XW Info

Thursday, July 30, 2015
by Brendan Emmett Quigley
Thu 7/30/2015
© 2015, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes:

Well-executed "Little Women" theme, MEG AMY BETH and JO tossed into normal phrases to produce wackiness. I've seen a lot of "Little Women" crosswords over the years, so it's neat to run across a new take. TOUGH NUT(MEG) was a good one, and BIG(AMY) BUSINESS gave me a chuckle.

Hey! Get your name order straight, Alcott.

BEQ's website puzzles are sometimes too heavy on music clues/answers for my taste, so it was nice to see a good range of subject areas in his fill. From a PLUG UGLY to a YOGA MAT to MULLAHS to GUESS NOT, the longer fill covers a pleasantly wide set of topics. I also liked how BEQ laid out his grid to include a few more 7-letter entries than usual, allowing him to add a bit of zest with UNEARTH and KNELLED.

Nice job on the shorter stuff, too. Now I see that there's a lot of 3-letter words (24 of them!), but I didn't notice that during my solve because most of them were innocuous. KNT always looks odd to me, but it appears to be a legit chess abbreviation.

I did stumble on the ANNA / VAL section down south, tripping up my finish. Having given up on "Breaking Bad" and not being familiar with "Howard the Duck," that intersection was rough. I can see why BEQ/Will decided to toughen those clues way up, as Thursday puzzles are supposed to be really tough, but that sort of esotery doesn't feel like a very fun type of tough to me.

Overall, a good showing on a theme that I would have preferred to see on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. Will has said in the past that all he wants from Thursday puzzles is that they're harder than Wednesday ones, but given how many great tricks and gimmicks we've seen over the years in Thursday puzzles, it's usually a bit of a letdown to see a standard theme type.

1.Chronicler of the English Restoration : PEPYS
6.Open a crack : AJAR
10.Player for big laughs : HAM
13.Crack, as a code : UNLOCK
15.Baby ___ : MAMA
16.Back : AGO
17.Hardy brown spice? : TOUGHNUTMEG
19.Tell : RAT
20.Shambles, e.g. : GAITS
21.Bring to light : UNEARTH
23.Many homecoming attendees, informally : ALUMS
25.Booster for a band : AMP
27.Not just deception : LIES
28.Company that will get you a second spouse? : BIGAMYBUSINESS
32.Corn ___ : BELT
33.School closing? : ELL
34.Deli stock : LOX
35."Take your pick" : ANY
36.Rang : KNELLED
38.Real blast : GAS
41.Deal maker: Abbr. : AGT
42.Like some baseball : AAA
43.Lexington's ___ Arena : RUPP
44.Extremely tacky production of a Shakespeare play? : MACBETHNCHEESE
48.Ill-looking : PALE
49.Network with "Suits" and "Royal Pains" : USA
50.Whaling ship that inspired "Moby-Dick" : ESSEX
51.Increase in interest : ACCRUAL
54.Pop-___ : TARTS
56.Man cave invitee : BRO
57.Country instrument played by a migrant? : TRAVELBANJO
61.Rummy : SOT
62.Actress Gunn of "Breaking Bad" : ANNA
63.Calm swimming spot : LAGOON
64.Sticks in an abandoned building? : TNT
65."Follow" : HEEL
66.Don't bother : LETBE
1.Situate : PUT
2.Musician who coined the term "ambient music" : ENO
3.Downright homely : PLUGUGLY
4.Something to meditate on : YOGAMAT
5.Deep divide : SCHISM
6.Small price to pay? : AMT
7.Printing problems : JAMUPS
8.Revival reply : AMEN
9.What's really hot : RAGE
10.TV news host Melissa ___-Perry : HARRIS
11.Swirly-colored marbles : AGATES
12.Ones in the closet? : MOTHS
14.Chess piece: Abbr. : KNT
18.Worth keeping : USABLE
22.To whom "I'll take ..." is often said : ALEX
23."Rock Me" group, 1975 : ABBA
24.What a title may come with : LIEN
26.Muslim V.I.P.s : MULLAHS
29.One doing the dishes? : YENTE
30.Relating to part of the small intestine : ILEAC
31.Quick approval : NOD
36.Source of some shadows, for short : KGB
37.Woolly : LANATE
38."Looks like I was wrong" : GUESSNOT
39.Vault locale : APSE
40.Glasses, informally : SPEX
41.Taiwan-based computer giant : ACER
43.Put on again : RESTAGE
44.Long vowel indicator : MACRON
45.Creator of the characters added in 17-, 28-, 44- and 57-Across : ALCOTT
46.University that was originally the Medical College of Louisiana : TULANE
47.Like some tea : HERBAL
48."The way beer was meant to be" sloganeer, once : PABST
52.Home of Bountiful : UTAH
53.Duncan of Obama's cabinet : ARNE
55."___ I'm saying is ..." : ALL
58.Cartoonist Mayerik who co-created Howard the Duck : VAL
59.Book before Psalms : JOB
60.Last ___ : ONE

© 2015, Jim Horne