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New York Times, Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Author: Jacob Stulberg
Editor: Will Shortz
Jacob Stulberg
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2512/25/201312/15/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2238640
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59770
Example of a nonahedron

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Stulberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Jacob Stulberg notes: In the original version of this puzzle, I made the rookie mistake of placing NONAHEDRON at 56A without considering that I'd ... more
Jacob Stulberg notes: In the original version of this puzzle, I made the rookie mistake of placing NONAHEDRON at 56A without considering that I'd eventually have to write a clue for it. As I soon realized, there just aren't that many familiar nine-faced objects (and the preferred term is "enneahedron"). The best clue I could come up with was the unwieldy "Pyramid with an octagonal base, perhaps." Thanks to Will for changing 56A to the more clue-friendly NOMINATION, which I wholeheartedly accept.
Jeff Chen notes: I find that 'literal interpretation' type themes are best when they do something unexpected. The ones that are exactly what the ... more
Jeff Chen notes: I find that "literal interpretation" type themes are best when they do something unexpected. The ones that are exactly what the solver might first guess tend to get old pretty quickly, so I really liked Jacob's fun twist. THERES NO TWO / WAYS ABOUT IT translates to "phrases surrounded by NO and ON." Fun!

I recently found a new, very useful tool I wanted to share. The problem has been that if you wanted to do a search for themers fitting a simple pattern on onelook.com, you get a whole lot of crud, and if you select the "common words and phrases" option, you get nearly nothing. Alex Boisvert has come up with a Wikipedia Regular Expression search, which much more smartly works for you.

Using a "NO* *ON" search, I found some neat possibilities: NOISE POLLUTION, NOBEL FOUNDATION, and my favorite, NORM PETERSON. He's probably not quite crossworthy, but this reminds me that I'm still searching for that place where everyone shouts "El Jefe, Galactic Prime Emperor and Sovereign of All That is Divine!" when I walk in. Is that so much to ask?

Groundskeeper Willie

Anyhoo, I would have liked NONPRESCRIPTION and NOMINATION to be more colorful. The former screams out to be OVER THE COUNTER, and NOMINATION is certainly a fine word, but not something I'd give points to in a themeless.

Not a lot of long fill today, but I appreciate the relative cleanliness of the execution. With a high number of three-letter words, it's good that Jacob carefully chose those such that they didn't stand out too much (for me, at least). If you're going to verge on the edge of too many threes — 23 is really pushing it — I think it's important to not use many ESE, ANE, OON, etc. type answers, as that makes them more noticeably stick out.

Here, Jacob does well, with only an OCH feeling a little odd. And even that is passable, as anything that makes me think of Groundskeeper Willie from the Simpsons is okay in my book. The phrase cheese-eating surrender monkeys never ceases to amuse me.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1119 ( 23,752 )
Across Down
1. Like a new recruit : RAW
4. Raise, as Old Glory : HOIST
9. Fritter away : WASTE
14. Patterned after : ALA
15. Come to mind : OCCUR
16. "In the red," e.g. : IDIOM
17. NAFTA signatory: Abbr. : MEX
18. With 64-Across, words of certainty ... or a hint to 23-, 40- and 56-Across : THERESNOTWO
20. At attention : ERECT
22. One headed for Ellis Island, say : EMIGRANT
23. "Silkwood" screenwriter : NORAEPHRON
26. Gaelic tongue : ERSE
27. ___ Croft (Angelina Jolie role) : LARA
28. Clerical nickname : REV
30. Cuisine in which "phat mama" is a noodle dish : THAI
33. Little pain in the you-know-where : IMP
35. Archipelago makeup : ISLES
40. Like Advil vis-à-vis Vicodin : NONPRESCRIPTION
44. Mormon's obligation : TITHE
45. Make darts, say : SEW
46. Bit of dinero : PESO
47. "Fire away!" : ASK
50. Instrument in the painting "The Spirit of '76" : FIFE
52. Contest with seconds : DUEL
56. Convention outcome : NOMINATION
61. Where the Joads were driven from : OKLAHOMA
63. Presto or largo : TEMPO
64. See 18-Across : WAYSABOUTIT
67. Adopt-a-thon adoptee : PET
68. Krupp Works city : ESSEN
69. Took a spin : DROVE
70. Bard's preposition : ERE
71. Dirty looks? : LEERS
72. "Cowboy and the Senorita," e.g. : OATER
73. One in knickers : LAD
1. Noodle dish : RAMEN
2. Last Oldsmobile : ALERO
3. Car wash machine : WAXER
4. Cold sufferer's drink : HOTTEA
5. Gaelic "Gee!" : OCH
6. It might go away for the summer : ICE
7. Not so iffy : SURER
8. Something a seismograph picks up : TREMOR
9. Buffalo ___ : WING
10. Be wild for : ADORE
11. Instrument with sympathetic strings : SITAR
12. Dots on a map : TOWNS
13. Act badly, in a way : EMOTE
19. It has a reciprocal function : SINE
21. Self-proclaimed leader of ISIS, e.g. : CALIPH
24. ___-dieu : PRIE
25. Prosciutto and others : HAMS
29. Big wheel : VIP
30. Discharge letters? : TNT
31. ___ polloi : HOI
32. Aardvark's morsel : ANT
34. IBM-compatibles, e.g. : PCS
36. Tropicana Field site, informally : STPETE
37. Factor in club selection : LIE
38. Canon offering : EOS
39. Nestlé ___ Caps : SNO
41. Stephen of "Citizen X" : REA
42. Lower one's A.P.R., perhaps : REFI
43. "Heads ___, tails ..." : IWIN
48. Elitist : SNOB
49. ___ dragon (huge lizard) : KOMODO
51. Like a "before" versus "after" photo subject, say : FATTER
52. Carpentry peg : DOWEL
53. Czar's edict : UKASE
54. "Family Ties" mother : ELYSE
55. ___ tag : LASER
57. Tierney of "ER" : MAURA
58. Urge forward : IMPEL
59. Record store section : OPERA
60. Jotted down : NOTED
62. A Katzenjammer kid : HANS
65. Rug rat : TOT
66. "You're all ___ got" : IVE

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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