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New York Times, Wednesday, October 1, 2014

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

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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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. 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 Down
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
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.

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