New York Times, Thursday, March 20, 2014

Author: Victor Barocas
Editor: Will Shortz
Victor Barocas
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
92/9/20115/22/20165
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3012300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62022

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 42 Missing: none – this is a pangram This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Barocas. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Victor Barocas notes: The inspiration for this puzzle came from Matt Gaffney's meta-puzzles, which I enjoy very much. Every so often, he addresses the ... more
Victor Barocas notes: The inspiration for this puzzle came from Matt Gaffney's meta-puzzles, which I enjoy very much. Every so often, he addresses the solver directly in the puzzle as part of the meta, and although at first I found it strange, it kind of grew on me, so I decided to make a non-meta puzzle that included direct address. I was rather pleased when I realized that the different GET phrases all exist. The big challenge, though, was that GET up and GET down aren't as symmetric as they feel like they should be, making it quite hard to construct a symmetric grid.

In spite of the initial difficulty, the fill came out okay, and I enjoyed the cluing. 10-A, 52-A, and 28-D were my favorite clues, along with the matched pair at 39-A and 34-D. Solvers might be interested to know that my original version was a bit more difficult, with the GET phrases not given but clued, so 18-A would have been clued as "Gripping read ['Don't stand so close']," 24-A would have been "Oil containers ['Show us your funky dance moves!']," etc. I guess that Will decided that it would be too difficult or weird that way.

As always, I hope that solvers enjoyed the puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes: Just a few days ago, I suggested to a prospective constructor that Will doesn't often run puzzles with entries that look crazy. Shows ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Just a few days ago, I suggested to a prospective constructor that Will doesn't often run puzzles with entries that look crazy. Shows what I know! ABRIDOOFAR is A BRIDGE TOO FAR + "Get lost!" (an instruction to lose GET) = ABRIDOOFAR. GET is treated differently in the other three themers, which I've highlighted. Tricky theme! PATEGURNER took me forever to uncover because of how weird it looks. Good a-ha moment when I realized how it fit with the theme (GET is literally entered in "Get back!" fashion, or TEG).

I always appreciate getting something I've never seen before, and the mechanics of this theme was pretty cool. I wish the phrases in parentheses ("Get back!", for example) had been tied to the clues or the answers somehow though, like if instead of PAGE TURNER, Victor had found a themer which had the *TEG* sequence which meant "Get back!" That's likely way too much to ask for, but it would have made a pretty cool idea the bomb dot com.

What a wild looking layout today, eh? Any time you have themers "bending," the fill becomes more difficult, and since two of the themers "bend" twice, it becomes even more difficult. Victor does go over the 78-word limit (80 slots today, although four get melded into others for a total of 76 entries), but he still manages to give us a couple of really nice pieces of long fill, CONGOLESE, JEZEBEL and WRIT LARGE being my favorite. What a neat phrase, that last one.

One issue I had was the segmented nature of the north and south regions. It's usually best if the puzzle has a more connected, flowing feel (more than just one way into a section), because if a solver gets stuck, he/she really gets stuck. That's what happened to me in the south today, unable to see AFORE what with the opaque cluing for the crossing answers. It also seemed to me that with such a closed-off section with little constraint, a better answer than AFORE could have been used. Who knows though, often times a constructor has a particular affinity for a particular word, and that's okay by me as long as it's intentional.

It sure is nice to get the Thursday workout. Will tends to switch things up so there are some easier ones (with more straightforward themes but difficult cluing) and there are some harder ones (mind-bending or rule-breaking themes). I'll almost always favor the latter, but I do appreciate the variety.

JimH notes: 80 words? You'd think that by looking at the grid but it depends how you count. There are 76 sets of clues and answers. Some bend.
1
T
2
A
3
L
4
E
5
S
6
Q
7
U
8
A
9
B
10
A
11
C
12
D
13
C
14
A
L
E
X
15
O
U
N
C
E
16
D
O
R
A
17
P
I
N
T
18
P
A
T
E
G
19
U
R
N
E
R
20
A
S
T
O
21
R
22
D
O
S
23
R
E
G
A
L
24
S
T
O
R
A
G
26
I
G
N
O
R
E
27
T
H
E
28
M
29
S
T
E
A
L
30
B
31
M
32
W
S
T
A
34
N
K
S
35
L
E
36
A
37
K
38
A
I
R
39
Y
O
U
40
S
K
I
41
A
X
I
42
S
T
O
W
N
44
S
45
J
E
A
N
46
T
A
47
S
E
R
48
K
A
49
L
E
50
C
51
O
L
L
E
G
52
G
A
Z
53
E
54
B
55
O
56
O
R
A
T
E
57
T
58
U
59
B
60
S
E
V
E
R
61
A
B
R
I
D
62
O
O
F
A
63
R
64
B
I
G
A
65
T
I
G
E
66
A
F
O
R
E
67
E
T
A
L
68
S
T
E
R
69
F
U
S
E
D
70
L
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N
S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,508
Across Down
1. "Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox," e.g. : TALE
5. Alternative to a game hen : SQUAB
10. Young brothers' band : ACDC
14. "A Clockwork Orange" protagonist : ALEX
15. 1/16 of a 17-Across : OUNCE
16. Explorer with a friend named Boots : DORA
17. See 15-Across : PINT
18. Gripping read ["Get back!"] : PAGETURNER
20. New York City's ___ Place : ASTOR
22. Two in Toledo : DOS
23. Fit for a king : REGAL
24. Oil containers ["Get down!"] : STORAGETANKS
26. Slight : IGNORE
27. The opposing side : THEM
29. Super bargain : STEAL
30. 6 Series cars : BMWS
35. Hiss cause : LEAK
38. Make public : AIR
39. First word of "Huckleberry Finn" : YOU
40. One passing a gate : SKI
41. Pole connector : AXIS
45. Actress Stapleton : JEAN
46. Mall cop weapon : TASER
48. Vegetable rich in calcium and vitamin K : KALE
50. Amherst and Orono, for two ["Get up!"] : COLLEGETOWNS
52. Where Maria and the Captain have their first kiss in "The Sound of Music" : GAZEBO
56. Speak to the people? : ORATE
57. Economy-size container : TUB
60. Lop off : SEVER
61. 1977 W.W. II film ["Get lost!] : ABRIDGETOOFAR
64. Nickname for Anaheim's Angel Stadium : BIGA
65. Buster Brown's dog : TIGE
66. In front of, old-style : AFORE
67. Name series condenser : ETAL
68. Suffix with mob : STER
69. Stuck together : FUSED
70. Perspective provider : LENS
1. Spanish starters : TAPAS
2. Those with no problem getting in : ALIST
3. Slowly : LENTO
4. Makes pay, in a bad way : EXTORTS
5. Concession : SOP
6. Campus area : QUAD
7. Golden rule word : UNTO
8. Superb, in slang : ACES
9. Ask for a biscuit, say : BEG
10. ___ gland : ADRENAL
11. Brazzaville inhabitants : CONGOLESE
12. Gloomy, in poetry : DREAR
13. Eric who wrote "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" : CARLE
19. Press : URGE
21. Cousin of "Olé!" : RAH
26. "___ over" : ITS
28. Cleveland was one in Buffalo : MAYOR
29. Leave scoreless : SKUNK
30. When repeated, a nursery rhyme call : BAA
31. Mingle : MIX
32. Presented prominently : WRITLARGE
34. First word of "Richard III" : NOW
36. Alias : AKA
37. Blood : KIN
42. More like sailors' talk, stereotypically : SALTIER
44. Have a dip : SAG
45. Prominent feminist blog : JEZEBEL
47. Assigned position : SEED
49. Velázquez's "___ Meninas" : LAS
50. Covers : COATS
51. What an astronaut may be in : ORBIT
53. What you might get for a party nowadays : EVITE
54. Founded : BEGAN
55. Stage in a Ph.D. program : ORALS
57. Tasteless stuff : TOFU
58. Subjects of some 911 calls : UFOS
59. Uncovered : BARE
62. Clodhopper : OAF
63. Like cherry-flavored things : RED

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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