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New York Times, Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Author:
Elizabeth C. Gorski
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2197/31/19952/23/20160
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6716363439243
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1.5430225
Elizabeth C. Gorski

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FJKQXZ} This is puzzle # 214 for Ms. Gorski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Elizabeth C. Gorski notes:
While shopping at the supermarket one evening, I was intrigued by a bin of fruit advertised as 'Avocado Pears.' I'd heard of them ... read more

While shopping at the supermarket one evening, I was intrigued by a bin of fruit advertised as "Avocado Pears." I'd heard of them before, but instead of picking up the fruit, my eye lingered on the lovely calligraphy in the sign — AVOCADO PEARS.

AVOCADO PEARS contains a number of words: CAD, EARS, ADO, PEA and DOPE. Is there a theme here? I wandered around the store, forgetting my shopping list and thinking of theme angles. At the checkout counter, the "inside dope" angle popped into my head. Aha! Are there phrases that share the word DOPE? On the walk home, I'd thought of GRAND OPERA (INSIDE DOPE's shadow).

Some ideas like BOTCHED OPERATION were discarded immediately. I don't like to solve puzzles with depressing ideas and words. I like puzzles that make solvers happy. WALDO PEPPER and PRIED OPEN (as you might have done with a delicious roasted chestnut last December) seemed to complement GRAND OPERA and AVOCADO PEAR.

Though the seed entry was inspired by a fruit, I never bought the Avocado Pear (which, I suspect is your basic, garden-variety avocado!) Have a good solve. I hope it brings some happiness to your day.

Will Shortz notes:
Generally I maintain two to 15 months of inventory of crosswords, depending on the day of the week. This puzzle, unusually, was ... read more

Generally I maintain two to 15 months of inventory of crosswords, depending on the day of the week. This puzzle, unusually, was accepted three years ago. I held it for so long partly because its theme is of a type that's become overly common, and I like to space out examples. But, also, as the standards for acceptance have risen over the years, grids that passed muster in 2011 might not do so today. Liz's original grid had a number of unappealing entries — RCPT, TASM, ENA, I IS, S DAK, and DELPY — which increasingly put me off. They're all gone now, and I think the result is pretty smooth.

Jeff Chen notes:
Liz gives us the INSIDE DOPE today, four instances of DOPE broken across two words. A 10/11/9/11/10 in a 74-word grid is a tall order. ... read more

Liz gives us the INSIDE DOPE today, four instances of DOPE broken across two words. A 10/11/9/11/10 in a 74-word grid is a tall order. Five theme entries already increases your level of difficulty, making the middle one nine letters ratchets it up further, and shooting for a 74-worder puts the triple hurt on a constructor. Bruce

I like the ambition of it, especially in all the long fill Liz had to incorporate. You'll almost always win my heart with BRUCE LEE in the grid, one of the few true Asian superheroes. Many a time in my youth I got saved from getting into a fight because kids assumed I knew kung fu. I didn't correct them, and I'll leave that ambiguous in case any of those people are reading. (If you are, I do.)

In the same vein, PHASERS in the same puzzle? You had me at BRUCE LEE, but dang! If only BRUCE LEE had been armed with two PHASERS in his movies, people would still be intimidated by me.

I had quite a bit of trouble finishing, actually giving up in the NW corner. I don't think I've ever been so happy to see a RRN (random Roman numeral) as I was to see LII. Even then, GRAND OPERA is something I'll have to add to my vocabulary, and the proximity of the random river and the Madonna song I had never heard of made it tough. If only I had paid attention in art class with BERNINI, everything might have fallen. As much as I like the high-class nature of BERNINI and GRAND OPERA, it would have been so nice if they hadn't crossed each other.

I tend to prefer hidden words when there isn't solely one single hidden word. Synonyms for DOPE would have been a nice touch, perhaps ASS, FOOL, TWIT, etc. hidden? It was good to read Will's comment about this puzzle being three years old. The crossword art form evolves so rapidly these days.

But overall, a good amount of fill tickled my fancy today, BUYS OUT one of those finance terms I personally dig, and a great clue for LIME TREE. "Why on earth would you pick fruits when they're still green?" I asked myself, just before head-desking.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1001 ( 23,703 )
Across
1
"Take ___" (1994 Madonna hit that was #1 for seven weeks) : ABOW
5
Formal, maybe : PROM
9
Formal wear accouterment : STUD
13
St. Petersburg's river : NEVA
14
"Peanuts" kid with a security blanket : LINUS
16
Build muscles, with "up" : TONE
17
Genre of Verdi's "Jérusalem" : GRANDOPERA
19
Lens holders : RIMS
20
"Come in!" : ENTER
21
"Fist of Fury" star, 1972 : BRUCELEE
23
Chapter 52, formally : LII
24
Guacamole base, in British lingo : AVOCADOPEAR
27
Making the rounds? : INORBIT
29
Yang's go-with : YIN
30
Cause of a blowup? : TNT
31
Cannes showing : CINE
32
Sound from a window ledge : COO
34
Do some housekeeping : DUST
36
Used a crowbar on, say : PRIEDOPEN
40
___ facto : IPSO
42
Crime lab sample : DNA
43
Amt. of cooking oil, maybe : TBSP
47
Spanish she-bear : OSA
48
Face the pitcher : BAT
51
Boorish : UNCOUTH
53
Robert Redford's "great" 1975 role : WALDOPEPPER
56
Vote for : YEA
57
Where you might pick fruit while it's still green : LIMETREE
58
Palliates : EASES
60
Something false in the Bible? : IDOL
61
Lowdown ... or a hint to 17-, 24-, 36- and 53-Across : INSIDEDOPE
64
Tizzy : SNIT
65
"Please, I can do it" : LETME
66
Violinist Leopold : AUER
67
"Hey, José!" : HOLA
68
Tire swing part : ROPE
69
Appalachians, e.g.: Abbr. : MTNS
Down
1
Good-looking? : ANGELIC
2
"Apollo and Daphne" sculptor : BERNINI
3
Warm response from a crowd : OVATION
4
Decline : WANE
5
Gaza grp. : PLO
6
Engraved letters? : RIP
7
End of an ancient period : ONEBC
8
Lexicographer James who was the O.E.D.'s first editor : MURRAY
9
___ throat : STREP
10
Facilities : TOILETS
11
Accidental : UNMEANT
12
Much of Arabia : DESERT
15
___ Arabia : SAUDI
18
In need of some color : DRAB
22
Publisher Nast : CONDE
25
End of a famous boast : VICI
26
Platte Valley native : OTOE
28
Workout count : REPS
33
Screwy : ODD
35
Golden rule preposition : UNTO
37
Bomb squad member : ROBOT
38
"Movin' ___" : ONUP
39
Glazier's unit : PANE
40
Words before "... and that's final!" : ISAIDNO
41
Soap ingredient : PALMOIL
44
Takes over the assets of, as a partner : BUYSOUT
45
Make more inclined : STEEPEN
46
"Star Trek" weapons : PHASERS
47
Studious-looking : OWLISH
49
Shower time : APRIL
50
Many a Taylor Swift fan : TEENER
52
Tribe of the Canadian Plains : CREE
54
What a big mouth might have : DELTA
55
Basil-flavored sauce : PESTO
59
Singer Lambert : ADAM
62
Little handful : IMP
63
Syllable repeated after "fiddle" : DEE

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?