January 31, 2014 by manvspuzzle
What’s Good: Wide Open Spaces. This puzzle has 116 open squares, which means there are 116 white squares that *don’t* touch a black square, even diagonally. The average open square count for a Saturday is around 94 — so this puzzle is way above average. It’s actually tied (with many others) for the 9th-fewest open squares in the Shortz-era. (Kids, I get stats like this by paying a mere pittance to have full access over at XWord Info. Go check it out.)
Awesome. I love opening up the puzzle and seeing all that whiteness. Like, I seriously get excited. And guess what? I know full well there will be compromises in the fill, the short stuff will be wicked hard and kinda nasty looking, and there will be a bunch of stuff that I don’t know. I *know* this before I even start solving a puzzle like this. And I’m still excited and happy. How is that possible?
Probably because I’m not a psycho whiner who unfairly expects (demands) that all words be as common as CAT or TREE. (Folks, I never know where these daily posts are going to take me. Today, for some reason, it’s taking me to my hatin-on-narrow-minded-complainers place).
The 15-letter answers are, in my opinion, all great — with the exception of one. CAST ONES SPELL ON (60A — Charm) just doesn’t seem like a real thing. So, it’s not a general spell that anyone can use — this person has his/her own *unique* spell. (“Dang it! Bob cast his patented neck-shortening spell on me again!”).
But that’s it. The other long stuff (non 15s) is really good, too. TACO BELL, I GO TO RIO, HOG TIED, IN WANT OF, etc. — all great.
Nice clues today, too. I especially loved 35A — “Marker’s mark maker” for FELT TIP. Fun stuff.
One more thing. Where would your mind go if you were looking at this in the grid:
and the clue was “What Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Issue has a lot of”? I was 99.9% sure that it *wasn’t* NIPPLES, but my brain kept making me wonder (it turned out to be AD PAGES). NIPPLES wouldn’t make sense anyway. My experience tells me that there’s usually just a few of them visible in any given Swimsuit Issue.
Sheesh, sorry for the Friday crassness. Thanks, Chris!