XW Info

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
by Paul Hunsberger
Wed 9/18/2013
© 2013, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: Nice change of pace to see a rebus puzzle on a Wed. Paul did something unusual, using the rebus to incorporate not just one but two entries which are longer than the usual 15-letter weekday limit (SHORT ATTENTION SPAN and ONCE BITTEN TWICE SHY). Neat how constructors are continually thinking of ways to bend the rules.

I also appreciate how he eschewed entries like PUP TENT, ones where TENT is a separate word. Consistency results in elegance, and the fact that Paul either breaks TENT across two words (guTEN Tag) or hides it in in one word (peniTENT) is pretty good. Having strictly one or the other would have been fantastic, but that's a lot to ask.

One aspect that threw me off was the fact that there were several answers longer than the rebus entries: VENGEANCE, TAKE A HINT, ABOLISHES, and TEMPLETON. All nice to excellent answers, but typically the rebus entries are the longest ones of the grid so that they stand out. The other side of the coin is that throwing off the solver can be seen as a positive, in that the puzzle gains an additional level of challenge.

The grid construction is a toughie, especially given those big corners in the NW and SE. Typically these L-shaped corners are only seen in themeless puzzles because of the difficulty in filling them. Throw in the fact that each corner is further constrained by intersecting theme entries and the result is a real challenge. This arrangement of black squares does make filling the NE and SW corners easier, but a price is paid, in that the NW and SE corners are not quite as clean as I like to see.

How cool would it have been if the five tents actually formed the shape of a tent, in the same style as this puzzle by Patrick Merrell? It's awfully hard to draw a tent shape with five squares though, so perhaps it would come out looking too much like an upside-down V or a teepee. Especially for me and my 1st-grade level drawing skills.

Will Shortz notes: I don't usually run rebus themes on Wednesday, but every once in a while I make an exception. It keeps solvers from getting complacent. This rebus element is pretty easy, so the puzzle felt Wednesdayish to me. Still, I'm expecting complaints from newbies who don't usually do Thursday (or later) puzzles and have never encountered a rebus in a crossword before.
1.Highly intelligent invertebrates : OCTOPI
7.1970s-'80s sketch comedy show : SCTV
11.Josh : KID
14.Brazen promoter : TOUTER
15.Hound's quarry : HARE
16.Veiled words? : IDO
17.Kingship : THRONE
18.Shop door sign : OPEN
19.Second-highest pinochle card : TEN
20.Get an ___ (ace) : AON
21.Not showing much life : INERT
23.German greeting : GUTENTAG
25.Transcription, e.g. : WRITTENTEXT
27.___ Millions (multistate lottery) : MEGA
28.47, for Ag : ATNO
29.Pick up on the innuendo : TAKEAHINT
33.Yoga surface : MAT
36.Arctic ___ (migrating bird) : TERN
37.Vientiane native : LAO
38.Adage regarding skittishness : ONCEBITTENTWICESHY
43.Prefix with cortex : NEO
44.Luxury hotel name : OMNI
45.Private investigator, in old slang : TEC
46."Charlotte's Web" rat : TEMPLETON
49.Pre-K song start : ABCD
53.___ fixe : PRIX
54.A little less than 100% : NOTENTIRELY
57.Toes the line : OBEYS
59.Egyptian dam site : ASWAN
60.Discouraging words : NOS
61.Inventor's award : PATENT
62.Fiber-yielding plant : HEMP
64.Croupier's workplace : CASINO
66.E-tailer's address : URL
67.Watson who played Hermione Granger : EMMA
68."Hey" : LISTEN
69."That inverted Bowl," per Edward FitzGerald : SKY
70.The "cetera" of "et cetera" : SOON
71.Heading on a baseball scoreboard : ERRORS
1.Home of the Senators : OTTAWA
2.Associate : COHORT
3.Retire for the evening : TURNIN
4.Ear: Prefix : OTO
5.Atoner : PENITENT
6.Memorable hurricane of 2011 : IRENE
7.What a constant channel-surfer may have : SHORTATTENTIONSPAN
8.Lt.'s superior : CAPT
9.One less than quattro : TRE
10."Ben-Hur" theme : VENGEANCE
11.Plant with fluffy flower spikes : KITTENTAILS
12.Writer's block buster : IDEA
13.End of a doorbell sound : DONG
22.Business card abbr. : EXT
24."That's awful!" : UGH
26.Heavy reading? : TOME
27.___ badge : MERIT
30.London's ___ Gardens : KEW
31.Slangy turndown : NAH
32.Buzz Lightyear, for one : TOY
34.Does away with : ABOLISHES
35."Takes a licking ..." brand : TIMEX
38.Prov. on Hudson Bay : ONT
39.Bridal bio word : NEE
40.With skill : COMPETENTLY
41.Block buster? : TNT
42.Green vehicle, briefly : ECAR
47.Be inquisitive : PRY
48.Not the past or the future : NOW
50.Mexican hero Juárez : BENITO
51.Worker with DNA, perhaps : CLONER
52.Some vacuum cleaners : DYSONS
55.Arm of the sea? : TENTACLE
56.Where to see "bombs bursting" : INAIR
57.Great work : OPUS
58.Dog's warning : BARK
59.Magazine filler : AMMO
63.Punk rock subgenre : EMO
65.Belarus, until 1991: Abbr. : SSR

© 2017, Jim Horne