Thursday, May 21, 2015

Regular customers (Puzzle No. 3,364)

There used to be a Japanese restaurant a couple blocks from my office in Philadelphia that I patronized frequently: frequently enough that when I came down the escalator and started walking towards the counter, I could put up one finger and the cook would start my usual order (shrimp tempura bento, salad instead of soup).  And even though I only got there a couple of times a year, the bartender at The Pearl in Nantucket remembers me as the two-twist martini.  It’s nice to be a regular customer at places.

The subject came to mind when I read Hot’s reply to my post on last week’s puzzle.  I thought that we solvers didn’t need as much of an indicator for a letter bank clue as was published in 9a (which by the way was a great letter bank: 15 out of 5).  Hot replied that since most constructors don’t use this kind of clue, they feel a need to point it out more clearly.

Point well taken, but I think that by this point the The Nation solving community has gotten pretty familiar with Hot and Trazom’s style and innovation.  We’re mostly regulars around here.  We’ll hope that new solvers are coming to the puzzle every week, but it’s never going to be like the straight crossword in a daily newspaper that attracts lots of casual solvers.  And if you’re even trying a cryptic crossword, you probably have more mental agility than those casual solver.  So you’re probably prepared to figure out unusual wordplay.

Obviously there’s a theme to this week’s puzzle.  You’ll probably get to the clue to the theme pretty quickly, but using it is more tricky.  I’ll leave it at that until I post the solution.

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): average

Agility factor: high.

This week’s cluing challenge (sorry I forgot to give you one last week while I was on the road): LETTER BANK.  Share your clues in the comments.

Back with the solution and annotation Monday: join us this weekend for Sunday brunch!

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