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New York Times, Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Author: Bruce Haight and Peter A. Collins
Editor: Will Shortz
Bruce Haight
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
231/3/20133/15/20171
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2863220
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58022
Peter A. Collins
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985/2/20061/11/201711
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51123341294
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.564283
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 40 Missing: {XZ} Grid has diagonal symmetry This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Haight. This is puzzle # 77 for Mr. Collins. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: BRUCE: Pete Collins and I have been friends since childhood, when our families used to vacation together on a small lake in ... more
Constructor notes:

BRUCE: Pete Collins and I have been friends since childhood, when our families used to vacation together on a small lake in Wisconsin. He agreed to mentor me in 2012 when I got interested in constructing crosswords. I got this electricity puzzle idea when I was "block-doodling" one day on the computer and noticed I could make a pretty realistic looking kite. My wife Liz suggested I tie in Ben Franklin so I worked some lightning bolts into the grid. The first version had BEN and KEY attached to the bottom of the kite string, but that did not fly. I loved the grid art though, so I shipped the puzzle to Pete to see if he could get this project off the ground — I'll let him finish the story. Thanks for everything, Pete!

PETE: Bruce and I share an interest in "grid art." I think this grid is particularly nice, with the kite and lightning bolts. But make no mistake — this one is Bruce's baby (I'm just the godfather). We went back and forth several times, with the kite being oriented various ways, before we settled on this arrangement. In addition to the grid art, I really like the highly unusual diagonal symmetry — and the three pairs of themed answers. And our reward for getting this puzzle published? We get three Benjamins!

Jeff Chen notes: As I've said before, I'm a sucker for a neat visual puzzle, and Bruce and Pete deliver today. I didn't recognize the odd diagonal at ... more
Jeff Chen notes: As I've said before, I'm a sucker for a neat visual puzzle, and Bruce and Pete deliver today. I didn't recognize the odd diagonal at first, but when I uncovered BENJAMIN, I got a big smile, recognizing the black squares were in the shape of a kite. Very cool! What a neat idea, to use an unusual type of symmetry in order to create a beautiful image.

It's very rare to have a puzzle with diagonal symmetry. At first glance it might be hard to recognize, but draw an imaginary line from the SW to NE corner, and you'll see that the puzzle is symmetrical along that line. Check out our unusual symmetry page — only three other puzzles in the Shortz era display this diagonal symmetry. And for my money, this one stands out even further because of the clever use of black squares.

One more comment about the visual element, and I'll go onto something else, I promise. Aside from the kite, did you notice the two Tetris pieces floating in the grid? At first I thought they were a little unsightly because they have extra black squares (cheaters), but after I finished, I noticed that they looked a lot like lightning. Might just be me, but I stood up and clapped.

Because of the unusual symmetry, the theme answers had to be broken up, BENJAMIN / FRANKLIN, DISCOVERING / ELECTRICITY, and the brilliant GO FLY / A KITE to tie it all together. The necessary cross-referencing did put me off a little, but I suppose it couldn't be helped. Perhaps cutting down some of it, i.e. if 16A had just been [With 23-down, puzzle subject]? Also, DISCOVERY OF felt much more natural to my ear than DISCOVERING, but that might be six of one, half a dozen of another.

And then there's the fill. Love, love, love seeing DR DOOM in there, one of the greatest supervillains of all time, along with JA RULE, OLD TIMER, GEISHA crossing SENSEI, and the BRAINY IBM PC. Sure, there's an OLEO of the MARNE and YSER rivers, SSE, ETAT, A TEST stuff, but I personally will take that trade-off any day. I appreciate super-clean puzzles, but when I get so much snazz, I don't mind the price of admission at all. I know some people will disagree, sticking to their guns about puzzles needing to be ultra-smooth and clean of dreck, but I like this trade-off a lot. Maybe it would be possible to make this puzzle both super-clean AND totally smooth, but I doubt it given all the constraints.

Bravo! Even more fun than the time I dissected an instant camera, stupidly ignoring the WARNING: GIANT SHOCK POTENTIAL DO NOT OPEN label. I tell you what, that capacitor was much bigger than I anticipated. Thanks for nothing, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,492
Across Down
1. Archenemy of the Fantastic Four : DRDOOM
7. Tech product introduced in '81 : IBMPC
12. Rapper with the 2002 #1 hit "Always on Time" : JARULE
13. Make into cornrows : BRAID
14. Like 50/50 vis-à-vis 60/40 : EVENER
15. Merits : EARNS
16. With 23-Down, what 27-Across/32-Down is often credited with : DISCOVERING
18. Song girl who's "sweet as apple cider" : IDA
21. Chicago-to-Tampa dir. : SSE
22. Sup : DINE
23. Coup d'___ : ETAT
24. Yellowfin tuna, on menus : AHI
25. On vacation : AWAY
26. Trumpet : BLARE
27. With 32-Down, person associated with the scene depicted in this puzzle's grid : BENJAMIN
30. Silences : QUELLS
31. Added slyly, as a comment : EDGEDIN
32. Mink, e.g. : FURCOAT
33. Young chap : LAD
34. What Command-P means on a Mac : PRINT
35. With 44-Down, advice to 27-Across/32-Down? : GOFLY
38. Herringlike fish : SHAD
39. Towel holders : RODS
43. Continental coin : EURO
44. "Absolutely right!" : AMEN
45. "Yeah, right!" : IBET
46. Suffix with señor : ITA
47. Real stinker : SKUNK
48. Milan's La ___ : SCALA
49. Martial arts instructor : SENSEI
51. Veteran : OLDTIMER
53. Cope : HACKIT
54. Say wrongly : MISSTATE
55. Military command : ATEASE
56. Precursor to talk shows for Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, in short : SNL
57. River of W.W. I : YSER
1. Provided the music for a party, informally : DJED
2. Enraptured : RAVISHED
3. Order often "on the side" : DRESSING
4. Post office scale unit : OUNCE
5. Yellow spread : OLEO
6. Game show maven Griffin : MERV
7. Spanish or Portuguese : IBERIAN
8. Opposite of dense : BRAINY
9. River of W.W. I : MARNE
10. Worrisome engine sound : PING
11. Some 60-mo. investments : CDS
17. Buzz Aldrin's real first name : EDWIN
18. Writer Calvino : ITALO
19. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" girl : DARLA
20. "This is only ___" : ATEST
23. See 16-Across : ELECTRICITY
24. $5 bill, informally : ABE
25. Surrounded by : AMID
26. Seriously overcook : BURN
28. Dessert brand once pitched by Bill Cosby : JELLO
29. The Beatles' "___ in the Life" : ADAY
30. British pound, informally : QUID
32. See 27-Across : FRANKLIN
34. Sports wonders, say : PHENOMS
35. Dancer in a kimono : GEISHA
36. Best in an annual Nathan's contest, say : OUTEAT
37. Site of 27-Across/32-Down's ambassadorship : FRANCE
38. The Mustangs of the American Athletic Conf. : SMU
40. 2000s White House family : OBAMAS
41. Remove, as spam : DELETE
42. One not blinking, perhaps : STARER
44. See 35-Across : AKITE
47. Dos x tres : SEIS
48. A, B and F, e.g., in D.C. : STS
50. Jamaican music genre : SKA
52. Fast way to connect, briefly : DSL

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

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