April 18, 2014 by manvspuzzle
Theme Answers: None
Something Good: The corners, bub. As a constructor of this sort of puzzle (a themeless with chewy corners), you want those relatively wide-open corners to be fluffy marshmallows dipped in chocolate sauce. In terms of fill only (ignoring clues for a minute), the Friday solver wants to see freshness, modernness, and colorful multi-word (or compound) answers that stand on their own and can withstand even the most intense scrutiny. Scrabbliness may come in at a close second (or tied-for-first for some solvers), but it can’t feel forced. These corners take care of all of that. And the 15-letter answers that connect them are super-sweet, too. Nicely done.
I think I’ve found that I have a slight bias against Mon-Thurs puzzles, and then just shower Fri-Sat with love and affection. I truly find most of my puzzle happiness on those days. Maybe it’s because I have more time to sleep, which means more time to solve and reflect. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten better at solving over the years and I require more and more difficulty to feel satisfied (very much like an opiate addict).
So I don’t know if, pound-for-pound, this puzzle is really any better than a stand-out Tuesday, for example, but I think this is just a brilliant specimen today. Every single long answer (7+) is great. Not an outlier in the bunch. I didn’t know ATHENAEUM until I moved to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom a couple years ago, where we actually have one. Check it out:
But anyway, the compromises for such great long fill are minimal. Some weird 3-letter stuff (TOR and ULE, for me). That’s actually…kind of it. I will say that the appearance of STAY AT and EATS AT is timely, as I was having a discussion yesterday about such answers.
And then the clues. I had fun with them. Clues for MANO (A leader and follower?), ANTONYM (Learn to teach?), ENGINE (It’s often described by horses), and CANST (Art enabled) tore my face off. Good learning clues here and there, too.
All in all, I’m a happy solver. Thanks, James and Will.