XW Info

Monday, September 15, 2014
by Andrea Carla Michaels
Mon 9/15/2014
© 2014, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: A nice "words that can follow X" type theme. Will doesn't really take them anymore, as they've become overdone, so you need to have something extra special to make one of these work. I was surprised to read Acme's comment about only a few words that can follow JELLY, but indeed, what else is there? A quick search through our Finder page as well as onelook.com turned up only JELLY DOUGHNUT as something I'd like to eat. Er, see.

Big fan of Acme's utilization of short fill today. There isn't a lot of long fill (only two eight-letter words), but when you choose carefully slot by slot, you can work in things like JOHN DOE, TUVALU, SAVE AS, even the decidedly non-dreck DRECK. Sometimes constructors get accused of "hitting a button" to fill a crossword, but it'd be difficult to make that case here.

I quite liked the choice of themers, although I tried to enter ROLL THE DICE. Rolling a single die seems so forlorn. And after looking back at it, I wondered if JELLY BEAN and JELLY BELLY were a bit too close. But given that the latter is also slang for a pot belly, I think it's perfectly fine.

I would have liked a few more long non-theme fill entries, another pair of 8's or 9's or 10's. With less than five themers, there's almost always a way to work in at least two pairs of long fill. Often, you can get three or even four pairs if you're careful. One way to do that is to start with a 78-word grid like today's and test out taking away a pair of black squares. For instance, take away the black square to the right of OENO. Makes things harder to fill, no doubt, but it also opens up room for another juicy piece of fill.

Of course, doing that would most likely make JAZZ difficult to use, and I do love that NE corner. JAZZ is my one of favorite genres of music, and its 75% Scrabbly letters makes it 75% better. Best of all, there's nary a glue bit up there. It's interesting to experience different people's perspectives — I'm more on the side of not caring about pangrams, and to me, even one little bit like ISE isn't worth a Q. But heck, that quartet of QUAY/QUIT/TAX/ALEX is awfully nice, so I can understand how some solvers would highly approve.

Will Shortz notes: Andrea's original manuscript had her own name, ANDREA, at 13A. While I don't mind inside jokes in constructors' puzzles, they shouldn't detract from the fill — which, unfortunately, is what happened here. The corner also came with E LEE, RLS and ERLE. The revised corner is much cleaner.

Andrea and Will As is the case with many of Andrea's puzzles, this one is pangrammatic. I don't give a hoot about pangrams, which I don't think most solvers notice. At the same time, I don't mind them, as long as the fill doesn't suffer. The rare letters J, Q, X and Z can spice things up. In this puzzle all four of the rarest letters have been squeezed into the upper-right and lower-left corners, with the only real casualty being the unappealing ISE at 62A. Otherwise, nice. So this pangram's fine.

BTW, Andrea visited me a couple of months ago, and we saw Ian Hunter (formerly of Mott the Hoople, one of my favorite old bands) at a local music festival. I'm sure she and I were the only people among the thousands at the outdoor concert trying to make a crossword theme together!

1.___ and Clark expedition : LEWIS
6."Romeo and Juliet" has five of them : ACTS
10.Stomach muscles, for short : ABS
13.Juneau's home : ALASKA
15.Season to be jolly : NOEL
16.Singer Reed or Rawls : LOU
17.Performer who may have a navel decoration : BELLYDANCER
19.Color, as Easter eggs : DYE
20.Eye amorously : OGLE
21.Souped-up engine sound : VROOM
22.Bebop, e.g. : JAZZ
23.Bread for a ham sandwich : RYE
24.Drunk's interjection : HIC
25.Wine: Prefix : OENO
27.Some British pub food : FISHANDCHIPS
32.Diana Rigg's role on "The Avengers" : EMMAPEEL
35.With precise timing : ONCUE
36.___ Cong : VIET
37.Junk, from Yiddish : DRECK
40.Precursor to a game of chicken : DARE
41.Hall-of-Fame QB John : ELWAY
43.Jailbird : PRISONER
45.Risk, figuratively : ROLLOFTHEDIE
48.Doozy : LULU
49.TV show created by Lorne Michaels, for short : SNL
50.Car item that speaks, in brief : GPS
53.Jetty : QUAY
56."Don't Cry for Me Argentina" musical : EVITA
58.Eins, zwei, ___ : DREI
59.Web address : URL
60.Common stir-fry ingredients : BEANSPROUTS
62.Suffix with expert : ISE
63.Bruins of the N.C.A.A. : UCLA
64.Command used when creating a new file name : SAVEAS
65.April payment : TAX
66.___ ex machina : DEUS
67.What quivering legs feel like ... or a word that can precede the starts of 17-, 27-, 45- and 60-Across : JELLY
1.Childbirth : LABOR
2.Funeral song : ELEGY
3.Hit 2008 Pixar film with a robot : WALLE
4.Getaway spot in the sea : ISLE
5.Clouds' locale : SKY
6.The "A" of A.D. : ANNO
7.What a butterfly emerges from : COCOON
8.Overflowed (with) : TEEMED
9.Camera type, in brief : SLR
10.Alan of "M*A*S*H" : ALDA
11.___ II Men (R&B group) : BOYZ
12.Canal to the Red Sea : SUEZ
14.Counseled : ADVISED
18.Zodiac symbol for Sagittarius : ARCHER
22.Mr. X : JOHNDOE
24.Au courant : HIP
26.Cpl. or sgt. : NCO
27.How Hamlet stabs Polonius : FATALLY
28.Hebrew "A" : ALEPH
29."Not if ___ help it!" : ICAN
30.100% : PURE
31.Crystal ball gazer : SEER
32."Be it ___ so humble ..." : EVER
33.Venus de ___ : MILO
34.Whimper : MEWL
38.Colorful parts of many birds : CRESTS
39.Takes for ransom : KIDNAPS
42.Word that completes the song titles "___ Baby" and "Baby It's ___" : YOU
44.The "S" in R.S.V.P. : SIL
46.Lamb's coat : FLEECE
47.Polynesian land whose Internet suffix is .tv : TUVALU
50.Dish that Oliver Twist asked for more of : GRUEL
51."He loves me, he loves me not" flower part : PETAL
52.Spacek of "Carrie" : SISSY
53.Leave work for good : QUIT
54.___ Major : URSA
55."Jeopardy!" host Trebek : ALEX
57.Bring ___ a third party : INAS
58.Peace symbol : DOVE
60.Blossom-to-be : BUD
61.Old British rule in India : RAJ

© 2014, Jim Horne