XW Info

Thursday, September 12, 2013
by Ian Livengood
Thu 9/12/2013
TAJLIRRAWARD
ABUBREADDACHA
ROMJACKSPARROW
SUPSQUELLZING
ITSABIRDABODES
TUXESANON
SHIEDBUBBLEJET
KATGIRLSUAE
ITSAPLANEELITE
LEASALICE
VACUUMJEFFKENT
ETONUDALLEBAY
ITSSUPERMANAWL
LIMESSEEMERAE
SCOREDREWSYR
© 2013, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: I laughed when I hit ITS SUPERMAN. Rare that I get a chuckle out of a Thursday crossword, so kudos to Ian for the clever idea.

Not only does Ian squeeze in six theme entries, a feat that should carry a "Kids, do not try this at home!" warning, but look at the parallel 9's at 2D/3D and 33D/34D. Ian could have easily put black squares in the middle of 2D and 34D (to increase his word count to the max of 78) and had a much easier time filling the grid, but he chooses to treat us with additional long fill. It's typically difficult to incorporate two adjacent long fillers because there's already the fact that they cross a fixed theme entry (ABOUT THAT and JUMP SUITS crossing ITS A BIRD), but Ian executes it well. So many levels of difficulty in this construction and lots of payoff. I had a hard time with UDALL but for a Thursday it's fair.

Almost every crossword contains trade-offs requiring value judgments. I love that Ian recognizes (and agonizes over) the fact that JEFF KENT will be somewhat controversial. Self-awareness is a mark of a great constructor. I tried to think of what other entries might have worked better, but as Ian already pointed out, only KENT STATE came to mind (and CLARK KENT of course). Due to crossword symmetry requirements, KENT STATE (9 letters) would have to be paired with ITS A PLANE (9 letters), which is possible but would throw the order of themers out of whack. So I think using JEFF KENT is a reasonable trade-off to make this concept work.

Someone invent a new phone and call it the KALEL PDA, will you?

Will Shortz notes: As with all of Ian's puzzles, the fill in this grid is particularly clean and lively. Also, the theme has a twist I've never seen before.
1.Atlantic City hot spot, with "the" : TAJ
4.Line out of N.Y.C. : LIRR
8.Badge, maybe : AWARD
13.___ Nazir ("Homeland" character) : ABU
14.Lettuce : BREAD
16.Black Sea getaway : DACHA
17.Land on the Black Sea: Abbr. : ROM
18.Film lead character featured in a Disney World attraction : JACKSPARROW
20.Dines : SUPS
22.Put down : QUELL
23.Pizazz : ZING
24.Remark about the end of 18-Across : ITSABIRD
26.Hamlet's parts : ABODES
28.They're often seen with bows : TUXES
29.By and by : ANON
30.Recoiled (from) : SHIED
31.Kind of printer for home or office : BUBBLEJET
36.Kit ___ : KAT
37.School door sign : GIRLS
38.Mideast inits. : UAE
39.Remark about the end of 31-Across : ITSAPLANE
42.1%, say : ELITE
44.Bucolic settings : LEAS
45.Short-story writer Munro : ALICE
46.One that sucks at work? : VACUUM
49.2000 N.L M.V.P. who played for the Giants : JEFFKENT
52.Kind of jacket : ETON
53.Politico Mo : UDALL
55.Owner of Half.com : EBAY
56.Remark about the end of 49-Across : ITSSUPERMAN
59.Saddler's tool : AWL
60.Bar stock : LIMES
61."F" accompanier, perhaps : SEEME
62.Arctic explorer John : RAE
63.XX : SCORE
64.Was attractive : DREW
65.Turk. neighbor : SYR
1.Tibia connections : TARSI
2."Er, yeah, regarding what happened ..." : ABOUTTHAT
3.Things that zip up to go down? : JUMPSUITS
4.Subj. of an Austin library and museum : LBJ
5.Mosul residents : IRAQIS
6.Appear over? : RECUR
7.Did some garden work : RAKED
8.Tube inits. : ADA
9.Where a photographer might take shots? : WARZONE
10.Unpleasantly pungent : ACRID
11.View from Valence : RHONE
12.Bros : DAWGS
15.Connecting inits. : DSL
19.Alternatives : PLANBS
21.___-Coburg and Gotha (former British ruling family) : SAXE
25.Soft spot : BED
27.Land on one side of Lake Titicaca: Abbr. : BOL
29.Hardly inept : ABLE
30.Item attached to a boot : SKI
31.Angle : BIAS
32.Base for some Chinese art : URN
33.Trendy features of some high-end gyms : JUICEBARS
34.Eroded : EATENAWAY
35.It may have a ring collar : TEE
37.Dress to wow : GLAMUP
40.Four-time Indy 500 winner : ALUNSER
41.Little, in Lille : PEU
42.Dobby, e.g., in the Harry Potter books : ELF
43.Modern verbal crutch : LIKE
45.Blazing : AFLAME
46.They may accompany trains : VEILS
47.Ghost story? : ATTIC
48.Certain cocktail, informally : COSMO
49.Leto of "My So-Called Life" : JARED
50.Hunter who says "Be vewy vewy quiet" : ELMER
51.Texas city named for a president : TYLER
54.Notre-Dame-___-Champs (Paris M├ętro stop) : DES
57.Ply : USE
58.Fresh : NEW

© 2014, Jim Horne