassing. Some people — I count myself in this group — might know off the bat that the actor LEN Lesser played Uncle Leo on the television show “Seinfeld.” That’s one porch light. Another might be Castor OYL of comics, if that’s your thing. Or G.I. JANE, the Demi Moore film from 1997. Not a pop culture person? Try 50A’s “Six-Day War leader Dayan”: It’s not really a fill-in-the-blank, but you know that’s MOSHE. Maybe you’ve heard of CNN’s ANA Cabrera. Now you have five entries in this entertaining themeless crossword by Zhouqin Burnikel, and you are well on your way to branching out and making significant headway. Welcome home.
Of course, not all porch lights are that obvious, so sometimes you might need to heave a brick through the glass and climb in through a window, not that I would ever seriously suggest that anyone do such a thing, Officer. Maybe you knew that MARKET WATCH was the “Big news site for investors,” so you had the E in 22A, but you still thought the clue for 22A, “Evening result?” had something to do with nighttime. Not a direct way into the puzzle, but think about other meanings for the word “evening.” It could also mean to even things out, couldn’t it? So we’re looking for a three-letter word ending in E that means to even things out. The answer is TIE, as in a TIE score.