March 23, 2014 by manvspuzzle
Title: BRIGHT IDEAS
Theme: My boy Tommy A. E. THOMAS EDISON, that is. And a thing he apparently said.
- 23A — Start of a motivational comment attributed to 86-Across : I HAVE NOT FAILED IVE JUST
- 29A — Middle of the comment : FOUND TEN THOUSAND WAYS
- 43A — End of the comment : THAT WONT WORK
- 86A — See 23-Across : THOMAS EDISON
- 96A — Nickname for 86-Across : THE WIZARD OF MENLO PARK
- 106A — Development of 86-Across … as depicted in the middle of this grid : INCANDESCENT LIGHTBULB
Something Good: The Fill. Nobody who’s cool in crossword land should have a problem with this puzzle today, at least when it comes to the fill. Here’s a comprehensive list of what I would argue is the truly gross stuff: LEDES, ROEG, SOC. That’s really it. Sheesus, that’s 3 out of 134. 2%. I’m telling you right now that 98% of the fill in this massive Sunday puzzle is basically good. Nice.
Ok, fine. Ian Livengood wants me to solve a quote puzzle. This kid’s a pretty good constructor, so why’s he wasting my time with this tired, stale, boring, trite theme style?
Probably because he can make $1,000 doing it.
Whoa, that’s a pretty negative way to start. But the truth is, a quote puzzle is nobody’s favorite. It’s usually kind of a letdown. No real wordplay, nothing too fun. Just a quote that may or may not (usually *may not*) be funny and/or interesting and/or meaningful. And that’s the case here.
So what’s a young superstar constructor who’s stumbled onto a workable Sunday-sized quotation supposed to do with it? Well, for starters, he can also include some kind of visual (check). And the visual could spell out something kinda cool and crossword-related but also sorta theme-related (check). And he could also add in the name of the dude who said it (check). And then sort of arbitrarily put the name of the most famous thing the guy invented in there (check).
And then, of course, he can make the fill really, really good.
Ian did all of this crap. So this is a good puzzle. I don’t know the statistics, but I have to believe that if you want to get a quote puzzle to run on a Sunday, it has to really sparkle. And this one does. I didn’t care at all about the quote, but it helped me with the solve. I didn’t care about the visual, but again, it helped me with the solve. The whole thing was nicely interconnected with itself. Like an M.C. Escher print, maybe. Oddly, satisfyingly *complete*. That’s what this puzzle was for me.
I will say that CUM jumped out at me as *krrrazzy*. How often does that show up in the NYT puzzle? About once every 3 years, give or take. That’s probably enough. I mean I know the context here is totally tame, but still. It’s kinda like when TIT or PEE or ASS or any number of other words with dual meanings appear. I won’t go into any more detail, but it certainly struck *this* almost-Millennial as pretty risque and surprising. (What generation do I belong to really? I graduated high school in 1998. That’s pretty late for Gen-X, right? But a little early for Millennial? I think people like me need our own generation name. Is there one?) (Wikipedia tells me that I’m Gen-X. Huh. So, like, Janeane Garafalo and Molly Ringwald and Ethan Hawke and…me? I guess so.)
As is my style on Saturday nights, I’ve lost track of what I’m saying. So let me just reiterate that I thought this puzzle was very, very good, despite the fact that the theme is borderline boring. You don’t need me to point out the good stuff because you can see it. Soak it in. This is your life. It’s pretty nice. Enjoy it.