XW Info

Thursday, November 28, 2013
by Loren Muse Smith and Jeff Chen
Thu 11/28/2013
© 2013, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: Loren was so much fun to meet last year at the ACPT. Such a nice person, fun to hang out with, and a great sense of humor. But she's too humble — it was another puzzle she put together which led to this one. I thought it was extremely well constructed, but I also felt like it was lacking something, a certain je ne sais quoi or a fuller raison d'etre. When we tossed around SNAKES ON A PLANE, it felt like everything snapped into place. I love it when a plan comes together (cue The A-Team theme song).

I always look at the good and the "could have been improved" in a puzzle, and there's a lot I really like about this puzzle. But there's also no doubt that the heavy constraints forced some compromises. Neither Loren nor I were fans of all the short stuff at the top (ISPS, RIAA, IRR etc.), but at the time it seemed like a reasonable price to pay for including SIOUX WAR and SANDBAG (and the symmetrically placed KLAXONS and SEMINARY). We looked at possibly breaking up some of the long stuff to get better short fill, but the compromises still were there so we ran with this. Tough trade-offs.

And to those grousing about the BIKO/ORIBI crossing, I raise my hand on that one. Loren was keen to get something more friendly there, but I used the Jedi mind trick to convince her otherwise. So if you faltered at that spot, please look closely into my eyes and accept my apologies ... (waving hand hypnotically in front of your face) and go get me a scotch.

Looking forward to more from Loren! Oh, one point I forgot: happy 65th bday to Samuel L. Jackson! We hoped this would run next month on his actual 65th birthday (Dec. 21), but what are you gonna do.

ADDED NOTE: Time for another installment of Can I Beat Dan At My Own Puzzle? My solving time, just having looked at the answers = 3:27. Will Dan Feyer and the other speedsters beat me?* We'll add Loren's time here too as soon as the puzzle publishes.

*Dan's time: 2:17. I need ideas for a bigger handicap. Blindfolding him?

Will Shortz notes: This is Loren Muse Smith's first New York Times crossword, and what an auspicious debut. The theme is ingenious, and the construction is handsome, too. Did you notice the unusual-sized 14x16-square grid? Loren is only the second West Virginia crossword constructor I've published in my 20 years at the Times. The other, Pamela Amick Klawitter, is also a woman with a three-word name. It's noticing little things like this that keep me amused.
1.Not for the Parti Québécois? : PAS
4.Comcast and CenturyLink, in brief : ISPS
8.Terminal info : ETAS
12.Words of praise : ODE
13.Org. that fought Napster : RIAA
14.Hook's place : CLASP
15.Joe Louis, to fans : THEBROWNBOMBER
18.Kind of bean : SOYA
19.Out, in a way : UNDER
20.For instance : SAY
21.Flower feature : CALYX
23.Anti-apartheid activist Steve : BIKO
25.Base of a certain pole, figuratively : LOWMAN
27.Grate : RASP
31.Some radios : AMS
34.One interested in current affairs? : HANGGLIDER
36.Host of the 1972 Winter Olympics : SAPPORO
38.___ it all : ABOVE
39.Stowed stuff : STASH
40.Isn't content with the status quo, say : ASPIRES
42.Gang Green member : NEWYORKJET
45.Some TV drama settings, for short : ERS
46.___ in progress (iPhone phrase) : SYNC
47.Cottonwoods : ALAMOS
49.Tennis's Mandlikova : HANA
51.Classic toothpaste name : IPANA
54."Gross!" : EEW
57.Recipe instruction : MIXIN
59.Door fixture : HASP
61.Cult classic whose title is depicted four times in this puzzle : SNAKESONAPLANE
64.Beaker material : PYREX
65.Mrs. James Joyce : NORA
66.Toon's place : CEL
67.Positive principle : YANG
68.Mother of Nike, in Greek myth : STYX
69.Historic leader? : PRE
1.They may be cast-iron : POTS
2.For a specific purpose : ADHOC
3."I'm outta here!" : SEEYA
4.Like some verbs: Abbr. : IRR
5.Little Bighorn conflict : SIOUXWAR
6.Future queen, maybe : PAWN
7.Balloon ballast : SANDBAG
8.Street shader : ELM
9.Keep ___ on : TABS
10.Lost : ASEA
11.Nimble : SPRY
14.Blarney Castle's county : CORK
16.Cinderella's soiree : BALL
17.Human ___ : BEING
22.Chant from a 32-Down, maybe : YOHOHO
24.Small antelope : ORIBI
26.6 letters : MNO
28.Hold dear : ADORE
29.Cut : SEVER
30.Voice mail imperative : PRESS
31.Orgs. : ASSNS
32.See 22-Down : MATEY
33.Offspring : SPAWN
35.Object of scrutiny at airport security : LAPTOP
37.Outwit, in a way, with "out" : PSYCH
40.Horror film director Alexandre ___ : AJA
41.School at which students are collared? : SEMINARY
43.Some queens : RANIS
44."Ah-OO-gah!" horns : KLAXONS
48.Canadian-born comedian once featured on the cover of Time : SAHL
50.Kind of card : AMEX
52.Antidiscrimination grp. : NAACP
53.Ed of "Up" : ASNER
54.Spot : ESPY
55."A Day Without Rain" singer : ENYA
56.Tip off : WARN
58.Playing longer than expected, for short : INOT
60.One-named sports star who was once the highest-paid athlete in the world : PELE
62.Party congregation site, maybe : KEG
63.Bellum's opposite : PAX

© 2017, Jim Horne