XW Info

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
by Ethan Cooper
Tue 9/2/2014
© 2014, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: Today's puzzle takes us back to school, with TEXTBOOK, ROOM and BOARD being types of COLLEGE EXPENSES. Of course, no BEER is drunk by undergrads under the age of 21. Ahem.

Nice job disguising the theme. TEXTBOOK EXAMPLE does relate directly to textbooks, but the others made the theme opaque until the revealer. I enjoy when I have to work a little to figure out what's going on. I did find it a bit odd that TEXTBOOK wasn't pluralized, but it's pretty difficult to find a snappy phrase involving TEXTBOOKS. Plus, I didn't crack much of any TEXTBOOK during undergrad, much less TEXTBOOKS, so perhaps it's fine.

Good thing neither my mom nor dad do crosswords, or read these comments.

Ethan does something unusual today, drawing upon short slots for snappy entries. Three and four-letter entries (fives to a lesser extent) are so prevalent that it's tough to do anything interesting with them. UM, NO is such a great colloquial entry. And MUSTI looks so bizarre in the grid, but MUST I? makes for a snazzy phrase. Well done.

I had an initial hitch when I started the puzzle, hitting the crossing ADEN and SNELL right off the bat, so I was worried about the quality of the fill. Turns out the rest of the puzzle was well executed. ADEN and SNELL aren't "bad" entries per se, but I would much prefer to avoid them as part of my solve, especially when they pop up right off the bat. It might be different if ADEN had more geographic or historical significance, or if I were a fisherman.

Finally, it was useful to read Will's comments about Ethan's strong cluing. Gives me more impetus to redouble my efforts to improve my clue-writing skills. Sometimes it's too easy to get lazy on clue-writing, assuming that Will's going to change them anyway.

Will Shortz notes: I'm very impressed with Ethan's clues. Most of these are his. Lots of good ones, but my favorites are 10D, 12D (I did not know that!), 32D and 38D. I also like 64A, which is a tricky answer to handle. When I consider submissions, I pretty much ignore the constructors' clues, which I know I can revise myself, if necessary. But I do give some preference to contributors (like Ethan) who I know write good clues, and I tend to publish their puzzles more quickly after acceptance.
1."Oh, hell!" : DAMN
5.Blood component : PLASM
10.Bandmate of Crosby, Stills and Young : NASH
14.Dog bullied by Garfield : ODIE
15.Snoop Dogg, for one, since 2012 : RASTA
16."Let me think ... yeah, that's stupid" : UMNO
17.Perfect illustration : TEXTBOOKEXAMPLE
20.Fishhook attachment : SNELL
21.Utterly wear out, in slang : WIPE
22.Unfulfilled potential : ROOMTOIMPROVE
29.Do one's best : STRIVE
30.Record company : LABEL
31.Something horrible, with "the" : PITS
34.Battlefield food, for short : MRE
35.Honeydews, e.g. : MELONS
36.Big Apple airport code : LGA
37.Pub tidbit : BEERNUT
39.Letters in a help wanted ad : EOE
40.With the concession that : ALBEIT
42.Palais ___ Sports (Paris arena) : DES
43.Belief systems : ISMS
44.Christopher who directed three Batman films : NOLAN
45.John who directed "The Maltese Falcon" : HUSTON
47.Gatherings in which C.E.O.'s are chosen : BOARDMEETINGS
50.With 24-Down, blowout result : FLAT
51.Stop : CEASE
54.What tuition and the starts of 17-, 22-, 37-(?) and 47-Across are : COLLEGEEXPENSES
60.Length x width, for a rectangle : AREA
61.Got the goat of : IRKED
62.Functions : USES
63.Slightest of complaints : PEEP
64.Female students, condescendingly : COEDS
65.Literary Jane : EYRE
1.Parts of an ellipsis : DOTS
2.Yemeni port : ADEN
3.First-week-of-school social event : MIXER
4.Unfortunate bottom line on an earnings report : NETLOSS
5.Old hand : PRO
6.China's ___-tzu : LAO
7.Invite : ASK
8."Family Guy" baby : STEWIE
9."It takes money to make money," e.g. : MAXIM
10.What's required in some passwords : NUMERAL
11.Bit of sound equipment : AMP
12.Show on which Lennon and McCartney considered reuniting, for short : SNL
13.Hard row to ___ : HOE
18.Rorschach test image : BLOT
19.Small computer program : APPLET
23.Citi Field mascot : MRMET
24.See 50-Across : TIRE
25.Late, as a video store rental : OVERDUE
26.Wind instruments : OBOES
27.Snake poison : VENOM
28.Someone ___ (not mine or yours) : ELSES
31.Contingency arrangement : PLANB
32.Place where one can come home and chill? : IGLOO
33.Indian drum : TABLA
35."Can you give me any alternative?" : MUSTI
37.Hobo's accessory : BINDLE
38.Home located in the sticks? : NEST
41.Batting helmet feature : EARFLAP
43.Naive young woman : INGENUE
45.Not homo- : HETERO
46."___ upon a time ..." : ONCE
48.Card tricks, e.g. : MAGIC
49.Smart-alecky : SASSY
52.Fortuneteller : SEER
53."To be," in Latin : ESSE
54.Headgear often worn backward : CAP
55.Miner's find : ORE
56.Appomattox surrenderer : LEE
57.Barely manage, with "out" : EKE
58.Crossed (out) : XED
59.Groups of cops: Abbr. : PDS

© 2014, Jim Horne