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New York Times, Thursday, October 2, 2014

Author: David Woolf
Editor: Will Shortz
David Woolf
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Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: none. This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Woolf. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Woolf notes: A while back, while trying to come up with rebus themes involving the words 'square' or 'box,' etc, I stumbled onto Einstein's ... more
David Woolf notes: A while back, while trying to come up with rebus themes involving the words "square" or "box," etc, I stumbled onto Einstein's famous equation, E = mc2, and realized that I could cleverly use the "equals" and "squared" parts of the equation to make an 'E' in one direction make an 'mc' all in one square in another. Never mind the fact that in Einstein's equation only the c is squared; the important part for me was that the language that you would use to describe the puzzle is the same language you would use to describe the equation: "E equals m c squared."

Conveniently, the puzzles four theme answers all had 'E's in them, allowing this puzzle to be a simple dedication to Einstein on one level, while being a rebus-like puzzle on another. In order to be fully consistent though, I had to make sure there were no other 'E's anywhere else in the puzzle. In general, I think restrictions like this are capable of leading to nice, out-of-the-box answers, though some fill can strain because of it. (33 and 40 Across are a good example of this dichotomy.) Anyway, that's the story. I hope you enjoy it!

Will Shortz notes: Did you notice in this puzzle that the constructor completely avoided the letter E outside of the theme answers? That's very elegant. E really does equal MC squared here, and nothing else.
Jeff Chen notes: So many layers on this clever puzzle. I have a feeling many people will be at the point I was at, irritated at the 'inaccuracy' of ... more
Jeff Chen notes: So many layers on this clever puzzle. I have a feeling many people will be at the point I was at, irritated at the "inaccuracy" of seeing E equal mc, not mc2, so I'm going to break it down even more than in David's comments. I must have thought about this for a full day, wondering how the NYT could possibly allow such scientific and mathematical error. Heresy! Why not at least make the other side of the rebus MCC to represent the C squared? It finally dawned on me that mc2 is read as "mc squared" — the letters MC are "squared" into a single rebus cell. It adds another level to the already cunning idea of E equaling MC in a two-way rebus. EINSTEIN-level genius with wordplay.

Very neat how David incorporated the special squares within some of the theme answers. Yet another nice touch. What would have made it Puzzle of the Year quality for me was some rationale built in to explain why there were six special squares. Not absolutely necessary, but man oh man that would have been the icing on the icing already on the cake. If the number six were somehow integral to the theory of general relativity...

I love it when a puzzle makes me think more about what could be done. How cool would it be to have some sort of physical representation of the bizarre effects that occur when one approaches the speed of light? Hmm...

One small nit I'll pick is that I found it slightly odd that half the special squares worked one way, and half were flipped. On one hand it made it more challenging to uncover them, but it felt to me like having them all work identically would have been more elegant. Personal preference.

A final note, on vocabulary. As much as I like current slang or fun terms, entries like PLUTARCH never go out of style, in my eyes. A timeless entry, appropriate for the educated tone of the New York Times, and especially appropriate for a puzzle with this EINSTEIN-ian theme. I doubt I'll ever gripe about seeing PLUTARCH, whereas I can't say the same thing about the latest "celebrity" who may be fun for small niches of people to see, but who may not have long-term staying power.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1002 ( 23,704 )
Across Down
1. Nasty stuff : SMUT
5. Symbol of authority : FIST
9. TV's "___ Bridges" : NASH
13. Lush : WINO
14. Member of an old empire : INCA
15. "___ bene" ("Very well": It.) : MOLTO
16. Finalizes, as a contract : INKS
17. Hilo do : LUAU
18. 2003 summit participant with Sharon and Bush : ABBAS
19. 20th-century figure with a famous 56-Across represented literally six times in this puzzle : EINSTEIN
21. NBC parent beginning in 2011 : COMCAST
22. "Te ___" : AMO
23. One of the grains in Nutri-Grain : OAT
24. Agitate : ROIL
25. Backer : PATRON
27. Sore loser : BADSPORT
31. Nickname for Fogell in "Superbad" : MCLOVIN
33. He's asked to "please shine down on me," in song : MRSUN
34. It can be cast in a tragedy : PALL
37. Stash seeker : NARCO
39. "___ it ironic?" (1996 song lyric) : ISNT
40. Near the hip : ILIAC
42. Woodstock producer : SCHULZ
44. "Parallel Lives" writer : PLUTARCH
46. Promiscuous guys : TOMCATS
50. Word after back or break : INTO
51. ___ book : ABC
52. ___ mai (Asian dumplings) : SHU
53. Art store buy : CANVAS
56. See 19-Across : EQUATION
58. Broadcasting : ONAIR
59. Admitting a slight draft, maybe : AJAR
60. Not squishy : HARD
61. Like many shut-ins : PASTY
62. They follow arcs : LOBS
63. Soup thickener : AGAR
64. Crack up : SLAY
65. Blind as ___ : ABAT
66. Rock's ___ Music : ROXY
1. Top in the pool? : SWIMCAP
2. Low points : MINIMA
3. Disentangle : UNKNOT
4. Eject, as from a game : TOSS
5. Most important movies : FILMCANON
6. Ice man? : INUIT
7. Pore over : SCAN
8. 19th of 24 : TAU
9. Recognition received by 19-Across : NOBELPRIZE
10. Co-star of 2005's "Fantastic Four" : ALBA
11. Boarding spots: Abbr. : STAS
12. Have over, say : HOST
15. Little Red Book ideology : MAOISM
20. Drive (along) : TOOL
21. Gloucester haul : COD
24. It has hands and brands : RANCH
26. Subject explored by 19-Across : RELATIVITY
27. Kind of beer : BIRCH
28. Old spy org. : OSS
29. String : RUN
30. Cable channel that revived "Dallas" in 2012 : TNT
32. Explorer ___ da Gama : VASCO
34. One of hearts? : PIP
35. Comprehensively : ALL
36. Actress whose last name is a New York school's inits. : LIU
38. Tirade, e.g. : OUTBURST
41. Singer : CANARY
43. "Livin' la Vida ___" : LOCA
45. QB protectors : RTS
47. Italian cheese : ASIAGO
48. Chest : THORAX
49. Miscellaneous : SUNDRY
51. Jordanian port : AQABA
53. Admits (to) : COPS
54. Obsessive, say : ANAL
55. Org. with lofty goals? : NASA
56. Unfulfilling work : MCJOB
57. "___ she blows!" : THAR
59. Like : ALA

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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