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New York Times, Friday, June 20, 2014

Author: Martin Ashwood-Smith
Editor: Will Shortz
Martin Ashwood-Smith
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836/5/199110/21/20169
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000246215
ScrabRebusCirclePangrampre-WS
1.520017

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 31 Missing: {KQZ} Spans: 8, (2 quad stacks) This is puzzle # 76 for Mr. Ashwood-Smith. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Martin Ashwood-Smith notes: I'll come right out and say it: sorry about the two 15-letter 'ONE'S' phrases in the top area of the puzzle. There are two ... more
Martin Ashwood-Smith notes: I'll come right out and say it: sorry about the two 15-letter "ONE'S" phrases in the top area of the puzzle. There are two reasons for this:

(1) Sheer laziness on my part. 15-letter "ONE'S" phrases tend to be easier to use, especially in stacked-style grids, and ...

(2) This puzzle was constructed more than two years ago, and the whole anti-ONES movement had yet to gain full momentum. So back then, I tended to use them a lot more than I would now.

Moving right along, a little about some of the other words in the puzzle:

LETTS: He's currently starring on Broadway in "The Realistic Joneses". Last year, he won a Tony for best actor in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and way back in 2008, his play "August: Osage Country" won both a Tony and a Pulitzer. Sure beats [Some Balts].

OREO: Back in Maleska's day, this would have been clued : "Mountain: comb. form". Brand names were largely verboten.

ETTORE: Is Italian for Hector, apparently.

HERSHEY BAR: I understand these are quite popular in America.

OLIOS: Ah yes, some old-fashioned crosswordese. You're welcome.

THES: It's what us Brits drink in France instead of cafés. Technically we call this a FPOC (French Plural of Convenience).

STAFFA: Wordsworth, and a whole pile of his poet buddies, wrote oodles about this island, and Mendelssohn based part of his "Hebrides Overture" on it.

LORA: If you thought there'd be loads of famous women who would spell their name this way, you'd be wrong.

Jeff Chen notes: Ah, another from the quad-stack master, MAS. I really liked the open layout of this one, the puzzle flow being pretty darn good. That ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Ah, another from the quad-stack master, MAS. I really liked the open layout of this one, the puzzle flow being pretty darn good. That bottom stack sure contains a lot of great stuff. When your 15's have to carry so much of the burden for pizzazz, WISDOM OF SOLOMON is the way to do it. ASCENT OF EVEREST felt a little newsy at first, but I think I like that one quite a bit too.

I like the direction in which MAS is moving, not just being content with quad stacks in themselves. The crossword art form is always evolving, and if you don't try new things as a constructor, you'll get left behind. In the past, we "just" saw triple stacks and quad stacks, but MAS's recent ones have all given us such nice long answers crossing through the stacks. NEON TETRA and HERSHEY BAR through those stacks? Yes, please! And note how those long guys keep the puzzle flow open. As a solver, I really appreciate that.

WHEN IM GONE... I'm a complete moron when it comes to pop music, perhaps only better than my (identical twin) brother, who once asked, "Who's this 'eh-my-nem' guy?" Ha ha ha, he's so out of it! (Sadly, I couldn't identify Eminem at that point, either.) Anyhoo, WHEN IM GONE is a song I recognize now, so that's saying something. Still, I like prefer the NEON TETRA type answers, unless the song is wildly popular, like BABY GOT BACK.

The top stack isn't quite as snazzy, especially given the two ONES phrases (glad MAS is humble enough to admit this issue up front) and the abundance of common letters. So many RSTLN E type squares. And there are some rough crossings, as with most quad stacks. The SOHNE / TRE area, STAFFA/SNERD... well, I won't belabor the point.

The first ever quad stack was a huge eye-opener, a visual stunner. Now that we've had a good handful of them, it's going to require raising the bar to keep them interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing how MAS can evolve, what different types of grids he can give us in the future. I'm betting we'll see more innovations out of him.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,600
Across Down
1. Prepare to speak, say : CLEARONESTHROAT
16. Nurse : RESTORETOHEALTH
17. Not now : ATSOMEOTHERTIME
18. Puts somebody out : STEPSONONESTOES
19. FICA fig. : SSN
20. ___ corde (piano direction) : TRE
21. Ganders, e.g. : HES
22. "Bummer" : AWGEE
25. President's first name on "The West Wing" : JED
26. Slicker go-with : RAINHAT
29. With 35-Down, slightly stale : DAY
30. Choice for bow-making : ELM
33. Inexperienced : AMATEUR
34. Their contents have yet to be dealt with : INBOXES
36. Tenor Vickers : JON
37. Defense Department dept. : NSA
38. She played Detective Sasha Monroe on "Third Watch" : NIALONG
39. Greetings : HIS
40. Dummy in "Stage Door Canteen" : SNERD
41. Cellphone feature, informally : CAM
42. Fr. religious title : STE
43. Hotel waiter? : CAB
46. Florida preserve? : ORANGEMARMALADE
52. Keen insight, with "the" : WISDOMOFSOLOMON
53. Peak performance in 1953? : ASCENTOFEVEREST
54. Focus of HGTV's "House Hunters" : REALESTATESALES
1. Philistine : CRASS
2. "August: Osage County" playwright Tracy : LETTS
3. Westphalian city : ESSEN
4. Looking down on? : ATOP
5. DVD-___ : ROMS
6. Snack since 1912 : OREO
7. Fish with iridescent blue stripes : NEONTETRA
8. Automaker Bugatti : ETTORE
9. German boys : SOHNE
10. The old you? : THEE
11. Snack since 1900 : HERSHEYBAR
12. Named names, maybe : RATTED
13. Crazy quilts : OLIOS
14. "Look ___ now!" : ATME
15. Alternative to cafés : THES
22. Raid target : ANT
23. Top 10 hit for Eminem or 3 Doors Down : WHENIMGONE
24. Eponymous German physicist : GAUSS
25. Aerosmith's titular gun carrier : JANIE
26. Gandhi opposed it : RAJ
27. ___, amas, amat : AMO
28. Crime writer Rankin : IAN
29. China shop purchase : DINNERSET
30. Intro to biology? : EXO
31. Business bigwig Blavatnik : LEN
32. Composition of Accent seasoning : MSG
35. See 29-Across : OLD
39. Big name in oratorios : HANDEL
40. Scottish island that's home to Fingal's Cave : STAFFA
41. First stabber of Caesar : CASCA
42. 1930 tariff act co-sponsor : SMOOT
43. Joe, for one : CAMEL
44. "___ of Rock 'n' Roll" (1976 Ringo Starr hit) : ADOSE
45. Propensities : BENTS
46. "Hug ___" (Shel Silverstein poem) : OWAR
47. Exhibit upward mobility? : RISE
48. Some paddle wielders, briefly : EMTS
49. Propose in a meeting : MOVE
50. Bass line? : ALES
51. Romance novelist ___ Leigh : LORA

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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