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New York Times, Friday, January 24, 2014

Author:
Ian Livengood
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
554/12/20109/15/20164
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617667112
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1.64371
Ian Livengood

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 29 Missing: {FJQXZ} This is puzzle # 35 for Mr. Livengood. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ian Livengood notes:
Prediction: In a couple hundred years, YA will replace YOU in the English language. And YOU will seem as archaic as THOU does today. ... read more

Prediction: In a couple hundred years, YA will replace YOU in the English language. And YOU will seem as archaic as THOU does today. Might as well get ahead of the curve on that one.

Oh, MILE HIGH CLUB was my seed entry, obviously. But there's a special place in hell for 12-letter seed words. Never again, I tell ya.

Will Shortz notes:
Not surprisingly, Ian's puzzle is the first Times crossword ever to have the entry MILE-HIGH CLUB. The term was probably a little too ... read more

Not surprisingly, Ian's puzzle is the first Times crossword ever to have the entry MILE-HIGH CLUB. The term was probably a little too racy for my predecessors. But how to clue it? Ian's clue was "Group getting some air play?" I liked the misdirection of this, but the usage of the word "play" here felt too loose — and maybe too racy for the Times audience. Another clue I considered was "Group whose membership qualifications are up in the air?" — but that felt too easy. And "Set of screws on an airplane?" was just too rude. So I finally settled on what you see here.

Jeff Chen notes:
There are lots of people probably confused as to why they saw this puzzle last week. I don't know the exact details, but apparently ... read more

There are lots of people probably confused as to why they saw this puzzle last week. I don't know the exact details, but apparently there was a mixup at the Times, because Will wanted to run Kevin Der's puzzle just before the MIT Mystery Hunt, because it was actually integrated into the Hunt. Pretty cool, huh? Great idea, but the execution was lacking.

Onward and upward. Another fine offering from Ian, clean as a whistle. I have to think this follows more of his experiment placing the shorter stuff first, then seeing what he can get out of the longer answers. In general, I love the fact that there's hardly any ugly stuff (pretty amazing to have just AWS, HEPS, SSN, and only HEPS is really cringeworthy).

But the other day I had an interesting exchange with another constructor who's opposed to this approach, because it doesn't allow for as many new entries. Since you fix some constraints by placing shorties into the grid first, you limit your ability to insert truly snazzy stuff. I like the colloquial HOW ARE YA a lot and love MILE HIGH CLUB (if only this had been in another venue and we could have seen one of Will's clues), but other than that, nothing spectacular. And an entry like TRADE BOOKS is about as interesting to me as bond funds are to my nephew. (It's pretty fun to chase my nephew around, yelling about credit risk and durations. Ah, good times.)

For just about any constructor I'd stand up and clap upon encountering this puzzle. A 70-word puzzle is harder than a 72, and a 68 is verging on "only possible to do cleanly and sparkly for those named Berry." But Ian Livengood... well, he's Ian Livengood. I was expecting more sparkly goodness out of a 68-worder. It's kind of unfair, but once you achieve name-brand status a la BEQ, DQ, Nothnagel, Walden, et al, the ante is upped. Still, fun puzzle today; a good workout.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0124 ( 23,453 )
Across
1
Frigid : ARCTIC
7
Question at the door : WHOSTHAT
15
Miss out on a board : WAHINE
16
"'Sup?" : HOWAREYA
17
Subject for a golf lesson : STANCE
18
Emphatic approval : AMENAMEN
19
Petition : PLEA
20
51-Down and others: Abbr. : RTES
21
Nighttime : DARK
22
Hunky-dory : AOK
23
Clobbered : SMOTE
25
Birds in a clutch : HENS
26
Group that no one on earth has ever joined : MILEHIGHCLUB
29
Sun disk wearer, in myth : ISIS
30
Petition : SUE
31
"That's quite enough!" : STOPIT
35
Abridged : CONCISE
37
"What's it gonna be?" : YESORNO
38
Feature of a certain bandit : ONEARM
39
20-Down, e.g. : SUV
40
Nut : KOOK
41
What a nonconformist ignores : PEERPRESSURE
44
"___ magnifique!" : TRES
46
Big employer in Hartford, Conn. : AETNA
47
Canal checker?: Abbr. : DDS
48
One who's trustworthy? : HEIR
49
Doesn't just grab : AWES
50
Green shade : LIME
52
Public, as views : ESPOUSED
54
Instruments played with mizraabs : SITARS
56
"I'd like you to leave" : PLEASEGO
57
Nips in the bud : AVERTS
58
Bank guards? : SANDBAGS
59
Ambush locale in Episode 1 of "The Lone Ranger" : CANYON
Down
1
"Cute" remarks : AWS
2
Thallium sulfate, e.g. : RATPOISON
3
Figure out on the street? : CHALKLINE
4
Stick with it : TINE
5
One way to pay : INCASH
6
Civic leader? : CEE
7
"Beg pardon?!" : WHATTHE
8
Shop alternative : HOMEEC
9
Takes credit? : OWES
10
Gabriel or Giorgio : SAN
11
Basic library stock : TRADEBOOKS
12
Iron-pumper : HEMAN
13
Australia's ___ Rock : AYERS
14
Lose a lot? : TANK
20
Nissan ___ : ROGUE
22
Italian friend : AMICO
24
Question in a long-distance relationship : MISSME
25
Humble dwellings : HUTS
27
Civil engineering safety feature : ESCAPEROAD
28
Square, in old slang, as indicated by forming a square with one's hands : LSEVEN
32
1969 hit with the repeated lyric "Big wheel keep on turnin'" : PROUDMARY
33
So that one can : INORDERTO
34
Takes some hits : TOKES
36
Red states : IRES
37
Humble dwellings : YURTS
39
Short trunks : SPEEDOS
42
Possible protein shake ingredient : RAWEGG
43
Sample in a swab test : SALIVA
44
Weber per square meter : TESLA
45
Turn red, say : RIPEN
48
Drill bits? : HEPS
49
Away from port : ASEA
51
Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Hwy. : ITEN
53
Kind of port : USB
54
Pouch : SAC
55
Frequent form request: Abbr. : SSN

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?