Martin Ashwood-Smith’s Saturday, 1/11/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)


January 11, 2014 by manvspuzzle

mausTheme: None

What’s Good: Quadstackaliciousness.  That’s it.  I declare that quad-stacks are good ipso facto.  And you can’t do anything about it, because it’s my blog.

©The New York Times

©The New York Times


(*Man walks into restaurant and sits down.  CANADA BLUEGRASS plays on the radio, which is weird, because it’s really just a kind of actual grass, not a musical genre.  A pimply-faced 17-year-old waiter arrives to take his order.*)

“Uh, I guess I’ll have the short stack of 15-letter crossword answers.  Also two cups of coffee.  In STEMLESS GLASSES, please.”

(*Time passes.  Finally, the  waiter approaches with a plate in each hand.)

“Excuse me, I said short stack.  This is ridiculous.  No, it’s not that it doesn’t look good, it’s just not what I ordered.  Are you gonna charge me for this?

“Holy Christ, another one?  Dude, is this your first day on the job?  How am I supposed to get all of this down?

“Dang.  Fine.  Bring me the syrup.”

(*takes a bite*)

“Hmm.  Not bad.  Kinda got a POTASSIUM IODIDE flavor to them, don’t they?  You did all right here, kid.  Why don’t you pull up a chair and tell me a little bit about yourself?”

(*Waiter takes a seat and begins talking about his hopes and aspirations.  The man chews on the massive stacks in front of him as he listens.*)

“So you say you want to be a DENTAL ASSISTANT?  Seems like a fairly lucrative career.  I’m a successful ELEPHANT TRAINER, m’self.  Tell me — what steps are you taking to achieve this goal, son?”

(*Waiter explains his financial situation, family history, and plan for applying to school.*)

“Yeesh.  You say both of your parents died in a tragic NAVAL ENGAGEMENT?  But that you collected on both of their TRADITIONAL IRAS?  And it’s enough to cover three semesters of DENTAL ASSISTANT school?”

(*Waiter nods and begins to weep uncontrollably.*)

“Son, I’m sorry to hear about your folks.  But tell me — what’s your plan to pay for the last semester?”

(*Waiter simply stares at his lap, defeated.  He has no answer.  The man frowns, shakes his head, and takes the last bites of his breakfast.  He rises from the table and pulls out his wallet.*)

“Listen, kid.  Keep your chin up.  I’ve got something for you.”

(*Man pulls a CRISP twenty-dollar bill from his wallet and slaps it on the table in front of the waiter.*)

“I want you to keep the change from this.  You deserve it.  And maybe someday, when you’re a full-fledged DENTAL ASSISTANT, you’ll remember who helped you get there.”

(*Man turns and heads for the door.  The waiter quickly totals the man’s bill and calls after him, pointing out that the tip the man has given him only amounts to about eleven dollars, and DENTAL ASSISTANT school costs $7500.00 per semester.  But it’s too late.  He’s gone.*)

(*Waiter stares at the mess the man has left behind, and the paltry eleven dollars he’s been left with.  Finally, he stands up and turns to the window at the front of the restaurant, through which he can clearly see the man getting into his 2014 Platinum Collection Cadillac Escalade, complete with 22″ multi-spoked chromed aluminum alloy wheels.  The waiter sighs, flashes multiple OBSCENE GESTURES in the man’s direction, and begins to clear the table.*)

(The end.  Thanks, MAS, for a great Saturday.)

2 thoughts on “Martin Ashwood-Smith’s Saturday, 1/11/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)

  1. I look forward to Quadstackaliciousness, the play. Great write-up for a great puzzle.

  2. manvspuzzle says:

    I didn’t really use my write-up to say how much I *truly* enjoyed this puzzle. Personally, I like variety in my daily life. Like anyone with a brain, I can clearly see that there are compromises in the fill. But the fill is not what puzzles like this are supposed to be about (yeah, I know that this puzzle is *all* fill, but you know what I mean). Part of the fun of a puzzle with quad-stacks is muscling through and figuring out the tough stuff. I actually like doing that — and even if I get Naticked, I have fun, I learn something, and I’m a better solver tomorrow. How can you not appreciate that?

    As I’ve said many, many times before — if we end up in a place someday where puzzles like this are thrown out because of a heavy focus on fill, it’s going to be a pretty sucky place. Not saying fill isn’t important; most of the time it is. But it’s not the *only* thing.

    Sorry, I’ve just read some of the comments elsewhere, and felt the need to vent. Will Shortz’s and Jeff Chen’s comments over at XWord Info echo my sentiments.

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