XW Info

Thursday, April 3, 2014
by David Benkof and Jeff Chen
Thu 4/3/2014
© 2014, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: David was kind enough to put up with me, a slightly demented 18-year old freshman roommate interested in all sorts of bizarre experiments. As an example, I set up trials to determine how long I could go without sleeping. (Hallucinating began at hour 45 and I fell asleep in the dorm hallway at hour 50.) Needless to say, people drew mustaches on me.

This grid was challenging, since the high theme density made it near impossible to incorporate long downs. I used to be fine having only a little snazzy fill in a puzzle, but these days I hate letting a puzzle go unless there are at least four nice non-theme entries inside the grid. As a solver, I highly value sparkling fill, so I always keep that front and center in my mind when I construct.

Since using long downs wasn't possible, I had to incorporate long across fill. Typically that would bother me because those answers might be mistaken for theme material, but in this case I didn't mind since the themers were so long (15/11/15/11/15) that they stand out on their own.

Unfortunately, with all the constraints, the only option was to put long across fill in the NE and SW corners. I typically don't like splitting rows 1 and 15 into two words apiece, because three words apiece is so much easier to fill cleanly. But in this case, it was the only way I felt we could add some sparkle.

I tried several hundred alternatives for each corner, and I'm never happy to have a partial (I LAY), but I thought it was a reasonable trade-off to get such goodness as 'NUFF SAID and ASIAN FLU (I find the pan-Asian financial crisis of the late 1990's incredibly interesting and useful to study, in hopes of preventing future outbreaks). I was also happy to give LAILA ALI some props, as well as Darren SHAN, the author of the Cirque du Freak series. I can only hope to someday have one-tenth his success as an author.

Fun to collaborate. I'm particularly interested in increasing diversity within constructors, so please contact me (jeffchen1972 at gmail dot com) if you'd like to break into the most fascinating hobby in the world. (And you're willing to work dozens of hours with little pay!)

1.Some interruptions : AHEMS
6."That's that!" : NUFFSAID
14.Contacts ship-to-ship, maybe : RADIOS
16.Outbreak caused by the H2N2 virus : ASIANFLU
17.December display : CHANUKAHMENORAH
19.Three-stringed Eastern instrument : SAMISEN
20.Lifts : BUOYS
21.Common noninvasive med. test : EKG
23.Sin relative? : COT
24.Mathematical field that includes the so-called "butterfly effect" : CHAOSTHEORY
30."___ culpa" : MEA
33.Circulation line : AORTA
34.Co. in a 2001 merger with American : TWA
35.Hamilton ___, two-term secretary of state under Grant : FISH
36.One of literature's "three sisters" : CHARLOTTEBRONTE
40.It's big and brassy : TUBA
41.City in Kyrgyzstan : OSH
42.Off land : ATSEA
43.Relatives of texts, for short : IMS
44.Went from butt to butt? : CHAINSMOKED
47.Flattens, in brief : KOS
48.Didn't move, as a product : SAT
49.Easy-peasy : ASNAP
52.Part of a chest : RIBCAGE
58.Chorus starter in a 1972 David Bowie song ... or the theme of this puzzle, phonetically : CHCHCHCHCHANGES
62.Boxer who competed on "Dancing With the Stars" : LAILAALI
63.Maze solver : LABRAT
64.Like socks right out of the dryer : UNSORTED
65.Marks for life : SCARS
1.Things that are tossed usually go in them : ARCS
2."Joke's on you!" : HAHA
3.Gouda alternative : EDAM
4.Fun-size, say : MINI
5.___-chef : SOUS
6.Slangy negative : NAH
7.Mil. branch : USM
8.Interjection of disgust : FIE
9.Many a sci-fi devotee : FANBOY
10.Prominent part of an aardvark : SNOUT
11.'60s do also called a "natural" : AFRO
12."Now ___ me down to sleep" : ILAY
13."Obviously!" remarks : DUHS
15.Kind of shooting : SKEET
18.Key of the Nile : ANKH
22."Would you believe ..." : GETTHIS
23.Zodiac symbol : CRAB
24.Arizona sights : CACTI
25."You're boring me" : HOHUM
26.One side in a 1967 war : ARABS
27.___ vez (again: Sp.) : OTRA
28.1942 title role for Rita Hayworth : SAL
29.Not be squared up, say : OWE
30.Eastern European capital : MINSK
31.Makeup magnate Lauder : ESTEE
32.Up : AHEAD
35.Picture, informally : FOTO
37.Some reactions to fireworks : OOHS
38.Airport inits. : TSA
39.Zodiac symbol : RAM
44.54, e.g., in old TV : COPCAR
45.Snitch (on), in slang : NARC
46.Big name in power tools : STIHL
47.Artist Frida with many self-portraits : KAHLO
49.Org. concerned with due process : ACLU
50.Young-adult fiction author Darren : SHAN
51.CBS military procedural : NCIS
53.Farm cries : BAAS
54.Lawrence Kudlow's network : CNBC
55.City SSE of New Delhi : AGRA
56.Duds : GEAR
57.Guesses: Abbr. : ESTS
59.It may collect tips ... or be tipped : HAT
60.Indians' home: Abbr. : CLE
61.Veiled : HID

© 2017, Jim Horne