XW Info

Friday, July 21, 2017
by Paolo Pasco
Fri 7/21/2017
© 2017, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes:

Love the featured I NEED A MOMENT and BIGGIE SMALLS — I'm not the most diehard of rap fans, but what a great name, BIGGIE SMALLS. You know you've made it big(gie) when you get not one but two awesome monikers that stick (The Notorious B.I.G. is his other one). I also like that Paolo chose a rapper whose stage name is made of real(ish) words, rather than two tough proper nouns, i.e. TALIB KWELI. I have to imagine that for non-rap fans, BIGGIE SMALLS is at least gettable without needing every crossing answer.

So difficult to seed a themeless with 12-letter entries. Those black squares to the left of I NEED A MOMENT already start fixing a grid pattern into place, rarely a good thing for constructors, needing maximum flexibility to move black squares around.

There aren't very many long entries — just ten that are eight letters or longer — but Paolo does include a few nice mid-length entries to spice things up. FAN DUEL is familiar to this fantasy basketball fan, and MINI ME (so tough to parse that French-looking MINIME string), CANAPE, LES MIZ are all nice.

I did struggle around LES MIZ though, as I've seen it written LES MIS, too. Surely there couldn't be a one-name singer whose name starts with Z, right? Wrong! I have (sort of) heard of Zayn (Malik), formerly of One Direction, but I had already put LAID in where LAIN was supposed to go.

Is that south section fair, i.e. should educated solvers be expected to know ZAYN without needing every cross? On the one hand, he did have a #1 hit in 2016. On the other, there are so many crazily-named singers out there, that SAYD or SAYN seems plausible too. I think a clearer clue for LAIN would have made things better, perhaps a "Biblically" descriptor.

MALE GAZE wasn't familiar to me, but it was interesting to read up on — I do like to learn one, maybe two things, from a single crossword.

But GALOP … what an oddball word. It does seem fair(ish) now that it's been in the NYT, but I'd personally try everything I could to excise it.

Overall, some great feature entries, but not enough for my taste, especially given the presence of liabilities like ELLS, SKED, ENSEAL. It's too bad that there weren't more long entries in the grid in total — with just ten long slots, I feel like every one of them has to land with power. Didn't quite happen for me.

1.Many consultants, for short : MBAS
5.Flash : JIFF
9.Wayne's friend in "Wayne's World" : GARTH
14.Waterway whose construction began in Rome : ERIECANAL
16.Word repeated before "to you and you and you," in a show tune : ADIEU
17.Emphatic parental turndown : NOMEANSNO
18."Ciao" : LATER
19.Words from one about to break into tears : INEEDAMOMENT
21.Master of ___ : NONE
23.Cards : CUTUPS
24."Ain't that the worst!" : DANG
25.Add oil to, maybe : DRESS
26.Sleep phenomena : REMS
30."___-Ami" (Guy de Maupassant novel) : BEL
31.Jessica of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" : BIEL
32.Frequent fodder for crossword clues : TRIVIA
34.Believer in spirits : ANIMIST
36.Trapped : INABIND
37.Bit of finger food : CANAPE
38.Stirs : ADOS
39.Lady Gaga's "___ It Happens to You" : TIL
40.Place for barnacles : KEEL
41.Dispense : ALLOT
43.___ Martin, French firm since 1724 : REMY
44.Formally approve, as a document, old-style : ENSEAL
46.No worries : EASE
47."Mo Money Mo Problems" rapper : BIGGIESMALLS
51.Early Indus Valley settler : ARYAN
52.Devotee of Mötley Crüe or Megadeth : METALHEAD
56.Spike who directed "Being John Malkovich" : JONZE
57.Player of a drug kingpin on "The Wire" : IDRISELBA
58.Puts money on the table, say : ANTES
59.One-named singer with the 2016 #1 hit "Pillowtalk" : ZAYN
60.Plan, for short : SKED
1.Dudes : MEN
2.Dude : BRO
3.Quarterback's asset : AIM
4.Involved with : SEEING
5."___ the Virgin" (CW show) : JANE
6.Behind closed doors : INSECRET
7.DraftKings competitor : FANDUEL
8.They might be wished for at fountains : FLOATS
9.Polka forerunner : GALOP
10.1949 Hepburn/Tracy courtroom film : ADAMSRIB
11.Initiation practice : RITE
12.This puzzle's constructor, for one : TEEN
13.What words can do, in an admonishment : HURT
15.Christmas decoration : CANE
20.Is forbidden to : MUSTNOT
21.Faddish dance move done to the 2015 hit "Watch Me" : NAENAE
22.Facebook Chat status denoted by a green dot : ONLINE
24.Arizona ballplayer, casually : DBACK
25.Nationalism, per Einstein : DISEASE
27.Modern requests for participation : EVITES
28.Dr. Evil's sidekick in Austin Powers movies : MINIME
29."Sorry to say ..." : SADLY
31.Marcel Marceau persona : BIP
33.Dorm V.I.P.s : RAS
35.Topic in feminist film criticism : MALEGAZE
36.Something prohibited by the Ten Commandments : IDOLATRY
38.Island in San Francisco Bay : ALAMEDA
42."Do You Hear the People Sing?" musical, to fans : LESMIZ
43.Outbreaks of eczema, e.g. : RASHES
45.Great scores in Olympic diving : NINES
46.Lawful ends? : ELLS
47.State bordering California, informally : BAJA
48.Press : IRON
49.Peer ___ : GYNT
50.Reclined : LAIN
53.They're game : ELK
54.Half a Hamilton : ABE
55.Pop : DAD

© 2017, Jim Horne