Robert Cirillo’s Monday, 3/31/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)


March 31, 2014 by manvspuzzle


Theme: MA AND PA.  4 theme answers are 2-word answers whose 1st words begin with M-A and whose second words begin with P-A.  Unless you want to argue about MARDI GRAS PARADE, which you probably do.  I guess we should call them Adjective-Noun phrases, where the adjective is really a noun acting as an adjective in order to describe the other noun.   Get it?  Then there’s the revealer.

Theme Answers:

  • 16A — *Where Romeo and Juliet meet : MASQUERADE PARTY
  • 24A — *Often-seedy establishment : MASSAGE PARLOR
  • 35A — Rural couple … or what the respective halves of the answers to the four starred clues start with : MA AND PA
  • 42A — *1978 #1 Donna Summer hit that covered a 1968 #2 hit by Richard Harris : MACARTHUR PARK
  • 56A — *New Orleans event with floats : MARDI GRAS PARADE


Something Good: The Fill.  I think it’s really, really good, especially considering the theme density and lowish word count.  Do I love ETE, ELSA, RAES, or ARCO?  No.  But those are about all I don’t love.  And I’m basically swooning over BARBARELLA, STORM SURGE, EX HUSBAND, and URSA MAJOR.  Nothing long that’s also weird!  Everything else is pretty clean, too.  Nicely done.


3 31 14

Nice puzzle.  However, I think people totally have a right to complain about MARDI GRAS PARADE being the only 3-word themer (you *could* broaden your understanding of the theme to be “adjective-noun phrases,” as mentioned above, but that’s kinda silly).  It’s a fair complaint.  Robert and Will have to be expecting that.

And then there’s MASQUERADE PARTY.  Gosh, I really feel like I’ve only ever heard it called a “masquerade ball” when referring to Romeo and Juliet.  But I just searched the entire text and found that the words ‘masquerade,’ ‘party,’ and ‘ball’ are never used (well, ‘ball’ is used, but in a different context).  It’s a critic’s term, not Shakespeare’s.  So Robert can call it whatever the hell he wants I guess.  And whoa, MASQUERADE PARTY has been used at least 4 other times in major puzzles!  So I guess it’s legit.

Both of those theme answers caused me to pooh-pooh, whether they deserved it or not.  Which made the theme not really a home run for me.  More like reaching second on an error.  I like the concept, which hasn’t ever been done (that I can see) in the NYT before.  And the other 3 theme answers are really nice.  I guess I would have preferred a little less density in favor of more cohesion and, perhaps, more familiar sparkliness (in the theme).  Especially on a Monday.  Make sense?

Also, I kinda feel like giving Robert a noogie for using this theme, because I’m currently working on something very similar.  It’s different enough that I’m going to continue, but…dang it!  Constructors, please run your theme ideas by me from now on.  This is the second time I’ve run into this issue.  Stop it.

Oh, by the way: most massage therapists are highly trained and licensed health practitioners who work in very clean, positive, professional settings.  This message has been sponsored by the year 2014.

Have a great Monday!



3 thoughts on “Robert Cirillo’s Monday, 3/31/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)

  1. tom pepper says:

    Speaking of something similar, I remembered seeing this theme in a C.C. Burnikel puzzle recently. So I tracked it down–it was the 9/2/13 LAT puzzle. She also had MASQUERADE PARTY (which sounds way more familiar to me than BALL), and the complementary 15 was MANAGING PARTNER. It’s likely Robert submitted his puzzle before C.C.’s was published, but even now, C.C.’s puzzle is not in the cruciverb,com database. So that really confuses things as to who should be giving whom a noogie.

    An enjoyable puzzle. Very smooth and Monday-worthy. STORM SURGE was my favorite answer.


    • manvspuzzle says:

      I’m going to noogie like 2 editors and 7 constructors, just to cover my bases.

    • Z says:

      I thought I’d seen this theme recently. The FREEP carries the LAT and Newsday puzzles (and one other they label “The Daily Commuter” – no idea on the source) Monday through Saturday, so I often do the LAT.

      “Pop artist Johns” is certainly meant to get Monday solvers to think Elton. I really liked that clue. A nice touch for an early week puzzle.

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