XW Info

Friday, September 30, 2016
by James Mulhern
POW Fri 9/30/2016
© 2016, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes:

Right on my wavelength. The top half of the grid kicked off my solving experience with a bang. I already liked TONE LOC (I like my old school rap) when I hit HACKATHON, and then I uncovered INK BLOT right after that. BABY BJORN and DIVE BAR were next — and I hadn't even gotten to the middle stack yet!

Beautiful triple in VICHYSSOISE (I misspelled it roughly eleventy times before finally getting it right), GHETTO BLASTER, and LBJ. The GHETTO BLASTER holds a lot of cultural significance for me — it makes me think about "Do the Right Thing." One of the most powerful movies of all time, I still feel for Radio Raheem.

HACKATHON might be one of my favorite recent debuts, as it's such an evocative term (a bunch of coders getting together to hack up quick prototypes). There's something so fresh, so juicy about that; makes me want to go back to my college days or my startup days when anything and everything was possible — if you were willing to stay up three days in a row (I was).

All that, for just the very minor prices of TAROS (is it really pluralizable?) and OCTO = yes, please! (I'm fine with OTB, since it's a real thing, apparently common to some folks.)

The bottom half of the puzzle didn't have the same jam-packed zing for me, but HERE GOES, GLOBULIN, and SLAM POETS still stood out. But I LOVE LA is one of those mid-length entries that constructors lean on (I've used it many times) because of the perfect vowel-consonant alternation. It's so darn useful in spots like this. I wouldn't personally count it as an asset — I wonder if people of other generations might?

LIEABED … still thinking. Do I love this or hate it?

Still, there was more than enough in the top half of the grid that I had big smiles overall. I have a feeling it might not play as well for crowds unfamiliar with HACKATHON or BABY BJORN, but considering I have a (very sweaty) BABY BJORN and love to work on coding projects, the ton of colorful, vivid answers hit all the right notes for me.

1.Golf handicap of zero : SCRATCH
8.Like some garages : TWOCAR
14.Where Forrest Gump played college football : ALABAMA
15.Everything included : BARNONE
16."Funky Cold Medina" rapper : TONELOC
17.Gives a walk-through, say : ORIENTS
18.Fig. on a quarterly report : YTD
19.Test pattern? : INKBLOT
21.Certain flight pattern : VEE
22.1970s TV spinoff : RHODA
24.Some mouse cells : AAAS
25.Broadway score? : SEAT
26.Weigh station sight : SEMI
27.Place to go when you're not going to the races, for short? : OTB
28.Joneses (for) : HURTS
29.Creamy chilled soup : VICHYSSOISE
33.Source of break-dancing beats : GHETTOBLASTER
35.N.B.A. M.V.P. who has hosted "Saturday Night Live" : LEBRONJAMES
36.Inroad : FORAY
37.New Agey sounds : OMS
38.Facial option at a spa : MASK
42."Everyone's private driver" sloganeer : UBER
43.Kind of walk : PERP
45.River of forgetfulness : LETHE
46.Jerk : TUG
47."The Chalk Garden" playwright, 1955 : BAGNOLD
49.Shipload : TON
50.1983 hit song that mentions Santa Monica Boulevard : ILOVELA
52.Arcane matters : ESOTERY
54.Lazy bum : LIEABED
55.Access : TAPINTO
56.Playwright Eve : ENSLER
57.Pinch-hitter : STANDIN
1.Figures in ribald Greek plays : SATYRS
2.Make a decent person out of? : CLOTHE
3.Stochastic : RANDOM
4.Vigoda of "The Godfather" : ABE
5.Shire of "The Godfather" : TALIA
6."Get outta here!" : CMON
7.Collaborative computer coding event : HACKATHON
8.Plants sometimes used to make flour : TAROS
9.Letter of the law? : WRIT
10.Not you specifically : ONE
11.Exchange words : CONVERSE
12.Creature that Dalí walked on a leash in public : ANTEATER
13.Puts back in the original state : RESETS
15.Weapon that's thrown : BOLA
20.Swedish-based maker of infant carriers : BABYBJORN
23.Seedy place to drink : DIVEBAR
25."I'm down with that" : SUITSME
27.Quattuor doubled : OCTO
28.Rip off : HOSE
30.Reply that's a bit of a humblebrag : ITRY
31.Contestants in a war of words? : SLAMPOETS
32.BJ's competitor, informally : SAMS
33.Major blood protein : GLOBULIN
34.Cry before taking the plunge : HEREGOES
36.Pointless : FUTILE
39.Make it : ATTEND
40.What it always starts with? : SHORTI
41.College where Rutherford B. Hayes was valedictorian : KENYON
43.Less tanned : PALER
44."OMG!," old-style : EGAD
45.Component of the combo drug Sinemet : LDOPA
47.Actress Daniels or Neuwirth : BEBE
48.Practice exam? : LSAT
51.___ d'Isère (French ski resort) : VAL
53.Spam's place : TIN

© 2016, Jim Horne