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New York Times, Friday, October 17, 2014

Author:
Michael Ashley
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
117/29/200110/9/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
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 than I ... read more

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 ... read more

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.

1
M
2
O
3
B
4
I
5
L
6
E
7
A
8
P
9
P
10
W
11
A
12
I
13
T
14
E
15
O
N
O
N
E
S
W
A
Y
16
A
M
A
H
L
17
S
E
E
N
I
T
A
L
L
18
D
O
M
E
D
19
T
A
R
20
A
G
E
E
21
D
R
A
K
E
22
B
23
A
T
24
S
25
A
L
A
M
I
S
26
S
27
T
28
R
O
B
E
29
S
30
R
E
L
E
N
T
31
T
H
I
N
A
S
A
32
R
33
E
E
D
34
R
G
S
35
R
E
T
D
36
M
A
R
37
F
I
D
O
38
U
M
A
39
F
40
A
S
H
I
41
O
42
N
I
C
O
N
43
C
O
M
44
S
A
T
45
S
T
R
E
A
M
S
46
K
N
O
T
T
E
47
D
48
R
A
F
49
D
I
R
A
C
50
Y
51
O
52
G
A
53
D
54
D
55
T
56
U
T
E
R
I
57
A
L
A
N
58
M
59
O
O
R
E
60
M
O
N
E
T
61
D
I
E
T
S
O
D
A
S
62
B
R
O
D
Y
63
S
O
L
O
S
H
O
T
S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1017 ( 23,719 )
Across
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
Down
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: 7 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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