Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wednesday, 3/19/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)


March 19, 2014 by manvspuzzle


Theme: Going away jokes.  6 theme answers (1 of which is a 3-parter) are synonyms for “going away” — actually closer to what one would say to *make* someone go away.  The clues are all silly jokeys.

Theme Answers:

  • 17A — Go away as a marathoner might? : RUN ALONG
  • 18A — Go away as a Michael Jackson impersonator might? : BEAT IT
  • 22A — Go away as an outdoorsman might? : TAKE A HIKE
  • 37A — Go away as a bumblebee might? : BUZZ OFF
  • 40A — Go away as a speaker of pig Latin might? : AMSCRAY
  • 56A — With 63- and 65-Across, go away as a soda jerk might? : MAKE LIKE A
  • 63A — See 56-Across : BANANA
  • 65A — See 56-Across : AND SPLIT


Something Good: Everything that’s not 3- or 4-letters long.  So that would be The 5+ Letter Answers.  There are 44 of them, and I would rate 42 of them “good” to “excellent” (LANAIS and SOLEA being the big outliers.  ARISTO is debatable.).  That’s about 95% goodness.  And the 2 or 3 I didn’t like were clued very appropriately, so that even if you don’t know them they’re either a) inferable or b) something to learn.  Very nice.  Not so much with the shorter stuff.


3 19 14

No real issues here.  It felt like a Wednesday in my book — not really the theme, but the difficulty was right down the middle for me.  The theme was basically fun, though.  Entertaining to figure out, kinda silly clue-wise, and sparkly in terms of word quality.  So that’s all nice.

I did feel the weight of those Xs in the west.  They felt very forced on me — a little handsy.  BUZZ OFF is basically necessary, and probably KATZ and OZAWA, too.  But I don’t think BOTOX and AXION *need* to be there.  The tradeoff for having those Xs is TUBB, A SOU, and XOX.  Many, me included, don’t love that tradeoff.  Others, who are very real humans, will think it’s great.  Again, I just have to go back to that semi-creepy sense of feeling the constructor (or editor) force letters on you for the sake of Scrabbliness.  It just feels non-organic.  Pushy.  Un-fun.  My opinion, of course.

Loved the clue on HYENA (46A — Carnivore that both hunts and scavenges).  Not a mind blowing fact, but kinda cool to learn nonetheless.  As a solver, I tend to like factoid clues more than anything else.  That’s just me, kids.

Anything else?  Not really.  Although I will go on record and say that I like what happened with yesterday’s puzzle.  Do I get it?  No.  But all the electricity in the air (or on the Internet) midday made the puzzle extra-exciting.  And discovering the hidden message was fun.  I’m excited to eventually see a recording of the TED talk.  All of my personal happiness surrounding the whole thing can’t be bad, regardless of how below-average the puzzle seemed at first, or taken on its own without the hidden stuff.  The intrigue itself, with no other explanation, is cool.

I dunno.  I think it’s possible to like something you don’t like.  Is that too Zen for the haters?

6 thoughts on “Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wednesday, 3/19/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)

  1. danchall says:

    In “Back to the Future” Biff Tannen says “Make like a tree and get outta here.”

  2. Z says:

    Apostrophe D for a contraction of “would” seems to be around more than usual. “I’d” is fine, but “IT’D” strikes me as hard to pronounce so rarely heard. Otherwise, a nice Wednesday.

  3. Loren Muse Smith says:

    @Z showed me this place. Just testing the waters. And @Z – I totally disagree about ITD. I say it all the time. I’ve just practiced several times to make sure! Thanks for directing me here!

    Mr. Man – nice write-up!

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