XW Info

Saturday, August 31, 2013
by Josh Knapp
★POW Sat 8/31/2013
JIMMYFALLONPBJ
AREYOUREADYALA
KINGSRANSOMROC
ESSOLBSRERACK
SHADSICKTICKS
OSCARSSHAQ
TISSUEPIEKUDU
OTHELLOSAGETEA
GAOLMACMODEST
ALOEATOAST
PITCHSNLOMEGA
ACETICSAWALUM
RIMMAGINOTLINE
TZUORIGINALSIN
YEPMEANSTREETS
© 2013, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: POW! (wow!) I swore I wouldn't choose two themeless puzzles in a row for Jeff's Puzzle of the Week, but I couldn't stop myself after doing Josh's puzzle. Triple-stack constructions can be judged by 1.) the sparkliness of the long entries and 2.) the number and quality of ugly short crossings. Each one of Josh's quadrants shines in both areas; so many debut phrases and nary a stinker of a crossing (GAOL isn't great, but it's fair game for a Saturday puzzle). These days editors and solvers prize snazzy multiple-word phrases, and out of twelve long answer slots, Josh fills nine of them with great entries like JACK SQUAT and KINGS RANSOM. And for the three other slots where he has one-word entries, he and Will come up with fantastic clues to spruce them up.

Ah, the beauty of the cluing. Jim and I were both amazed at the cleverness behind "It opens during the fall". Such a wonderful example of the wordplay that has helped define the Shortz era themeless. And "Fall fallout, some believe" clue echoes the word "fall", giving a touch of elegance.

Finally, let's look at the inclusion of "Scrabbly" letters, notably J, Q, X, Z which are usually the hardest to incorporate. They often make a puzzle stand out, because the difficulty of puzzle-filling is proportional (more or less) to the number of Scrabbly letters. Josh uses four of these, plus five Ks, yet still manages to pull off great triple-stacks. Well done!

Final note: Matt Ginsberg, friend and creator of Dr. Fill (crossword-solving AI), warned me that having a POW! might cause six constructors sadness because their puzzle didn't get chosen that week. My intent is always to be a positive force for crosswords, so let me emphasize that we've had a lot of really good puzzles this week (and wait until you do tomorrow's!). I'll continue to use the POW! to recognize what I personally see as excellence above and beyond.

Will Shortz notes: Josh is a twenty-something constructor who puts together both a mean grid and clues. Most Friday/Saturday Times puzzles get heavy editing, but this is an exception. Most of the clues here are Josh's, including the very pretty 23A, 27A, 47A, 3D, 12D, 32D, and 55D.
1.TV host who won a Best Comedy Album Grammy : JIMMYFALLON
12.Vegan lunch option, informally : PBJ
15.Cry used to pump up a crowd : AREYOUREADY
16.Following : ALA
17.Fortune : KINGSRANSOM
18.Beast in a Marco Polo tale : ROC
19.Old station name : ESSO
20.Abbr. in a birth announcement : LBS
21.Request in pool or beer pong : RERACK
23.Hudson River school? : SHADS
25."Eww!" : ICK
27.Soundtrack to many a bomb-defusing scene : TICKS
28.Prizes given to good docs? : OSCARS
31."Kazaam" star, informally : SHAQ
32.Crying need? : TISSUE
36.A wedge might come out of it : PIE
37.Beast hunted by Hemingway in "Green Hills of Africa" : KUDU
38.Work set mostly in Cyprus : OTHELLO
40.Herbal quaff : SAGETEA
42.Wilde wrote "De Profundis" in one : GAOL
43.Lion runner : MAC
45.Unlike a showboat : MODEST
46.Rash application : ALOE
47.Reception opening : ATOAST
49.Hull sealer : PITCH
51.1-Across's home, once: Abbr. : SNL
52.Resistance figure : OMEGA
57.Like pickle juice : ACETIC
59.Dated : SAW
61.Many a donor, in brief : ALUM
62.Go around, but not quite go in : RIM
63.W.W. II defense : MAGINOTLINE
66.Sun ___ : TZU
67.Fall fallout, some believe : ORIGINALSIN
68.Short agreement : YEP
69.Scorsese film before "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" : MEANSTREETS
1."The Two ___" ("Chinatown" sequel) : JAKES
2.Like 1-Across, by descent : IRISH
3.Quick set : MENSA
4."Oh no!" : MYGOD
5.His, modern-style? : YOS
6.Roll up and bind : FURL
7.Source of the word "alcohol" : ARABIC
8.Glass protector : LENSCAP
9.Velázquez's "___ Meninas" : LAS
10.Repute : ODOR
11.Orange and blue wearer, for short : NYMET
12.It opens during the fall : PARACHUTE
13.Some trade barriers : BLOCKADES
14.Nada : JACKSQUAT
22.On the line : RISKED
24.Dangerous thing to sell : SOUL
26.Humphries of the N.B.A. : KRIS
29.Southern site of an 1865 battle : SELMA
30.Weak spots : SEAMS
32.Wrap session? : TOGAPARTY
33.Slant one's words, in a way : ITALICIZE
34.Picture with a lot of gunplay : SHOOTEMUP
35.Game controller button : SELECT
39.Cholesterol-lowering food : OATS
41.First-choice : GOTO
44.Hand over (to) : CONSIGN
48.Self-titled debut album of 1991 : ALANIS
50.Sign at a game : HIMOM
53."Au Revoir, Les Enfants" writer/director : MALLE
54.Sporty Lotus model : ELISE
55.Put one's foot down, in a way? : GUNIT
56.Accord indicators : AMENS
58.Protection : CARE
60."I ___ tell" : WONT
64.1998 Angelina Jolie biopic : GIA
65.49-Across source : TAR

© 2014, Jim Horne