Friends sometimes approach me when they hear I've helped others with financial planning. They're usually hesitant because it seems like a big ask to help structure their savings and investment strategies.
Twenty hours later, they're trying to chew off a leg to escape as I gleefully spout off on asset allocation, market timing, management fees ...
The financial sector loves making things seem complicated, because if people realized how (relatively) simple it all boils down, how would they charge fees? I hate seeing i-banks drain people's funds, so I take great pleasure in helping people cut through all the crap.
Thus, it's no surprise that this puzzle appealed to me. I wouldn't say these themers are COMEDY GOLD, but it's fun to think about a person buying a safer investment in a chemical company like Dow — let's call it an IONIC BOND. Or going riskier, allocating funds into McDonald's BEEF STOCK.
WORK PORTFOLIO was a valiant effort to tie everything together, but it didn't quite work for me. I understand that PORTFOLIO means both an array of accomplishments for an interview and an assortment of investments. I wouldn't hire a crossword writer based on this pun being in his/her WORK PORTFOLIO, though, as those two definitions are too similar to create an a-ha.
I did enjoy the crossing of COCKTAILS and WEAK TEA, and the cheekiness of STICK ON sticking on IONIC BOND. However, as much as I like great bonuses such as TOOK A VOW, ITS ALIVE, OLIVE OIL, TRAGIC END, I don't think that's worth the price of RANDR (never spelled out like this in real life), ANE, ANON, TELS, and especially STLO. Turning down the audacity knob would have been great.
The finance junkie in me loved the direction of this concept, but the execution didn't quite tickle my crossword brain.
Welcome to the latest installment of "The SWIK Show!" (Shows What I Know) Ari's original idea was more similar to Carl's, and I suggested that more could be done with it. An extra layer would make the puzzle so much more distinctive than just a couple of SIX PACKs sitting in the puzzle.
SWIK! A cleanly-executed puzzle — focusing on those SIX PACKs, with nothing else to potentially distract — made for a punchy visual.
How should the letters be oriented, Ari wondered. Clockwise? Back and forth? Anagrammed? Like a book? Definitely, like a book, I said. It's too hard otherwise — wouldn't solvers be befuddled if we did anything else?
SWIK! Carl's approach is a bit confusing at first, but it's consistent. Better yet, it delays the a-ha moment, piquing and holding solvers' interest. I stared at STEALL for ages, anagramming, wondering if SALT was somehow involved. I didn't figure it out until hitting SIX PACK OF BEER, and that's after having done extensive work researching (read: drinking) various six-letter beers for the previous puzzle!
Ari asked, wouldn't it be better if we had four SIX PACKs? Three might be too thin? I thought about it; a valid point. Having the extra layer would ultimately more than make up for it, though, while four SIX PACKs alone felt like Al Bundy sitting around and drinking empty calories.
SWIK! The four SIX PACKs and a long revealer in SIX PACK OF BEER made for a chewy stout, hardly your average MILLER Lite. The lack of long theme answers running through the SIX PACKs also gave Carl huge freedom in filling around all those letter combinations, and I appreciate the smoothness / newb-friendliness of the overall product.
It's amazing that anyone ever listens to me. (No one tell that to my kids!)
A strong debut, aimed perfectly at early-week beer enthusiasts and more.