XW Info

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
by Paula Gamache
Tue 11/5/2013
© 2013, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: Easy-breezy theme for a Tuesday, WI/SE CRACKed so that it bookends the theme answers. It's fun to see a constructor's tastes come through in a puzzle, and today is a fine example. I don't know Paula but get the impression from our brief meetings that she's more cultured than me. (Really though, I'm having trouble picturing anyone less cultured than me. Perhaps the construction worker at this coffee shop who's currently showing off a different type of crack. Tee hee.)

Fun theme phrases today which help make the puzzle sing. When there's a straightforward theme type, it's crucial to pick themers which are snappy, in-the-language phrases, and Paula does well in this arena. WINGED HORSE, WIN OR LOSE, WINEHOUSE, WILD GEESE, they're all phrases I would prioritize for use as long fill in one of my puzzles. Well done.

Tastes will differ of course, and I have a feeling this puzzle will appeal to more upscale clientele than me. Some may point out the elegance of having ANAIS above HENRI, perhaps an irreverent hint at Nin's personal life with Henry Miller (don't worry, I had to look that up too). The WARNERS class up the joint as well, and an ETUI and some POESY round out the high-classisity of the work. Perhaps not my cup of lowbrow tea, but I can appreciate it all the same.

A nit to pick: I got hung up on WISE CRACK, wanting the theme answers to have an actual crack within them made of black squares, or something of the like. Having the WI and SE at the outer ends of the themers more connotes WISE ENDS or OUTER WISE. Minor issue, but for these types of "literal interpretation of a phrase" puzzles, I like to have the interpretation be carried out as exactly as possible. This felt slightly loosey-goosey in interpretation.

Finally, the tremendous amount of strong long fill present today is a mark of a veteran constructor with chops. As Will mentioned, to pull off a 74-worder with such theme density is quite a challenge.

Will Shortz notes: Paula's grid has a surprisingly low word count (74 entries) for a puzzle with this much theme material. As a result, the corners are quite chunky — which is great. Among the nontheme entries I particularly like SCREWY, SHU MAI, ANTINUKE, WINNIPEG, and I'M BACK.
1.Fed. procurement overseer : GSA
4.Boito's "Mefistofele," e.g. : OPERA
9."Delta of Venus" author Nin : ANAIS
14.Giver of a hoot : OWL
15.Remove, as a spill : MOPUP
16.Bendel of fashion : HENRI
17.*Migratory flock : WILDGEESE
19.Couldn't stand : HATED
20.Small French case : ETUI
21.Appear : SEEM
22.Plenteous : RIFE
23.Cuckoo in the head : SCREWY
25.Dada pioneer : ARP
28.Heart : NUB
29.Greek letter traditionally associated with Earth Day : THETA
30.*Singer Amy with six Grammys : WINEHOUSE
33.Drought ender : RAIN
35.Group of papers : PACKET
36.*Pegasus, notably : WINGEDHORSE
39.Asian capital that was from 2004-07 home of the world's tallest building : TAIPEI
41.___ Minor : URSA
42.*"Regardless of the outcome ..." : WINORLOSE
44.News items often written years in advance : OBITS
49.Directional suffix : ERN
50.D.C. V.I.P. : SEN
51.Dim sum dish : SHUMAI
52.Yale Whale players : ELIS
54.Blarney Stone home : ERIN
57.Stat for A-Rod : RBIS
58.Take care of a fly? : ZIPUP
60.Witticism ... or, literally, a description of the answer to each of the four starred clues? : WISECRACK
62.Año's start : ENERO
63.Facing the pitcher : ATBAT
64.Who said "The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall" : CHE
65."Hollywood Nights" singer Bob : SEGER
66.Bronx Bombers : YANKS
67.Le Mans race unit: Abbr. : KIL
1.Head toward the setting sun : GOWEST
2.Trade, as places : SWITCH
3.Attraction : ALLURE
4."Yipe!," online : OMG
5.Wordsworth words : POESY
6.Sporting weapon : EPEE
7.Artifice : RUSE
8.Hypothetical primate : APEMAN
9."Yes ... that's the spot ... yes!" : AHH
10.Approaching : NEAR
11.Like a "Better active today than radioactive tomorrow" sentiment : ANTINUKE
12."You can't make me!" : IREFUSE
13.Not the main action : SIDEBET
18.Course-altering plan? : DIET
24.Brothers of old Hollywood : WARNERS
26.Auto take-backs : REPOS
27.Mummy, maybe : PHARAOH
30.Golfer Michelle : WIE
31.River through Pakistan : INDUS
32.Training acad. : OCS
34.Like a ballerina : AGILE
36.Manitoba's capital : WINNIPEG
37.Big W.S.J. news : IPO
38.Charlemagne's domain: Abbr. : HRE
39.Plucks, as brows : TWEEZES
40.Fleet operator : AIRLINE
43.Like a relationship with a narcissist : ONEWAY
45.Historical subject for Gore Vidal : BURR
46."It's me again" : IMBACK
47.Chinese martial art : TAICHI
48.Onetime colleague of Ebert : SISKEL
51."___ Previews" (onetime show of 48-Down) : SNEAK
53.Not doubting : SURE
55.Journalist Skeeter of the Harry Potter books : RITA
56.Amazon.com ID : ISBN
59.___ favor : POR
61.Amt. to the right of a decimal point : CTS

© 2017, Jim Horne