XW Info

Monday, March 31, 2014
by Robert Cirillo
Mon 3/31/2014
© 2014, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: Nice start to the week, MA AND PA cluing in four theme phrases starting with MA and PA, respectively. The 15/13/7/13/15 is a tough construction, but Robert executes on it fairly well. Typically I'd expect to see only a pair of long fill entries, but Robert gives us BARBARELLA and STORM SURGE in the vertical directions, and EX-HUSBAND and URSA MAJOR in the horizontal. The extra effort is much appreciated, adding a lot of snazz to the puzzle.

Typically I might balk at long fill in the horizontal direction, especially since both EX-HUSBAND and URSA MAJOR are longer than the center revealer, but today I think it's perfectly acceptable because of the theme. Given that the MA*PA* patterns are so clear, it's much less likely that EX-HUSBAND or URSA MAJOR are going to be confused for theme material.

One hitch I had: as Rob noted, MARDI GRAS PARADE stuck out for me as the only three-word phrase. At first I thought I might be wrong, MARDIGRAS being written or interpreted as a single word? But no, it's definitely Mardi Gras. If another one of the themers had been three words, perhaps I wouldn't have felt an inconsistency? I really like MARDI GRAS PARADE as an entry, but it might have been nicer to get something else as snappy but with two words.

Out of curiosity, I checked onelook.com to see what other 15-letter options there are. I was surprised that I couldn't find any other options, at least with a cursory 15 minute search. So perhaps I would have paired MA AND PA with MADE PAR, making it a 7/13/15/13/7 arrangement? As always, tough trade-offs for any crossword.

Speaking of trade-offs, today's puzzle is another great example of getting a whole bunch of extra goodness for the price of a handful of lesser entries. I did notice the MPAA, RAES, UNAPT, EDUC, ETE kind of stuff during my solve, and I personally prefer a silky-smooth solve for Monday puzzles (so beginning solvers can feel that the NYT xw is within their grasp). But for the more experienced solver, it's a real treat to get the aforementioned long entries, plus DECANT, INQUEST, MODEL T and its neat clue.

JimH notes: For some reason I'm reminded of this Grant Wood painting I see every time I visit the Art Institute of Chicago.
1.Dress that falls between the knee and ankle : MIDI
5.Nature walks, e.g. : HIKES
10.Droid : BOT
13.Comment to a card dealer : IMIN
14.Triangular chip : DORITO
15.I.R.S. filing time: Abbr. : APR
16.*Where Romeo and Juliet meet : MASQUERADEPARTY
19.Dick, to Liz, twice : EXHUSBAND
20.Hank Aaron finished his career with 2,297 of them, in brief : RBIS
21.Schooling: Abbr. : EDUC
22.Pour, as wine from a bottle : DECANT
24.*Often-seedy establishment : MASSAGEPARLOR
29.Brad of "Moneyball" : PITT
30.Wedding vows : IDOS
31.Antlered animal : ELK
34.Kerfuffle : ADO
35.Rural couple ... or what the respective halves of the answers to the four starred clues start with : MAANDPA
38.Gift that may be presented with an "Aloha!" : LEI
39.___ Lingus : AER
40.Bushy hairdo : AFRO
41.Actor Arkin : ALAN
42.*1978 #1 Donna Summer hit that covered a 1968 #2 hit by Richard Harris : MACARTHURPARK
47.Pop artist Johns : JASPER
49.Take ___ (catch some Z's) : ANAP
50.Together, musically : ADUE
51.The handle of the Big Dipper is its tail : URSAMAJOR
56.*New Orleans event with floats : MARDIGRASPARADE
59.Yolk's place : EGG
60.Car famously available in any color, as long as it was black : MODELT
61.Like 2, 4, 6, 8 ... : EVEN
62.Visualize : SEE
63.Drunkard : SOUSE
64.Like this clue among all the Acrosses : LAST
1.Silent performer : MIME
2.Big-screen format : IMAX
3.Food serving : DISH
4.Official investigation : INQUEST
5."Ars Poetica" poet : HORACE
6.Tehran's land : IRAN
7.N.B.A. player-turned-coach Jason : KIDD
8.Summer in France : ETE
9.Soak (up) : SOP
10.1968 Jane Fonda sci-fi film : BARBARELLA
11.Choose to participate : OPTIN
12.Meeting at a no-tell motel : TRYST
14.Fix, as a computer program : DEBUG
17.Org. that rates meat "Choice" or "Prime" : USDA
18.West Coast gas chain : ARCO
22.Plunge : DROP
23."Born Free" lioness : ELSA
24.FIlm-rating grp. : MPAA
25.Adviser, for one : AIDE
26.Rise of seawater that might accompany a hurricane : STORMSURGE
27.___ noir (red wine) : PINOT
28.Tack (on) : ADD
32.Shakespearean king : LEAR
33.Twist, as in a chain : KINK
35.Attacker repellent : MACE
36.Many miles off : AFAR
37.Opposite of "Dep." on a flight board : ARR
41.Clothing : APPAREL
43.Parroted : APED
44.Big inconvenience : HASSLE
45.Not fitting : UNAPT
46."___ Lama Ding Dong" (1961 hit) : RAMA
47.King ___ Bible : JAMES
48.Proverb : ADAGE
51.Language in Lahore : URDU
52.Actress Charlotte and explorer John : RAES
53.Jakarta's island : JAVA
54.Poems by 5-Down : ODES
55.Landlord's income : RENT
57.Chats online, for short : IMS
58.When repeated, early baby sounds : GOO

© 2017, Jim Horne