Thursday, March 6, 2014

Not merely hobgoblins (Puzzle No. 3,316)

Link to puzzle:

Hozom’s comment: “Tourney Time,” in which Hot and Trazom report that they'll be missing this year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament but encourage you to go. They make the good point that you can meet and talk to many of your favorite (and less favored) constructors while you're there.

Themework: A variety of “numbers” in the clues.

Difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle):  Starts easy in the upper left, and gets harder as you work your way around. 

Last week’s Word Salad post was titled “Hobgoblins,” an allusion to the adage that “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” (I see it was attributed to Emerson)  In their post, Hot and Trazom defended themselves and other constructors from solvers who might have an unrealistic expectation for all the clues or answers in a themed puzzle fitting into the theme.  I agree with Hot and Trazom.  Not even Kevin Wald or Patrick Berry can do that (though they come close).  But such consistency is something to strive for, and I think it is reasonable for solvers to expect that the puzzles they work follow the explicit (Ximenean) or implicit (see Hot and Trazom’s blog posts) rules of clue construction.

Starting in on Cryptic All-Stars last week, I found it’s a nice batch of moderate-difficulty variety cryptics, but there’ve been some clues to make me cringe.  These two in particular stood out to me:

11d Money traveling west with bachelor invested in flower.

<A(B)LOOM<       MOOLA (“money,” reversal indicated by “traveling west”) containing (“with ... invested”) B (“bachelor”)

The problem is that indicator.  It would be nice clear indicator for an across, but the clue is a down!

Then,  11a   Sense of rhythm employed by Ponti, Mingus

_TI MING_     pon_TI MING_us (hidden word indicated by “employed by”)

The problem there is that I had a jazz program on the campus radio station when I was in school (I can still identify some players by ear), and I happen to know that the French violinist’s name is spelled Jean-Luc Ponty.

I don’t think I’m being small-minded by disagreeing with those clues.  

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