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New York Times, Saturday, October 18, 2014

Author:
Evan Birnholz
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
810/3/201310/23/20150
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0001124
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.69100
Evan Birnholz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 31 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Birnholz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Evan Birnholz notes:
This is one of the last puzzles of mine that the NYT accepted before I began my own crossword website. There are at least a few short ... read more

This is one of the last puzzles of mine that the NYT accepted before I began my own crossword website. There are at least a few short answers that I probably would not use in my puzzles now, though I'm pleased with many of the longer entries I worked in. It's also a bizarrely "masculine" grid in that most of the proper nouns in the puzzle refer to men, and there's MAN and DAD in each corner. Go figure.

My favorite clues that Will kept were for AGE LIMIT, ROLEO, SLEEP, and LASERDISCS. I like Will's clever clues for MESS KITS, SEA, DESERT, POE, and CHAD, but there are a couple of original clues that I wish had made the cut. Partial phrases are a pet peeve of mine, so I admit I winced when I saw 34-Across had become A MIN (I clued that as the dictator AMIN). I would have loved to have seen in print my saucy, connected clues for CROTCH [Privates' section] and AUTOCORRECT [Modern tool for turning a couch into a 9-Across], though I expected they wouldn't survive the final edit. Will also changed a couple of letters – I had former Knick All-Star STEPHON Marbury (a.k.a. "Starbury") instead of STEPHEN, and TUTOR/POR (the latter clued as [Favor preceder]) – but that's a minor change and POR isn't a great answer, so no big deal.

Special announcement time!

1) I'm in the last week of my funding drive for Devil Cross. Those who donate before October 25 will receive two Sunday-sized bonus puzzles by yours truly: one themeless, and one variety Something Different grid. If you've never tried the latter, it's a fun type of crossword where most of the longer entries are completely made up phrases, but you can still figure them out if you solve the shorter answers first.

2) Mark your calendars, because the new Indie 500 Crossword Tournament — run by Erik Agard, Andy Kravis, Peter Broda, Neville Fogarty, and myself — will be held on Saturday, May 30, 2015 at the Marvin Center of George Washington University.

Will Shortz notes:
Evan's handsome construction today has quite a few names, some of them uncommon, which is always cause for concern — especially ... read more

Evan's handsome construction today has quite a few names, some of them uncommon, which is always cause for concern — especially when they're in the same area, and especially especially when they cross. LAURIE (16A) crossing RAS (10D) may give some solvers pause, but I think "A" at the intersection is the most likely letter to guess. I also worried about SOLER (35D) crossing the difficult STINGO and ROLEO. Evan's clue for SOLER was "Baroque composer Padre Antonio __," who, I have to admit, I'm not familiar with. So I changed this to something more inferable, even if it's rare. Overall Evan writes excellent clues. The ones here for 15A, 36A, 43A, 4D, 12D, and 28D are all his.

Jeff Chen notes:
A really nice construction job today. I appreciate how well Evan planned out his grid, the entire thing flowing so beautifully. There ... read more

A really nice construction job today. I appreciate how well Evan planned out his grid, the entire thing flowing so beautifully. There are so many strong entries and so few weak ones. I'd personally put the count at 14(ish) ASSETS and 4(ish) LIABILITIES, making for a puzzle easily hitting my criteria for a strong themeless.

The puzzle has a younger vibe to it, more current than an average NYT themeless. I like that Evan features KICKSTARTER and AUTOCORRECT, two high-visibility topics among the Facebook and Twitter crowds. I really like both of entries. It's true that KICKSTARTER may eventually lose out to Indiegogo or Fundly other crowdfunding sites, but it seems to be well established enough that I'd guess it falls closer to Facebook than to Friendster. Thumbs up. I imagine that if this puzzle was up on Evan's site, AUTOCORRECT would have gotten a much more hilariously risque clue, perhaps even more so than the hilarious one he mentioned.

The puzzle also has an edgy vibe, one that lives up to Evan's Devil Cross name. I didn't totally connect with the ambiance it generated. It's completely personal preference, but I like my crosswords to be uplifting, to leave me optimistic after I fill in that last square. Liz Gorski's weekly crossword for example, tend to leave me with a buoyant, pleasant feeling. Uncovering CROTCH (not literally, thankfully) made me pause, and while PSYCHOPATH is a colorful, snazzy answer, I find it a little unsettling, especially when there are other elements like DIRTY HARRY, AMIN disguised as a partial, strongman Mobutu SESE Seko, and RAS clued as the Batman villain.

But that's what's great about a daily crossword featuring a huge variety of constructors. If one day doesn't hit your sweet spot, come back tomorrow for something different. And overall, this is a beautiful piece of work, with fantastic grid flow, chock full of colorful answers and strong clues. A product of a constructor who's clearly honed his craft, paying close attention to every last detail.

1
M
2
E
3
S
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S
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K
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I
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T
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C
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R
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O
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T
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C
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H
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A
G
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M
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T
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L
A
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N
O
S
E
C
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N
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A
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U
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S
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K
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A
P
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P
S
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P
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P
S
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Y
C
H
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P
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A
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H
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A
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W
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L
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A
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H
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V
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A
M
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A
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C
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Y
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F
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H
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L
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D
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A
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D
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D
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D
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1018 ( 23,720 )

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Across
1
Some military settings? : MESSKITS
9
Pants part : CROTCH
15
Part of a bar code? : AGELIMIT
16
"Annie ___," old Scottish love song : LAURIE
17
Atlantis section : NOSECONE
18
Sharp : ASTUTE
19
Car radio button : SEEK
20
Droids have them : APPS
22
When repeated, aerobics class cry : STEP
23
The Joker, e.g. : PSYCHOPATH
26
Certain punch : AWL
29
One in a one-on-one session : TUTEE
30
With 14-Down, literary yes-man : URIAH
33
Connecting word : VIA
34
"Wait ___!" ("Hold on there!") : AMIN
35
Strong ale, in British lingo : STINGO
36
One who didn't make it to the office? : ALSORAN
38
Classic British cars that pioneered in rear engines : COOPERS
39
They may be picked up by dogs : SCENTS
40
Integral course of study, briefly? : CALC
41
"The thing is ..." : SEE
42
Bakery purchase : TORTE
43
Competition where the last one standing wins : ROLEO
44
Current setting : SEA
45
Scorpio hunter of film : DIRTYHARRY
48
Noted avoider of the color red : CRIP
50
Be full : TEEM
51
Court star Nadal, informally : RAFA
54
Really move : HUSTLE
56
Oner : RAREBIRD
59
Parts of the Navy's full dress blues : ASCOTS
60
Actor with Adam Sandler in "Funny People" : ERICBANA
61
Leave one's company? : DESERT
62
Like some business letters : DICTATED
Down
1
"Sheesh!" : MAN
2
Big things on Capitol Hill : EGOS
3
Former Zairian leader Mobutu ___ Seko : SESE
4
"A hint of lovely oblivion," per D. H. Lawrence : SLEEP
5
Modern kind of campaign : KICKSTARTER
6
Letters with a view : IMO
7
Brand once plugged by John Madden : TINACTIN
8
First Christian martyr : STEPHEN
9
Grip : CLASP
10
"Batman" villain ___ al Ghul : RAS
11
Exceed : OUTSTRIP
12
Subject of "The Word" on the first episode of "The Colbert Report" : TRUTHINESS
13
Recognize : CITE
14
See 30-Across : HEEP
21
Literary figure whose name is a letter short of something he wrote : POE
24
Native Arizonans : YUMAS
25
Aid for clumsy thumbs : AUTOCORRECT
26
"Stop" at 44-Across : AVAST
27
"Consider it done" : WILCO
28
Abandoned storage units? : LASERDISCS
31
Say "amen," say : AGREE
32
Gomer's biblical husband : HOSEA
35
Cobbler, at times : SOLER
37
Walking very quietly, say : ONTIPTOE
38
Dish whose name comes from the Latin for "ink pot" : CALAMARI
40
Stuck : COHERED
43
Kvass component : RYE
46
Statistical method for comparing the means of two groups : TTEST
47
Start of a cartoon cry : YABBA
48
Waste of a vote? : CHAD
49
Wile : RUSE
52
Order : FIAT
53
Egg chair designer Jacobsen : ARNE
55
Xerox option: Abbr. : LTR
57
Wrestler Flair : RIC
58
Pap : DAD

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?