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New York Times, Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Author: Jacob Stulberg
Editor: Will Shortz
Jacob Stulberg
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Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QY} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Stulberg. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jacob Stulberg notes: A few months before my bar mitzvah, I decided I wanted a Hebrew middle name to go with my Hebrew first name, so I dubbed myself ... more
Jacob Stulberg notes:

A few months before my bar mitzvah, I decided I wanted a Hebrew middle name to go with my Hebrew first name, so I dubbed myself "Ya'akov Barak." At the time, I had no idea that an Israeli parliament member shared this name, or that he would be elected prime minister two years later. (Or that a man with a similar-sounding but unrelated first name would one day be our president.) All this may have distantly inspired today's theme, which occurred to me while I was working on a different puzzle and looking for an interesting way to clue ECLAIR.

Thanks to Will for the 1-Down/2-Down clue pairing and additional details about the BIRMINGHAM BLITZ. On the other hand, I'm glad to see 56-Down's (EGAD) clue remain unchanged, if only so I can call this puzzle a slightly belated tribute to Back to the Future. (Or should I say Foudre?)

Jeff Chen notes: I haven't loved a Wednesday puzzle this much since one of Jacob's a few months ago. He has such a nice puzzle voice, flavored by ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I haven't loved a Wednesday puzzle this much since one of Jacob's a few months ago. He has such a nice puzzle voice, flavored by poetry, world history, literature, and foreign languages. Today's reveal was so cool — finding out BARAK, ÉCLAIR, and BLITZ all meant LIGHTNING in foreign languages was one of those "I can't wait to share this with someone!" moments. Somewhere in the back of my head I knew about BLITZ ("blitzkrieg" meaning "lightning war") but the others were new.

EHUD BARAK of Israel

I did wonder about EHUD BARAK. That's a tough name to piece together, especially crossing another proper name, Pablo NERUDA. With only 450K Google hits, some might argue that BARAK isn't worthy of being a feature entry. I can understand that perspective, but I think major world leaders should all be fair game. And given his necessity in making the theme work (can you think of anyone else famous with the name BARAK?), my conviction that it's fine is even stronger.

The BIRMINGHAM BLITZ wasn't familiar to me, but it's such a colorful name with an interesting WWII clue that I wanted to look it up. Given that this was just one of many bombing attacks during WWII, I don't think I would feature this entry in a themeless grid, but it works as part of today's theme.

There wasn't a lot of long fill today, but EXIT VISA and I SUPPOSE are bonuses. And Jacob pushes his 6-letter fill to do a lot of the work in making the grid colorful — AFL-CIO, BEAM UP with a Star Trek clue, Catherine of ARAGON, MOSHED all pepped up my solving experience.

I don't love seeing the DTS, which sounds pretty old-timey, but that's minor. Terrific execution on short fill.

Even if there had been less colorful long fill or a few more gluey bits, I still would have picked this one as the Puzzle of the Week. I love it when a crossword theme wows me.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 24,137
Across Down
1. Brainiac : WHIZ
5. Make a mouse hole, say : GNAW
9. One of the Baldwins : ALEC
13. With 40-Down, enter gradually : EASE
14. Give a face-lift : REDO
15. Taper off : ABATE
16. Israeli P.M. before Ariel Sharon : EHUDBARAK
18. Honda Accord, e.g. : SEDAN
19. Mushy fare : PAP
20. Fertility clinic cell : OVUM
21. Slant skyward : UPTILT
22. In a heap : PILED
24. See 17-Down : TIE
25. Randomizing cube : DIE
26. Custard-filled treat : CHOCOLATEECLAIR
30. Sometimes-pierced body part : NOSE
31. Worshiper of Jah, for short : RASTA
32. Can't do without : NEEDS
34. Play like Phish, say : JAM
35. Gladiator's weapon : SPEAR
39. Word on "Wanted" posters : ALIAS
41. World's fair, e.g. : EXPO
42. Luftwaffe attack on the British Midlands, 1940-43 : BIRMINGHAMBLITZ
48. Record producer Brian : ENO
49. Wino's affliction, for short : DTS
50. Awaken : ROUST
51. Grp. formed in a 1955 merger : AFLCIO
53. Seemingly endless : VAST
54. Neckline shape : VEE
57. Female warrior in a Disney movie : MULAN
58. What the ends of 16-, 26- and 42-Across mean in Hebrew, French and German, respectively : LIGHTNING
60. Taking habitually : USING
61. Woodwind descended from the shawm : OBOE
62. Locale of many emerging markets : ASIA
63. Staples of bank counters : PENS
64. Fudge, as a rule : BEND
65. Org. advocating breath-testing ignition locks : MADD
1. Cry : WEEP
2. Laugh : HAHA
3. "It's possible" : ISUPPOSE
4. End of the Oxford English Dictionary : ZED
5. Driveway material : GRAVEL
6. Poet Pablo who won the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature : NERUDA
7. Old Testament patriarch : ADAM
8. Lo mein vessel : WOK
9. Partner of aid : ABET
10. Artsy-fartsy, say : LADIDA
11. And others, in footnotes : ETALII
12. Tallest player on the court, usually : CENTER
15. Things to consider : ASPECTS
17. With 24-Across, item of western haberdashery : BOLO
21. 180s : UIES
23. Gutter blockage in winter : ICEDAM
24. Diamond nine : TEAM
26. Anderson Cooper's channel : CNN
27. Do a preplanting chore : HOE
28. Totally destroy : TRASH
29. Places to pin squirting flowers : LAPELS
33. Like some doors or scales : SLIDING
34. Pricey British cars, for short : JAGS
36. Permit to leave a country : EXITVISA
37. Well put : APT
38. The New Yorker cartoonist Chast : ROZ
40. See 13-Across : INTO
42. Bring back to the Enterprise, say : BEAMUP
43. Introduce, as flavoring : INFUSE
44. Arrive like fog : ROLLIN
45. Home to Henry VIII's Catherine : ARAGON
46. Danced in a "pit" : MOSHED
47. Joke's target : BUTT
52. Sends packing : CANS
53. Intuitive feeling, informally : VIBE
55. Home of the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma : ENID
56. "Great Scott!" : EGAD
58. Arcing shot : LOB
59. Where Forrest Gump fought, for short : NAM

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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