Thursday, December 13, 2018

Thursday, December 13, 2018, John Westwig


I knew something was going down when I realized the puzzle has four unchecked squares (that is, squares that only participate in an answer in one direction, not both directions, as is standard requirements for an American style crossword puzzle). But things got complicated for me when I entered MAndeLa at 34A: Who said "If you're not ready to die for it, put the word 'freedom' out of your vocabulary" (MALCOLM[X]). That was a tough wrong guess because three of the letters were correct (and the unchecked one couldn't be, well... checked).

Anyway, I figured out my mistake, and enjoyed the theme. Four answers, all using the central X shape, but in four different ways. We get the aforementioned speaker, but also the NEWYORK[TIMES], [KISS]GOODBYE, and [CROSS]SECTION. That's some good work, finding four answers, all of whom have seven letters outside the X, two with the X at the start, two with the X at the end.

Elsewhere, there are lovely chunky corners, with space for some great answers, including IMBATMAN, NERDCRED (which is what you get for knowing the first one), and ANECDOTE.

Good clues include 12D: What might have a large collection of prints (CRIMELAB) and its partner in crime, 18A: Get cell service? (DOTIME). And how fun is that section in the center East, where FJORD crosses JJWATT?

I also liked the paired clues, such as 9D: Lead-in to T, A or X (MODEL), and 55A: Lead-in to X, Y or Z (GEN); also RESTED and TANNED, which is exactly what I am not, currently.

- Colum


  1. 16:41

    For a while I had KER and SAYG as rebus squares at the end of 8-Down and the beginning of 37-Across. And when I had M_ _ _OL at 34-Across I briefly put in MUSSOL[INI], and it was only then that I realized I had gone completely mad.

    Fun puzzle! I'm glad that I somehow knew the name MCGREGOR, which helped a lot. Knowing CLEARY would have helped more, but one can't have everything. Still, as I said, fun puzzle.

  2. 19:31 FWTE
    Great idea - and 4 good contenders. I was cruising along having gotten NY TIMES right off the bat. Then, I did not know JJWATT and couldn't figure out ANECDOTE. It's one of my personal go to words! Just goes to illustrate the idea that words from one's own daily life are often the hardest to see.
    I enjoyed trying to suss out the meaning of X in the other 3 theme answers...even tried to get "CHI" something in there. KISS GOODBYE almost had me stumped.