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New York Times, Saturday, November 16, 2013

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
936/16/20113/23/201917
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66681131232
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1.645163
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 31 Missing: {J} This is puzzle # 18 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
I was inspired to construct this themeless, which was submitted and accepted in August 2012, after observing how much more lively fill ... read more

I was inspired to construct this themeless, which was submitted and accepted in August 2012, after observing how much more lively fill I had been able to jam into my 72-word January 6, 2012, puzzle than in some of the more open grids I'd been experimenting with. I also had a lot of 8- and 9-letter seed entries I'd been meaning to use for a while, such as APPLE CARE, FORCE QUIT, and, best of all, I'M TOO SEXY, which I think is a great piece of fill! I was particularly happy with how the top stack turned out, since it contains three entries that are New York Times debuts. Also, I thought it was cool that AEON FLUX and ZAP COMIX fit in the same corner, and I figured that the X?X?? letter pattern would definitely give late-week solvers pause! I'm not overwhelmingly fond of ALE YARD or DREW U, but both have been used in other puzzles, and I like the surrounding fill in those areas a lot. Enjoy!

Will Shortz notes:
David Steinberg continues to amaze me. I accepted this puzzle last year, when David was still only 15. On top of that, how does he ... read more

David Steinberg continues to amaze me. I accepted this puzzle last year, when David was still only 15. On top of that, how does he even know the things that are in his puzzles? For example, I'M TOO SEXY, which is making its debut today, came out four years before David was even born. The grid is packed with good stuff, including DOUBLE BED, FORCE-QUIT, BAD ADVICE, ZAP COMIX, and OH BABY. I did have to be careful editing the lower-left corner, which has a pile-up of proper names at 23D, 35D, 36D, and 37D. So I tried to clue the crossing answers more helpfully than I usually would on a Saturday. You're welcome.

Jeff Chen notes:
Amusing how one of David's least favorite entries, ALEYARD, was something I quite liked. Perhaps it brings back the days of drinking ... read more

Amusing how one of David's least favorite entries, ALEYARD, was something I quite liked. Perhaps it brings back the days of drinking many an ALEYARD out of a gigantic glass boot in college. (Don't ask because I don't remember.)

Some strong entries today, my favorite being FORCE QUIT on top of BAD ADVICE. It's tough to include three strong entries in a 9-letter stack, and it's too bad INSPECTOR is a bit of pedestrian fill in that corner. But a neat clue, "Case worker", misdirecting toward a social worker, added a lot of life. And I didn't know ZAP COMIX but what a cool name. R. Crumb was such a pioneer in his time, I wish ZAP COMIX had gotten a bigger following. It was also fun to uncover OH BABY and HAYSEEDS in the puzzle; very amusing.

For those of you wondering, the APPLE CARE clue refers to Apple's service program for their MacBook Air and new iPad Air products. I'm a little embarrassed at how long I had APPLE CORE in there, having convinced myself that the apple's core somehow improves air quality. I convince myself of many stupid things.

As David mentioned, DREW U isn't great, as it only gets less than 100K hits on a Google search (when put in quotes). I don't imagine alums call it DREW U, but I could be wrong about that. And the fact that it crosses DER and RELOAN and is adjacent to AERO makes that region a little unsightly, but as with most themeless puzzles, there will be trade-offs. It's very, very hard to keep all the PRS and ALER kind of things out of a grid.

I really enjoying seeing fresh, new entries introduced into the NYT xw. Keep 'em coming, David! Amazing to think that he probably has twice as many years ahead of him in his crossword construction career than I do.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1116 ( 23,384 )

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Across
1
Air protection program? : APPLECARE
10
Italian alternative : RANCH
15
Tight squeeze for a couple? : DOUBLEBED
16
Where Union Pacific is headquartered : OMAHA
17
1992 chart-topper that mentions "my little turn on the catwalk" : IMTOOSEXY
18
Tar : MATEY
19
65-Across's title: Abbr. : DET
20
Evian competitor : NAYA
21
Gun shows? : OATERS
22
A or O, but not B : ALER
24
First name in fashion : RALPH
26
One going for the big bucks : DOE
27
___ Fund Management (investment company) : SOROS
29
Strike-monitoring org. : NLRB
30
Contact on Facebook : POKE
31
Time reversal? : STET
33
Tore to shreds : SAVAGED
35
Diehard sort : ZEALOT
38
Dangerous things to go on : BINGES
39
Long, slender glass for drinking beer : ALEYARD
41
River to the North Sea : TYNE
42
Lowly one : PEON
43
Quarterly magazine published by Boeing : AERO
45
Norwegian Romanticist : GRIEG
49
Anti : CON
50
Sch. in Madison, N.J. : DREWU
52
___ Gunn, "Breaking Bad" co-star : ANNA
53
Killing it : ONFIRE
56
Make a touchdown : LAND
58
Star opening? : TRI
59
Turning blue, maybe : MOLDY
60
Prevent a crash, say : FORCEQUIT
62
Triumphant cry : IRULE
63
"Buy high and sell low," e.g. : BADADVICE
64
Baselines? : XAXES
65
Case worker : INSPECTOR
Down
1
Springblade producer : ADIDAS
2
Marmalade fruit : POMELO
3
Green piece : PUTTER
4
Wall Street inits. : LBO
5
___ Musk, co-founder of Tesla Motors and PayPal : ELON
6
Millan who's known as "the Dog Whisperer" : CESAR
7
Temporarily inactive : ABEYANT
8
___ Place (Edmonton Oilers' arena) : REXALL
9
Frozen food aisle eponym : EDY
10
See 11-Down : ROMA
11
She loves, in 10-Down : AMAT
12
"G-Funk Classics" rapper : NATEDOGG
13
Iroquoian tongue : CHEROKEE
14
Provincials : HAYSEEDS
21
"Holy smokes!" : OHBABY
23
Long Island Rail Road station : ROSLYN
25
Old phone trio : PRS
28
Spartan gathering place : STOA
30
Bakery/cafe chain : PANERA
32
Schwab rival : ETRADE
34
Rhames of "Mission: Impossible" : VING
35
Pioneering underground publication of the 1960s : ZAPCOMIX
36
Early tragedienne Duse : ELEONORA
37
1990s sci-fi series : AEONFLUX
40
Alternative to die : DER
41
In the direction of : TOWARDS
44
Make further advances? : RELOAN
46
Sense : INTUIT
47
Italian P.M. Letta : ENRICO
48
Boot covering : GAITER
51
Open, in a way : UNCAP
54
Kind of threat : IDLE
55
Certain spirits : RYES
57
Frankie Avalon's "___ Dinah" : DEDE
60
Org. with a top 10 list : FBI
61
Shopper's choice : QVC

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

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