Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Jonesin' 4:16 (Amy) 
NYT 4:06 (Amy) 
LAT 2:51 (Amy) 
CS 5:15 (Dave) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 

David Kwong’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 3 18 14, no. 0318

NY Times crossword solution, 3 18 14, no. 0318

Magician David Kwong has crafted a Tuesday puzzle whose clues and fills hit at a Wednesday or Thursday level. Who knows why. The theme answers lose an ARM:

  • 17a. [Home-invading Gore?], BURGLAR AL. Burglar alarm.
  • 24a. [Area for aristocrats?], GENT DISTRICT. Garment District, Manhattan’s West Side. I work near there when I visit the office. Do not care for the clue/answer combo, though, because roughly half (maybe less?) of aristocrats are women.
  • 38a. [W.W. I novel ... hinted at by 17-, 24-, 52- and 64-Across], A FAREWELL TO ARMS.
  • 52a. [Exchange of vows again for the Grim Reaper?], DEATH WED OVER. Death warmed over.
  • 64a. [Emmy, Oscar and Grammy-winning reptile?], SNAKE CHER. Snake charmer. Cher needs to get into Broadway performing so she can try for an EGOT.

Theme is all right, no great shakes.

Highlights: MR. BEAN, a BOOBOO, MOTOROLA. And I like the TACO clue, 27d. [Burrito alternative]. It mystifies me why so, so many crosswords clue the TACO as a “snack” when what it is is an alternative to the burrito, tostada, and enchilada.

There’s a timely ORCA—timely because Sam Donaldson is hard at work on his annual tour de force honoring 2013′s cruciverbal tours de force. Stay tuned for the Orca Awards!

Least savory crossing: 47d. [Home of the Bahamas, once: Abbr.], BWI, meets 57a. Old Testament prophecy book: Abbr.], ISA. Short for British West Indies, Isaiah.

Entries that look like meta clues: NORW (25d. [Oslo's home: Abbr.]) and TORV (42d. [Star of "Fringe," Anna ___]) look like “N or W” and “T or V” more than they look like good crossword entries. Fringe was canceled and Anna Torv isn’t famous outside of that show, but what else will fit that T**V spot?

Not loving the fill here, as there is plenty—ALIA, [Amman's Queen ___ International Airport], PARA; [Editor Marshall of financial publications], LOEB; BWI; ISA; TORV; [Early film star Daniels], BEBE—that feels out of place in a Tuesday puzzle. Grid looks a little broken up, too, with 42 black squares.

Three stars.


Updated Tuesday morning:

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Private Dinner” – Dave Sullivan’s review

The “Private” in the title refers to a military rank, or someone that might partake in [WWII fare, and what this dinner consists of] or C-RATIONS, as all courses are made up of words beginning with the letter C:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution - 03/18/14

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 03/18/14

  • [Bubbly beverage for this puzzle's dinner] clued COCA COLA – crossword entries often make me think of music, and this one comes to mind, even though the first word starts with P, not C.
  • [Soup course for the dinner] was CLAM CHOWDER – I assume the clams were from Cape Cod.
  • [Spicy entrée for the dinner] was CHILI CON CARNE – this dinner is becoming less and less appetizing; I mean, who would eat chili with a Coke and clam chowder?
  • [Tropical dessert for the dinner] clued COCONUT CAKE – why not Chocolate Chip Cookies instead?

Interesting idea to build a dinner menu from food and drink that begin with the same letter–it might be fun to choose a different letter each night of the week and see what you come up with, although I’m afraid the X night would be rather spartan. I thought there were nice open areas in the four corners–“I’LL SAY!”, PIPE ORGAN, PARQUET and ALIEN RACE all stood out for me. HUAC, or the [Cong. investigator of Alger Hess] stood for the House Un-American Activities Committee, which is often confused with the Government Operations Committee led by Wisconsin Senator (not Rep.) Joseph McCarthy.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle, “Weather Patterns”—Janie’s review

3:18

Crossword Nation 3/18

Given the persistent “weather patterns” of this past winter (a winter which, it seems, simply does not wish to give up the ghost), there’s a real timeliness to today’s puzzle. We have five themers, the last of which, at 59A., is a reveal: STORM CHASER [One who follows tornados (or a hint to the opener in four horizontal answers)]. In other words, the first word of the theme phrases—which have nuthin’ to do with the weather!—can follow (chase) the word storm. So let’s see what that gives us.

  • 17A. [Urban flower planters] WINDOW BOXESstorm window. Good insulation method. You’ll be glad when you get your utility bill! And window boxes? I’m already thinking about what’s gonna go in mine this year. Made the happy discovery of bacopa last year and suspect I’ll be getting more of the same this year.
  • 23A. [It might keep your motherboard from getting fried] SURGE PROTECTORstorm surge. Oh-oh. Shades of Superstorm Sandy. Not the happiest of thoughts in these parts. If only that plug-in surge protector could have been of any use! Man-made barriers—islets and/or gates–look to be one method of prevention. And while surge protector isn’t my favorite fill, it really ties in with the theme—because you surely want your desk-top computer connected to one during an electrical storm.
  • 38A. ["I'll demonstrate..."] “WATCH ME…”storm watch. As differentiated from a storm warning… The former says, “This is something that could happen”; the latter, “It’s now on the radar.” “Watch me…” is the shortest of the themers and anchors ‘em all nicely at center.
  • 49A. [Online file-storage service offered by Dropbox or SkyDrive] CLOUD COMPUTINGstorm cloud. Bring on the cumulonimbus. And while it’s true that “into every life a little rain must fall,” looks like these babies‘ve got more than a little rain to offer! Recently finished reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. “Mr. Nice-Guy” he weren’t. But in many areas, “ahead of the curve” he was. Yep. Cloud computing was something else he’d envisioned early on. (Not to mention how he imagined iTUNES would and did revolutionize the music industry…)

So we’ve pretty much got a perfect storm puzzle here—so to speak. Happily, we’re completely safe, fortified as we are by those long, strong double columns SW and NE. The SW gives us the beautiful BOOKLOVER and ANCHORAGE; the NE, BOOMTOWNS and (I especially love this one:) “AHA” MOMENT, with its peppy, exclamatory clue ["I just cracked the puzzle theme!" breakthrough].

Then, for their variety and range, other clues that keep things lively (and/or got my attention) include:

  • [Actor with the lion's share of a 1939 movie script] for Bert LAHR, who played The Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.” The “lion” wordplay here is fun and fresh.
  • [Hunky tennis star featured in Shakira's "Gypsy" music video] for Rafael NADAL. Did not know this. (Quel surprise, no? No…)
  • [First name in spydom] for MATA. As in Mata Hari. Hmm. Should this clue have been followed by a question mark? Seems like she’s always referred to as Mata Hari, and not by one part of the name or the other. Regardless, the lady led one colorful life!
  • t&s1[Trail left by a wild animal] for SPOOR—because spoor is the animal tracker’s word for “poop”/”scat” and because it thus gives me the opportunity to share with you one of my favorite hiking-trip souvenirs: a Great Smoky Mountains “Tracks & Scats” bandana!
  • [Limousine driver?] for MOTOR. This is tricky. “Driver” here is the thing that impels the car (the “limousine”) and not the person behind the wheel. Btw, a limo may be [One way to get around town]. Another is BY TAXI.
  • [Street of awful dreams] for ELM. As in Wes Craven’s iconic horror flick “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
  • [Types "public" without an "L," for example] for ERRS. Oops. It’s even happened at the university level. (Actually, I think this would have given the famously earthy Mr. Johnson one hearty laugh.)
  • And finally, not because I was a fan (far from it!), but because of the apt anagram the first name of the late and [Former Senator Thurmond] gives us vis-à-vis today’s theme: STROM

Before departing, just want to give a shout-out to exacting colleague and ardent indie-puzzle-supporter Rex Parker who, in his Sunday column, cited Liz’s 3/11/14 “Side Effects” puzzle as his “Puzzle of the Week.” Sweet! That’s welcome recognition indeed and much appreciated at Crossword Nation, so thank you, Rex!

In the meantime: two days til spring. YAAAAAAAAY! (Bet those storm chasers out in Tornado Alley are fairly champin’ at the bit!)

Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 38Solid, basic early-week theme: Four theme answers that end with words that are synonymous in other contexts, plus a revealer that ties them together.

  • 18a. [Smart remark], WISECRACK.
  • 27a. [Crisp cookie], GINGERSNAP.
  • 48a. [Super-popular], ALL THE RAGE.
  • 63a. [Compulsive cleaner], NEAT FREAK.
  • 71a. [Lose it, and a hint to the last words of 18-, 27-, 48- and 63-Across], GO APE.

DR. WATSON and ATTACK AD are great entries, and “THEY’RE OFF!” is kinda fun too. Overall, though the fill left me wanting more. In my “blah” category were RKO, OMOO, OHM, somewhat outdated IBM PC and ON CD, OPEL beside URAL, IRMA and SAHL and SEVE, and the woeful E-NOTE. KOKO clued as 13d. [Early cartoon clown] was an all-crossings answer for me; would have loved to see Chicago blues great KOKO Taylor in the clue.

Three stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “It’s Really Nothing”

Jonesin' crossword solution, 3 18 14 "It's Really Nothing"

Jonesin’ crossword solution, 3 18 14 “It’s Really Nothing”

Stick a zero in the middle of each theme answer and those made-up phrases split into two familiar things that end or begin with “zero”:

  • 20a. [Amount of time before you stop reading inflammatory Web comments?], NET TOLERANCE. I love Diary of a Crossword Fiend because the caliber of commentary is damned high. On much of the internet, “never read the comments” is good advice. (The ISP NetZero, zero tolerance.)
  • 33a. [Force that I'm certain will pull you back to Earth?], ABSOLUTE GRAVITY. (Absolute zero, zero gravity.)
  • 40a. [Food label units that don't mind waiting around?], PATIENT CALORIES. (Patient zero, the initial patient in an infectious outbreak; zero calories.)
  • 54a. [Burp after drinking too many colas?], COKE EMISSION. (Coke Zero, zero-emission.)
  • 67a. [Word appearing before or after each word in the long theme entries], ZERO.

Solid theme.

Highlights in the fill include Rick James’ COME AND GET IT, “holy GUACAMOLE,” BOX IN, and a NECK RUB.

Lots of fresh & tasty clues, such as:

  • 1d. [Moda Center, e.g.], ARENA. Never heard of it, but guessable.
  • 7d. [Castle Grayskull hero], HE-MAN. Pop culture for people a tad younger than me.
  • 35d. [Focus of traffic reports?], SITES. I use SiteMeter more than Google Analytics.
  • 9d. [Blue Velvet, for one], CAKE. I know red velvet cake. What the heck is blue velvet? Googling … oh god, it’s hideous. I am philosophically opposed to these velvet cakes. They’re just a regular boring cake spruced up with artificial food coloring, which some scientific studies link to hyperactive behavior in children. McCormick red food coloring is Red #40 and Red #3; there’s a ton of it in red velvet cake. Gross.
  • 31a. [Wonder-ful count?]. ONE HIT. One-hit wonders in pop music.

4 stars.

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70 Responses to Tuesday, March 18, 2014

  1. Snarl says:

    So my Scottie, Chase, gets me up at 4:30 just to take a crack at this puzzle? Bad Dog !! Bad puzzle !! After I reviewed all the answers they were workable, but trying to get my “arms” around all the fits was too much of a brain buster.

    Time for another few winks.

    Snarl

  2. Gary R says:

    An unusual themed puzzle for me, in that the theme entries (other than the revealer) seemed to be the hardest part of the puzzle (apart from ALIA and TORV, which were unfamiliar). The theme phrases just seemed very clumsy to me – none sounded like a phrase you would ever hear in real life. The revealer fell right in, because I had already gotten BURGLAR AL and guessed at the theme, but it brought a smile to my face – the revealer seemed to be the cleverest part of the theme. The rest of the fill, while maybe a bit Wednesday-ish, seemed pretty straightforward.

  3. Brucenm says:

    I can’t believe the ratings for this NYT. I don’t *try* to maintain my contrarian status — it happens without effort. One of the most enjoyable, creative, somewhat challenging Tuesdays in a month of Tuesdays. I commend David. I’ve pretty much declared a moratorium on slamming puzzles others seem to like, unless it really boils over, but there are plenty of them too. “Acqhire” indeed . . .

    I enjoyed seeing many of you at the Tournament, and especially meeting a couple of you for the first time.

  4. Howard B says:

    Did not finish a Tuesday.
    last answer made no sense, and I did not know BWI, TORV. That’s just not cool.
    Oh yes, BUFF too. ?!?.
    That’s harsh, as this is a fine Thursday puzzle. But this one was just not fair, because it really ruined a clever idea, and just made me feel rather silly. I really like the concept though!

    • ethan says:

      Wasn’t wild about this puzzle either — this was a thursday I thought. BWI and TORV are terrible entries, although TORV is clearly forced by the grid.

      But BUFF? what’s the matter with BUFF? I would’ve clued it as “Fit” or “Ready for Speedo season” or something but it’s a perfectly fine entry.

      • Jason F says:

        It’s all in the cluing today. BWI is no worse than SFO or LAX if clued as the more-familiar airport code. ISA could be a partial, BEBE and LOEB have more familiar proper names to pair with, and so on. The problem is that a bunch of these tough clues fell in the southern part of the grid and made that section Friday/Saturday hard.

        • Sarah says:

          ” BWI is no worse than SFO or LAX if clued as the more-familiar airport code. ISA could be a partial, BEBE and LOEB have more familiar proper names to pair with, and so on”

          In this puzzle, all of that is unusually not entirely true.

          • Jason F says:

            I see your point… now. Although Ethan’s point below is also valid. I think I’d like to retract my comment until I understand the extent of the meta. There could easily be other constraints on the clues that I don’t see right now.

      • Bencoe says:

        Ditto BWI and TORV. Weird and wild stuff.

      • Sarah says:

        Pointless comment since it was changed.

  5. Jim Hale says:

    The worst Tuesday puzzle I can recall. Obscure uninteresting stuff in cross areas made this annoying and difficult to complete. The ideal Tuesday puzzle should be relaxing and interesting, this was neither.

  6. Ethan says:

    Advice to an actor trying to break into Japanese show business?

    FIRSTDONOH

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    It bears noting that TORV and that T**V spot was not required, as the theme doesn’t seem to require that the theme answers appear in that order. Swap the second and fourth theme answers and you get rid of the ugly NORW and TORV—one constructor friend suggested that fix, and another filled a grid with the theme answers in that order and got much smoother fill. Perhaps David Kwong will weigh in and tell us why he chose to place the theme answers where he did.

    • Sarah says:

      Likely reason is because you haven’t figured it all out.

      I highly suggest, Amy, that you take a look at the NYT puzzle again. And then another look. And then another look. Until you finally see the light.

  8. Ethan says:

    Anyhoo, this puzzle looks like another victim of too much theme. 4 theme entries and a revealer that’s 15 letters? No wonder we get all sorts of unusual Tuesday stuff and four cheater squares. I might have seriously considered cutting out BURGLAR AL and SNAKE CHER (Does the formula (noun + proper name) really work, unless the noun is a title like “Officer” or “Principal”?) and finding another 15, so we would have a 15, two 12′s, and the revealer.

  9. JohnV says:

    Always, always enjoy Lynn Lempel’s puzzles. Fun, sassy, nice wide open grid for a 76 word puzzle. I have to remember to LOOK.AT.THE.TITLE on CS puzzles.

  10. Gareth says:

    The intersections of hard answers and made-up theme ones made this puzzle mostly easy, and yet almost impossible to finish… Particularly ALIA, LOEB, BWI, TORV, BEBE, ISA… Those should’ve been all crosses, but I had to make guesses at them to get the theme answers, which I found hard to figure out otherwise. Odd choice for a Tuesday!

  11. Brucenm says:

    I don’t know Torv either. But it is pretty gettable from the crosses. I think maybe I have a more tolerant attitude to these occasional wildly obscure entries, since many puzzles have equally bizarrely obscure entries to me, which I have taken to calling “Danzigs.” So a puzzle with no Danzigs elicits relief from me more than anything else. I didn’t know Bebe or Beast either, but the second ‘B’ seemed like the most probable guess.

    Many old Victorian houses along the Atlantic seaboard have a color scheme described as ‘cream and buff.” I think you would recognize the familiar color combination if you saw it. BWI — British West Indies — I thought was familiar. The only thing I didn’t understand was “once.” I guess they don’t call them that anymore (?) I continue to like the puzzle a lot.

  12. Sarah says:

    I usually appreciate your review of the NYT puzzle, Amy, but you failed to mention how colorful the puzzle really is.

  13. Sarah says:

    To everyone giving this puzzle low ratings, I suggest you go to XWordInfo and stare at today’s puzzle for about 10-20 minutes. Hopefully, after doing that, you’ll admire it that much more.

    Based on today’s reactions, I must be the smartest person in the entire world.

    • Ethan says:

      I see that there’s some kind of message spelled out in the clues with colors and animals. I don’t know what it means. Is it supposed to be connected to the theme? I don’t know Hemingway.

      • Sarah says:

        I haven’t gotten it all yet, but interestingly, COBALT can be spelt out in the grid. And MARE can be spelt out in the NE and SE corners of the grid, either in the shape of a square or as “Arms”. My struggle is figuring out what it all means.

      • Ethan says:

        I Googled “cobalt horse” and “amber owl” and came up with nothing. So I don’t know what the gimmick is. In general I’m not fond of clues that all start with the same letter or which spell something out, because I think that makes for some awkward clues. Granted I didn’t notice any especially bad clues today. Although BWI and LOEB could have been given easier clues while preserving the first letter. “Hub near the capital for U.S. Air, formerly” “Eyeglasses-wearing ’90s singer Lisa ____”

  14. placematfan says:

    NYT: ISA/BWI is an awful cross… sloppy. Anna TORV, I didn’t know, has the lead role in a relatively successful series (Wikipedia says it even has a cult following). I think the star of “Fringe” is fair game for a mainstream crossword. If there’s enough people out there who’ve seen the show (some who are cult members) that that show has survived for five seasons, then my not knowing it is less a matter of the constructor’s employment of esoterica than the idea that maybe I need to not get out more.

  15. JanglerNPL says:

    The message spelled out in the first letters of the NYT clues is:

    Cobalt horse, amber owl, silver ox, red donkey, emerald rooster; oh, by the way, the sheep can be left _. (I.e., the last clue starts with a blank … it could mean the sheep could be left blank, but what sheep?).

    Taking the first letters of the animal/color pairs spells CHAOS/ORDER. All of these clue shenanigans still don’t explain the junk in the grid, however. I expect there’s something more, but I don’t know what to make of the last bit of the message.

  16. Doug says:

    If the meta stumps Jangler, that’s one freaking hard meta.

  17. Dave C says:

    If the sheep is left blank maybe it’s the BLACK sheep of the group, the outcast from the other 5 animals. Nah.

  18. Evan says:

    I’d suggest the Chinese Zodiac as a pattern, but OWL doesn’t fit for that.

  19. Jim S. says:

    Anything with “Bad” and “Map” and the various locations in the grid (Baltic, Italy, Alb, Edina, BWI). Sorta lines up with Chaos, but can’t move it from there…

  20. Howard B says:

    Best I can see is that in the acrosses and downs only, there are several other animals within other fill there, RAT, SNAKE, DEER, DOVE, EWE? But I suspect this is just a red herring ;).

    • Evan says:

      I actually think you could be on to something here. Notice that the clue for BUFF suggests AMBER too….although amber is more yellow-orange.

  21. Jeffrey K says:

    The left most column has lots of ABCDE and the rightmost column has lots of RST.

  22. Jim S. says:

    Should have had a ‘?’ in my previous comment – oops.

    Other thoughts – “Bad” and “Trip” are nearly symmetrical in the grid. Or maybe a Jurassic Park reference (Jeff Goldblum’s chaos theory, sheep fed to the TRex)…?

  23. dave glasser says:

    the tacos you get at mexican places in san francisco are much smaller than what you get at a taco bell or whatever: a small flat circular tortilla (or, well, two stacked) with a small lump of meat and salsa on it. a single taco here is a large snack, not a dinner.

  24. Jim S. says:

    Gallipoli – WWI battle starting March 18? Grasping at big straws now…

  25. musicguy595 says:

    Supposedly, David Kwong’s TED talk today explains everything. Doesn’t really cure the fact that the solving experience was not great, but it’ll be nice to know why this was on a Tuesday.

  26. Zulema says:

    So many comments I don’t understand at all!

  27. Jonesy says:

    Anybody mind summarizing the Ted talk (or linking to it)? Is it more complicated than janglerNPL wrote?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Judging from what a bunch of people on Twitter said (http://seen.co/event/ted-active-2014-whistler-bc-canada-2014-6294/highlight/134414), Kwong’s take-home message was that we are all wired to solve, to make order out of chaos. I didn’t see any mentions of “N or W, T or V,” or of the crossword. Not sure how the puzzle figured into his talk.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        This tweet says today’s puzzle “authenticated an illusion he did today.”

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          And this tweet says Kwong “did a magic treat in which he predicted the outcomes in today’s @nytimes” crossword. Um, how can you “predict” something you did in the past?

          • Tom says:

            I’m guessing it’s some sort of mentalism trick where audience participants select things seemingly at random, and then the Times puzzle verifies that he had predicted the outcome in advance.

            I’m sure it’ll end up being a cool stunt once the video is released. But you have to consider the fact that many, many people will have had a poor solving experience and be completely unaware of the TED talk.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Maybe the video will be out by the time the puzzle runs in syndication in five weeks. For the people who don’t pay for an NYT puzzle/newspaper subscription? Hmph.

  28. Tuning Spork says:

    I’ve been looking for it. There are other TED talks from today online, but not Kwong’s. Hmm.

  29. wreck says:

    wreck said…
    Don Quixote related??
    From Deb Amlen’s Wordplay blog

    Constructor Notes:
    I came up with the idea for this puzzle years ago and am grateful that it’s finally seeing print. It was inspired by one of my all-time favorite books. That book is well-worn and dog-eared, and sits on my coffee table with “Don Quixote” and “Expert at the Card Table”.

    What I love so much about crosswords is that they ask something of you. So often today we find ourselves consuming, glued to our computers, watching the latest Internet video. But puzzles allow us to turn that off and solve!

    I hope your Tuesday morning was by brightened a little by this puzzle. I thoroughly enjoyed constructing it!

    5:05 PM
    wreck said…
    Order/Chaos could be magic related

    The first letters of each numbered clue gives you what JanglerNPL gave you. Kwong says he was influenced by “Don Quixote” and “Expert at the Card Table.” He thanks Will Shortz because he ran this non-Tuesday puzzle on the day of his presentation.

  30. Jeffrey K says:

    Well the star system is now completely meaningless.

  31. ArtShapiro says:

    NYT: The three obscure names MRBEAN, TORV, BEBE clustered together made it impossible to solve – I guessed MRMEAN, which seemed reasonable, but perhaps it is my own demeanor. Otherwise I would have given this a quite-high rating, especially given a Tuesday puzzle. Unlike some others, I thought the BWI was a first-pass gimme.

    Art

    • Brucenm says:

      I am pleased to see an even ambivalently positive reaction to this excellent Tuesday puzzle, and I am baffled beyond belief at the negativity here, which verges on truculent hostility. I am not especially knowledgeable about British comedies, but the character Mr. Bean, created by Rowan Atkinson is very popular and well known. Someone called “Dame Edna” seems to be completely accepted as a staple in crosswords, though I am familiar with him/her only through crosswords. This is another baffling feature of crosswords. Certain specific entries become accepted, and repeated *ad nauseam* whereas other comparable entries are shunned and even resented. About the only acceptable “classical” composers are the ubiquitous Thomas ARNE, and Ned ROREM (wtih an occasional incursion by Erik Satie.) They are both rather obscure and second rate. I could mention 10 more important composers from each era who would be in some sense better qualified for inclusion in a puzzle, but without a doubt, their inclusion would generate the same sort of hostility that has been visited on this puzzle. The reaction to today’s puzzle reinforces my oft-expressed conviction that on some level, people find it reassuring and *want* to see the same thing over and over again.

      • Ethan says:

        I would bet everything in my bank account that the last time ARNE appeared in a NYT puzzle, this blog pointed it out, and did so negatively.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        There absolutely are people who are comforted by encountering the same familiar/trite fill over and over again. They sometimes rebut my declaration that certain answers in a puzzle are terrible and say they enjoyed those answers. Possibly it’s partly that they like to feel smarter than the average person, and knowing junk like ARNE furthers that goal?

  32. Sarah says:

    Disgusting that the NYT crossword seems to put the importance of the constructor ahead of its solvers. Rather appalling.

    • Sarah says:

      For the bigwigs here, when was the last time a crossword got rated 2.2 or lower? Has any other crossword on here ever gotten that low?

    • Ethan says:

      How many Sarahs post here? You’re not the same person who said we would all admire this puzzle if we figured out the gimmick?

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        It’s the same “Sarah” using email addresses with slightly different numbers in them, thus generating different avatars, but all coming from the same IP address. Your guess is as good as mine as to why he or she posts comments without a consistent email address.

        • Bencoe says:

          Because she has a split personality? It would certainly explain why she posted so much telling everyone they HAD to stare at the puzzle in order to appreciate it, because they were stupid for criticizing the fill when the theme was so great and they didn’t get it. But then as soon as she actually figured out the gimmick, she posted a bunch of posts slamming the puzzle and the Times. Bizarro.

  33. Squonk says:

    This post gives a little more insight into Kwong’s puzzle:
    http://blog.ted.com/2014/03/15/a-master-of-the-worlds-two-nerdiest-occupations-david-kwong-at-ted2014/

    Odd that the post is from Saturday, though.

  34. Ethan says:

    All right, my final word on this experimental puzzle: unless this magical video surfaces explaining some ingenious link between shading in cartoon animals with different colors and the FAREWELL TO ARMS theme, then I just don’t understand what anyone involved was thinking. I mean, I know David Kwong wants people to watch his talk and think he’s the cat’s pajamas, and Will Shortz, too, wants people to watch it because it’s great publicity for the New York Times crossword puzzle, so *that* part I get. What I don’t get is why this was attempted with THIS particular puzzle. Kwong can apparently construct a puzzle in minutes and we have the video to prove it; if he wanted a Tuesday 78-worder that would just happen to spell out colors and animals in the clue and maybe contain some secret messages in the grid, why not dash off a puzzle with much less theme density? People are saying that Will sacrificed the enjoyment of solvers for the publicity of a friend, but why did it even come to that choice?

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