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New York Times, Friday, May 23, 2014

Author: David Steinberg
Editor: Will Shortz
David Steinberg
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4556717161
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1.652113

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 62, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQY} This is puzzle # 27 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes: At the time I submitted this puzzle (early 2013), I had been experimenting with sticking chains of the same bigram in the ... more
David Steinberg notes: At the time I submitted this puzzle (early 2013), I had been experimenting with sticking chains of the same bigram in the centers of themeless grids with staircases of 7-, 9-, and 11-letter entries. I wasn't expecting a grid with a chain of double Zs to fill very well, since Z is such an uncommon letter, but I decided to give such a grid the old college try (or should I say the old high school try?). To my surprise, the fill for the middle section turned out pretty cleanly, and I liked how it contained a handful of Friday/Saturday-level entries that don't show up very often in crosswords, such as DEGAUSS, FOOZLED (which Will changed to FOOZLER, probably to allow for the stronger down entry EMBEZZLER), POSEURS, HENNAED, and TONTINE. I got lucky with the upper left and lower right corners, as the handful of letters forced by the middle section of grids like this one don't always allow for a clean fill. The cluing went relatively quickly, since the grid contains many fewer words than usual. My favorite clue is "Make less attractive?" for DEGAUSS, an entry that one wouldn't expect to have many cluing options that aren't straight definitions. I hope you all enjoy solving my puzzle!
Jeff Chen notes: What a cool swath of Z's in today's puzzle (highlighted below). Sometimes I get the feeling a constructor is attempting something for ... more
Jeff Chen notes: What a cool swath of Z's in today's puzzle (highlighted below). Sometimes I get the feeling a constructor is attempting something for its own technical challenge, producing a product that is much more interesting to other constructors than to all the solvers out there. But today, I really liked the stunt, David's bonus of eight Z's grouped toward the center &mdash in a Z(ish) shaped grid! It can be hard to make a themeless stand out from the pack, and I like what he's done here. Would have been perfect if the Z's had been in the exact middle of the grid, but oh well.

A nice construction today, especially given the extreme challenge. A 62-word themeless is no small feat, only a few having achieved it in the NYT modern era. After reviewing a lot of the puzzles on that list, I get the feeling that in the past, the feat was so unprecedented that quite a bit of ugly stuff was allowed to pass, entries with excessive S's and made-up sounding words with -ER endings. Glad that things are changing, Will publishing something like today's puzzle no longer for the stunt in itself, but demanding a higher quality of fill in order to pass the bar.

So much for my 58-word themeless including the words CLOGGERS and PULLERERS.

And a specific shout-out to my main man, Norm MINETA, after whom the San Jose International Airport is named. Whoop whoop! Not often that we get high(-ish) profile Asian role models in the world, so I'm super glad to see this ex-U.S. representative and former cabinet member get his due. For those of you wincing at a name you think isn't gridworthy, maybe it's time to learn a little something.

That isn't to say the fill was perfect, of course. PERF is kind of an ungainly bit to have at the top of the grid; STLO and PRENAMES are not any constructor's first choices. And hoo boy, did I have trouble at the MONTERO / TONTINE / GAZZARA / FOOZLER section. Pretty sure I'm not a fan of TONTINE, as it has an ADIT or ETUI type feel to it, but FOOZLER... I think I might love that word. Still undecided. I'll try it out for a while and see if it sticks.

Some beautiful clues today, [It's a long shot] excellently repurposing "long shot" for HOMER. And the mechanical engineer in me absolutely loved [Make less attractive?] for DEGAUSS. Not sure if screens still require degaussing these days, but that clue is no foozler.

Super tough construction today, with a high level of success, at least for this solver.

JimH notes: The grid shape resembles a Z. Does that mean this puzzle has a theme?
1
C
2
A
3
R
4
O
5
U
6
S
7
E
8
S
9
P
10
E
11
R
12
F
13
O
V
E
R
S
T
A
T
14
E
15
O
V
A
L
16
L
A
T
E
A
U
T
U
M
17
N
18
S
E
G
A
19
A
I
R
G
U
N
S
20
B
O
21
D
E
R
E
K
22
N
L
E
A
S
T
23
D
E
G
A
U
S
S
24
D
I
A
N
A
25
P
I
Z
A
R
R
O
26
E
N
T
O
27
G
U
Z
Z
L
E
S
28
R
G
S
29
D
A
Z
Z
L
E
D
30
M
31
P
32
S
33
T
I
Z
Z
I
E
S
34
W
E
R
E
35
F
O
O
Z
L
E
R
36
M
I
X
E
R
37
H
E
N
N
A
E
D
38
V
I
S
I
N
E
39
M
O
N
T
E
R
O
40
S
E
N
E
C
A
N
41
O
M
N
I
42
A
U
43
N
T
I
E
M
A
M
E
44
P
E
E
N
45
T
O
L
D
T
A
L
E
S
46
E
R
L
E
47
B
O
T
A
N
I
S
T
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,572
Across Down
1. Tears : CAROUSES
9. Philatelist's abbr. : PERF
13. Blow up : OVERSTATE
15. Zero, for one : OVAL
16. When Winesap apples ripen : LATEAUTUMN
18. Genesis source : SEGA
19. Weapons in Olympic shooting events : AIRGUNS
20. Actress in a best-selling 1979 swimsuit poster : BODEREK
22. Braves' division, briefly : NLEAST
23. Make less attractive? : DEGAUSS
24. Mythical hunter : DIANA
25. Notable buried at the Cathedral of Lima : PIZARRO
26. Inside opening? : ENTO
27. Downs rapidly : GUZZLES
28. N.F.L. positions: Abbr. : RGS
29. Blew away : DAZZLED
30. Ottawa electees, for short : MPS
33. Flusters : TIZZIES
34. Existed : WERE
35. Bungler : FOOZLER
36. Soda, at times : MIXER
37. Tattooed temporarily : HENNAED
38. Red-eye remedy : VISINE
39. Mitsubishi model whose name means "huntsman" in Spanish : MONTERO
40. Describing an ancient tragedian : SENECAN
41. One of the books in the Book of Mormon : OMNI
42. Rosalind Russell title role : AUNTIEMAME
44. Ball ___ : PEEN
45. Lied : TOLDTALES
46. Filmmaker ___ C. Kenton : ERLE
47. Worker who often takes leaves : BOTANIST
1. It doesn't hold water : COLANDER
2. Proving beneficial : AVAILING
3. Camp David and others : RETREATS
4. Purple-flowered perennial : OREGANO
5. Patriotic chant : USAUSA
6. Means of attracting publicity : STUNT
7. Takes courses? : EATS
8. World Series of Poker champion ___ Ungar : STU
9. Affected sorts : POSEURS
10. Extremely : EVERSO
11. Fulminates : RAGES
12. Kind of jacket : FLAK
14. Crooked bank manager, maybe : EMBEZZLER
17. Arizona city across the border from a city of Sonora with the same name : NOGALES
21. Belled the cat : DARED
23. Confused : DIZZIED
25. Solve : PUZZLEOUT
27. Ben of "Run for Your Life" : GAZZARA
29. Moon of Saturn : DIONE
30. Latin America's northernmost city : MEXICALI
31. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John : PRENAMES
32. Least flustered : SERENEST
33. Life insurance plan : TONTINE
34. Member of a biblical trio : WISEMAN
35. Kitchen bulb? : FENNEL
36. Democrat in the Bush cabinet : MINETA
37. It's a long shot : HOMER
38. "Casablanca" actor Conrad : VEIDT
39. Emulate Eeyore : MOPE
40. Capital of France's Manche department : STLO
43. Head, in slang : NOB

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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