Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wednesday, March 12, 2014, Jeff Chen


Well, it took me longer than yesterday's puzzle, but only because I had to hunt for the error that I made in my haste - "CaVE" for COVE (9D: Pirate hide-out, often). I never even saw UPBOW (14A: What a "V" signals to a violinist). (It wasn't "arco!")

But that's neither here nor there. I enjoyed the puzzle and its theme of liquid refreshment! Throw in a bonus 15-letter revealer - DRINKSALLAROUND (38A: "I'm buying!," at a bar ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) - and you've got a mighty fine Wednesday.

The sevens, eights and nines were all pretty good, I thought. EAGLEEYE (41A: Good-looking person?) (nice clue, and yes, the question mark was valid there), PLOTLINES (54A: Story threads), RISOTTO (44A: Alternative to pasta)... all fine. When you get into the shorter stuff you start to see EPEE, ESAU, ELEC, and some others, but nothing too terrible.

Am I being too lenient on early-week puzzles? Should I be moaning about every last bit of stale crosswordese, like other crossword bloggers? Or should I find some joy in a fun, well-executed theme? I say the latter.

But tomorrow starts "the turn," as I like to call it (Thursday, Friday, Saturday), when the puzzles should get both harder and cleaner. At least that's how I see it.

- Horace


  1. 8 mins.
    I agree that leniency is valid for early week puzzles. I feel that they open the experience of solving the NYT puzzles to those as-yet uninitiated in the type that appear later in the week without too much compromise in quality. This theme was great, and I, too, enjoyed it tremendously. I thought that 59A Bet (LAID) could have used a better clue, and I just saw SARAH, also referring to Fergie, in a Telegram puzzle either yesterday or today (I don't save them after solving). I loved seeing AGNES (32D Moorhead of "Citizen Kane") in there. Did Frannie find 37D Stocking stuffer? (TOE) gross? (BTW, I don't agree that the question mark was needed on 41A, but maybe it's OK since it's early in the week.) Also, I thought that 50D Muscle connector (SINEW) was also icky.

  2. 5:44. A day late. I thought this was just the sort of thing one likes to see on a Wed. I agree with Horace that "Good-looking person" needs the question mark to get you to EAGLEEYE. There's no way you'd use those two phrases equivalently in conversation, thus the joke lets you in. Funny that I thought how cute that 1A and 5A are both breakfast drinks. When I saw 10A was also a breakfast drink, I thought they were taking it a bit far. I even had 1D entered immediately. So my point is I didn't twig to the theme until I had entered the fifth drink. That's what around the edges themes do to you. Didn't like the clue for FOURS. I think there are many better clues that could have been used. I did like UPBOW, an anusual entry.

    BTW, I think early week puzzles shouldn't get a pass. There are well constructed puzzles and then there are real stinkers, and we've seen a few. But stale answers are not reason enough to downgrade a good themed puzzle. It's all about the way it's put together.

  3. I guess I have to alter my thinking on the crosswordese thing early in the week. Relying on such obscure words as ETUI, STET, ANIL, and the like doesn't really make the puzzles easier for newcomers. If anything, it probably makes them harder and less satisfying. I suppose as long as it is constructed so that the obscure words are easily crossed, then it could be almost seen as an initiation into "puzzle culture." Eventually, we all learn what an etui is, and what anil is...

    This Friday's puzzle had some odd short fill, but it wasn't the stale kind. It was more "fill in the blank" kind that ended up looking completely terrible. I mention "IIN" and "GOTAB" in the review. These things, though, although distressing to puzzle purists who like the grids to contain real words, might really be the sorts of things that make puzzles easier for newcomers.

    I'll be considering this as I solve and review in the future. Maybe we can all come to some sort of agreement.