David Benkof’s and Jeff Chen’s Thursday, 4/3/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)


April 3, 2014 by manvspuzzle


Theme: CHCHCHCHCHANGES.  4 theme answers begin with the letters C-H, and each one has a different pronunciation.  Then there’s the revealer.

Theme Answers:

  • 17A — December display : CHANUKAH MENORAH
  • 24A — Mathematical field that includes the so-called “butterfly effect” : CHAOS THEORY
  • 36A — One of literature’s “three sisters” : CHARLOTTE BRONTE
  • 44A — Went from butt to butt? : CHAIN SMOKED
  • 58A — Chorus starter in a 1972 David Bowie song … or the theme of this puzzle, phonetically : CHCHCHCHCHANGES


Something Good: The Revealer.  It’s a real frickin good one.  It may be lost on you if you’re not familiar with the song, but if that’s the case then you’re a total dork anyway.  Seriously, this revealer has it all: a crazy letter string, a rock and roll reference that makes it feel somehow modern, an old-school vibe because the song is actually 43 years old, the amount of ‘CHs’ appropriately corresponds with the rest of the theme answers, and it’s a grid-spanning 15.  Not to mention it’s just fun.  And it ties together the theme in a way that makes it way more interesting, thus making the theme as a whole much, much better.  What’s not to like? (p.s., just kidding about you being a total dork.  I’m sure you’re a very cool* person)


4 3 14

What a great solving week we’re having.  This puzzle tickled my fancy in all the right places.  The theme, the fill, the clues — all working great for me today.  Truthfully, the puzzle had me at CHARLOTTE BRONTE, which I filled in with no crossings because I’m *freaking* *awesome.*  I may not know which Bronte did what, but I know who they are, dammit.

Look at that southwest corner.  CHCHCHCH- over LAILA ALI will make your eyeballs sweat.  What an odd stack of letters.  And then the Northeast — that’s about as pretty as you can make the ASIAN FLUNUFF SAID.

Other stuff daddy likes: COP CAR, FANBOY, GET THIS.  You really have to get down to 3 or 4 letters to start seeing the HO HUM stuff — you know, FIE, AGRA, SHAN, TSA crossing OSH.  But none of that concerned the solver in me.  I just had a great time.

Clever idea for a theme, nicely executed.  The combination of this week’s puzzles and the relatively balmy weather we’re having up here in the north-north-north-north-northeast (a sauna-like 52-degree high yesterday) is giving me a fever.  Spring fever.  But, you know, in a benign puzzle-related way.

Take it easy.

* you are probably a dork.

4 thoughts on “David Benkof’s and Jeff Chen’s Thursday, 4/3/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)

  1. Z says:

    Concur on the theme, but two fill answers really brought this down a peg for me, USM and FISH. I had AVIAN FLU, looked at UVM and decided to fix it later. Later I was down to A-HEAs, and could not decide if the SoS was FISt or FISk or FISH, none of which worked on the down. Checked the crosses and fixed the tense, making AHEAD, and thus FISH, obvious. I’d spent so much time here that I forgot I wasn’t really done and never went back to figure out 7D. Did Not Finish.

    For both problems, it is more the fault of the cluing than the words. It is the US Marine Corp, so please clue USM differently. And why clue FISH as a long dead SoS?

    “We can beat them, for ever and ever
    Oh we can be Heroes,
    just for one day.”

  2. tom pepper says:

    Agreed. This is one of the all-time great revealers. The fact that Jeff came up with the revealer after the theme idea was concocted (per xwordinfo.com) makes it all the more cool.

    I had an error at LeILALI/SHeN. Knew the former, just guessed wrong at the spelling. Didn’t know the latter.

    Also was stuck on CHArtTHEORY for awhile. Thought it must be like Graph Theory. Too much time in Excel.

    NUFFSAID came to me right away and made me smile, though I doubted it for a long time because the clue didn’t have any abbreviated/apostrophed words.

    52 degrees sounds like summer. They’re predicting 6-12 inches of snow tonight where I live!

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