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New York Times, Thursday, October 24, 2013

Author:
Peter A. Collins
Editor:
Will Shortz
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1.565313
Peter A. Collins

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 73 for Mr. Collins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter A. Collins notes:
This one started with ELEVATOR OPERATOR. First, I thought it was interesting that this 16-letter phrase alternates between vowels and ... read more

This one started with ELEVATOR OPERATOR. First, I thought it was interesting that this 16-letter phrase alternates between vowels and consonants and that it splits evenly into two 8-letter words. That's enough to get a constructor's mind churning. Next I thought about an elevator going down and back up, and a puzzle idea was born. BOOMERANG EFFECT (fifteen letters — yes!) seemed like a good revealer, hinting at the back-and-forth nature of the themed entries.

The side-by-side themed answers made filling the grid a bit of a challenge, since I was locked into two consecutive letters on 28 occasions. I'll admit that a few of the entries are a little on the ugly side (the symmetric pair of abbreviations WRS and STK strike me as the worst offenders).

One thing I like about the grid is the way that two pairs of themed entries tie symmetrically into the theme-revealer — the extreme E and R of ELEVATOR OPERATOR and the middle E and F of NEGATIVE FEEDBACK lie on BOOMERANG EFFECT. I think "grid architecture" is an often unnoticed or undervalued feature of a puzzle. The likes of interlocking themed entries and (perhaps to a lesser extent) grid art are often subtle. They might not add much to the solving experience directly — especially if speed-solving — but at least for me they often make me sit back and say "Hey that's pretty cool!". Granted, grid architecture can't make up for a dull theme or lousy fill, but it can be the icing on the cake.

Will Shortz notes:

It blows me away that Pete found a way to run BOOMERANG EFFECT straight through two pairs of theme answers. Wow, wow, wow! The grid has a nice low word count besides.

Jeff Chen notes:
Neat idea for a Thursday puzzle. Tricky, with a wicked clue 'Unwelcome reversal...' for the revealer, alluding to the fact that four ... read more

Neat idea for a Thursday puzzle. Tricky, with a wicked clue "Unwelcome reversal..." for the revealer, alluding to the fact that four theme pairs go out and back. And indeed, having two pairs of themers intersect the central BOOMERANG EFFECT grid-spanner is an impressive feat of construction. Even after Pete figured out that ELEVATOR OPERATOR could intersect BOOMERANG EFFECT as it does, he still needed to find a matching pair due to crossword symmetry rules. Consider how hard a task that would be: you have to find a strong phrase which 1.) splits up 8/8, 2.) relates to the BOOMERANG EFFECT theme, 3.) has a first word whose last letter is E, and 4.) has a second word whose first letter is F. Considering the constraints upon constraints, it's amazing that Pete found something that fits!

ELEVATOR OPERATOR worked very well for me, the visual of a worker going down then back up fitting perfectly with the layout of the pair of entries. But the theme consistency felt a little off, as TWO WAY STREET doesn't seem to quite fit (a two-way street doesn't itself go out and back, rather, cars on it might). In fact, the other three besides ELEVATOR OPERATOR seem to be internally consistent in that they allude to the out and back idea but don't directly represent it. So overall the theme works for me, just not in a perfectly elegant way.

No doubt, there are some entries that any constructor would try to avoid, but WRS and STK are more or less necessary given the paired theme entries they intersect. And with such an ambitious puzzle that undoubtedly would run on a Thursday, I appreciate Pete's consideration of the trade-offs. Is having FLOUTER and AFLARE worth having big, open corners which add to the challenge of the late-week solve? Pete could have gone a different way by breaking up INKPOTS and BOLEROS (by adding a pair of black squares, thus increasing his word count to 74). I really liked the NE corner, some great entries in there. The SW corner I wasn't as wild about. If it had been just one of FLOUTER or AFLARE...

Overall, I enjoyed the fact that even after uncovering the reversal trick, the rest of it played out like a themeless. Good challenge, and I always appreciate Pete's efforts to push the boundaries of puzzle-making.

1
A
2
D
3
A
4
P
5
T
6
T
7
O
8
I
9
N
10
K
11
P
12
O
13
T
14
S
15
R
E
N
E
W
E
D
16
D
E
C
O
D
E
S
17
T
A
N
G
O
E
D
18
E
G
A
L
I
T
E
19
S
R
A
20
W
R
S
21
S
A
B
I
N
E
22
C
A
T
23
T
D
S
24
A
25
N
26
A
L
Y
S
27
T
28
P
I
E
H
29
O
30
L
31
E
32
M
O
R
A
33
H
34
E
A
V
E
35
N
O
N
36
B
O
O
M
37
E
38
R
A
N
G
E
F
39
F
E
C
T
40
I
S
M
41
L
O
T
T
E
42
A
B
A
R
43
T
E
A
44
S
E
T
S
45
A
46
R
47
T
I
C
L
E
48
A
V
A
49
E
E
L
50
A
51
F
L
A
R
52
E
53
S
T
K
54
T
55
R
56
I
57
F
L
O
U
T
E
R
58
A
U
C
59
T
I
O
N
60
I
S
O
T
O
P
E
61
K
R
I
S
T
I
N
62
B
O
L
E
R
O
S
63
E
N
T
A
I
L
S
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1024 ( 23,361 )
Across
1
Become comfortable with : ADAPTTO
8
Spots for dipping, once : INKPOTS
15
Bought more Time? : RENEWED
16
Reads with effort : DECODES
17
Danced to Julio Sosa music, say : TANGOED
18
One-third of a French revolutionary's cry : EGALITE
19
She who says "sí": Abbr. : SRA
20
QB targets : WRS
21
Like the women in a famous Rubens painting : SABINE
22
Hepster : CAT
23
QB goals : TDS
24
Investment house employee : ANALYST
28
Trap : PIEHOLE
32
Either of two N.F.L. coaches named Jim : MORA
33
Lift : HEAVE
35
One vote in Vichy : NON
36
Unwelcome reversal ... or a title for this puzzle? : BOOMERANGEFFECT
40
It might come after sex : ISM
41
Singer/actress Lenya : LOTTE
42
"This guy walks into ___ ..." : ABAR
43
China collections : TEASETS
45
What the Beatles had but Wings didn't? : ARTICLE
48
Actress Gardner : AVA
49
Flotsam or Jetsam in "The Little Mermaid" : EEL
50
Blazing : AFLARE
53
Nasdaq unit: Abbr. : STK
54
Prefix with color : TRI
57
Contemptuous one : FLOUTER
58
Bridge type : AUCTION
60
Uranium 235, e.g. : ISOTOPE
61
Chenoweth of Broadway's "Wicked" : KRISTIN
62
Some slow dances : BOLEROS
63
Necessitates : ENTAILS
Down
1
Field of many nonprofits : ARTS
2
Prayer starter, often : DEAR
3
Karina in many a Jean-Luc Godard film : ANNA
4
Square ___ : PEG
5
With 6-Down, mutual relationship : TWOWAY
6
See 5-Down : STREET
7
Track figures : ODDS
8
Dangerous time : IDES
9
With 10-Down, critical comments : NEGATIVE
10
See 9-Down : FEEDBACK
11
Shoe shiner : POLISH
12
Asgard ruler : ODIN
13
Head of the Seine? : TETE
14
Green Bay-to-Greenville dir. : SSE
22
Paella ingredient, perhaps : CLAM
24
Scope : AMBIT
25
Prop for many a western : NOOSE
26
Something made in a chocolate factory? : AROMA
27
"___ life" : THATS
28
___-day calendar : PAGEA
29
End of an era? : ONEBC
30
What pulls out all the stops? : LOCAL
31
___ nous : ENTRE
34
Tinnitus treater: Abbr. : ENT
37
With 38-Down, one who may give you a lift : ELEVATOR
38
See 37-Down : OPERATOR
39
Bomb : FAIL
44
Pay tribute to : SALUTE
46
With 47-Down, means of getting home, maybe : RETURN
47
See 46-Down : TICKET
50
To boot : ALSO
51
Dupe : FOOL
52
"___ Tu" (1974 hit) : ERES
53
Benefit : SAKE
54
New World monkey : TITI
55
Churn : ROIL
56
Sights at many interstate exits : INNS
57
Small story : FIB
59
LAX patrollers : TSA

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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