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New York Times, Friday, January 10, 2014

Author:
Patrick Berry
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2297/11/199911/4/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
741241679512
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54980
Patrick Berry

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 183 for Mr. Berry. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
I hold Patrick Berry in such awe that (I hope he doesn't mind my telling you this) I was flabbergasted to find he'd misspelled the ... read more

I hold Patrick Berry in such awe that (I hope he doesn't mind my telling you this) I was flabbergasted to find he'd misspelled the answer at 7D. The 1990s rap duo, known for wearing their clothing backward, is spelled Kris Kross. KRISS KROSS, with two doubled S's, is the name of the skeleton/fill-in puzzle in Dell puzzle magazines, popular since the 1930s. I'm glad I was able to save this answer with a new clue, because the middle area of the grid was not going to be "fixed"!

Jeff Chen notes:
Patrick Berry earns his second POW! with this beaut. Why do I have a feeling that I'll be handing out many more POWs to him in the ... read more

Patrick Berry earns his second POW! with this beaut. Why do I have a feeling that I'll be handing out many more POWs to him in the future? Given his propensity to make innovative grids incorporating very nice fill and little to no dreck, I'm looking forward to it. And when POWs rise to be worth one beeeellion lek (I'll pay everyone when we meet up in Albania), he'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

At XWord Info we have a page displaying common grid patterns. Scrolling down, you'll see that several of them are of the themeless variety. It's totally fine for a constructor to take a grid from a grid library and fill it, but there's an artfulness, a higher skill to crafting a grid from scratch. That might sound hoity-toity, but the big advantage it brings to the table is the ability to fit in exactly the lengths of entries you desire. Not only that, but you can adjust block placement as you construct, allowing for snappier or smooth fill. Often times I find moving a few blocks here or there solves a lot of problems.

There's something awesome about hugely wide-open grids with patterns I've never seen before. I had a moment of awe with my first glance of the giant tilted football in the middle of the grid. You might ask, why don't more constructors attempt grids like this? Having tried it myself, I can answer that: because it's insanely hard to do with beautiful execution. There are so many pitfalls, so many times when you work yourself into an ugly entry and have to reboot ad nauseam.

As with every puzzle, not everything came up roses. I wasn't a fan of THENCEFORTH, which at the best felt like a "glue" entry to hold things together, and MACHOS feels iffy. Also, today's Scrabble score is pretty low, just counting one V and a smattering of Ks. But that's all a very small price to pay for the amazing nature of today's grid.

Yadda yadda yadda great entries like CRACK SHOT, CHEAT SHEETS, SCRATCH PADS, COPACABANA, BATH PILLOW (all in the center section!) blah blah blah nary a bad entry etc etc etc wonderful clues like "Cribs" for CHEAT SHEETS and "One who wants in on the deal" for CARD PLAYER. Seriously though, I joke to assuage my grief that I'll likely never be as good as Patrick. But that's okay; being around greatness inspires me to work harder. I'll be studying this one further to see what I can learn.

1
A
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C
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K
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D
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0110 ( 23,439 )

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Across
1
Attaché feature? : ACCENT
7
Lawrence who co-wrote "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" : KASDAN
13
Seat of Ireland's County Kerry : TRALEE
14
One of the former Barbary States : TRIPOLI
15
Pride : lions :: ___ : crows : MURDER
16
"Don't get so worked up!" : CHILLOUT
17
Ordered pair? : SIDEDISHES
19
___ running : ARMS
20
Moving briskly : SPRY
21
Public record? : CENSUS
23
Not down with anything : WELL
24
Deadeye : CRACKSHOT
27
Surprised expression : ISAY
28
Many old B films : OATERS
29
Constant critic : NAG
31
Leery of being noticed, maybe : SHY
32
Decides on : OPTSFOR
33
Symbol of liberty in the French Revolution : ELM
34
Last course, often : PIE
35
Domineering men : MACHOS
36
Gridiron cry : HIKE
37
They deliver on Sunday : PREACHERS
39
Ideal world? : EDEN
40
Sulking peevishly : INAPET
41
Underattended, say : DEAD
42
Grocery staple : EGGS
45
Tub accessory for the head : BATHPILLOW
48
Old-fashioned promotions : PRINTADS
50
La to la, e.g. : OCTAVE
51
Common gathering in a public square : PIGEONS
52
Bet : STAKED
53
Menelaus' kingdom : SPARTA
54
Menorah inserts : TAPERS
Down
1
Bread boxes? : ATMS
2
Common casino locale : CRUISESHIP
3
One who wants in on the deal : CARDPLAYER
4
Aged : ELDERLY
5
Emotionally demanding : NEEDY
6
Dean's "Lois & Clark" co-star : TERI
7
Word puzzle popular since the 1930s : KRISSKROSS
8
Bother : AIL
9
Unspecific recipe quantity : SPLASH
10
"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a ___": Milton Berle : DOOR
11
Diploma holder, for short : ALUM
12
Tiny criticisms : NITS
14
Ever since that time : THENCEFORTH
16
Cribs : CHEATSHEETS
18
Brainstorming session aids : SCRATCHPADS
22
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signatory, briefly : USSR
23
Flimsy lock : WISP
24
1978 disco hit featuring the warning "Don't fall in love" : COPACABANA
25
Body of water belatedly added to the course of the Erie Canal : ONEIDALAKE
26
Discussed : TALKEDOVER
30
Mafioso foes : GMEN
32
Bahla Fort site : OMAN
36
Clicker, of a sort : HEELTAP
38
Michael who once led Disney : EISNER
41
Decrees : DICTA
42
Omar of TV and film : EPPS
43
Clutch : GRIP
44
Memory unit prefix : GIGA
46
Diplomatic assignment : POST
47
Joins : WEDS
49
Unsteady walker, maybe : TOT

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

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