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New York Times, Saturday, December 3, 2016

Author: Jason Flinn
Editor: Will Shortz
Jason Flinn
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1.53030
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 22 Missing: {GJKQWXZ} Spans: 8, (2 quad stacks) Average word length: 6.34 This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Flinn. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Jason Flinn notes: This puzzle has a good deal of TV nostalgia for me. As a kid, I spent many a rainy Saturday afternoon watching programming called ... more
Jason Flinn notes:

This puzzle has a good deal of TV nostalgia for me. As a kid, I spent many a rainy Saturday afternoon watching programming called "Creature Double Feature". Also, "Doctor Who" (11-down) and baseball games (34-down). Speaking of baseball, is there an NYT crossword jinx (like the reputed Sports Illustrated cover jinx)? When I constructed this puzzle, Pablo Sandoval was a huge free-agent signing for my Red Sox. While the puzzle was in the queue, however, his production took a big nosedive, making this entry a lot more obscure than I had hoped for.

The NE corner was originally pretty rough, so I was happy to find the TARDIS/LINDT crossing that really patched this section up. However, as is often the case in open puzzle layouts, this didn't solve the problem entirely but instead pushed the trouble elsewhere. In this case, the tradeoff is the ORM/ORY crossing in the middle (which is ugly but at least well-contained).

I hope some of you spend a nice Saturday afternoon with this puzzle. Will and Joel did an especially nice job on the clue editing, toning down some of my overly-tricky offerings and adding a nice splash of modern references.

Jeff Chen notes: I generally shudder when seeing quad-stacks. Because there are so many inflexible crossings to work with, it's inevitable that there ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I generally shudder when seeing quad-stacks. Because there are so many inflexible crossings to work with, it's inevitable that there are going to be at least a handful of groan-worthy globs of crossword glue holding a quad together.

Or is it? There's hardly anything in this super-smooth grid. SEE IT is a partial in disguise ("Now you ___ …") and the ORY / OR M middle made me cringe, but that's all? Couldn't be.

Well, if there's very little crossword glue, then the long entries are bound to be dreadfully boring.

Or are they? Besides SYSTEMS ANALYSTS, which I've seen anchor stacks many a time, the other seven are very good to great entries. MASTER CRAFTSMAN kicking off the puzzle? Yes! CREATURE FEATURE! Heck yeah! EMANCIPATION DAY! I didn't know what that was, but what a great occasion to learn about! I'm using a lot of exclamation points because I really enjoyed how snappy those long entries are!

(The engineer in me even admits to liking SYSTEMS ANALYSTS, much to the chagrin of the constructor in me.)

And getting ETERNITY, FEED LOT, ART STUDIO / SLEEP AIDS, HASIDIM, SOY PROTEIN running through those stacks, making for a wide-open solve … whoa!

I didn't totally get the RENTS clue: [Gets things on time?] I imagine it's sort of an "on borrowed time" type of wordplay? Anybody? Bueller?

After making hundreds of crosswords over the years, it's rare that I sit in such awe of a construction. Even after emailing back and forth with Jason to try to learn some techniques from him (neat that our Finder helped him discover TARDIS when he needed a six-letter word starting with TARD??), I'm still well out of the realm of total comprehension. I really enjoy getting a peek into a master's head.

I've made some triple-stacks before, even some with snazzy entries and clean crossings (don't ask about all the other stinkers), but this my friends, seems like real-life magic. Loved it.

1
M
2
A
3
S
4
T
5
E
6
R
7
C
8
R
9
A
10
F
11
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12
S
13
M
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A
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N
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C
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F
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A
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17
V
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18
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N
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19
E
T
O
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N
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L
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L
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S
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24
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U
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B
30
O
O
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31
D
V
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M
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O
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Y
34
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E
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H
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M
P
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A
F
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R
A
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P
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 24,497
Across Down
1. True artisan : MASTERCRAFTSMAN
16. "Them!" or "The Fly" : CREATUREFEATURE
17. Personal stakes : VESTEDINTERESTS
18. Something a server can give you : INTERNETADDRESS
19. Where many saw action in the '40s : ETO
20. Nickelodeon's "___ Declassified School Survival Guide" : NEDS
21. Swiss chocolate brand : LINDT
22. Currency replaced by the euro : LIRA
23. Message that might be spelled with rocks : SOS
24. Foreign agreement : OUI
26. Start : ONSET
29. Start up, in a way : BOOT
31. Some library offerings : DVDS
32. Old-fashioned : MOLDY
33. Suffix with transit : ORY
34. Get the picture : SEEIT
35. Perfectly, after "to" : ATEE
36. Distinctive part of a bison : HUMP
37. "Naturals" : AFROS
38. ___ Sremmurd, hip-hop duo with the 2016 #1 hit "Black Beatles" : RAE
39. Squeal : RAT
40. Bit of blogorrhea : RANT
42. Spooks : SPIES
44. Giverny backdrop for Monet : POND
45. You may give it when you are running late for a meeting, informally : ETA
48. Juneteenth : EMANCIPATIONDAY
51. Shouted : RAISEDONESVOICE
52. Crashed and burned : ENDEDINDISASTER
53. Some STEM jobs : SYSTEMSANALYSTS
1. John or Christine of Fleetwood Mac : MCVIE
2. "___ you coming?" : ARENT
3. Sixth: It. : SESTO
4. London tourist destination, with "the" : TATE
5. What you've been waiting for, you might think : ETERNITY
6. Comic Rita : RUDNER
7. Bemoaned : CRIEDABOUT
8. Gets things on time? : RENTS
9. Skin Bracer alternative : AFTA
10. Place to take stock? : FEEDLOT
11. Time machine on "Doctor Who" : TARDIS
12. Back : STERN
13. Pondered : MUSEDOVER
14. Oil production site : ARTSTUDIO
15. Noted Volstead Act enforcer : NESS
22. Start of a news story, in journalism lingo : LEDE
23. Refined nutritional ingredient in many cereals and meat products : SOYPROTEIN
25. Followers: Suffix : ISTS
26. ___ Little, stickup man on "The Wire" : OMAR
27. Fewer : NOTASMANY
28. They can be helpful after retiring : SLEEPAIDS
30. Agatha Christie's "N ___?" : ORM
31. Skillful : DEFT
34. Pablo ___, 2012 World Series M.V.P. nicknamed "The 44-Down" : SANDOVAL
36. Orthodox group : HASIDIM
39. Fall back : RECEDE
41. Child actress Jones of "Family Affair" : ANISSA
43. Many a map of Hawaii : INSET
44. See 34-Down : PANDA
45. Drops a line, maybe : EDITS
46. "It is silent," musically : TACET
47. Bill of the 1960s-'70s Weather Underground : AYERS
48. Part of the conjugation of the Spanish "to be" : ERES
49. Lily of the opera : PONS
50. Asking too many questions : NOSY

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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