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New York Times, Thursday, January 9, 2014

Author:
Caleb Emmons
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
66/21/20127/28/20150
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1011300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.72110
Caleb Emmons

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {KWX} Spans: 1 Minimum word length: 1 This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Emmons. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Caleb Emmons notes:
My 4-year-old son is very into earthquakes and volcanos. Always on the lookout for crossword theme, I was idly counting letters in the ... read more

My 4-year-old son is very into earthquakes and volcanos. Always on the lookout for crossword theme, I was idly counting letters in the book we were reading and was excited to discover that SAN ANDREAS FAULT was 15 letters. It wasn't long after that that this radical theme occurred to me. I'll leave it to the reader's imagination how the puzzle was constructed (hint: it wasn't too bad).

Because the theme affects so much of the puzzle, I tried to make both the entries and cluing easier than you would expect for a Thursday. I expect I undershot the mark, and Will has made some of the clues more difficult.

Will Shortz notes:
Of my three main test-solvers for the Times crosswords, one 'loved' this puzzle and two 'hated' it. No one was lukewarm about it! ... read more

Of my three main test-solvers for the Times crosswords, one "loved" this puzzle and two "hated" it. No one was lukewarm about it! Mindful of possible negative reactions, I eased up a few of the Down clues in the ninth column, to make the gimmick easier to see. I hope these changes bring a few more solvers into the fold. Notice the one-letter answer (T) at 65A — a first, as far as I can remember.

Jeff Chen notes:
The day to day administration of XWord Info has affected my solving experience in strange and unexpected ways. One of the aspects ... read more

The day to day administration of XWord Info has affected my solving experience in strange and unexpected ways. One of the aspects that's changed the most is regarding "trick" puzzles. Jim and I want to keep the database as clean and useful as possible (we fix up all the screwy answers), so every time we get something like today's, I either appreciate the trick even more as I perform the fix-ups, or grumble as I wade through C# coding syntax. Ah, the highs and lows.

I liked the concept today. I generally try not to link to old puzzles (because I don't need to remind people that most everything has been done in some way or another) but this one so heavily reminded me of Andrea Carla Michaels's very first NYT publication, taken to a new level of difficulty. I was a little frustrated as I was solving, but the trick seemed pretty neat once I cottoned to it (the entire right half of the puzzle "slipped" down one row). And who doesn't like seeing ATMSBROAD in the puzzle? Don't answer that. And don't worry, we fixed up that entry in the database.

I would have loved perhaps one or two more theme answers. It's pretty neat that the SAN ANDREAS FAULT is a "site of slippage" and BANANA PEEL / PATCH OF ICE fit the theme (and they intersect SAN ANDREAS FAULT!), but it felt slightly thin to me. It could have been really fun to open it up to other meanings of "slip", like giving someone the slip or a slip of the tongue. Even one more theme entry would have been enough for me.

There's some really nice stuff in the fill, especially PEACH FUZZ and MACH ONE. SUBDIVIDE isn't that snazzy in itself, but the clue did a great job in making it a strong entry. Overall though, with just three them entries, I would have liked more long, snappy fill. Yes, the theme entries intersecting makes it harder to work in good fill, but not that much harder. I would have liked to have seen more 7+ letter fill, even if that meant having more 3-letter fill in exchange. There's so much in the 4-, 5- and 6-letter range today, and any fill under seven letters is hard to make memorable. (You can press the "Analyze" button at the bottom of the page to get the exact distribution.)

Overall, nice concept with some unfulfilled potential.

Jim Horne notes:
Yes, this is the first puzzle in our database with a one-letter answer. A couple of puzzles have two-letter answers: this 2008 ... read more

Yes, this is the first puzzle in our database with a one-letter answer. A couple of puzzles have two-letter answers: this 2008 icing-around-the-outside grid by Joe Krozel has eight of them, Patrick Merrell's famous Mistakes puzzle from 2004 has two, and Henry Hook's puzzle from the same year has one.

1
Z
2
I
3
P
4
S
5
M
6
E
7
S
8
I
9
N
10
T
11
E
12
L
13
A
S
E
A
14
U
T
A
15
S
16
N
O
O
N
E
17
P
L
A
Y
18
T
O
N
H
19
D
I
R
G
E
20
P
E
C
21
B
A
N
A
I
22
E
S
T
E
R
23
A
S
H
24
T
O
N
25
N
N
26
A
P
E
E
L
27
F
O
O
T
28
E
D
Y
E
T
29
D
30
R
U
B
S
31
A
R
32
R
H
33
E
34
S
35
U
36
S
37
O
O
Z
E
38
B
R
E
39
L
O
40
Q
U
A
Y
41
E
N
Z
Y
42
M
E
43
A
A
44
C
U
B
E
D
45
A
T
46
M
S
B
47
R
O
A
D
48
P
49
A
50
T
C
H
O
F
51
A
D
L
I
52
B
53
S
54
S
A
R
A
H
55
R
A
56
I
C
E
57
V
A
T
58
P
R
O
T
O
59
S
U
T
E
60
J
I
B
E
61
E
S
S
E
N
62
E
L
E
R
63
E
D
E
N
64
D
E
E
R
E
65
T
M
S
66
B
E
L
T
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0109 ( 23,438 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
Flies (along) : ZIPS
5
Clutter : MESS
8
What spies collect : INTEL
13
Voyaging : ASEA
14
Flaming Gorge locale : UTAH
16
Who has scored more than 850 points in an official Scrabble game : NOONE
17
Frolic : PLAY
18
"Beloved" author Morrison : TONI
19
Bagpipe music, maybe : DIRGE
20
Delt neighbor : PEC
21
You might slip on it : BANANAPEEL
22
Fragrant compound : ESTER
23
Lucy ___, title character in Sir Walter Scott's "The Bride of Lammermoor" : ASHTON
25
Security Council veto : NYET
27
Sure-___ : FOOTED
29
Shellacs : DRUBS
31
First name in folk : ARLO
32
___ factor : RHESUS
37
Drippings, maybe : OOZE
38
City in southern California : BREA
40
Unloading point : QUAY
41
Food processor? : ENZYME
43
Overseas : ABROAD
44
Like some numbers and beef : CUBED
45
Bill producers, for short : ATMS
48
You might slip on it : PATCHOFICE
51
Extemporizes : ADLIBS
54
Theater's ___ Siddons Award : SARAH
55
Assign stars to : RATE
57
Distillery sight : VAT
58
Prefix with type : PROTO
59
Plaintiff : SUER
60
Agree : JIBE
61
Western German city : ESSEN
62
Shade providers : ELMS
63
Genesis locale : EDEN
64
Big name in tractors : DEERE
65
___-square : T
66
Wallop : BELT
Down
1
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee with only one Top 40 hit : ZAPPA
2
British ___ : ISLES
3
Sign of puberty, maybe : PEACHFUZZ
4
For example : SAY
5
Certain horror film villain : MUTANT
6
Alma mater for David Cameron : ETON
7
Site of slippage ... both geographically and in this puzzle : SANANDREASFAULT
8
Thorough : INDEPTH
9
"Make some ___!" : NOISE
10
Calorie-heavy dessert : TORTE
11
Richard ___, "War Zone Diary" journalist : ENGEL
12
What womanizers do : LEER
15
Glistening, as Christmas ornaments : SHINY
21
Haunted house sounds : BOOS
24
Actor Maguire : TOBEY
26
Lead-in to plane : AERO
28
Site of a piercing : EAR
29
Forest female : DOE
30
___ Burgundy, the anchorman in "Anchorman" : RON
33
Splenda competitor : EQUAL
34
Make pieces of pieces? : SUBDIVIDE
35
OPEC member: Abbr. : UAE
36
Barrett of Pink Floyd : SYD
38
___ Israel Medical Center : BETH
39
Experiment site : LAB
42
The speed of sound : MACHONE
44
See 46-Down : CODE
46
With 44-Down, "key" invention of the 1830s : MORSE
47
500 people? : RACERS
48
Carefully examine : PARSE
49
Appeared : AROSE
50
Something to pare, informally : TATER
52
Genesis locale : BABEL
53
Blocked vessel opener : STENT
54
Tore : SPED
56
Agenda part : ITEM
60
One of the Bushes : JEB

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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