XW Info

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
by David Levinson Wilk
Wed 4/2/2014
© 2014, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: Okay, all you solvers out there who didn't understand the theme at first, raise your hands!

(My hand sheepishly raised)

After filling in the last letter, I was astonished that I got Mr. Happy Pencil, since WET HOODS looked so odd. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that the theme answers were all anagrams of the phrase immediately following "... out of ...". Confused still? [Weapon part that's out of this world] means the weapon part is made up out of the letters T H I S W O R L D. Anagrammed, you get SWORD HILT. Same goes for (out of) THE WOODS and WET HOODS. I thought it was pretty neat, once I got it. A bit of British cryptic crossword leaking over into the US.

"Wacky" phrase puzzles can be hit or miss. They usually need to be really funny, or at least produce an odd mental image to be successful. I liked most of the themers, but none of them spoke to me in particular. I did enjoy that SWORD HILT is a real thing — what a cool coincidence that THIS WORLD and SWORD HILT are anagrams!

I also appreciated some of the lively fill in David's puzzle. I GOT NEXT especially feels fresh and snappy. And it's rare that a four-letter entry will impress me, but I really liked the up-to-date NSFW (not safe/suitable for work). Nice job in adding to the NYT crossword's SFW lexicon.

There were some rough patches here and there. For whatever reason, four-letter random Roman numerals irk me, but that's simply a preference. Some people actually like them, in that they can be inferred, thus providing a toehold in a tough-to-solve section. If they must make an appearance, I usually prefer a crazy math problem, like XXXIII * XLVII or something referencing the fact that 1551 is palindromic. Then again, I'm a dork (and proud of it!).

Not a surprise to see a few glue-y entries in those wide-open NW and SE corners. But if all I have to pay for SEE PAST, NIPS AT, I GOT NEXT, ASTHMA is the partial TRY A, I'll take that most any day. Even better is the NW, which features a bevy of beautiful answers for the price of IT ON, SKEE and DIA. What made it totally worth it to me was my favorite clue/answer: [Paper tiger, e.g.] for ORIGAMI. I always struggle to remember what a paper tiger is (something that seems threatening but really isn't), and I got a big smile on my face when I realized I had been bamboozled.

1.Miami's county, familiarly : DADE
5.Stalled driver's request : JUMP
9.Inexperienced with : NEWAT
14.Words after pour or pass : ITON
15.Beast in the documentary "Blackfish" : ORCA
16.Amtrak bullet train : ACELA
17.Weapon part that's out of this world? : SWORDHILT
19.Chaim who created Asher Lev : POTOK
20.Kurt of Nirvana : COBAIN
21.Spanish diminutive suffix : ITA
23.Pronoun in a wedding statement : THEE
24.Paper tiger, maybe : ORIGAMI
26.One-room home : IGLOO
28.___-Ball : SKEE
29.Sturm ___ Drang : UND
31.Skedaddled : RANOFF
34.Wintertime airport supply : DEICER
37.Victoria's Secret garment : TEDDY
38.Swell place? : SEA
41.Attack on a Mideast land that's out of thin air? : IRANHIT
43.___ Lanka : SRI
44.Boxer's prize : PURSE
46.Protracted battles : SIEGES
48.Lady Schick target : ARMPIT
50."A revolution is not a dinner party" writer : MAO
51.Jewelry designer Peretti : ELSA
55.Cries of pain : YEOWS
57.Some lines on a GPS screen : STREETS
59."And ___ word from our sponsor" : NOWA
61.Anxious condition, for short : OCD
63.Bites playfully : NIPSAT
64.Plumber's unclogger : SNAKE
66.Fisherman's feat that's out of character? : RARECATCH
68.Happy gatherings : FESTS
69.Cameo stone : ONYX
70.Give the appearance of : SEEM
71."Whoopee!" : WAHOO
72.Insect repellent ingredient : DEET
73."___ Little Tenderness" : TRYA
1.Places where people hustle? : DISCOS
2.On the job : ATWORK
3.Rock's ___ Brothers : DOOBIE
4.Steamed : ENRAGED
5.Sierra Club founder : JOHNMUIR
6.Mentalist Geller : URI
7.Mid 12th-century year : MCLI
8.Singer Smith of punk music : PATTI
9.Day care break : NAP
10.Environmental transition area : ECOTONE
11.Drenched gangsters who are out of the woods? : WETHOODS
12.The so-called "potted physician" : ALOE
13.Box-office receipts : TAKE
18.24 horas : DIA
22.Cabinet-level dept. since 1889 : AGR
25.Pachacuti's people : INCAS
27.Drink that may feature "foam art" : LATTE
30.Blue wear : DENIM
32.Yalta Conference monogram : FDR
33.Memo-heading initials : FYI
35.Letters in a children's refrain : EIEIO
36.Ostrich cousins : RHEAS
38.Aromatherapy spot : SPA
39.Liechtenstein's locale: Abbr. : EUR
40.Military laundry that's out of harm's way? : ARMYWASH
42.Challenger's announcement at a pickup game : IGOTNEXT
45.Have a talk with : SPEAKTO
47.Purposely overlook, as a fault : SEEPAST
49.Wee hour : TWO
52.NBC anchor Holt : LESTER
53.Actress Dash of "Clueless" : STACEY
54.Inhaler user's malady : ASTHMA
56.Atlantic fish : SCROD
58.Documentarian Burns who's the brother of Ken : RIC
59.Office-inappropriate, in web shorthand : NSFW
60.Suitable for induction : ONEA
62.Hamlet, e.g. : DANE
65."___ Beso" : ESO
67.Manhattan ingredient : RYE

© 2017, Jim Horne