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New York Times, Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Author: Jim Hilger
Editor: Will Shortz
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1212/11/20081/23/20180
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0015600
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1.60320
Jim Hilger

This puzzle:

Rows: 16, Columns: 15 Words: 80, Blocks: 44 Missing: {VYZ} Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Hilger. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jim Hilger notes: It's always my pleasure to have a puzzle published in the Times. I like to kid myself that my purely accidental inclusion of the ... more
Jim Hilger notes:

It's always my pleasure to have a puzzle published in the Times. I like to kid myself that my purely accidental inclusion of the "MR. T" entry in this puzzle's fill is what earned it a "yes" vote, on the third submission try.

My vision for this puzzle was originally as a hardish Thursday, where the ten-letter T-shaped themers were a little more resistant to discovery. But I think the more whimsical approach employed here is a good one. Quite a few of my Thursday-level clues didn't make the cut this time, however.

I am a big fan of left-right symmetry. It's great for drawing giant T's, and other stuff, with black squares. That smaller, upside-down T is just a reflection, by the way.

Jeff Chen notes: Neat concept; I almost missed a layer. Once I uncovered FORMATION, I stared at it, trying to parse the revealer as 'form a T ion.' ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Neat concept; I almost missed a layer. Once I uncovered FORMATION, I stared at it, trying to parse the revealer as "form a T ion." That would explain the T-shaped pairs (highlighted), yeah? Now, I'm not as well versed in chemistry as others, but I have a reasonable background. So I struggled to remember what the heck a "T ion" was.

A common T formation. (Yes, I know it doesn't really look like a T.)

Thankfully I (finally) figured out that the T of black squares in the middle of the puzzle precedes FORMATION, to make T FORMATION the revealer. Makes a whole lot more sense! Nice idea, the missing T of T FORMATION (a common football offensive configuration) not really missing at all.

And very cool to have the added touch of each pair of themers cross with the letter T. Nice touch.

So many constraints today, resulting in some gluey fill. I can ABIDE by A BOAT in the north section, as that area would be rough to fill smoothly. Once you fix WATER and TIGHT in place and need a long piece of fill with PAST TENSE, that area become terribly inflexible. I don't like EDILE much at all, but I'm willing to put up with a bit of ugly stuff for a neat idea.

Similar issues abound, around the other T pairs, especially those ones in the bottom corners. I absolutely loved [Something in brackets], a brilliant clue for TAX RATE, as well as [Hacker's need] for AXE, having nothing at all to do with a computer hacker. Love it! I didn't love TRS or BESTIR or ABAB, though. Tough trade-offs with this type of crossing answers theme.

Where I would have liked a bit more finesse was in the top two corners. Since those sections are so isolated, they could have been executed without ANON and AGUE (while still keeping the J and Q). As much as I like the Shakespeare reference in ANON, that could have been changed easily to AVON. And AGUE could have been ACT I, when Romeo and Juliet meet!

Overall, a strong idea requiring a lot of constraints, with a bit too much INUTILE stuff. Aw(n)!

1
J
2
U
3
T
4
S
5
W
6
A
7
T
8
E
9
R
10
F
11
A
12
Q
13
S
14
A
N
O
N
15
A
B
I
D
E
16
A
G
U
E
17
W
I
K
I
18
L
O
G
I
C
19
R
U
I
N
20
S
T
E
P
21
K
A
H
L
O
22
L
A
P
D
23
P
24
A
S
T
T
E
N
25
S
E
26
A
27
F
28
T
E
R
29
O
F
30
T
31
E
32
N
33
B
L
A
T
A
34
N
35
T
36
I
37
N
U
T
I
L
E
38
O
A
S
39
P
E
I
40
M
O
L
41
M
E
W
42
M
R
T
43
A
W
N
44
P
U
F
45
E
N
E
46
B
E
E
47
C
H
E
S
48
A
R
O
49
U
S
A
L
50
F
O
R
M
51
A
T
I
O
N
52
T
53
I
54
T
L
E
55
I
D
I
56
D
U
57
T
58
C
59
H
60
O
R
R
61
A
T
S
E
62
A
63
R
O
O
64
L
E
A
65
D
66
E
T
H
67
N
B
68
A
69
T
E
A
M
70
E
N
C
O
R
E
S
71
T
A
X
R
A
T
E
72
T
A
K
E
I
N
73
B
E
S
T
I
R
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0121 ( 23,815 )
Across Down
1. Protrudes, with "out" : JUTS
5. With 7-Down, incapable of leaking : WATER
10. Online info sources : FAQS
14. When Juliet tells the Nurse she will come in from the balcony : ANON
15. Stand : ABIDE
16. Chill producer : AGUE
17. Popular online reference, for short : WIKI
18. Mr. Spock's forte : LOGIC
19. Wreck : RUIN
20. Flight component : STEP
21. Self-portraitist Frida : KAHLO
22. "Lethal Weapon" force, briefly : LAPD
23. History is recorded in it : PASTTENSE
26. With 28-Down, disagreeable quality of diet sodas : AFTER
29. With 30-Down, frequently : OFTEN
33. Not at all hidden : BLATANT
36. Pointless : INUTILE
38. Defense grp. since 1948 : OAS
39. J.F.K. Library architect : PEI
40. Chem. unit : MOL
41. Catty remark? : MEW
42. "Rocky III" actor (and an apt answer in this puzzle) : MRT
43. Wheat bristle : AWN
44. Sta-___ fabric softener : PUF
45. Suffix with ethyl : ENE
46. Trees with triangular nuts : BEECHES
48. Alarm clock's purpose : AROUSAL
50. Following the nine black squares in the center of the grid, a hint to five pairs of answers in this puzzle : FORMATION
52. With 54-Down, song with the same name as its album : TITLE
55. Exiled Amin : IDI
56. With 57-Down, meal for which everyone pays his or her own way : DUTCH
60. Bruins legend Bobby : ORR
61. Totally befuddled : ATSEA
63. A. A. Milne hopper : ROO
64. Shows the way, biblically : LEADETH
67. Heat or Thunder : NBATEAM
70. Performance extras : ENCORES
71. Something in brackets : TAXRATE
72. Adopt, as a stray : TAKEIN
73. Incite to action : BESTIR
1. Thriller set on Amity Island : JAWS
2. College course part : UNIT
3. Joint action : TOKE
4. Small excerpt : SNIPPET
5. Beats the rap : WALKS
6. "Three Men in ___" (Jerome K. Jerome novel) : ABOAT
7. See 5-Across : TIGHT
8. Roman magistrate : EDILE
9. Scout's mission, for short : RECON
10. Socialists, on the political spectrum : FARLEFT
11. Lago or río contents : AGUA
12. Witty bit : QUIP
13. Texter's button : SEND
24. Ally of the Cheyenne: Var. : ARAPAHOE
25. Chitlins, ham hocks, etc. : SOULFOOD
26. Enola Gay's payload, in brief : ABOMB
27. Roadside attention-getter : FLARE
28. See 26-Across : TASTE
30. See 29-Across : TIMES
31. Justice Kagan : ELENA
32. Handrail support : NEWEL
34. Built later : NEWER
35. Some sheet metal workers : TINSMITHS
36. Fidgety : IMPATIENT
37. Michael of "Flashdance" : NOURI
47. North-of-the-border grid org. : CFL
49. First Burmese prime minister : UNU
51. YouTube video lead-ins : ADS
52. Sign of availability : TOLET
53. "The Faerie Queene" woman : IRENA
54. See 52-Across : TRACK
57. See 56-Across : TREAT
58. Kinkajou cousin : COATI
59. Go yard, in baseball slang : HOMER
61. "... ___-foot pole!" : ATEN
62. Simple quatrain pattern : ABAB
65. Buck passer, maybe : DOE
66. Verdi aria "___ tu" : ERI
68. Hacker's need : AXE
69. ___-80 (classic computer) : TRS

Answer summary: 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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