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New York Times, Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Author: Tim Croce
Editor: Will Shortz
Tim Croce
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333/12/20106/27/20151
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01332816
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1.56001

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 82, Blocks: 40 Missing: {QX} This is puzzle # 28 for Mr. Croce. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tim Croce notes: Now, this may come as a surprise, but I rather like all the colorful ways in which the English language allows its speakers to ... more
Tim Croce notes: Now, this may come as a surprise, but I rather like all the colorful ways in which the English language allows its speakers to express themselves. This puzzle, to me, is a prime example of not only the diverse nature of English, but also the old truism that language is a reflection of culture. Namely, in the case of this puzzle, humanity has seen nonsense in everyday life so often that they have to keep making up words for it to keep from being bored of describing it.

I know it seems that the fill is a little constrained because of the sheer amount of theme content, but I put a lot of constraints on myself from the outset and, I think, minimized the junk given the number of theme squares. I moved the various theme answers around a lot — a LOT — and tried a few other words that just didn't make the cut (TRASH, RUBBISH, GARBAGE, BOSH being some of them) because of the effect they had on the fill. (8 pairs of theme answers mean a lot of permutations!) The only words that I didn't move around much were JIVE and JAZZ, because terminal J's and V's severely limit the options in a grid where my options were already considerably limited. Those two stayed where they were from the start of construction.

On the whole, I was so enamored of all these synonyms for "nonsense" that I felt like I had to wedge as many as I could into this puzzle ... even at the expense of going over the max word count significantly. It was a bit of a gamble to do that, but I'm glad that Will didn't see past all that nonsense.

Will Shortz notes: An 82-word construction is four words over my usual maximum for a daily puzzle, but this is done to accommodate — count 'em ... more
Will Shortz notes: An 82-word construction is four words over my usual maximum for a daily puzzle, but this is done to accommodate — count 'em — 16 theme answers. They're all nice ones, too. A very elegant construction.
Jeff Chen notes: Perhaps the hardest Tuesday NYT I've ever done. It's pretty neat, not at all BUSHWA (my favorite themer by a mile!) to see 16 ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Perhaps the hardest Tuesday NYT I've ever done. It's pretty neat, not at all BUSHWA (my favorite themer by a mile!) to see 16 different synonyms for "Nonsense" — I had no idea there were so many of them, all colorful — but the opaque cluing sure made for a difficult solve. The 16 essentially unclued entries made it almost like solving the puzzle with just down clues, an exercise some of the speedsters sometimes engage in.

It's rare that Will allows a higher word count than the maximum of 78 (for a 15x), but there are definitely examples. Something like today's puzzle definitely pushes the envelope of construction, almost necessitating the push to 82 words.

It's also unusual to have so many unsavory short answers, but today we see ANIGH, DERAT, ROW B, AT YA, STELA, etc. With so much theme density, it's almost impossible to avoid these. I've highlighted all the themers so you can better appreciate how much their placement constrained the construction. Consider the east section, where TRIPE, BUSHWA, and HOGWASH sit, just as one example. There are limited options for where STRUNG sits, and once you place that word, that east region becomes very difficult to cleanly fill. Perhaps one of ANIGH and STELA would be fine for an early-week puzzle, but it's a bit unappetizing to have them in such close proximity.

I personally would have preferred slightly less theme density in order to clean up the fill, but I'm sure there will be solvers arguing that their favorite "Nonsense" phrase was left out. Overall, I always appreciate seeing someone push the boundaries, and perhaps this will stimulate other ideas for future disestablishmentarianism. Plus, BUSHWA!

JimH notes: Jimmy WEBB at 62 Down wrote an amazing number of hit songs.
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0114 ( 23,443 )
Across Down
1. Nonsense : JIVE
5. Nonsense : JAZZ
9. Nonsense : HOKUM
14. "California ___ Alles" (classic punk rock song) : UBER
15. James who wrote "A Death in the Family" : AGEE
16. Car with a stylized caliper in its logo : ACURA
17. Target of NASA's Rover mission : MARS
18. B&Bs : INNS
19. Clear of vermin à la the Pied Piper : DERAT
20. Nonsense : PRATTLE
22. Nonsense : TWADDLE
24. Near-prime seating : ROWB
26. Overseer of N.Y.C. subways : MTA
27. Nonsense : HOTAIR
31. "Didn't you leave out something ...?" : AND
33. Emulates Jay Z and Master P : RAPS
37. Score before a service break, maybe : ADOUT
38. Windshield material : GLASS
40. ___ King Cole : NAT
41. Nonsense : BILGE
42. Nonsense : ROT
43. Nonsense : TRIPE
45. "Well, ___ be!" : ILL
46. River crossed by the Pont d'Avignon : RHONE
48. Kingly : REGAL
49. "Sax on the Beach" musician John : TESH
51. '50s presidential nickname : IKE
52. Nonsense : BUSHWA
53. "Thumbs up" response : AOK
55. Sailor's tale : YARN
57. Nonsense : BLATHER
61. Nonsense : HOGWASH
66. Some jabs and turns : LEFTS
67. "Right back ___!" : ATYA
69. Second hearing? : ECHO
70. Skylit rooms : ATRIA
71. Tiny bit of time: Abbr. : NSEC
72. Thin Russian pancake : BLIN
73. Nonsense : HOOEY
74. Nonsense : TOSH
75. Nonsense : BUNK
1. Hurdle : JUMP
2. Certain metal beam : IBAR
3. Wang of fashion : VERA
4. Long ago, once : ERST
5. Turnkey : JAILOR
6. Nixon's number two : AGNEW
7. Kind of state that's peaceful : ZEN
8. Piquancy : ZEST
9. Attacked : HADAT
10. Brand of mops and brooms : OCEDAR
11. Member of a Turkish minority : KURD
12. Russia's ___ Mountains : URAL
13. Australian pal : MATE
21. More hackneyed : TRITER
23. Iraq war concerns, for short : WMDS
25. Nonsense : BALONEY
27. Chewing one's nails, e.g. : HABIT
28. The black swan in "Swan Lake" : ODILE
29. E-ZPass charges : TOLLS
30. Follower of Jul. : AUG
32. Silver of fivethirtyeight.com : NATE
34. Near, poetically : ANIGH
35. Fruit also known as a prairie banana : PAPAW
36. Inscribed stone slab : STELA
38. Understand, informally : GROK
39. Drawn (out) : STRUNG
44. Lo-___ (not so clear) : RES
47. Shout after a series of numbers : HIKE
50. McDaniel of "Gone With the Wind" : HATTIE
52. Bring up, as a subject : BROACH
54. "Can you see" preceder : OHSAY
56. "Sure, I remember!" : AHYES
57. Shrug-worthy : BLAH
58. Actor Jared of "My So-Called Life" : LETO
59. Do that may have a pick : AFRO
60. Tirade : RANT
62. Jimmy who wrote "Galveston" and "MacArthur Park" : WEBB
63. Rights org. : ACLU
64. Leg part : SHIN
65. Beep : HONK
68. General on a menu : TSO

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle.

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