Adam G. Perl’s Monday, 2/24/14 NYT crossword puzzle (ed. Will Shortz)

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February 24, 2014 by manvspuzzle

GarInTheHandE

Theme: Little Women.  The beginnings of four theme answers are the names of characters from the book “Little Women” by LOUISA MAY ALCOTT.  Of course, the title isn’t revealed, so people unfamiliar with the book might end up a little clueless.

Theme Answers:

  • 17A — Isn’t serious : JOKES AROUND
  • 24A — Computer memory unit : MEGABYTE
  • 39A — Author who created the characters named by the starts of 17-, 24-, 49- and 61-Across : LOUISA MAY ALCOTT
  • 49A — Maryland home of the Walter Reed medical center : BETHESDA
  • 61A — Chemical compound in “poppers” : AMYL NITRITE

***

Something Good: Theme Consistency.  Aside from the revealer, there are two 2-word theme answers and two 1-word theme answers.  If it had been 3/1 or 1/3, many of us would cry foul.

***

2 24 14

I really liked this.  No issues for me, it played very lovely, with very nice long fill (SOUNDTRACK and BYE BYE LOVE are both awesome, and AMALGAMATED is cool, too.  NESTING SITE?  Good enough.), great trickery in the theme (I found myself asking: what author created the characters “Jokes” and “Mega?”) and an overall nice tribute.

Lots of short stuff (45 3- and 4-letter answers), most of which is just average, but even the kinda ugly stuff was clued great for a Monday.  In terms of completing the puzzle, there should be no issues for the average person today.

Where some people might want to complain, and perhaps rightfully so, is in the overall theme concept itself.  Put simply, if you don’t know that these characters are from “Little Women,” then you have no idea who they are at the end of your solve.  Even though I *do* know who these characters are, on a Monday with such specific knowledge necessary to make sense of it, I would expect the puzzle to give me this information.  I may be a little sensitive to this, because my high school students solve the Monday puzzle every week.  And I know these students well enough to know that most of them aren’t going to know who these characters are and what book they’re from, even if they do manage to solve the puzzle.  Ahh well.

Oh, and are you wondering what the hell “poppers” are, as I was?  If so, you should probably see what Wikipedia has to say about it.  Apparently they’re kinda legal in the UK.

Thanks, Adam.

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