New York Times, Saturday, March 15, 2014

Author: Ed Sessa
Editor: Will Shortz
Edward Sessa
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319/10/20073/10/20160
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1.64241
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 28 Missing: {QVX} This is puzzle # 22 for Mr. Sessa. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Edward Sessa notes: With this puzzle there were four 'seed' words which I wanted to keep if possible, one in each section: HOLMESIAN, leading off the ... more
Edward Sessa notes: With this puzzle there were four "seed" words which I wanted to keep if possible, one in each section: HOLMESIAN, leading off the puzzle in the NW, reminded me of the similarly eponymous KAFKAESQUE which had been used in the LAT, BRAIN FREEZE in the NE which would allow for a clue take-off on "cold comfort," BODACIOUS, in the SE, a portmanteau word ("bold" and "audacious"), and TWITTER JAIL in the SW. I wasn't sure this last entry would fly, and the puzzle was only provisionally accepted last June, as Will said he wanted to see if the phrase had "staying power." I hope solvers have some challenges and fun with this one.
Jeff Chen notes: This puzzle was right up my alley. A pretty standard-ish layout with 70 words, but jam-packed with great entries, from the classic ... more
Jeff Chen notes: This puzzle was right up my alley. A pretty standard-ish layout with 70 words, but jam-packed with great entries, from the classic HOLMESIAN all the way to the fantastic up-to-date TWITTER JAIL. For those of you not on Twitter, users are limited in their number of tweets per hour and per day, and those that go over (thus annoying the crud out of their followers) get put in TWITTER JAIL. Neat term. And for those of you who think it's impossible to go over 100/tweets an hour, someone I know recently got put in TWITTER JAIL after the explosion around her book deal. Amusing that she had to ask a friend to post that she wanted to respond to each tweet but couldn't.

When I first started choosing Puzzle of the Week selections, I thought I would tend to select more Thursdays, because I like when constructors break the rules. But I've come to realize that I really appreciate Saturdays, especially the fact that the constructors and Will really up their ante when it comes to cleverness of clues. I really enjoyed the clue echo of [A line, e.g.], and [A lines, e.g.], neither of which had to do with the A-line dress.

Even the clues for some of the shorter ones: [How the description of most things usually end?] was very clever for EST, in the sense of clever, cleverer, and cleverEST. Nice to interpret the word "most" in an unexpected way.

Typically ULEE is not something I like to see in a grid, but when it's combined with BEEKEEPER ("Ulee's Gold" is a crossword classic due to the friendly nature of the ULEE pattern) I like the echo as well as the insider's nod to the crosswordy bit.

The only hitch I had was at the AUDIE / AARE crossing, but thankfully I've seen the AARE river enough in crosswords that it's nearly automatic (again, very crossword-friendly combination of letters). And from a construction standpoint, I love MUTANTS, but I wonder if a pair of cheater squares where the S is (and symmetrically the T of TAMARIN) would have allowed for a smoothing out of TBAR, RELET, and ARPEL all in the same little section. I love TAMARIN as an answer though, so the trade-off would have to be pretty good.

Saving my favorite for last, the answer and clue pair for KISSY FACE was great. "Smacked" had me thinking it was something offensive which would initiate a slap, and even when I got the KISS pat of the answer, it took me a while to see KISSY FACE. All in all, a really nice grid with some feature entries and more than a handful of wordplay clues. Beautiful stuff.

1
H
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S
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A
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,503
Across Down
1. Like some methods of detection : HOLMESIAN
10. Winter athletes' pull-ups? : TBARS
15. Without requiring scrutiny : ATAGLANCE
16. Last name in the skin care industry : ARPEL
17. Indication that one wants to get smacked : KISSYFACE
18. Producer of "whirlybirds" : MAPLE
19. How the descriptions of most things usually end? : EST
20. Cast : SENT
21. Like many taxis : HAILED
22. Bathhouse square : TILE
23. N.B.A. team starting in 1988 : HORNETS
24. A line, e.g. : SUBWAY
27. A lines, e.g. : SERIFS
28. "Essays in Love" writer ___ de Botton : ALAIN
29. People everywhere : HUMANRACE
32. Since 2010 it's had a shield on its back : CENT
33. Buckles : WARPS
34. Jack for Jacques? : EURO
35. Two or three in a row, say : SEATMATES
37. Texas state tree : PECAN
38. Prevent from having anything? : NEUTER
39. What cookies are often baked in : DOZENS
40. Stung : SMARTED
42. Swiss bank depositor? : AARE
43. Spare change collector : TIPJAR
44. Spare change collectors : BUMS
45. Vineyard, in Vichy : CRU
48. Song of exultation : PAEAN
49. Sexy : BODACIOUS
51. Failed in a big way : ATEIT
52. Seaweed used in home brewing : IRISHMOSS
53. Some men's sizes : TALLS
54. One controlling drones : BEEKEEPER
1. Relative of a haddock : HAKE
2. Uplifting company? : OTIS
3. Bad way to finish : LAST
4. Classic two-seaters : MGS
5. Blissful : ELYSIAN
6. Without incident, say : SAFELY
7. Lacking a point : INANE
8. A teller might update it: Abbr. : ACCT
9. Connection between Obama and Robinson? : NEE
10. Member of the marmoset family : TAMARIN
11. Cold discomfort, of sorts : BRAINFREEZE
12. Poppycock : APPLESAUCE
13. Found new tenants for : RELET
14. Polar bearers? : SLEDS
21. They're often accompanied by "Hava Nagila" : HORAS
22. Penalty for some overly prolific posters : TWITTERJAIL
23. Rope and dope sources : HEMPS
24. Body bags? : SACS
25. Title 54-Across of film : ULEE
26. Skin behind a slip, perhaps : BANANAPEEL
27. Less likely to have waffles : SURER
29. Like supervillains : HATED
30. Grape, Cherry or Strawberry lead-in : CRAN
31. A lot of the time? : EONS
33. Need for life : WATER
36. Staples of Marvel Comics : MUTANTS
37. Cayenne producer : PORSCHE
39. Velvety pink : DAMASK
40. Annual winter honoree, briefly : STPAT
41. Modern two-seater : MIATA
42. Murphy of "To Hell and Back" : AUDIE
44. "Zzz" inducer : BORE
45. Something to buy into : COOP
46. Device : RUSE
47. Miracle on Ice loser of '80 : USSR
49. Crab house accessory : BIB
50. "___ Wed" (2007 Erica Durance movie) : IME

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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