January 1, 2014 by manvspuzzle
Theme: HAPPY 2014. That’s the central answer at 37-Across. The numbers 2-0-1-4 work as the words ‘TOO,’ ‘OH,’ ‘WON,’ and ‘FOR’ in the crossing down answers, giving us:
- ITS 2 LATE
- 0 SUSANNA
- HARD 1
- GO 4 IT
What’s Good: the rule-breaking nature of the theme. Notice anything different about this puzzle? Yeah — it’s got freakin’ numbers in it. That almost never happens. And having a rebus on a Wednesday is very rare. When a rule is broken, at least for *this* guy, it’s crazy, unexpected, and fun.
There isn’t much to this theme, but it’s really fun. Actually, I can’t remember a puzzle with so few theme letters (in this case, 9). I guess you could (and maybe should) argue that ITS 2 LATE, 0 SUSANNA, HARD 1, and GO 4 IT are part of the theme, too — but really, those words could be any number of other things, and aren’t related to the central sentiment of the theme, which is to wish *you* a HAPPY 2014. I dunno.
But anyway, I had fun with this. It was not challenging to me at all — I actually finished below my average Wednesday time. But I caught on to the theme very quickly and, for unknown reasons, easily. It just came to me, and that was it.
I’m thinking that this puzzle is going to be great for hung-over college students in coffee shops everywhere today. Can’t you just imagine some scarved, fedora-wearing, insecure, baby-faced dude in downtown Amherst, Massachusetts, finally impressing his secret crush by figuring out HAPPY 2014? It’s probably going to be the highlight of his semester.
One little nit to pick: ’0′ is ‘Zero’ — not ‘O’ or ‘Oh.’ It’s easy to get past that and move on with your life, but at the same time, it’s a little hard to swallow. I wouldn’t say that it makes the puzzle not worth constructing — I just wish the discrepancy wasn’t there. But whatever.
Not much to say about the fill. Not that it wasn’t fine and gettable, but nothing stands out as really colorful or exciting. Just standard stuff. I’m proud that I’ve done enough puzzles that ETUI goes in with no issue. TAKE A NIP is something I’ve never heard or seen anywhere before, and I’m betting that 99% of solvers will have TAKE A SIP before they finally get it. Also didn’t know BUR OAK. The crossing of IRT and TRIREME was heart-sinking, but I guessed correctly and ended with a finished puzzle.
All in all, I liked this. Thanks, Peter, for starting the new year off right.