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New York Times, Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Author: David Steinberg
Editor: Will Shortz
David Steinberg
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
576/16/201112/7/20168
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
3556716141
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.642103

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 37 Missing: {QVZ} This is puzzle # 57 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes: This puzzle was accepted recently, so I'm delighted to see it come out so soon! I came up with the idea this summer while ... more
David Steinberg notes:

This puzzle was accepted recently, so I'm delighted to see it come out so soon! I came up with the idea this summer while interning for Will and going through Andrew Kingsley's beautiful themeless from August 26. I recall spending an especially long time brainstorming clues for the entry PAST TENSE. (We ultimately settled on "Bought or sold, e.g.") In doing the research, I noticed a bunch of past tenses that didn't necessarily have to be past tenses, which intrigued me in a really nerdy way! I then wondered whether pairs of these past tenses could be combined to form new entries. And so the theme idea was born.

Coming up with a consistent theme set was a real challenge. I was initially hoping to avoid past tenses ending in -ed, since they struck me as less elegant than ones like SHOT or PUT, but the crossword Muse (Erato, of course!) gave me what you see. The next challenge was filling a grid around six theme entries and a reveal. IS BAD is bad (*rimshot*), but I'm pleased with the fill as a whole given the theme density.

I hope you enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

Jeff Chen notes: Great theme idea — both words in each theme phrase are also verbs in the PAST TENSE. I'm sure I've seen something similar ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Great theme idea — both words in each theme phrase are also verbs in the PAST TENSE. I'm sure I've seen something similar before, but I really liked that David 1.) found snappy phrases, and 2.) hid the meanings of all those PAST TENSE verbs. LEFT HANDED is a perfect example, a solid phrase that disguises LEFT (departed) and HANDED (passed (out)).

I bet FIXED COST is going to raise some eyebrows and maybe even draw some complaints that it's a dry phrase, but this MBA really likes it. I enjoyed all my finance classes, so it was really fun for me to see FIXED COST. Okay, I admit that any time you have to use a dictionary definition, you're treading on somewhat thin ice, as there's absolutely no opportunity for clever wordplay or trickery in the clue. And I can see that it might not be a ho-hum or worse answer for some solvers.

CUT ROSE was the only one I didn't care for. CUT here doesn't disguise the PAST TENSE meaning of the word, and the phrase itself feels a bit stilted to my ear.

Great execution, such smoothness with excellent bonus entries. I especially liked that URBAN ART / DEAD DROPS (love me some spy lingo!), done without any crossword glue. (Okay, IS BAD is bad ... hey, David stole my line!) I love it when a constructor can pull something like this off — it's like when you see a sculpture constructed out of many parts, but you can't figure out where the joints are, or how the artist even assembled it.

STOPS PLAY wasn't as snazzy for me, but RUSTLERS gives that opposite corner some GUSTO. Again, beautiful gridwork in that lower left, nary an awkward or inelegant short entry holding it all together.

Super-solid mid-week puzzle, giving me a nice a-ha when I got to the revealer. I really like when I have no idea of what's going on until the lightbulb flips on at the end.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 24,501
Across Down
1. One of two in "Hamilton" : ACT
4. Back end of a horse : RUMP
8. Form an impression of : JUDGE
13. Question asked with an open mouth : WHA
14. Border with many posts : FENCE
15. Some are restricted : AREAS
16. *Expense independent of production : FIXEDCOST
18. Hoops : BBALL
19. Pop open, as a bottle : UNCORK
20. Does something naughty : ISBAD
22. Bird on Canada's $1 coin : LOON
23. *How Clayton Kershaw pitches : LEFTHANDED
28. "Frankenstein" author : SHELLEY
30. ___ Duncan, Obama education secretary : ARNE
31. Org. that investigated Al Capone : IRS
34. Munch Museum's city : OSLO
35. Disposed (to) : PRONE
36. *One of a dozen for a sweetheart : CUTROSE
38. *Decathlon event : SHOTPUT
40. Surrounding : ABOUT
41. Phobia : FEAR
42. Girl in the fam : SIS
43. Things that may be locked or sealed : LIPS
44. High-end British sports car : MCLAREN
47. *Something to make up : LOSTGROUND
49. Fried ___ (Southern dish) : OKRA
53. Designated dwarf planet since 2006 : PLUTO
54. A.P. Latin reading : AENEID
56. Trickery : WILES
58. Like either word in the answers to the five starred clues : PASTTENSE
61. Disjointed : APART
62. Essayist's starting point : TOPIC
63. "Sure do" : YEP
64. Final authority : SAYSO
65. Adirondack chair part : SLAT
66. Certain female soldier : ANT
1. Like an epic fail : AWFUL
2. Slacks material : CHINO
3. Mexican tourist city known for its silver : TAXCO
4. Impulsive : RECKLESS
5. "___ momento" : UNO
6. Hosts : MCS
7. Diminutive, fashionwise : PETITE
8. Obese "Star Wars" character : JABBA
9. Some street scenes : URBANART
10. Spy communication spots : DEADDROPS
11. Square dance party? : GAL
12. Subj. for many green card seekers : ESL
14. Only four-term prez : FDR
17. Many, many years : EONS
21. Unlikely to ask someone out : SHY
24. Vogue competitor : ELLE
25. ___ Rida ("My House" rapper) : FLO
26. Jaded feeling : ENNUI
27. Specifics, slangily : DEETS
29. "I don't give a ___" : HOOT
31. Bluff-busting words : ICALL
32. Florida senator Marco : RUBIO
33. Blows the whistle : STOPSPLAY
35. Dermatologist's concern : PORE
37. Cattle thieves : RUSTLERS
38. Actor Penn of "Milk" : SEAN
39. Working diligently : HARDATIT
41. Bug that thrives in the winter : FLU
44. "I pity the fool" speaker : MRT
45. Takes over : COOPTS
46. Zip : NONE
48. Zip : GUSTO
50. Mombasa is its second-largest city : KENYA
51. Up : RISEN
52. Skilled : ADEPT
55. Besides others: Abbr. : ETC
56. Used to be : WAS
57. Sam Adams Rebel ___ : IPA
59. I.S.P. whose logo contains a period : AOL
60. Eponymous Belgian tourist locale : SPA

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle.

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