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New York Times, Friday, October 17, 2014

Author: Michael Ashley
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
117/29/200110/9/20160
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7000022
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56001
Michael Ashley

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JQVXZ} This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Ashley. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael Ashley notes: In my themeless crosswords, I like to lead off with something that makes me appear considerably more tech savvy and up-to-date ... more
Michael Ashley notes: In my themeless crosswords, I like to lead off with something that makes me appear considerably more tech savvy and up-to-date than I actually am. In this case, we start with a MOBILE APP at 1-Across. Since I don't have a cell phone — and I may yet become the last person in America not to have one — I've never actually used a mobile app, let alone downloaded one. But never mind: in the age of Google, even a tech ignoramus can feign knowledge by dropping a trendy app name or two.

Then, I tried to work in as many long, lively entries as I could. In this puzzle, there's 14 answers of 9 letters or more, which I suspect is pretty much my theoretical limit, although I'm sure the younger, less computer-challenged set has improved on that. I tried to make the answers widely and interestingly varied in terms of learning categories, though, and I'm pleased with how the puzzle came out.

Jeff Chen notes: Today brings us a grid based on the common four-quadrant design, which Michael extends by sticking in a pair of long entries in the ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Today brings us a grid based on the common four-quadrant design, which Michael extends by sticking in a pair of long entries in the middle. I like the efforts to go the extra mile. And entries like MOBILE APP and SEEN IT ALL are the types of debuts right up my alley. It took me a while to piece together that NW corner, but when I did, those two answers sparkled like nuggets of panned gold.

Why did it take me a while to finish that NW? One reason is how sectioned off it is from the rest of the puzzle. It does have two entries that can get you in: ESTATES and PYLES, but since I already knew PYLES was going to end in an S based on the clue, that really only left me one entry point. I did really like the clever clue for ESTATES; I just wish I had had an additional shot to break into that corner, as I couldn't see ESTATES for the longest time.

George Lindsey

I didn't know there was more than one PYLE, and I found it amusing to read about Gomer Pyle and Goober Pyle. There's something so comforting about the simplicity of old-timey sitcom characters.

Joel Fagliano's comment from a week ago help solidify some thoughts I'd been mulling over. I'm sure there are die-hard RITA MORENO and ALAN MOORE fans out there, but I so much more enjoy uncovering entries like STRUCK DUMB and SOLO SHOTS, as the latter two give me personally so much more satisfaction. It's tricky — full names can make for beautiful feature entries. But I personally like to see only one (or maybe two if they're very well-known) such proper name feature entries in any given themeless, especially considering short fill will often require a lot of propers. When a solver hits a lot of "you either know it or you don't" entries like DIRAC, BRODY, WAITE, AMAHL, PYLES, ERIS, GAEL, etc. it has the potential to reduce overall satisfaction.

And while I like the clue echo of I AM AMERICA and THE KINGDOM both being from 2007, those do lend the puzzle a slightly outdated vibe. I remembered I AM AMERICA after getting a few crossings, but I wonder if it will be a classic. I haven't heard of THE KINGDOM, and after reading up on it, it still doesn't seem crossworthy, especially for a prime real estate location in a themeless.

All in all, a very tough workout today, especially given my high level of ignorance of most things pop-culture. Some beautiful clues; a huge smile to my face for a great one, [Was ducky?], cleverly hinting at WADDLED. And saving the very best for last, TESS has such crossword-friendly letters as well as inquisitive, hard-working, uber-strong, thoughtful, ambitious, creative, considerate (and dirty-rotten-stinker-who-keeps-her-new-parents-on-the-brink-of-fall-down-exhaustion) connotations. I have a very good feeling about that name. Except for the stinker bits.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1017 ( 23,719 )
Across Down
1. Something running on a cell : MOBILEAPP
10. "The Waltons" co-star Ralph : WAITE
15. Starting to succeed : ONONESWAY
16. Opera title boy : AMAHL
17. Been exposed to an awful lot : SEENITALL
18. Like Royal Albert Hall : DOMED
19. Roofing option : TAR
20. "Palindromania!" writer Jon : AGEE
21. Male duck : DRAKE
22. Be up : BAT
24. Ones hanging around delis? : SALAMIS
26. Flashers at a rock concert : STROBES
30. Let up : RELENT
31. Superslim : THINASAREED
34. Some QB protectors : RGS
35. Out of service?: Abbr. : RETD
36. Gouge, e.g. : MAR
37. Dog tag? : FIDO
38. Thespian Thurman : UMA
39. One who's often 31-Across : FASHIONICON
43. Orbiting Galaxy, e.g. : COMSAT
45. Hulu offerings : STREAMS
46. Like a cat-o'-nine-tails' nine tails : KNOTTED
48. Spitfire org. : RAF
49. Paul who pioneered in quantum mechanics : DIRAC
50. Means to deep spiritual insight : YOGA
53. Malaria-fighting compound during W.W. II : DDT
56. Development sites? : UTERI
57. "V for Vendetta" writer : ALANMOORE
60. "Le Bassin aux Nymphéas" painter : MONET
61. Tabs, e.g. : DIETSODAS
62. Lead character in seasons 1-3 of "Homeland" : BRODY
63. One-run homers : SOLOSHOTS
1. Start of many records : MOST
2. Prime draft pick : ONEA
3. Two-time belligerent against the British Empire : BOER
4. Country ___ : INN
5. "Magnum, P.I." wear : LEI
6. Things dealt with in passing? : ESTATES
7. Like many dogs' tails : AWAG
8. Faint : PALE
9. TV's Goober and others : PYLES
10. Was ducky? : WADDLED
11. Lacking scruples : AMORAL
12. 2007 satirical best seller : IAMAMERICA
13. 2007 Jamie Foxx film set in Saudi Arabia : THEKINGDOM
14. Many future monarchs : ELDESTSONS
22. What atoms may have : BOND
23. Oakland Oaks' org. : ABA
25. Consist of : ARE
26. Overawed : STRUCKDUMB
27. Church-owned newsweekly, for short : THEMONITOR
28. Only Hispanic performer with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony : RITAMORENO
29. ___ Club : SAMS
32. Player motivator : RAH
33. Olympian troublemaker : ERIS
37. Person's sphere of operation : FIEF
39. Easy street's location? : FATCITY
40. Had : ATE
41. Town at the tip of Italy's "heel" : OTRANTO
42. Carrying people, for short? : NRA
44. Didn't just peek : STARED
47. Couples : DYADS
51. Potpourri : OLIO
52. Fine ___ (Irish political party) : GAEL
53. Dummy : DODO
54. "Consarn it all!" : DRAT
55. Danny Ocean's ex-wife in "Ocean's Eleven" : TESS
58. Some mail for a mag : MSS
59. "Will ya look at that!" : OOH

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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