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New York Times, Saturday, October 26, 2013

Author: Barry C. Silk
Editor: Will Shortz
Barry C. Silk
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929/1/20037/8/20166
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358532741
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1.651215

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 28 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 79 for Mr. Silk. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Barry C. Silk notes: PIZZA CRUST was my seed entry for this puzzle. At the time I constructed this puzzle at the end of 2011, PIZZA CRUST, MAN CAVE, ... more
Barry C. Silk notes: PIZZA CRUST was my seed entry for this puzzle. At the time I constructed this puzzle at the end of 2011, PIZZA CRUST, MAN CAVE, HOCKEY MOM, BATTERY BOX, BACKLIT, SIN BIN, SOLAR ARRAY and PHONE BOOTH had not yet been used in puzzles (as far as I could tell). I thought they would make good fill for a themeless puzzle. I was quite lucky to be able to fit them all in one puzzle! Usually, getting more than 2-3 new entries in a puzzle is a challenge.

When constructing a themeless, I try to fill it with:

  • new "interesting" words/phrases
  • as many compound words and phrases as possible
  • high-scrabble letter content

I'm always on the lookout for good fresh fill for puzzles. Whenever I come across a new word/phrase that sounds interesting, I write it down and then add it to my wordlist the next time I update it. However, it turns out that much of the "fresh fill" that I choose to use in puzzles winds up being the reason for the puzzle being rejected. "It doesn't get enough google hits" seems to be a reason for rejection. Thankfully, in this case, all the fresh fill was acceptable!

Will Shortz notes: Lots of nice vocabulary here. Besides 1A, my favorite entries are CIPHERTEXT, MAN CAVE, HOCKEY MOM, HOT POTATO, LOOK AT THAT, BATTERY BOX, and PHONE BOOTH. In fact, all the corners are pretty handsome.
Jeff Chen notes: Barry Silk is one of the most published themeless constructors in the Shortz era, and there's a reason for that: he consistently ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Barry Silk is one of the most published themeless constructors in the Shortz era, and there's a reason for that: he consistently delivers challenging puzzles containing a mixture of fun answers and good trivia from a wide range of areas. His name always brings a combination of excitement and nerves tingling through my fingers, as I know I'm going to get a tough but fair solve.

Some great stuff in today's puzzle, headlined by a clue/answer pair I found immensely challenging but providing one of the best aha moments I've had in a while: PHONE BOOTH clued by "DC transformation location". What a perfect example of a misdirectional clue! It took me forever to change my mindset (thinking about DC politics) even after ??????OOTH was in place, and I beamed when I realized the clue referred to DC Comics and Superman's preferred choice of changing room. Perfect late-week clue, in my mind. I also really liked the clue for HOCKEY MOM and CLEAT. Great stuff.

I had an interesting conversation with Frank Longo, who helps Will with fact-checking and general proofing. Although there is no hard and fast rule about duplicating a word from an answer inside another clue, the BATTERY BOX and "Penalty box..." clue at 47D made me pause. Apparently Frank and Will had a discussion about that, but ultimately decided anything but "penalty box" was too oblique to use in cluing (unfair to non-hockey fans). And since "box" is a short word, the dupe was passable. I think they made a good decision, especially since as a non-hockey fan, I was mystified by SIN BIN.

Each of the four corners contains a triple-stack of 10's, with good results. Each corner has its pluses and its minuses, for example, the SW has the beautiful PHONE BOOTH and SOLAR ARRAY but with OLEN and ERICAS in the way. The NE corner is relatively clean, save FORA, but ARRIVE LATE feels like a less elegant form of FASHIONABLY LATE, and I wasn't totally sure what a BATTERY BOX was. Each corner is very reasonable though. All over, we see example upon example of the quintessential constructor's dilemma: what trade-offs are worth it in order to work in great entries?

Nice Saturday challenge with some fantastic entries and clues.

1
P
2
I
3
Z
4
Z
5
A
6
C
7
R
8
U
9
S
10
T
11
B
12
L
13
A
14
B
15
A
R
I
O
N
A
S
S
I
S
16
F
O
R
A
17
C
I
P
H
E
R
T
E
X
T
18
F
O
R
T
19
A
S
S
A
M
20
D
A
R
21
K
22
K
I
T
23
N
O
24
G
25
O
26
M
A
N
27
C
A
V
E
28
P
29
S
30
A
31
N
O
O
32
N
33
P
E
L
T
E
R
34
H
O
C
35
K
E
Y
M
O
36
M
37
W
E
T
L
Y
38
O
L
E
N
39
A
P
L
U
40
S
41
A
H
A
B
42
N
A
T
A
43
L
44
H
O
T
P
45
O
T
A
T
O
46
E
R
I
C
A
47
S
48
S
E
C
T
49
T
E
X
50
B
A
C
K
L
I
51
T
52
D
A
T
53
A
54
O
R
A
55
A
N
O
56
N
57
O
L
58
D
59
I
60
E
61
O
R
C
62
A
63
B
R
O
64
O
65
D
M
A
R
E
S
66
T
A
I
L
67
I
T
A
L
I
A
N
A
R
T
68
H
Y
D
E
69
N
A
M
E
S
N
A
M
E
S
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1026 ( 23,363 )
Across Down
1. Domino's bottom? : PIZZACRUST
11. Sing : BLAB
15. Olympic Tower financier : ARIONASSIS
16. Roman marketplaces : FORA
17. Lines to be cracked : CIPHERTEXT
18. Something to hold down : FORT
19. Asian silk center : ASSAM
20. Giving no performances : DARK
22. Aid in getting it together? : KIT
23. Off-limits : NOGO
26. Al Bundy's garage, e.g. : MANCAVE
28. Spot with a talking bear, maybe: Abbr. : PSA
31. XII, perhaps : NOON
33. Hailstorm, e.g. : PELTER
34. Sarah Palin called herself an average one : HOCKEYMOM
37. How fresh paint glistens : WETLY
38. "The Tourist" novelist Steinhauer : OLEN
39. Best final result : APLUS
41. Literary character who says "I'll chase him round Good Hope" : AHAB
42. Kind of horoscope : NATAL
44. Kids' party game : HOTPOTATO
46. Bell heather and tree heath : ERICAS
48. Topic in a world religions course : SECT
49. Follower of Gore? : TEX
50. Like some laptop keyboards : BACKLIT
52. Minable material : DATA
54. Part of un giorno : ORA
55. "I'll send for you ___": Othello : ANON
57. Record held for decades? : OLDIE
61. Swimmer featured in the 2013 film "Blackfish" : ORCA
63. Important stud farm visitors : BROODMARES
66. Ape's lack : TAIL
67. Pre-Raphaelite ideal : ITALIANART
68. Bad side of literature? : HYDE
69. Sings : NAMESNAMES
1. Spotted South American mammal : PACA
2. The white surrounds it : IRIS
3. 99+ things in Alaska? : ZIPS
4. 2008 title role for Adam Sandler : ZOHAN
5. Buttercup family member : ANEMONE
6. See 8-Down : CAR
7. Letter string : RST
8. With 6-Down, old wheels : USED
9. When hands are extended straight up and down : SIXAM
10. It may be over a foot : TSTRAP
11. Closest bud, briefly : BFF
12. Head-turning cry : LOOKATTHAT
13. Make a fashionable entrance? : ARRIVELATE
14. Its contents provide juice : BATTERYBOX
21. Apprehended : KNEW
24. Big name in Hispanic food : GOYA
25. Juice : OOMPH
27. Sports stud : CLEAT
28. DC transformation location : PHONEBOOTH
29. Collection of green panels : SOLARARRAY
30. CH3COOH : ACETICACID
32. Some pleas, briefly : NOLOS
35. Flair : KNACK
36. Like some colors and cornets : MUTED
40. Grp. concerned with feeding the kitty : SPCA
43. Karaoke stand-in? : LALA
45. Raiser of dogs? : OTTOMAN
47. Penalty box, to sports fans : SINBIN
51. Trattoria dessert : TORTA
53. "32 Flavors" singer Davis, 1998 : ALANA
56. "Barney Miller" Emmy winner Pitlik : NOAM
58. Armenia's basic monetary unit : DRAM
59. French suffix with jardin : IERE
60. Proposal figs. : ESTS
62. Draught ___ : ALE
64. Jubilant cry : OLE
65. Trash : DIS

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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