April 10, 2014 by manvspuzzle
Theme: SIX FLAGS. 6 theme answers are common terms whose first words can also precede the word ‘flag.’ Then there’s the revealer.
- 13A — *Kind of affair : BLACK TIE
- 19A — *1971 song with the lyric “Helter skelter in a summer swelter” : AMERICAN PIE
- 25A — *Creator of Sheriff Deadeye and Cauliflower McPugg : RED SKELTON
- 33A — *Sketchy history : CHECKERED PAST
- 40A — *January events : WHITE SALES
- 48A — *Some illegal transmissions : PIRATE RADIO
- 59A — Popular day trip destination … or a hint to the starts of the answers to the starred clues : SIX FLAGS
Something Good: A Thursday for the “Normals.” I can’t imagine any serious solver not noticing that this is a decidedly un-Thursday theme. Feels much more like a Tuesday, maybe even a Monday. Other elements may make the puzzle fit snugly in this part of the week, but for the most part I found it surprisingly easy and accessible. So, if you’re concerned about the poor noob solvers who struggle even early in the week, direct them to this one. They may experience a confidence boost.
I’d be really interested to learn why this puzzle was run today instead of yesterday or the day before. Could be the lowish word count (72). Maybe the theme density. Or maybe the fact that Will Shortz is seriously running low (as he has mentioned in the Internetverse) on non-rebus Thursday themes. Don’t know. But it’s kinda weird to see this one here today.
Without factoring in the day of the week issue, this puzzle is a good one. The theme is basically fun and makes sense. A pretty good idea, actually, and one I wish I’d thought of. Some nice wide-open space (kind of a Thursday trait). The fill is kinda so-so, but there’s nothing totally weird or ungettable. It’s all fair-to-good.
The theme answers themselves do stand out as sparkly. PIRATE RADIO and CHECKERED PAST are particularly nice.
Anyway, for me this was an excessively easy Thursday that really didn’t feel like a Thursday at all. Just a regular early-week puzzle. I should mention that I picked up the theme very early, like on the first pass, so that may have helped with my generally breezy experience.
This guy Steinberg: if you don’t know of his exploits, you should. Be sure to check out the Preshortzian Puzzle Project when you have a chance.