XW Info

Friday, November 28, 2014
by Tracy Gray
Fri 11/28/2014
© 2014, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: Ah, the trickery! A rebus puzzle on a Friday will throw many solvers off, but I think tossing in a monkey wrench once in a while is just what the doctor ordered. Keeps everyone on their toes. And how nicely appropriate to have a BLACK FRIDAY theme on Black Friday itself. I appreciated that the theme wasn't immediately apparent even after uncovering BLACK FRIDAY — finding the special squares in a rebus puzzle is like a little Easter egg hunt, and having to figure out what the rebus actually is in the first place adds an appreciated layer of complexity.

Interesting interpretation of BLACK FRIDAY, hinting at four SALE squares. I was so sure that FRI would appear in black squares somehow, similar to a PAINT IT BLACK puzzle from earlier this year. I liked being surprised — nice to be caught off guard. It would have been nice to have a stronger connection to why the SALEs were in rebus squares (like how CRUSHED ICE logically hints at ICE rebus squares), but sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Tracy goes big in the NE and SW corners, treating us to great stacks of long answers alongside the themers. ERIC CARLE may not be that well known outside of picture books, but he's a superstar within that arena. Him plus TEA KETTLE for just the price of a SKEE = big win. Loved that corner. The opposite corner works well too — EILAT will be a toughie for many, and I'll take it any day (with fair crossings) in order to get the awesome TESLA COIL. Beautiful work.

Things get a tiny bit rougher around the north and south, the awkward (var.) tag required for the infrequently seen SHMO, a SYST, a KAT, and RFDS. At first glance, these areas seem like they might be easier to fill than the NE / SW, as they seem like smaller chunks of white space. But 6x3 areas in the north and south make things tough — these bigger blocks are much more difficult to fill cleanly than the usual 5x3 ones. Tracy had to pay the piper — putting a column of black squares so far to the right (directly next to SPRINGS A LEAK) makes things easier in that beautiful NE triple-stack, but harder in the north section bounded by SHMO and SYST.

Still, these glue bits are small in quantity, and only SHMO is really unsightly in my opinion. Overall, I found it to be a really fun experience, enjoying the obliqueness of the BLACK FRIDAY hint as well as all the strong long fill.

1.Gaping opening : MAW
4.Tees off : STEAMS
10.Salon service : SET
13.Hoo-has : ADOS
15."Easy Rider" ride : HARLEY
16.Beginning to mature? : PRE
17.Christian symbol used during the Crusades : JERUSALEMCROSS
19.Coastal feature : RIA
20.Expert : OLDPRO
21.Bit of electric guitar play : HOTLICK
23.Epoxy, e.g. : RESIN
24.Trading insider Boesky : IVAN
26.Ages ago : ONCE
27.Results of refrigerator raids : NOSHES
29.Fathered : BEGAT
30.Prime or crime follower : RATE
33.Small amount of liquor : TOT
34.Many an informative tweet : NEWSALERT
35.Wordsworth's "___: Intimations of Immortality" : ODE
36.New England architectural style : CAPECOD
38.Best effort : ALL
39.Early Stephen King thriller : SALEMSLOT
41.Charles, for one : ROI
42.Ball opener? : SKEE
43.Gulf of Aqaba resort city : EILAT
44."... And God Created Woman" actress : BARDOT
46.Its highest possible score is 240, for short : PSAT
47.Jam : BIND
48.Space blanket material : MYLAR
52.St. Francis of Assisi, for one : ASCETIC
54.Chain owned by Wyndham Worldwide : RAMADA
55.Hit animated film of 2011 : RIO
56.Time of annual madness ... or a hint to four squares in this puzzle : BLACKFRIDAY
59.Colorful carp : KOI
60.One way to study : ABROAD
61.Falsetto-voiced Muppet : ELMO
62.It has many famous alums : SNL
63.Some NASA designs : ROBOTS
64.Big Sur institute : ESALEN
1.Epic : MAJOR
2.Singer who was awarded an M.B.E. in 2013 : ADELE
3.An argument : WORDS
4.Ordinary guy: Var. : SHMO
5.XXX part : TAC
6.Misidentify, e.g. : ERR
7.Warm greetings? : ALOHAS
8.Unstable physics particle : MESON
9.Alphabetizing, e.g.: Abbr. : SYST
10.Cracks, as piping : SPRINGSALEAK
11."The Very Hungry Caterpillar" author : ERICCARLE
12.It whistles while it works : TEAKETTLE
14.Flat on one's back : SUPINE
18.Italian port on the Tyrrhenian Sea : SALERNO
22.Theater magnate Marcus : LOEW
24."Come hungry. Leave happy" sloganeer : IHOP
25.Expert : VETERAN
28.Assists, e.g. : STAT
29.Sack : BED
30.Mother of the Freedom Movement, to friends : ROSALEEPARKS
31.What a ticket is good for : ADMISSION
32.Electrical transformer : TESLACOIL
34.Reason to be barred from a bar : NOID
36.Simple 29-Down : COT
37.Part of a tennis net : CORD
40.One way to be running or working : LATE
42.Stonewall, say : STYMIE
44.Tummy soother : BICARB
45.Baseball All-Star Infante : OMAR
47.Tolkien protagonist : BILBO
49.Big dipper : LADLE
50.Water : ADAMSALE
51.So-called "laboratory's first gift to the loom" : RAYON
53.Way up? : TBAR
54.Country addresses, for short : RFDS
57.Baby's sound : COO
58."2 Broke Girls" actress Dennings : KAT

© 2014, Jim Horne