Joe Krozel’s Thursday, 2/6/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)

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February 6, 2014 by manvspuzzle

Cromagnon-ManTheme: Funky Japanese Homophone Thingys.  4 theme answers are bizarre English homophonic phrases of well-known Japanese terms.  Then there’s a revealer.

Theme Answers:

  • 18A — *Blubbered? : WAS SOBBY (wasabi)
  • 25A — *What happened after Mr. Onassis contacted A.A.A.? : ARI GOT TOW (arigato)
  • 35A — *Imaginary overthrow of the government? : PSEUDO COUP (sudoku)
  • 47A — *Give a Dust Bowl migrant a ride? : CARRY OKIE (karaoke)
  • 57A — Language that gave us the words heard phonetically in the answers to the starred clues : JAPANESE

***

What’s Good: 1) The Theme (weird, in a good way), 2) The Long Downs.

***

2 6 14I liked this.  First of all, I really want to give props to MOM AND POP and OH BROTHER.  As I (and other bloggers) have said before, those long theme answers are going to stand out, whether you like it or not.  So if you want solvers to be happy, you need to make them sparkly, fresh, fun, etc.  Joe K. did that here today, and this solver is happy.

The theme — it’s good.  I like this sort of thing.  I know many people prefer not to have “nonsense” as theme answers (e.g., a PSEUDO COUP is not a thing, and neither are the other themers), but I’m not one of those people.  I like nonsense as long as there’s rhyme and/or reason to it, and there is here.

I’m reminded of Kenneth Leeser’s 9/11/2012 puzzle which incorporated homophones for foreign capital cities (KHARTOUM CAR TOMB, BEIRUT BAY ROUTE, and TRIPOLI TRIPLE E).  I actually hated that puzzle — not because it was bad, but because at the time I solved it I had been working on constructing a puzzle with the exact same theme.  Gah!  But obviously I liked the homophone idea, and I like it here, too.  Decent Thursday fare.

What else?  I thought the cluing was basically good, taking some potentially boring fill and making it fun and/or fresh.  Examples: HIT (15A — Google result), FRY (22A — Get too much sun, colloquially), CAGE (54A — Zoo keeper?).  I found most of the fill here just so-so, but nothing really ugly at all.

Not much more to say about this one.  Decent Thursday, looking forward to the hard stuff over the next two days.

See ya.

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