XW Info

Monday, September 23, 2013
by Susan Gelfand
Mon 9/23/2013
© 2013, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: WITT (Wish I'd Thought of That) concept for a Monday puzzle; a "how are these disparate things linked" theme. Especially clever that three of the four theme answers are colloquial: roll your eyes, roll your r's, roll the dice. Balls are rolled, yes, but that one isn't quite as nice as the others. I wanted to give this one the POW! based on the idea alone, and might have done so if the fourth entry was something like TAX CREDITS.

A discussion on non-theme fill. It's usually a giant asset for a puzzle to have long fill, assuming it doesn't force ugliness. Snazzy 7+ letter entries can really spice up a puzzle, turning a good one into a great one. Susan has some really nice stuff today, tossing in 9-letter MENS ROOMS, SORCERERS, and VICE VERSA (in addition to five theme answers!). MENS ROOMS might not pass the breakfast test for some, but I think it's a legit answer. I choose to visualize a fancy one where I awkwardly try to figure out if I'm supposed to tip the guy who hands me a towel I didn't want.

However, I probably won't be the only one to spend a minute trying to figure out how ROOMS and VERSA can be rolled, as per the theme. The revealer does specify which are the theme answers, but the clue is long enough that I didn't want to take the time to read the given numbers. I've highlighted the theme answers to make them stand out, but ideally I like theme answers to pop on layout alone. That's typically why most long fill (especially that of 9+ letters) is placed in the vertical direction, not the horizontal.

And in this case, an additional benefit of not including long across fill is that the first and last themers could have been placed in rows 3 and 13, spreading everything out. I'm not positive, but this most likely would have improved the THOS/SOG section.

But that's all nit-picking, my constructor's brain doing its usual thing. Very nice work overall; a rewarding change of pace to get a Monday puzzle with some cleverness.

ADDED NOTE: Susie wrote me after reading my notes to say that her original grid in fact contained TAX CREDITS! We shared a chuckle.

Will Shortz notes: My favorite theme answer here is THE THREE R'S, especially as R'S are a fun thing to roll. I edited this puzzle on a plane ride to Iowa two weeks ago, fact-checking a few clues once I got back.
1.Actor Pitt : BRAD
5.Do a voice-over for, as a foreign-language film : DUB
8.Cube or sphere : SOLID
13.Gave a hand : AIDED
15.Cute ___ button : ASA
16.More than fat : OBESE
17.___ Hawkins Day : SADIE
18.Places where only guys go : MENSROOMS
20.Food preparation cutting technique : SLICEANDDICE
22.And so on and so forth: Abbr. : ETCETC
23.Eisenhower, affectionately : IKE
24.Cleaning tool : MOP
27.School charges? : TOTS
28.School basics : THETHREERS
32.Thailand, formerly : SIAM
33.Bronco great John : ELWAY
34."Let's go!" ... or a hint for the ends of 20-, 28-, 41- and 52-Across : ITSTIMETOROLL
39.Sneezing sound : ACHOO
40.Regrets : RUES
41.Look of infatuation : GOOGOOEYES
44.Muslim leader : IMAM
48.53-Down grad: Abbr. : ENS
49.Ruckus : DIN
50.Mexican dish sometimes described as "hot" : TAMALE
52.Fancy dress affairs : COSTUMEBALLS
55.In the opposite order : VICEVERSA
58.Gullet parts : CRAWS
59.Dodge : EVADE
60."Barbara ___" (Beach Boys hit) : ANN
61.Waste carrier : SEWER
62.John who succeeded William Henry Harrison : TYLER
63.Bellum's opposite : PAX
64.Small songbirds : TITS
1.Short-legged hound : BASSET
2.Theater district : RIALTO
3.One who's hooked : ADDICT
4.Clears with a scraper, say : DEICES
5."___ Yankees" : DAMN
6.Secondhand : USED
7.Stagecoach robber : BANDIT
8.Wizards : SORCERERS
9.Instrument used to set the pitch for an orchestra : OBOE
10.Novelist Tolstoy : LEO
11.Suffix with capital or Marx : ISM
12.___ Moines, Iowa : DES
14.Bug spray ingredient : DEET
19.One of an Indian minority : SIKH
21.Part of a play after intermission, maybe : ACTII
24.Whine : MEWL
25.Said aloud : ORAL
26.College subj. with experiments : PSY
29.Breakfast meat : HAM
30.Fingernail file : EMERY
31."Evil Woman" grp. : ELO
32.Watched protectively : STOODOVER
34.Clickable symbol : ICON
35.Pres. Jefferson : THOS
36.Soak, in dialect : SOG
37.Wed. preceder : TUE
38.West: Sp. : OESTE
39.18, e.g., as a minimum for voting : AGE
42.French river : OISE
43.Snare : ENTRAP
44.Turkish inn : IMARET
45.African land whose name consists of three state postal abbreviations : MALAWI
46.Completely wrong : ALLWET
47.Counterpart of Mmes. : MESSRS
51.School basics : ABCS
52.Yield : CEDE
53.Annapolis inst. : USNA
54.Tailless cat : MANX
55.One who might care for a sick cat : VET
56.Wall-climbing plant : IVY
57.Where L.A. is : CAL

© 2017, Jim Horne