XW Info

Saturday, February 1, 2014
by Will Nediger
Sat 2/1/2014
© 2014, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: Fun workout today. And written BY A CANADIAN!

*ducking from hockey stick thrown by Jeffrey Krasnick*

No need to get rough, eh? Nice change of pace today, more loaded on the proper names and trivia than a typical Saturday. These types of puzzles tend to either hit or miss depending on the solver's knowledge base, and it was a tale of two halves for me. The right half flew by because I've forced myself to learn ERIK SATIE through crossword construction (look at all those common letters with vowel-consonant alternation!), and the straightforward clue for the devil-spawn LA LAKERs made it easy to plunk down. But for non-crossword constructors / fanatical haters of the purple and gold menace to humanity's very foundation, it was a really good thing that all the crossing answers don't depend on such specific knowledge.

Trivia is so subjective. I'm sure many solvers will grumble at EQUIVALENCE and AQABA, complaining that these are esoteric bits that no one should have to know. But as a former mechanical engineer, the watts and volt-amperes EQUIVALENCE made me smile, as did remembering the amazing scene of AQABA in "Lawrence of Arabia." High thumbs-up for me, but I can understand how others will disagree.

The left half was much tougher for me, not knowing ERIKA KANE, MARLENE, EMIL NOLDE, or MADONNA with its tough Parmagianino-related clue. It does strike me as a fair area, given that the names are all drawn from disparate disciplines (not having multiple clues requiring concentrated knowledge about Dungeons and Dragons +1 Swords of Justice or something), but it certainly highlighted several deficiencies in my knowledge base. My personal perfect storm? Perhaps.

In general, I prefer more of a mixing of many different types of clue/answer pairs, proper names and trivia being diluted with a good array of wordplay type clues/answers. For example, it would have been great to have more of the "Sky boxes?" / KITES type clue/answer pairs in that left section. I learned a lot today, looking up quite a few entries after I finished.

Will Shortz notes: This puzzle by Canadian Will Nediger has a lot of fine vocabulary. My favorite entries, besides BARBARA BUSH at 1A, are YOUR MAJESTY, OLIVE GARDEN, HAM OMELET, ERICA KANE, ALARM BELL, BETAMAX, FLEX-TIMER, L.A. LAKER, ERIK SATIE, and WE DID IT. And hardly anything undesirable. That's expert puzzle-making!
1.Her 1994 memoir has the chapter "Desert Storm" : BARBARABUSH
12.Plant visitor : BEE
15.What watts and volt-amperes have : EQUIVALENCE
16.Elementary education, briefly : RRR
17.High interest? : FASCINATION
18.Choice for a portrait : OIL
19.U.K. honours : OBES
20.What you may open the door for : DRAFT
21.Aftermath : WAKE
22.Fun time : GAS
23.Toddler coddler : MOMMY
24.Display options, briefly : LEDS
25.Serpent with a Zulu name : MAMBA
26.Zany : MADCAP
28.On track to win : AHEAD
31.Use pumice on, perhaps : EXFOLIATE
33.He wrote of a "vorpal blade" : CARROLL
35.Gets to a seat, say : LEADSIN
36.Member of the German Expressionist group Die Brücke : EMILNOLDE
38.Sky boxes? : KITES
39.Exhibit explainer : DOCENT
40.Strawberry, for one : EXMET
42.Tom Clancy's "Every ___ Tiger" : MANA
43.Polaris or Procyon : FSTAR
44.Persian language unit? : MEW
47."The Wizard of Oz" farmhand : ZEKE
48.Psychoanalyst Melanie : KLEIN
49.Hometown of the mathematician Fibonacci : PISA
50.Much like : ALA
51.Words accompanying a low bow : YOURMAJESTY
53.X or Y lead-in : GEN
54.Uno's alternative : OLIVEGARDEN
55.Suzanne, e.g.: Abbr. : STE
56.Light insufficiently : UNDEREXPOSE
1.Muddle : BEFOG
2.Great Rift Valley port : AQABA
3.Dodges : RUSES
4.Some 27-Down : BICS
5.Prefix with culture : AVI
6.Like some inspections : RANDOM
7.Danger dinger : ALARMBELL
8.Old Sony format : BETAMAX
9.Come together : UNIFY
10.Cock-a-leekie eater : SCOT
11.Incubator : HEN
12.Sent out in waves? : BROADCAST
13.Composer of several "Gnossiennes" : ERIKSATIE
14.Man's name that sounds noble : ERLE
21.Cooperation exclamation : WEDIDIT
23."___ With the Long Neck" (Parmigianino painting) : MADONNA
24.Pro athlete in purple and gold : LALAKER
25.Cary's "Blonde Venus" co-star : MARLENE
26.Dispenser of Duff Beer : MOE
27.Desk set : PENS
28.Made no mistakes on : ACED
29.No breakfast for a vegan : HAMOMELET
30.TV antiheroine for 41 years : ERICAKANE
32.One whose shifts shift : FLEXTIMER
34.Development site : LOT
37.Warrant : DESERVE
41.Handle : MANAGE
43.Subject to change : FLUID
44.Screw up : MISDO
45.Business fraudster Billie Sol ___ : ESTES
46.General who won 1794's Battle of Fallen Timbers : WAYNE
47.Navigates a switchback, in part : ZAGS
48.Severinsbrücke's city : KOLN
49.One may be fingered : PERP
51."Revolution" or "Hound Dog" starter : YOU
52.Port named after a U.S. president, informally : JAX

© 2017, Jim Horne