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New York Times, Friday, October 27, 2017

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
976/16/201110/30/201918
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76691132242
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1.645173
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 31 Missing: {QXZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 69 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
This puzzle dates back to September 2015, right before I started college. The seed entry was PINK VIAGRA . . . give me a break, I was ... read more

This puzzle dates back to September 2015, right before I started college. The seed entry was PINK VIAGRA . . . give me a break, I was still a teenager ;). I originally had LINKED at 3-Down, which stayed in there for a while until I realized I could knock out a pair of blocks and extend it to LINKED-IN PROFILE.

The corresponding 15-letter slot on the right constrained things a lot more than I'd initially expected it to, which is why 67-Across ended up being a neutral entry rather than an asset (in the words of the miniature Jeff Chen who lives on my shoulder). Despite that, I'm pleased with this grid overall. Not my flashiest puzzle ever, but the amount of zing seems about right for a Friday, and I like how there aren't any major clunkers. And to all my fellow Nintendo junkies, don't worry, I still haven't given up on getting Will to clue MII as "Personalized Nintendo avatar" instead of as the Roman numeral :).

In other news, I'm now editing a daily crossword 15x15 crossword for Andrews McMeel Universal! The puzzles, which go live in a few weeks, will all be Tuesday-Wednesday NYT in difficulty (including two Wednesday-level themelesses at the end of each week). Hope many of you will give them a try.

Jeff Chen notes:
David started with the typical 'four stacks of longish answers, one in each corner' themeless style, but gave himself an added layer ... read more

David started with the typical "four stacks of longish answers, one in each corner" themeless style, but gave himself an added layer of difficulty. Extending an entry in each of two corners — LINKED IN PROFILE and GET AN A FOR EFFORT — forces the four corner stacks to play nice with each other much more than usual. Tough to make a grid work with so much interconnect!

Speaking of work and interconnect, part of me wondered if LinkedIn is here to stay, or if it'll go the way of Friendster. But it seems entrenched ... enough for now, I guess. I think both feature entries work, but I liked GET AN A FOR EFFORT much better. Maybe because I haven't logged into LinkedIn for several months now?

A themeless with this added level of construction difficulty often requires serious trade-offs — either a lack of snazzy answers or a glut of crossword glue. But David was able to integrate a ton of goodies, PALM READER / EVIL EMPIRE, EMOTICON with a great clue about having its head turned, DIRTY TRICK, IT WAS A JOKE, DIARY ENTRY, EPIC FAIL. All with just a bit of minor SGT, EDT glue. Excellent craftsmanship!

Coming from a pharma background, I thought I'd be able to fill in the [Sex drive enhancer …] with just a letter or two. Had to be SILDENAFIL or TADALAFIL! Nope, it was … PINK VIAGRA? That vaguely rang a bell, but I had to look up what it was — ah yes, the drug marketed to women.

As much as I like colorful (pun intended) phrases in themelesses, this one turned me off. Big Pharma marketing can be so evil, pushing people to buy drugs they don't need. There's something so conniving and weird about making this a pink pill. Hard to figure out exactly why, but reading up on PINK VIAGRA left a bad taste in my mouth.

Overall, the grid was well-crafted, strong enough to be POW! quality. But so much of a themeless's impact is personal. PINK VIAGRA just wasn't much fun for me to uncover, nor was LINKEDIN PROFILE. To each their own.

Although, PINK VIAGRA under EVIL EMPIRE is a pretty funny pairing …

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1027 ( 24,825 )

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Across
1
Line judge? : PALMREADER
11
Disney exec Bob : IGER
15
The Soviet Union, to Reagan : EVILEMPIRE
16
Title character abducted in a hit 2003 film : NEMO
17
Sex drive enhancer introduced in 2015 : PINKVIAGRA
18
Heaps : ATON
19
Gab : YAK
20
Three-striper: Abbr. : SGT
21
Steal : PIRATE
23
Fruit throwaway : STEM
25
Titaness in Greek myth : RHEA
28
Bad thing to do when you see a yellow light : GUNIT
29
Alternative to .net : EDU
30
Aid for establishing rapport : EYECONTACT
32
Verizon Fios or CenturyLink, for short : ISP
34
Billy Crystal was his first guest : LENO
35
Other side : FOE
36
English car with a winged logo : BENTLEY
40
Serious talking-tos : SERMONS
42
Facebook Messenger, e.g. : APP
43
Noted evictee : ADAM
45
Part of a jug : EAR
46
Bit of foul play : DIRTYTRICK
50
Triumphant cry : YES
52
Best Original ___ : SCORE
53
French Christian : DIOR
54
Not many : AFEW
56
Have the means for : AFFORD
58
Loony tune : NUT
60
It might come with baggage : FEE
61
Polish place : NAIL
62
"Come on, lighten up!" : ITWASAJOKE
66
Bill collector : TILL
67
Resentful : EMBITTERED
68
Flanders red and others : ALES
69
Log unit : DIARYENTRY
Down
1
Samuel of English history : PEPYS
2
Do aerobatics, e.g. : AVIATE
3
It might list your accomplishments : LINKEDINPROFILE
4
___ Day (fed. holiday) : MLK
5
Races before a race? : REVS
6
Expat : EMIGRE
7
Opposite of drive : APATHY
8
Like, man : DIG
9
Transgress : ERR
10
Collect : REAP
11
Stuck : INARUT
12
Have one's hard work recognized : GETANAFOREFFORT
13
Something that's had its head turned? : EMOTICON
14
1960s pop trio in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with "the" : RONETTES
22
Pass over : IGNORE
24
Evidence of disuse : MUST
26
Anago or unagi : EEL
27
Wonderful, in old slang : ACES
31
With 33-Down, like solitaire : ONE
33
See 31-Down : PLAYER
36
2003 film set in a mall : BADSANTA
37
Facepalm inducer : EPICFAIL
38
Summer hrs. in Somerville : EDT
39
Ending with school or steel : YARD
41
People encountered by the conquistadors : MAYA
44
Early second-millennium year : MII
47
Forum annoyances : TROLLS
48
Big maker of small appliances, or, as two words, a 1997 action film : CONAIR
49
TV clown name : KRUSTY
51
Quidditch position : SEEKER
55
Like a neglected garden : WEEDY
57
Broke down : DIED
59
Allen ___, onetime U.S. poet laureate : TATE
63
Letters for the detail-averse : TMI
64
Ring org. : WBA
65
___ Psaki, White House communications director under Obama : JEN

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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