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New York Times, Saturday, January 27, 2018

Author: Mark Diehl
Editor: Will Shortz
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7311/11/19848/18/20183
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3214719352
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1.571038
Mark Diehl

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 32 Missing: {QX} This is puzzle # 69 for Mr. Diehl. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Mark Diehl notes: Confession: Sometimes when I'm writing the clues for a completed puzzle I will overreach the boundaries of what is a sound and ... more
Mark Diehl notes:

Confession: Sometimes when I'm writing the clues for a completed puzzle I will overreach the boundaries of what is a sound and workable clue. This is more common for me while trying to be "cute and clever" in fashioning end-of-the-week clues. Fortunately for the solving audience, Will Shortz and his crew are experts at discerning solid clues and reining in this "creative" tendency of mine when it runs amok.

I always do a post-mortem comparison of the final clues against what I originally sent in as a means of honing my clue-writing skills. The results of this usually fall into various categories:

  1. the clues are the same or essentially the same (yay, nailed it!)
  2. the clues are different, but both are technically sound (editor's choice)
  3. my clue was too vague (meh!), too restrictive (meh!), or inaccurate (ugh!!). For THINK YOUNG: Keep a positive state of mind (close [maybe], but not exactly accurate)
  4. my clue included a word in the puzzle (yikes!). For CLAM JUICE: Bloody Caesar ingredient (directly below BLOODBORNE [double yikes!])
  5. my clue tried to be cute or clever and fell flat (thud). For BLADES: Parts from the prop department? (as in propeller, but the joke fails since BLADES could be props in a murder mystery play [hindsight doh!])

Here's hoping you found the polished puzzle entertaining.

Jeff Chen notes: A Diehl low-word-count themeless! (insert mixture of excitement and apprehension here) Love those big, juicy, wide-open white ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

A Diehl low-word-count themeless! (insert mixture of excitement and apprehension here)

Love those big, juicy, wide-open white spaces in the NW / middle / SE. Yowza, those are tough to fill with color and cleanliness. All three had some great entries and some compromises:

NW: MARIE CURIE! ORANGE SODA! That's the way to anchor a themeless swath.

TUN, eh. MID-MARCH… doesn't that feel arbitrary? Does it open the door for LATE AUGUST, LAST FALL, etc.?

Middle: CLAM JUICE! BLOOD BORNE! With STEADY DIET and EARTHLINGS running through them? Awesome.

BEAN PLANTS … okay. Not exciting, but workable. TRASH MOUTH? Huh? POTTY MOUTH, TRASH TALK, both yes. TRASH MOUTH … not so much.

SE: TEAM EVENTS are fun at the Olympics. FM STEREO isn't exciting anymore, but it does the trick.

ERRATA PAGE … yeah, I guess it works. Maybe it would have been more exciting with a clever clue?

Overall, a real mixture of great and head-scratching stuff. All in all, fair, but tough. Very tough! It's rare for me these days to not finish a Saturday puzzle, and this one defeated me. On the one hand, it made me feel stupid for not being able to overcome the challenge. But it also makes me want to improve for the future.

Keep ‘em coming, Mark! (But maybe, just a tad easier? Please?)

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0127 ( 24,917 )
Across Down
1. When St. Patrick's Day is celebrated : MIDMARCH
9. Side with? : ABUT
13. First two-time Nobelist : MARIECURIE
15. Deep red pigment : HEME
16. Slice, e.g. : ORANGESODA
17. Place for a big wheel : HELM
18. Company that launched the game FarmVille : ZYNGA
19. Insignificant one : TWERP
21. A lot of Top 40 music : RAP
22. Space race? : ALIENS
24. Word with mother or sharp : TONGUE
26. Call of the wild? : ROAR
27. One spewing obscenities : TRASHMOUTH
31. Wine container : TUN
32. Things with pods : BEANPLANTS
33. Ingredient in a Caesar cocktail : CLAMJUICE
34. Like the hepatitis B and C pathogens : BLOODBORNE
36. LinkedIn listing : JOB
39. Be open-minded, maybe : THINKYOUNG
40. Trigger-to-cylinder connection : PAWL
41. Kept close to one's chest? : HUGGED
42. Twain of note : SHANIA
44. Hellenic character : ETA
45. Make no effort to stop something : SITBY
49. Make right : EMEND
50. Bad way to get to work : LATE
52. Extra leaf in some books : ERRATAPAGE
54. Freshly : ANEW
55. Curling and rugby, but not boxing, in the Olympics : TEAMEVENTS
56. Hard to get around, say : WIDE
57. Radio option with improved sound quality : FMSTEREO
1. Title girl in a 1961 Ricky Nelson hit : MARYLOU
2. Resident of Isfahan : IRANIAN
3. Home run, in slang : DINGER
4. Actress Boone of NBC's "The Blacklist" : MEGAN
5. Nickname for a pal : ACE
6. Feature of many a jalopy : RUST
7. The bird in Hitchcock's "The Birds" : CROW
8. Palm, in a way : HIDE
9. "That's the spot!" : AHH
10. Woe of a bar habitué : BEERGUT
11. Some high points of Mötley Crüe? : UMLAUTS
12. Relative of tofu : TEMPEH
13. ___ Effect (supposed I.Q. boost from music) : MOZART
14. Opposite of 22-Across : EARTHLINGS
20. Pulpy refuse : POMACE
23. Coconuts, to a maroon on an island, maybe : STEADYDIET
25. Fourth little piggy's share : NONE
28. Macho type : RAMBO
29. Green-skinned fruit : ANJOU
30. Reject : SPURN
32. Chaps : BLOKES
33. D.C. body : CONG
34. Native of Thimphu : BHUTANI
35. Tied up, in the operating room : LIGATED
36. Witty Garofalo : JANEANE
37. Because of : OWINGTO
38. Barbershop assortment : BLADES
39. Something you may lay down or break : THELAW
40. Baby : PAMPER
43. Not just fling : HEAVE
46. Forbidden, in a way : TREF
47. First name in horror : BRAM
48. Vegetables high in vitamin C : YAMS
51. Pecorino cheese source : EWE
53. Holiday abroad : TET

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle.

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