# XW Info

Thursday, April 3, 2014
by David Benkof and Jeff Chen
 A H E M S N U F F S A I D R A D I O S A S I A N F L U C H A N U K A H M E N O R A H S A M I S E N B U O Y S E K G C O T C H A O S T H E O R Y M E A A O R T A T W A F I S H C H A R L O T T E B R O N T E T U B A O S H A T S E A I M S C H A I N S M O K E D K O S S A T A S N A P R I B C A G E C H C H C H C H C H A N G E S L A I L A A L I L A B R A T U N S O R T E D S C A R S
© 2014, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: David was kind enough to put up with me, a slightly demented 18-year old freshman roommate interested in all sorts of bizarre experiments. As an example, I set up trials to determine how long I could go without sleeping. (Hallucinating began at hour 45 and I fell asleep in the dorm hallway at hour 50.) Needless to say, people drew mustaches on me.

This grid was challenging, since the high theme density made it near impossible to incorporate long downs. I used to be fine having only a little snazzy fill in a puzzle, but these days I hate letting a puzzle go unless there are at least four nice non-theme entries inside the grid. As a solver, I highly value sparkling fill, so I always keep that front and center in my mind when I construct.

Since using long downs wasn't possible, I had to incorporate long across fill. Typically that would bother me because those answers might be mistaken for theme material, but in this case I didn't mind since the themers were so long (15/11/15/11/15) that they stand out on their own.

Unfortunately, with all the constraints, the only option was to put long across fill in the NE and SW corners. I typically don't like splitting rows 1 and 15 into two words apiece, because three words apiece is so much easier to fill cleanly. But in this case, it was the only way I felt we could add some sparkle.

I tried several hundred alternatives for each corner, and I'm never happy to have a partial (I LAY), but I thought it was a reasonable trade-off to get such goodness as 'NUFF SAID and ASIAN FLU (I find the pan-Asian financial crisis of the late 1990's incredibly interesting and useful to study, in hopes of preventing future outbreaks). I was also happy to give LAILA ALI some props, as well as Darren SHAN, the author of the Cirque du Freak series. I can only hope to someday have one-tenth his success as an author.

Fun to collaborate. I'm particularly interested in increasing diversity within constructors, so please contact me (jeffchen1972 at gmail dot com) if you'd like to break into the most fascinating hobby in the world. (And you're willing to work dozens of hours with little pay!)

 1 Some interruptions : AHEMS 6 "That's that!" : NUFFSAID 14 Contacts ship-to-ship, maybe : RADIOS 16 Outbreak caused by the H2N2 virus : ASIANFLU 17 December display : CHANUKAHMENORAH 19 Three-stringed Eastern instrument : SAMISEN 20 Lifts : BUOYS 21 Common noninvasive med. test : EKG 23 Sin relative? : COT 24 Mathematical field that includes the so-called "butterfly effect" : CHAOSTHEORY 30 "___ culpa" : MEA 33 Circulation line : AORTA 34 Co. in a 2001 merger with American : TWA 35 Hamilton ___, two-term secretary of state under Grant : FISH 36 One of literature's "three sisters" : CHARLOTTEBRONTE 40 It's big and brassy : TUBA 41 City in Kyrgyzstan : OSH 42 Off land : ATSEA 43 Relatives of texts, for short : IMS 44 Went from butt to butt? : CHAINSMOKED 47 Flattens, in brief : KOS 48 Didn't move, as a product : SAT 49 Easy-peasy : ASNAP 52 Part of a chest : RIBCAGE 58 Chorus starter in a 1972 David Bowie song ... or the theme of this puzzle, phonetically : CHCHCHCHCHANGES 62 Boxer who competed on "Dancing With the Stars" : LAILAALI 63 Maze solver : LABRAT 64 Like socks right out of the dryer : UNSORTED 65 Marks for life : SCARS
 1 Things that are tossed usually go in them : ARCS 2 "Joke's on you!" : HAHA 3 Gouda alternative : EDAM 4 Fun-size, say : MINI 5 ___-chef : SOUS 6 Slangy negative : NAH 7 Mil. branch : USM 8 Interjection of disgust : FIE 9 Many a sci-fi devotee : FANBOY 10 Prominent part of an aardvark : SNOUT 11 '60s do also called a "natural" : AFRO 12 "Now ___ me down to sleep" : ILAY 13 "Obviously!" remarks : DUHS 15 Kind of shooting : SKEET 18 Key of the Nile : ANKH 22 "Would you believe ..." : GETTHIS 23 Zodiac symbol : CRAB 24 Arizona sights : CACTI 25 "You're boring me" : HOHUM 26 One side in a 1967 war : ARABS 27 ___ vez (again: Sp.) : OTRA 28 1942 title role for Rita Hayworth : SAL 29 Not be squared up, say : OWE 30 Eastern European capital : MINSK 31 Makeup magnate Lauder : ESTEE 32 Up : AHEAD 35 Picture, informally : FOTO 37 Some reactions to fireworks : OOHS 38 Airport inits. : TSA 39 Zodiac symbol : RAM 44 54, e.g., in old TV : COPCAR 45 Snitch (on), in slang : NARC 46 Big name in power tools : STIHL 47 Artist Frida with many self-portraits : KAHLO 49 Org. concerned with due process : ACLU 50 Young-adult fiction author Darren : SHAN 51 CBS military procedural : NCIS 53 Farm cries : BAAS 54 Lawrence Kudlow's network : CNBC 55 City SSE of New Delhi : AGRA 56 Duds : GEAR 57 Guesses: Abbr. : ESTS 59 It may collect tips ... or be tipped : HAT 60 Indians' home: Abbr. : CLE 61 Veiled : HID