XW Info

Friday, November 27, 2015
by Peter Wentz
Fri 11/27/2015
© 2015, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes:

Colorful and clean grid. It starts as a standard layout, with triple-stacked 10s in each corner, but Peter goes one step further by weaving in a few more long answers. As with any Wentz puzzle, there's a ton of strong entries, my favorite being the ones that feel like fresh, grid-seeding ones: STIFF DRINK, AD AGENCIES (both in the same stack!), BREAK RANKS.

Scotty, always trying to hold the ENGINE ROOM together

Peter does such a great job of selecting colorful entries that are amenable to clever clues. AD AGENCIES is already a fantastic answer, but [They get spots out] makes it stellar. ("Spots" referring to commercial spots.) Makes for a great a-ha moment upon figuring it out.

That top right corner is so beautiful and snazzy. STIFF DRINK / NO SIREE BOB / AD AGENCIES, with FRESHENS and DENTYNE running through it all is so impressive. (If only FRESHENS and DENTYNE had been linked by clue!). Even more impressive is to do it all with just the minor KBS (kilobytes, usually just seen as kB). Love that corner.

I enjoyed this puzzle more than an average Friday themeless, but I have such a ridiculously high bar for Peter (who for my money is one of the top five themeless makers today). I get spoiled by seeing so much fresh, snazzy new material in his puzzles that getting AVERAGE MAN in the SW is a bit of a letdown. AVERAGE JOE sounds so much more snappy.

It's totally ridiculous to nit-pick about a single entry being a bit neutral though. Any themeless so cleanly executed — what other liabilities are there besides KBS? — with great material like AUDIOPHILE, VOODOO DOLL, ENGINE ROOM with its nod to Star Trek's Scotty, READY SET GO with a devilish [Starting line] clue, etc. is way above the general average.

1.Napa options, informally : CABS
5.Request after a tough day, perhaps : STIFFDRINK
15.Browse without comment : LURK
16."Ain't gonna happen!" : NOSIREEBOB
17."Paris is always a good ___" (line from the film "Sabrina") : IDEA
18.They get spots out : ADAGENCIES
19."Bad Girls" rapper : MIA
20.Fix, as a toy : SPAY
21.Supports for gypsum boards : STUDS
22.Chinese cabbage : BOKCHOY
24.Reasons : WHYS
25.Reason for icing : SPRAIN
26."Anytime" : WHENEVER
30.John who wrote "BUtterfield 8" : OHARA
31.Michael who played Alfred Pennyworth in three Batman movies : CAINE
32.Solitary : ONE
33.2012 Twitter acquisition : VINE
34.They come as a relief : BALMS
35.Stola : woman :: ___ : man : TOGA
36.Logo for the Hartford : ELK
37.Greenlanders, by citizenship : DANES
38.Covered, as a song : REDID
39.They might be paid at a memorial : RESPECTS
41.Dresden's state : SAXONY
42.Fashion designer Marc : ECKO
43.Halluces : BIGTOES
44.Poor service penalty, possibly : NOTIP
46.Curiosity's locale : MARS
47.Onetime Ice Cube collaborator, informally : DRE
48.It might involve someone "so fat" or "so old" : YOMAMAJOKE
50.Throw out unceremoniously : BOOT
51.Regular joes : AVERAGEMEN
52.Target for a snake : CLOG
53.What to grab for the road? : HANDLEBARS
54.Adventurer in Grouchland in a 1999 film : ELMO
1.Crosses, as a range : CLIMBSOVER
2.One making a sound investment? : AUDIOPHILE
3.Fall out of line : BREAKRANKS
4.Genre for the band Sublime : SKA
5.Easily attached : SNAPON
6.Present time : TODAY
7."Goodness!" : ISAY
8.Abbr. next to a chart : FIG
9.Tops off : FRESHENS
10.Orbit alternative : DENTYNE
11.Disqualify (oneself) : RECUSE
12.[See above] : IBID
13.All those against : NOES
14.Computer memory units: Abbr. : KBS
20.Sect opposed to ISIS : SHIA
23.Pains : CARE
24.Sudden notions : WHIMS
26.Land known to locals as Cymru : WALES
27.One stuck abroad? : VOODOODOLL
28.Scotty's domain on "Star Trek" : ENGINEROOM
29.Starting line : READYSETGO
31.Part of Dante's "Inferno" : CANTO
34.It's usually devoted to sports in a tabloid newspaper : BACKPAGE
35.Exchange between cell mates? : TEXT
37.What's the point? : DECIMAL
38.Car wash supply : RAGS
40.Small bomb used for breaking down gates : PETARD
41.Mythical nautical dangers : SIRENS
43.Follower of Able : BAKER
44.Massive explosion : NOVA
45.Foreshadowing : OMEN
46.Home of "Christina's World," familiarly : MOMA
48."Oh, sure" : YAH
49.Presidential son and brother : JEB
50.Dating inits. : BCE

© 2015, Jim Horne