XW Info

Sunday, July 24, 2016
by David Steinberg
Sun 7/24/2016OUT OF THIS WORLD
© 2016, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes:

SPACE INVADERS! One of my childhood favorites; it was fun to see all the elements David incorporated. I have fond memories of the ETs marching down in their zig-zag patterns, the music accelerating, the frustration of the aliens always winning, the horrible obsessive need to start over once again … okay, it wasn't all good.

David packs in a ton today. Not only is there the CANNON shooting a LASER (the Space Invaders Wikipedia entry confirms that it is indeed a LASER CANNON the player controls), but there's four of the "shields" formed by odd-looking sets of black squares — and those four individual squares spell out SAFE, very appropriate for shields.

And then there's the HIP MOTHERS! I mean, the MOTHERSHIP. I imagine it's normal to read from 12 o'clock going clockwise, but I stared at HIP MOTHERS for the longest time, wondering what the heck that had to do with SPACE INVADERS. Interesting how the eye is drawn to that northwest region first.

Finally, there's the gimmick: ETs "invade" the grid and take up "space" by hiding inside entries to masquerade as other fine words. I particularly liked the longer ones that resulted in huge changes, like PREEN to what looked like PRETEEN, and MARKING to MARKETING. DOH looking like DOETH and ABS to ABETS weren't quite as interesting, but still fun.

What with so much theme material, it's natural to need some glue to hold the puzzle together. The CANNON could have been shifted to the left or right (if there only were a way to animate a crossword …), but it's still hard to work with a set of letters so rigidly fixed into a pattern. It's unusual to see EEE and SSR in one corner of a Steinberg puzzle, but I think the end result is pretty good, especially what with ROCKET FUEL in there.

Some other bonuses like ALT TAB window-switching, CHEAP DATE, BIG DIG, RED TAPE, SPORTS BRAS more than make up for some OSS, A GUT , SSE, etc.

All in all, a ton packed into one puzzle. Perhaps a bit too much, feeling slightly scattered/unfocused to me, but a nice facsimile of the game.

1.Note in the B major scale : ASHARP
7.Platter letters : RPM
10.Boston megaproject completed in 2007, informally : BIGDIG
16.Semiformal jacket : BLAZER
17.Item of winter gear with multiple straps : SKIBOOT
21.Touch down, say : ARRIVE
22.Bro's greeting : YODUDE
23.Sarcastic "Wonderful!" : OHGREAT
24.Word after smart or sugar : COOKIE
25.Some female athletic gear : SPORTSBRAS
27.Pinstriped team : THEYANKEES
29.Cybercrime target, for short : SSN
30.Newsman Brown : AARON
31.___ manual : USERS
32.Sacramento-to-San Diego dir. : SSE
33.Grade to be concerned about : DPLUS
34.Pass, of sorts : BYE
37.Bothers : TODOS
39.Admire oneself a little too much : PREEN
42.Homer Simpson exclamation : DOH
44.- : MINUS
48.Healthy yogurt mix-ins : OATS
49.One not looking for an expensive night on the town : CHEAPDATE
52.Precollege : ELHI
53.High degree in math? : NTH
54.Bris official : MOHEL
56.Approached aggressively : RANAT
59.Scout group : DEN
60.Expired : DIED
62.Occupied, as a seat : TAKEN
66."___ over" (dispiriting message) : GAME
68.Latin for "of the sun" : SOLARIS
70.They can sleep if you play with them : YOYOS
71.Arctic lights : AURORAS
72.Washington suburb : MCLEAN
74.Palindromic elemento : ORO
75.PC task-switching combo : ALTTAB
76.Twosome : DUO
78.Stripe on a zebra, e.g. : MARKING
81.The pack in a six-pack : ABS
84.Legendary Bruin : ORR
85.A kid may exchange it for money : TOOTH
87.Capone rival : MORAN
89.P : RHO
90."Silent Spring" subject : DDT
91.1970s-'80s craze that's the theme of this puzzle : SPACEINVADERS
95.Radio format : RAP
96.Anise-flavored drink : OUZO
98.Bettering : ENHANCEMENT
99.Loch Ness monster, e.g. : MYTH
100.Lat. or Lith., once : SSR
102.One who's been tapped on the shoulder? : SIR
103.Big name in electronics : RCA
106.Cry from the enlightened : AHA
108.Defunct spy org. : OSS
110.Response on un questionnaire : OUI
112.Mission requirement : ROCKETFUEL
116.Place to get drunk before getting high? : AIRPORTBAR
121.Inspiration for "Lolita" : ANNABELLEE
122.Alfredo, for one : CREAMSAUCE
123."Never ___ Give You Up" (1988 #1 hit) : GONNA
124.Sometimes-sung pieces : ODES
125.Scraped (out) : EKED
126.Ball to keep an eye on : EIGHT
1.No miniature gulf : ABYSS
2.Pours poorly : SLOPS
3.Wore : HADON
4.Color of la Méditerranée : AZUR
5.Some complications : REDTAPE
6.Event for select customers : PRESALE
7.Ocean eyesores : RIGS
8.Six-pack inits. : PBR
9.Chandon's partner : MOET
10.Common Coke go-with : BACARDI
11.Affixes, as a patch : IRONSON
12.Grasp intuitively : GROK
13.Sights in New Orleans : DIKES
14.Prestigious school group : IVIES
15.Noisy flight crew? : GEESE
17.George on an annual Forbes list : SOROS
18.___ Academy (means of online education) : KHAN
19.Iolani palace locale : OAHU
20.Statistical tool for comparing means : TTEST
26.It may start at 10 : BRUNCH
28.Buckingham Palace guards : YEOMEN
33.Detoxing hurdle, for short : DTS
34.Tree hugger? : BOA
35."You betcha!" : YEP
36.It may change because of weather, in brief : ETD
38.Not let bygones be bygones, say : SUE
39.Golf course obstacles : PONDS
40.24/7, for instance : RATIO
41.Friend of Lucy Ricardo : ETHELMERTZ
42.Live broadcast feature, oxymoronically : DELAY
43.Symbols of speed : HARES
45.Fruit used in wines and syrups : ELDERBERRY
46.Trig angle symbol : THETA
47.Trig's law of ___ : SINES
50.Agitated, with "up" : HET
51.Beach shade : TAN
54.Popular reds : MERLOTS
55.Yellow dog of the funnies : ODIE
57.Bust ___ (guffaw) : AGUT
58.Highlands designs : TARTANS
61.Politician's asset : TACT
63.Palindromic nut : KOOK
64.Literary governess : EYRE
65.Palindromic blast : TOOT
67.Biblical kingdom : MOAB
69.Language with only 14 letters : SAMOAN
71.Nelson ___, "The Man With the Golden Arm" novelist : ALGREN
73."You betcha!" : NATCH
75.Jumper cable connection : ANODE
76.Dummy : DODO
77.Language that gave us "punch" : URDU
79.Sister of Cronus : RHEA
80.Eastern ecclesiastic : IMAM
82.Unnamed object : THAT
83.10th: Abbr. : SOPH
86.Manage : OPERATE
88.Sketchy place? : ARTROOM
92.Parts of sneakers : INSOLES
93.Spinoff series with two spinoffs of its own : NCIS
94.Luxury Italian label : VERSACE
97.Certain Honshu resident : OSAKAN
99.Umbrella holder, maybe : MAITAI
101.Queen of ___ : SHEBA
104.Sleeping Beauty was under one : CURSE
105.OB/GYN's prefix with -gram : SONO
107."___ Lang Syne" : AULD
109.Advertising buzzword : FREE
111.Apiece : EACH
112.It may collect dust : RAG
113.Fareed Zakaria's channel : CNN
114.___-Jo ('80s track star) : FLO
115.Specialty shoe spec : EEE
117.Bother : IRK
118.Digs : PAD
119.Bother : BUG
120.Not working anymore: Abbr. : RET

© 2016, Jim Horne