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New York Times, Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Author: Daniel Landman
Editor: Will Shortz
Daniel Landman
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Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Landman. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Daniel Landman notes: It may surprise some to hear that I have fond memories of high school geometry. But I hope that even solvers who don't share my ... more
Daniel Landman notes:

It may surprise some to hear that I have fond memories of high school geometry. But I hope that even solvers who don't share my appreciation for the subject matter will pick up on the fact that this is more than just a connect-the-dots puzzle; the clues to the theme entries invoke the standard labeling convention for POLYGONs (starting at one VERTEX and going either clockwise or counterclockwise).

My goal when thinking up this puzzle was to create a grid featuring multiple images created by connecting common nodes. To maintain clarity, I kept it simple and went with basic shapes. This made for a pretty blah set of theme answers, taken at face value, but I think the conceit of the cluing redeems this.

I imagine there may be some geometrical nitpicking about the RIGHT TRIANGLE outlier — it's the only non-quadrilateral, and it's more specific than any of the other polygons (the TRAPEZOID in the grid is technically a "right trapezoid" too). But I think the right triangle has enough of its own identity as a basic shape to merit inclusion. Also, every RECTANGLE is technically a PARALLELOGRAM as well, but I decided to go with the casual name for each polygon, so this didn't really concern me — no one in their right mind would see a rectangle and immediately think "parallelogram."

I hope you all enjoy the puzzle. I'm especially looking forward to seeing the XWord Info guys work their color-coding/animation magic on all the polygons — I always get a kick out of that stuff!

Jeff Chen notes: Great concept. Jim and I often debate what's important in a crossword — he usually argues that the theme is by far and away the ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Great concept. Jim and I often debate what's important in a crossword — he usually argues that the theme is by far and away the most important aspect, while I prefer a balance of theme and smooth execution. Today though, I agree with him. The theme tickled me so much that the few slight dings rolled off my back.

Lida Rose, I'm home again, Rose ...

Great idea to lay out a set of letters such that certain groupings form certain shapes — and regular words to boot! Geometry was my gateway drug into math and math puzzles, so seeing GEAR laid out as a PARALLELOGRAM and LEAK as the only RECTANGLE was really cool.

It would have been absolutely perfect if the letter set was a little tighter, for instance if ELK were the only RIGHT TRIANGLE that spelled a real word, or even if all RIGHT TRIANGLES (like ARK and LEG and GEL) had been pointed out. POLYGON is a neat catch-all, but it would have been even neater if it pointed out only the shapes which didn't fall into the other classes. Kind of strange that ELK was pointed out in two places, while KEG was ignored.

Loved these clues:

  • [Find (out)] makes FERRET such a fun entry. The animal itself is cute and interesting, but FERRET OUT is a vivid term.
  • LOB is slang for an [Easy question]. GRAPEFRUIT is even better, but I still like getting a LOB.
  • [Jet setting] confused the heck out of me, obscuring that NW corner. Beautiful a-ha to figure out that a HANGAR is a setting for many jets.

I could do without the creepy NECRO prefix in my puzzle, but getting DOGGONE and the bonus themer of VERTEX was worth it.

This puzzle interested me so much that it made me curious to dig deeper and study its execution. I love when that happens.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 23,913
Across Down
1. Expressions of frustration abroad : ACHS
5. Key of Mozart's last piano concerto : BFLAT
10. Accustomed (to) : USED
14. 2013-'14 N.B.A. All-Star Joakim ___ : NOAH
15. Peanut-butter-and-chocolate innovator H. B. ___ : REESE
16. Record for later viewing, maybe : TIVO
17. Spanish lady : DONA
18. Resident of 123 Sesame Street : ERNIE
19. Midmonth day : IDES
20. ELK, geometrically, in the finished puzzle : RIGHTTRIANGLE
23. At dinner for two, say : ONADATE
24. Trident points : TINES
27. Limey's drink : GROG
28. EARL, geometrically : TRAPEZOID
32. Quiet : MUM
34. ___-lacto-vegetarian : OVO
35. Europe's highest volcano : ETNA
36. Easy question : LOB
39. ELK, EARL, LEAK or GEAR, geometrically : POLYGON
42. Cartoon yelp : EEK
43. Some nest eggs, briefly : IRAS
45. Not quite the majors : AAA
46. Like Twizzlers : RED
48. LEAK, geometrically : RECTANGLE
51. Yacht spot : COVE
54. "Wake Up With Al" co-host : ROKER
55. For the most part : LARGELY
58. GEAR, geometrically : PARALLELOGRAM
62. Give a grilling? : CHAR
64. Dispense with : WAIVE
65. Ear-related : OTIC
66. Symbol of authority : REIN
67. Quirkier : ODDER
68. "99 Luftballons" singer : NENA
69. Excels over, in slang : OWNS
70. Inclined : LEANT
71. Halves of an old item? : EXES
1. Mixing male and female characteristics, slangily : ANDRO
2. Whispering sweet nothings : COOING
3. Jet setting : HANGAR
4. Iran, formerly : SHAHDOM
5. Baseball Hall-of-Famer George : BRETT
6. Find (out) : FERRET
7. Director Riefenstahl : LENI
8. ___-Pacific : ASIA
9. First-time voter, often : TEEN
10. Avail oneself of : UTILIZE
11. Incidental remark : SIDENOTE
12. D-Day minus one : EVE
13. Commendable activities : DOS
21. Advice to a base runner : TAGUP
22. Verizon forerunner : GTE
25. Article in Die Zeit : EINE
26. Neb. neighbor : SDAK
29. 5-Down, for his entire career : ROYAL
30. Mean: Abbr. : AVG
31. D : POOR
33. Spooky sound : MOAN
36. Line to Penn Sta. : LIRR
37. Non-fruit smoothie flavor : OREO
38. Lumbago : BACKPAIN
40. Jet ___ : LAG
41. Dead: Prefix : NECRO
44. Bear's Wall Street partner : STEARNS
47. Darn : DOGGONE
49. Flight board abbr. : ARR
50. Nearing midnight : ELEVEN
52. What each of this puzzle's circled squares represents : VERTEX
53. Puppet lady of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" : ELAINE
56. Red flag, maybe : ALERT
57. Some fitness centers : YMCAS
59. Unaccounted for : AWOL
60. Put on board : LADE
61. "___ Rose" (song from "The Music Man") : LIDA
62. ___-Magnon : CRO
63. Chop down : HEW

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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