February 8, 2014 by manvspuzzle
What’s Good: Every Answer With 5 Or More Letters. The 3- and 4-letter stuff — meh, not so much.
Nicely done. Like, really nicely done. This is an example of two experienced dudes (Doug and Brad) setting themselves up for success. They designed a grid with 2 triple-stacks of 11-letter answers, and 2 triple-stacks of 9-letter entries, gave themselves 72 words to work with (the maximum for a themeless), and had this conversation:
Brad: Hey, Doug, let’s make sure these 12 longer answers really stand out.
Doug: Ok, Brad. But what about the short stuff? Should we worry about it?
Brad: Is that a short joke? You know I’m sensitive about only being 4-and-a-half feet tall.
Doug: No, no, no. I think you’re very cute. I just want to make sure we don’t end up with something like PEE at 31-Across and have to start over.
Brad: Ah, I see what you’re saying. But I wouldn’t worry about those little guys. If you don’t mind, I’d actually like to seed this puzzle with JUKEBOX HERO and SOVIET UNION. I think it would be a nice homage to my days as Steve Perry’s personal assistant, and also give a little nod to my hardcore Leninist political leanings.
Doug: Umm, ok…
Brad: And then maybe we could add OREGON TRAIL in there because, let’s face it, you and I are basically the Lewis and Clark of crossword puzzles. C’mon Doug, am I right or am I right?
Doug: Whatever, I think that should work. Of course, if we have JUKEBOX HERO over OREGON TRAIL, that will probably force the word SHRIMP at 11-Down.
Brad: Damn it, Doug! Lay off the short jokes!
And then they wrote a kick-ass puzzle, focused more on the long stuff than the short stuff. That’s just fine. And it’s not like the short stuff is really *that* bad, it just comes across as more of an afterthought than a focus of any serious attention. ACH, BAS, LAV, TRA, TUE, ELEC, ODER, PARI, etc. — it’s all passable, but below average.
But the long stuff rocks. Very fun, very good. Nice cluing, playing right down the middle difficulty-wise.
All in all, a well-constructed and well-edited puzzle. Thanks, guys.