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A SIGN OF THE TIMES

New York Times, Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Author:
Patrick Blindauer
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
657/21/200510/17/201821
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
14561317118
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
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 entries. There ... read more

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:
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 ... read more

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
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
Down
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.

Found bugs or have suggestions?