XW Info

Thursday, November 14, 2013
by Tom McCoy
Thu 11/14/2013
© 2013, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: Tough Thursday challenge. Any time the theme answers are largely unclued, it takes time to uncover letters one by one through the down crossings. Today's theme is an interesting one, entries than can describe themselves. I had a hard time figuring out how they all related to each other, but generally appreciated the fact that each answer was self-referential.

Outside of the theme, nice construction. Fairly standard grid layout, with a couple of long downs and solid fill throughout. QUESTING tickled me, thinking about Sir Pellinore (of The Once and Future King) pursuing the Questing Beast and its fewmets. I love it when a single clue or answer can bring to mind such pleasant images. Very nice work in the overall construction, painstakingly executed. When REL, ALEE, APPTS are your worst entries, that's pretty good. And given that this is Tom's debut, it's doubly impressive.

After finishing the solve, I sat back to figure out why I felt a little unsatisfied with the theme. It was pretty neat that the four themers described themselves, but I would have loved to see them tie together somehow, as the universe of self-descriptors seems large, especially when you throw in possibilities like PRONOUNCEABLE (SPELLED CORRECTLY, TWO WORDS, LEFT TO RIGHT, etc.). Not every theme has to neatly tie together with an elegant bow, but I would have liked a little more specificity out of this one.

Good Thursday workout, cleanly constructed, especially for a debut.

Will Shortz notes: For some reason, this puzzle could have had a lot of cross-referenced clues, like REPS/DEM/ROMNEY, ALIAS/AKA, APPTS/TRYSTS, AGE/ERA, and others. But since the four theme clues "cross-referenced" themselves, I thought it would be distracting to have cross-references elsewhere, so I didn't use any.
1.Ersatz cocoa : CAROB
6.Works as an agent (for) : REPS
10.It may run during a campaign : TVAD
14.Slack-jawed : AGAPE
15.The yoke's on them : OXEN
16.Trek : HIKE
17.Signal converter : MODEM
18.Dole (out) : METE
19.Eponymic Dutch city : EDAM
20.Like 20-Across : PRONOUNCEABLE
23.Start of the names of three of the 10 most populous U.S. cities : SAN
24.Something often guessed : AGE
25.Island that's home to the world's largest lizard : KOMODO
28.Like 28-Across : UNHYPHENATED
31.007, e.g. : ALIAS
34.Cowboy's charge : HERD
35.Part of a common Latin conjugation : AMO
36.Johnnycake : PONE
37.Wharves : QUAYS
39.Sidetrack? : SPUR
40.Favorite : PET
41."One of ___" (1923 Pulitzer-winning novel by Willa Cather) : OURS
42.Levels : TIERS
43.Like 43-Across : TWELVELETTER
47.October event, informally, with "the" : SERIES
48.Obituary listing: Abbr. : REL
49.Kind of moment : AHA
52.Like 52-Across : PENTASYLLABIC
56.Contained : HELD
58.Troubles : ILLS
59."___ we all?" : ARENT
60.Quod ___ demonstrandum : ERAT
61.Cool : NEAT
62."Gimme it!" : LETGO
63.Spread out in the kitchen? : MAYO
64.Sparklers : GEMS
65.PowerPoint pointer : LASER
1.Roughs it, say : CAMPS
2.Greek marketplace : AGORA
3.Home inspector's concern : RADON
4.Dentist's request : OPEN
5.Laments : BEMOANS
6.2012 newsmaker : ROMNEY
7.High-up in a corp. : EXEC
8.Officemate of Don and Peggy on "Mad Men" : PETE
9.Jordans, e.g. : SNEAKERS
10.Pat Nixon's given name : THELMA
11.Outmoded rental : VIDEOTAPE
12.Otherwise called : AKA
13.Blue: Abbr. : DEM
21.Big thumbs-down : UGH
22.007 : BOND
26.Show reluctance : DEMUR
27.Some trails : ODORS
28.OPEC member: Abbr. : UAE
29.Stage : PHASE
30."What's the big idea?!" : HEY
31.Meetings entered in P.D.A.'s: Abbr. : APPTS
32.Lerner's partner on Broadway : LOEWE
33.Reciprocal action and reaction : INTERPLAY
37.Knight's activity : QUESTING
38.Site sight : URL
39.Knight : SIR
41.Rack locale : OVEN
42.Extremely juicy : TELLALL
44.Misled : LIEDTO
45.Meetings probably not entered in P.D.A.'s : TRYSTS
46.___ no. : TEL
49.Assists, in a way : ABETS
50.Bit of hardware : HINGE
51.Shakespeare, at times : ACTOR
53.Sheltered : ALEE
54.Dis : SLAM
55.Ground : AREA
56.Box (in) : HEM
57.Century 21 competitor : ERA

© 2017, Jim Horne