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A SIGN OF THE TIMES

New York Times, Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Author: Patrick Blindauer
Editor: Will Shortz
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657/21/200510/17/201821
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1.59252
Patrick Blindauer

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {BZ} Spans: 3 This is puzzle # 56 for Mr. Blindauer. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: A Crossword Contest
All the puzzles this week, from Monday to Saturday, have been created by one person, Patrick Blindauer. Keep your solutions handy, because the Saturday puzzle conceals a meta-challenge involving the solution grids of all six. When you have the answer to the meta-challenge, send it to crossword@nytimes.com. Twenty correct solvers, chosen at random, whose entries are received by 6:00 p.m. E.T. Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014, will win one-year online subscriptions to the New York Times crossword. Only one entry per person, please. The answer and winners' names will appear on Friday, Oct. 31, at www.nytimes.com/wordplay.
Patrick Blindauer notes: Today's puzzle features another simple theme type, one in which different definitions of the same keyword are used as ... more
Patrick Blindauer notes: Today's puzzle features another simple theme type, one in which different definitions of the same keyword are used as entries. There is a lot of flexibility with a theme like this, so I tried to find the most varied definitions and I only went after 15-letter, grid-spanning phrases. Happy that my ADO/APU clue combo made the cut, and thrilled to get Diane REHM of NPR into the grid as well, even if it meant having the tricky ELIA/ELISA crossing nearby. 36D/44D was a happy accident, and I loved Will & Co.'s addition of the two [Palindromic woman's name] clues. Highly original and much more interesting than my submitted clues, believe me.
Will Shortz notes: (see my Note from Monday)
Jeff Chen notes: Contest week! Jim and I decided to keep everything quiet until the contest is over, including the grid solutions. I doubt we'd give ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Contest week! Jim and I decided to keep everything quiet until the contest is over, including the grid solutions. I doubt we'd give anything away by publishing all the clues and answers, but this method better preserves the mystery.

Speaking of mysteries, this week is an appropriate time for me to delve into some of my favorite cryptological mysteries throughout history. None of these write-ups have anything to do with the contest, I promise (I'll put up a post summarizing how I solved it afterward, assuming I solve it). I simply like sharing my obsession with unsolved coded puzzles throughout history. And my posts will need to get shorter anyway, as a certain nine-day-old little dictator has launched chemical weapons against me (mustard gas, of course — other new parents, you'll know what I mean).

THE SHUGBOROUGH INSCRIPTION

As a kid, I was entranced by the quest for the lost ark of the covenant in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." As a teenager, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" captured my fancy once again by making me wonder if the Holy Grail indeed was discoverable. Tales of Indy doing his research and putting together esoteric bits of information to crack hidden codes throughout history made me want to become an archaeologist. (My first ever college class was in Archaeology 101. My eyes opened wide when Dr. John Rick walked in with a scruffy beard, lecturing in the same style as Dr. Indiana Jones — I think he got a kick out of doing that year after year. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had followed him to an ancient Inca dig rather than working for the department of astronomy that first summer.)

As an adult, I flew through "The Da Vinci Code" along with the rest of the world back in the early 2000's — the Holy Grail rears its possibility yet again. The mystery of the Grail has been bandied about for centuries, and so many people have done a nice job with fictionalizing the stories behind it. But who knew there was an actual code built into a monument in England, possibly encoding the secret location of the actual Holy Grail (if it actually exists)?

Even more compelling is the simple nature of the code. With just ten letters set into a particular pattern, plus lore surrounding the Priory of Sion's involvement, the Shugborough Inscription begs for an a-ha codebreaking moment. Yet in over two centuries, no one has figured out the true meaning. Is the secret still with the Priory, protecting the location of the holy artifact? Or is it an inside joke perpetrated by the builders, or is there some other explanation?

If there is a true answer, it has not been made known to the public. Even if it is some clever scheme to encourage tourism to this one town in England, this site is on my list of must-see places.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1021 ( 23,723 )
Across Down
1. Alternative version of a song : REMIX
6. Is into : DIGS
10. Karl, Richard or Harpo : MARX
14. Actress Donovan of "Clueless" : ELISA
15. Something spinach has : IRON
16. Switchboard attendant: Abbr. : OPER
17. Dramatic note in Verdi's "Di quella pira" : HIGHC
18. Grandma, familiarly : NANA
19. Story with many chapters : SAGA
20. TIME : MARATHONERSSTAT
23. Baseball family of note : ALOUS
24. Not optional: Abbr. : REQ
25. ___ Miss : OLE
26. Part of 31-Down: Abbr. : NATL
28. Force = ___ x acceleration : MASS
30. Single : UNWED
32. "Much ___ About Nothing" : ADO
33. Egg cell : OVUM
34. Mo. that seems like it should be seventh : SEP
35. TIME : PARTNEROFWARNER
41. Mined material : ORE
42. Arduous hike : TREK
43. Palindromic woman's name : AVA
44. Σ : SIGMA
47. Senator Harry of Nevada : REID
48. Kristoff's reindeer in "Frozen" : SVEN
49. "Much ___ About Nothing" ("The Simpsons" episode) : APU
50. Speedometer letters : MPH
52. Pier : JETTY
54. TIME : WHATPRISONERSDO
59. Days of ___ : YORE
60. Uptight, informally : ANAL
61. Preoccupy : TIEUP
62. Brings to a close : ENDS
63. Giant in the fruit and vegetable market : DOLE
64. Avoid : EVADE
65. Word before home and room : REST
66. ___ for it (invites trouble) : ASKS
67. Two-time U.S. Open winner Monica : SELES
1. Talk show host Diane of 31-Down : REHM
2. "On the Waterfront" director Kazan : ELIA
3. Seasonal traveler : MIGRATOR
4. Promising beginning? : ISHALL
5. Craft knife brand : XACTO
6. Natural history museum display : DINOSAUR
7. Dry country whose name is an anagram of wet weather : IRAN
8. They're doomed ... doomed! : GONERS
9. Trap : SNARE
10. Swamp stuff : MOSS
11. Judd who wrote and directed "Knocked Up" : APATOW
12. Delight : REGALE
13. Like "Midnight Cowboy," originally : XRATED
21. Gulf War vehicle : HUMVEE
22. Tiny complaint : SQUEAK
26. Few Z's : NAP
27. Org. with an oral fixation? : ADA
29. Struck, old-style : SMOTE
31. "Fresh Air" airer : NPR
33. Cloverleaf part : ONRAMP
34. Home of Pippi Longstocking : SWEDEN
36. With 44-Down, fictional prankster : TOM
37. Beans in a burrito : FRIJOLES
38. Elite fighter : NAVYSEAL
39. Palindromic woman's name : EVE
40. Vied for office : RAN
44. See 36-Down : SAWYER
45. What Apple's Project Purple became : IPHONE
46. Two of five in basketball : GUARDS
47. Big chargers in Africa : RHINOS
48. Endeavor : STRIVE
51. Luxury label : PRADA
53. French heads : TETES
55. Word repeated by a roadie into a microphone : TEST
56. Bacteriologist Jonas : SALK
57. "My man!" : DUDE
58. Unlocks, in verse : OPES

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle.

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