XW Info

Monday, January 23, 2017
by Bruce Haight
POW Mon 1/23/2017
© 2017, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes:

Really enjoyed this one. Very nice that Bruce perfectly divided up RUMP EL STILT SKIN into its syllables, sticking them at the starts of snappy phrases. I particularly liked RUMP ROAST and the legend of EL DORADO. I'm more familiar with golf's SKINS GAME than a SKIN GAME, but the latter does appear to be legit. And STILT WALKER … don't they just call them "person on stilts"? But again, the term does appear to be in use, and it's a fun word to say.

I always enjoy a good a-ha moment, and it's tough to get one on a Monday. If the theme is too hard, solvers won't understand (see: Bruce's mom). I thought this one was just about right, hiding in plain sight until I got to the very end and finally put those syllables together. Good choice to have an oblique revealer in FAIRY TALE — I think it would have been too hit-solvers-over-the-head-with-a-hammer obvious with RUMPELSTILTSKIN as a revealer.

And what nice fill! Not a surprise to me that Bruce's puzzles have taken a quantum leap since (warning: shameless plug ahead) he went all in on the XWord Info Word List. I loved getting the bonuses of PASTA BAR / E READER / DAD BODS (I'm trying very hard to avoid the first in order to avoid the third), SOFA BED. That's one great corner.

Bruce's puzzles used to be fairly well sprinkled with crossword glue, but this one is so nice and clean, generally.

I did have some qualms about the SW, though. SAULT crossing ELO is rough, almost making me disqualify the puzzle from POW! contention (given that this is a Monday puzzle). And STRING UP … I know there are a lot of nooses in Wild West movies, but … ick.

But overall, such a fun hidden theme, giving me a solid a-ha, and a well-executed grid. It's so difficult to make a Monday puzzle that's interesting to more experienced solvers, while also keeping the fill easily accessible to noobs. Great job!

1."Winnie-the-___" : POOH
5."Kisses, dahling!" : MWAH
9.Recorded on a cassette : TAPED
14.Something cleared up by Clearasil : ACNE
15.Akron's home : OHIO
16.To whom Butler said "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" : OHARA
17.Slow-cooked beef entree : RUMPROAST
19.Used a light beam on in surgery : LASED
20.Samuel of the Supreme Court : ALITO
21."How do you ___?" (court query) : PLEAD
23.Indenting key : TAB
24.Indian tribe that lent its name to two states : DAKOTA
26.Fabled city of wealth sought by conquistadors : ELDORADO
28.Before, to Byron : ERE
29.401(k) relative : IRA
31.Versatile piece of furniture : SOFABED
32.Put into law : ENACT
34.Detroit factory output : CARS
35.One with a leg up in the circus business? : STILTWALKER
39.Trig or calc : MATH
41.October birthstones : OPALS
42.Tel Aviv native : ISRAELI
46.Sch. run by the Latter-day Saints : BYU
47.Have bills : OWE
50.Gambling scam : SKINGAME
52.High on pot : STONED
54.Bottle alternative : CAN
55.Laughs loudly : ROARS
57.Big name in retail jewelry : ZALES
58."Shucks, you shouldn't have!" : AWGEE
60.What the starts of 17-, 26-, 35- and 50-Across are : FAIRYTALE
62.___ Ste. Marie, Mich. : SAULT
63.Regarding : ASTO
64.List-ending abbr. : ETAL
65.Writers' wrongs? : TYPOS
66.Container for eggs : NEST
67.Cincinnati team : REDS
1.Macy's Thanksgiving event : PARADE
2.Eye-related : OCULAR
3.Like a live radio announcer : ONMIKE
4.Aware of, in cool-cat slang : HEPTO
5.Cow sound : MOO
6.Fly swatter sound : WHAP
7.Passage in a plane : AISLE
8.Red Monopoly purchases : HOTELS
9.Described, as something in the past : TOLDOF
10."So THAT's the story here!" : AHA
11.Carb-heavy buffet area : PASTABAR
12.Kindle or Nook : EREADER
13.Some pudgy, middle-aged physiques, informally : DADBODS
18.Corkscrew-shaped noodles : ROTINI
22.Commotion : ADO
25.Asia's ___ Sea : ARAL
27.Off to the ___ (starting strong) : RACES
30.Coll. entrance exam : ACT
32.Actor Hawke of "Boyhood" : ETHAN
33.What it takes to tango : TWO
35.Hang, Wild West-style : STRINGUP
36.Alert to squad cars, for short : APB
37.Big name in potato chips : LAYS
38.All thumbs : KLUTZY
39.Wrong for the role : MISCAST
40."Go ahead, shoot!" : ASKAWAY
43.Long-necked waders : EGRETS
44.Language in Vientiane : LAO
45."Your work is wonderful" : IMAFAN
47.Airing after midnight, say : ONLATE
48.Little shaver, to a Scot : WEELAD
49.'50s Ford flops : EDSELS
51.Clear the blackboard : ERASE
53.Many a John Wayne film, informally : OATER
56.Takes a chair : SITS
59."Evil Woman" rock grp. : ELO
61."Balderdash!" : ROT

© 2017, Jim Horne