New York Times, Friday, September 13, 2013

Author: Patrick Berry
Editor: Will Shortz
Patrick Berry
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2157/11/19999/16/20162
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
711241670492
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54980

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 30 Missing: {JQWZ} This is puzzle # 179 for Mr. Berry. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Patrick Berry notes: Unsurprisingly, I started this grid in the center. I've come to like making themelesses with wide-open centers, because if you ... more
Patrick Berry notes: Unsurprisingly, I started this grid in the center. I've come to like making themelesses with wide-open centers, because if you can complete the center you'll probably make it across the finish line. Making a wide-open corner is chancier, because you still have to fill in the equally-wide-open opposite corner—and for corner #2 you can't move the black squares (I have a lot of unmatched corners in my files).

My original plan was to have a central stack of lengths 10/11/9/11/10 with RUMOR HAS IT at the top, but that proved a bit too ambitious, so I added the cheaters on the sides to make the stack easier to fill. When choosing between adding dodgy entries and adding cheaters, always go for the cheaters.

Having decided that the U from RUMOR HAS IT would be a starting letter, I filled in UNDER as the start of that entry, knowing that would give me plenty of options for the remainder. Then it was just a long slow slog to find four more interesting Across entries that would create workable crossings. I ended up needing another pair of cheaters because of the –ORITE entry (METEORITE was the only familiar option), but again, it's a small price to pay for clean fill.

Will Shortz notes: I'm so impressed with every crossword Patrick constructs — fresh, interesting vocabulary, with no junk. He makes constructing ... more
Will Shortz notes: I'm so impressed with every crossword Patrick constructs — fresh, interesting vocabulary, with no junk. He makes constructing seem effortless, which it definitely isn't. His clues are excellent, too. My favorite one here is 35A.
Jeff Chen notes: I e-mailed with Patrick this week and wanted to share words from the master: 'I find it easier to comment on the construction of ... more
Jeff Chen notes: I e-mailed with Patrick this week and wanted to share words from the master: "I find it easier to comment on the construction of themed puzzles, since those tend to stick in my mind a little better. Themeless construction is almost like meditation — you go into a trance, then come out again when the grid's full."

I'll have what he's having.

A 66-word themeless may not seem all that different from a 70-worder, but there's an inverse exponential relationship at work. Consider the gigantic open space in the middle of the puzzle. Typically a partial, pluralized name, or other bit of crosswordese is required to make such a section work, but Patrick laughs at that notion. Every one of the entries is lively, and there's not a stinker amongst them. What a feat to stack five long phrases without needing a single compromise in the downs.

As with every PB construction, I studied this puzzle for a few hours, trying to unravel the mystery of what makes his themeless skills so strong. One thing I've picked out is that Patrick tends to prioritize in-the-language phrases which incorporate fewer "Scrabbly" letters (JQXZ) and use more of the "Wheel of Fortune" free letters (RSTLNE). This is in no way a knock on him — it's an observation of his greatness. Figuring out a way to make construction smoother while still maintaining liveliness in longer entries is one of the factors that distinguishes PB as the cream of the crop.

Fifteen minutes of bliss. A close second for this week's POW!

1
C
2
L
3
A
4
S
5
P
6
I
7
N
8
G
9
A
10
N
11
G
12
L
13
E
14
L
A
S
E
R
B
E
A
15
M
16
B
O
R
A
X
17
I
N
A
N
I
M
A
T
E
18
C
R
A
V
E
19
N
O
R
A
D
20
L
E
T
21
T
22
Y
O
U
23
G
L
U
T
E
24
I
25
E
A
26
S
27
T
E
R
N
28
T
I
L
E
29
R
30
U
31
M
O
R
H
A
S
I
T
32
O
N
E
33
C
O
N
A
R
T
I
S
T
S
34
L
A
N
D
L
I
N
E
S
35
F
36
O
U
R
L
E
T
T
E
R
37
O
38
F
39
T
40
C
O
I
N
P
U
R
S
E
S
41
B
R
I
E
42
H
U
L
K
I
N
G
43
S
44
C
L
E
R
A
45
A
L
P
46
G
O
47
B
48
S
49
R
A
G
E
S
50
I
T
A
51
L
52
Y
53
N
O
T
54
R
E
D
A
M
E
55
S
I
N
A
I
56
E
Y
E
O
P
E
N
E
R
57
E
P
S
O
N
58
S
T
E
T
S
O
N
S
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,320
Across Down
1. Holding : CLASPING
9. Way of looking at things : ANGLE
14. Reading light for an audiobook? : LASERBEAM
16. Detergent component : BORAX
17. Going nowhere? : INANIMATE
18. Pine for : CRAVE
19. Org. always headed by a U.S. general or admiral : NORAD
20. Baltic native : LETT
22. "After ___" : YOU
23. Seat cushions? : GLUTEI
25. Old airline name : EASTERN
28. Roofing choice : TILE
29. "According to reports ..." : RUMORHASIT
32. Wedded : ONE
33. They make a racket : CONARTISTS
34. Cell alternatives : LANDLINES
35. Like each word from this clue : FOURLETTER
37. Many a time : OFT
40. Change places : COINPURSES
41. White spread : BRIE
42. Heavy and clumsy : HULKING
43. White of the eye : SCLERA
45. The Dom is the third-highest one : ALP
46. A whole bunch : GOBS
49. Blows a fuse : RAGES
50. Nation with the most Unesco World Heritage Sites : ITALY
53. Winner over Ohio State in 1935's so-called "Game of the Century" : NOTREDAME
55. Suez Crisis setting : SINAI
56. Startling revelation : EYEOPENER
57. Xerox competitor : EPSON
58. Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane wore them : STETSONS
1. Hold firmly, as opinions : CLINGTO
2. Stuff used to soften baseball mitts : LANOLIN
3. Generally : ASARULE
4. Hill house : SENATE
5. "A whizzing rocket that would emulate a star," per Wordsworth : PRIDE
6. Big name in storage : IBM
7. Boortz of talk radio : NEAL
8. Swinger? : GATE
9. Diane Sawyer's employer : ABC
10. Land on the Arctic Cir. : NOR
11. Most dismal : GRAYEST
12. Mouthwash with the patented ingredient Zantrate : LAVORIS
13. Shakespearean stage direction : EXEUNT
15. Depression creator : METEORITE
21. Crab apple's quality : TARTNESS
24. Old-fashioned respirator : IRONLUNG
26. Not as outgoing : SHIER
27. Communist bloc news source : TASS
30. Experienced : UNDERGONE
31. Fountain drinks : MALTS
33. Wrist bones : CARPI
34. Lamebrain : LUNK
35. It's not fair : FOULTIP
36. Car collectors? : OILPANS
37. Greek salad ingredient : OREGANO
38. They arrive by the truckload : FIREMEN
39. Movie trailers, e.g. : TEASERS
40. Carriage with a folding hood : CHAISE
41. Turbine parts : BLADES
44. Advanced slowly : CREPT
47. School door sign : BOYS
48. Amendment to an amendment : STET
51. Southeast Asian language : LAO
52. Dark side : YIN
54. Ikura or tobiko : ROE

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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