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New York Times, Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Author: David Kwong
Editor: Will Shortz
David Kwong
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
164/1/20066/23/20165
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2232421
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59222

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JQXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Kwong. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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David Kwong notes: There's a Ted Talk and a YouTube video to help explain this puzzle.
Jeff Chen notes: Another puzzle from the crossword magician! I recently saw 'Now You See Me,' for which David was the lead magician. Talk about a ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Another puzzle from the crossword magician! I recently saw "Now You See Me," for which David was the lead magician. Talk about a childhood dream to hand out business cards entitled LEAD MAGICIAN to Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg. Live the dream, David, live the dream.

Nice revealer today, A FAREWELL TO ARMS being both a perfect 15 and a way to describe wacky answers which had ARM removed. Usually the fun in these types of themes for me is enjoying the kookiness of the resulting phrases, but today I found the quest to understand the base phrase amusing. BURGLAR AL clearly starts with BURGLAR ALARM, but GENT DISTRICT was a little harder (GARMENT DISTRICT). Same with SNAKE ARMCHER, which was incredibly hard to suss out.

I jest, of course. Some say I charm. Mostly me, unfortunately.

So although DEATH WED OVER was the only one that wed me over — er, won me over, I enjoyed the wordplay and quest to find the base phrases. I did have an incredibly hard time finishing the puzzle, given the tough TORV and BWI crossing one of the harder to figure out themers. BWI I only know as the airport code for Baltimore's airport, and it turns out BWI also stands for Book Wholesalers, Inc.; who knew the Bahamas was such a literate place? Learn something new every day.

(British West Indies)

So given the tough entries and the difficulties I had in sussing out the phrases, I had my first DNF (did not finish) on a Tuesday in years. It's good to get a dose of humility every once in a while. I did appreciate some long fill like MOTOROLA (I still proudly show off my Razr, sadly) and RATTED ON. The construction is extremely challenging, given that the 9/12/15/12/9 represents a whopping 57 theme squares. All those interconnected areas produce difficult constraints, resulting in a few unfortunate entries such as NORW, AGOGO, SSW and ITA as direct results of all those necessary crossings. Perhaps a slightly less ambitious construction would have resulted in a smoother end product.

Finally, I appreciate when I learn something new from the crossword. I had never really thought of BUFF as a color, so it was neat to finally uncover. And I was supposed to have read Dante's The Divine Comedy in college, but I had a much more divine comedic college experience and failed to read past the title page. So it was fun to read up on the role Beatrice Portinari played in Dante's life!

ADDED NOTE: check out this blog post about the magic trick David integrated into the puzzle. Cool!

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,506
Across Down
1. Corrupt : BAD
4. Outfielder Ty : COBB
8. Brainy : SMART
13. Amman's Queen ___ International Airport : ALIA
15. Law office worker, for short : PARA
16. Talented newbie : COMER
17. Home-invading Gore? : BURGLARAL
19. Opera's birthplace : ITALY
20. Response to "Are not!" : AMTOO
21. Señor chaser? : ITA
23. Elevator pioneer Elisha : OTIS
24. Area for aristocrats? : GENTDISTRICT
28. Mistake : BOOBOO
30. Bush's labor secretary : CHAO
31. Eight fluid ounces : CUP
32. Retrovirus material : RNA
34. Obstructs, as a pipe : CLOGS
38. W.W. I novel ... hinted at by 17-, 24-, 52- and 64-Across : AFAREWELLTOARMS
43. Liszt's "Consolation No. 3" is in it : DFLAT
44. Story of one's life : BIO
45. Irritating cry : CAW
46. Leading inits. in frozen desserts : TCBY
49. Visual gag character of British TV : MRBEAN
52. Exchange of vows again for the Grim Reaper? : DEATHWEDOVER
56. Railroad chartered in 1832 : ERIE
57. Old Testament prophecy book: Abbr. : ISA
58. "X-Men" character with blue fur : BEAST
62. Remove gradually : ERODE
64. Emmy, Oscar and Grammy-winning reptile? : SNAKECHER
67. Dwelling changes, in Realtor-speak : RELOS
68. "Don't take ___ seriously!" : ITSO
69. Oscar nominee Garr : TERI
70. Neighbor of Minneapolis : EDINA
71. Keep in check, with "in" : REIN
72. Explorer's aid : MAP
1. Yeast cake made with rum : BABA
2. Eisenhower vis-à-vis West Point, informally : ALUM
3. Malicious gossip : DIRT
4. E-file preparer : CPA
5. Rower's need : OAR
6. Alternative to a ponytail : BRAID
7. Like Latvia or Lithuania : BALTIC
8. Discovery Channel subj. : SCI
9. Razr maker : MOTOROLA
10. One instrumental in history? : AMATI
11. Old object : RELIC
12. Secret meeting : TRYST
14. To the max, '60s-style : AGOGO
18. Editor Marshall of financial publications : LOEB
22. Residue in a fireplace : ASH
25. Oslo's home: Abbr. : NORW
26. Hue : TONE
27. Burrito alternative : TACO
28. Yellow-brown color : BUFF
29. Translucent gem : OPAL
31. Heel : CAD
33. Edmonton's province: Abbr. : ALB
35. Whale of a movie? : ORCA
36. Agent under Hoover, informally : GMAN
37. Yemen-to-Zimbabwe dir. : SSW
39. Turned in, in a way : RATTEDON
40. Help make an impression? : ETCH
41. Exec's car, maybe : LIMO
42. Star of "Fringe," Anna ___ : TORV
47. Home of the Bahamas, once: Abbr. : BWI
48. Emphatic affirmative : YESSIR
50. Early film star Daniels : BEBE
51. Put up : ERECT
52. Caterpillar rival : DEERE
53. Acted in a human way? : ERRED
54. Need for some fish dishes : AIOLI
55. Beatrice's adorer : DANTE
59. "Excuse me" : AHEM
60. Lab fluids : SERA
61. Excursion : TRIP
63. Finnish hockey star Tikkanen : ESA
65. "Try ___ might ..." : ASI
66. ___-Tiki : KON

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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