XW Info

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
by Ian Livengood
POW Tue 4/8/2014
© 2014, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: Another highly polished piece of work from one of the masters. Five theme answers, all common three-word admonitions with IT in the middle, interpreted in wacky ways. It's especially nice that they're all clued as "That's enough!" to a specific type of person. My favorite was KEEP IT DOWN to a hot-dog eating contestants, as it hits on my fascination with competitive eating. There's a sport-specific term called a "reversal" which I won't go into.

Where Ian really makes a name for himself as a constructor is his ability to jam-pack snazzy fill into a puzzle with clean overall results. With five medium-length themers, many constructors would call it good to have simply one pair of long downs. Ian's moved way past that point, giving us GAS STOVE, SEES FIT, CREW TEAM with its fun clue, APE SUIT. And that's just in two of the corners!

Because the central entry is an "inconvenient length" (it sort of splits the grid into an upper and a lower half), it forces open white spaces in the NE and SW. As anyone who's tried to fill a moderate-size chunk of crossword grid knows, it's not easy to do with quality. Sure, it's a simple thing to fill a subsection so that it works, but it's another matter completely to do it without a single blemish. With only a single glue-y answer (CHA) to hold it all together, Ian still manages to work in EXACTA, TEN HUT, ECOLAW. Ian even rescues CHA with a really fun clue.

How does he do it, you might ask? Some people assume that constructors just hit a button and let the computer do the work for them. Some constructors actually do that, but the auto-fill process almost always spits out subpar fill. I've had the pleasure of working with Ian on a few grids, so I've seen that he takes a significant amount of time with every grid he makes, trying out multiple layouts, testing out dozens of possibilities in the critical junctions to figure out what will help him fill cleanly. From there, it's a matter of trial and error guided by hundreds of puzzles worth of grid-building experience to produce a clean result.

What's most impressive is Ian's track record of consistency. Whenever I see his name on a byline, I know I'm going to get a fun theme with more than a handful of long fill and a minimum of cruddy answers. This puzzle is no different, especially difficult given that the best Tuesday puzzles are smooth enough for relative beginners but interesting enough for more experienced solvers. I tip my hat to you, sir!

1.Dashboard gauge, for short : TACH
5.Palindromic title : MADAM
10.Jared of "Dallas Buyers Club" : LETO
14.Pretty agile for one's age : SPRY
15."+" terminal : ANODE
16.Plow beasts : OXEN
17."That's enough!," to a hot dog-eating contestant? : KEEPITDOWN
19.Covet : WANT
20.Alfred Nobel and others : SWEDES
21.Doofus : ASS
23."___-ching!" (cash register sound) : CHA
24.Full of nerve : GUTSY
25."That's enough!," to a store clerk at Christmas? : WRAPITUP
27.Certain graph shape : PIE
28.Thin and graceful : LITHE
31.Seeing red : IRATE
32.Doc's "Now!" : STAT
34.Bit of intimate attire : BRA
35.Miracle-___ : GRO
36."That's enough!," to an assembly line worker? : MOVEITALONG
40.Action verb that's also a Roman numeral : MIX
41.Org. for the Suns or the Heat : NBA
42.Beauty pageant wear : SASH
45.Soothes : EASES
48.Dutch cheese : GOUDA
50.Siren's place : SEA
51."That's enough!," to a collagist? : CUTITOUT
53.Unexpected victory : UPSET
55.Neighbor of Wash. : ORE
56.Singer DiFranco : ANI
57.I.R.S. inspections : AUDITS
59.Rich soil : LOAM
61."That's enough!," to a carnival thrower? : KNOCKITOFF
64.Singer Guthrie : ARLO
65.Ghostly : EERIE
66.Sports shoe brand : AVIA
67.Dangerous stinger : WASP
68.Gridiron units : YARDS
69.Tennis units : SETS
1.Scolding sound : TSK
2.Jungle film attire : APESUIT
3.Unit involved in a shell game? : CREWTEAM
4.Overly promotes : HYPES
5.Chess finale : MATE
6.&&& : ANDS
7.Scooby-___ : DOO
8.Program producing online pop-ups : ADWARE
9.Whiz group : MENSA
10.Simmer setting : LOW
11.Two-horse wager : EXACTA
12.Drill sergeant's shout : TENHUT
13.Like books for long car rides, say : ONTAPE
18.Bucolic verse : IDYL
22.Vice president Agnew : SPIRO
24.Rental car add-on, in brief : GPS
25.Miscellaneous things : WHATNOT
26.Gets wrinkles out : IRONS
29.Mountain goat : IBEX
30.A "T" in TNT : TRI
33.Marisa of "Crazy, Stupid, Love" : TOMEI
35.Pleased : GLAD
37.View from a lookout : VISTA
38.___ Dhabi : ABU
39.Appliance with a pilot : GASSTOVE
43.Deems it O.K. : SEESFIT
44.Deerstalker, e.g. : HAT
45.Body of environmental regulations : ECOLAW
46.Dawn goddess : AURORA
47.Super buys : STEALS
48.___ pig : GUINEA
49."Truth in engineering" sloganeer : AUDI
52.Well-pitched : ONKEY
54.Falafel holders : PITAS
57.The "A" in RNA : ACID
58.Island music makers, for short : UKES
60.Cleaning tool : MOP
62.Boston #4 in years past : ORR
63.Musical notes after mis : FAS

© 2017, Jim Horne