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New York Times, Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Author:
Jacob Stulberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3012/25/20131/2/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3449640
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.597100
Jacob Stulberg
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
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 ... read more

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 solver ... read more

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 )

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Across
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
Down
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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