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New York Times, Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Author: Peter A. Collins
Editor: Will Shortz
Peter A. Collins
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Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQX} Spans: 2 Grid has mirror symmetry There are unchecked squares This is puzzle # 74 for Mr. Collins. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Peter A. Collins notes: A couple of weeks ago I was at a dinner engagement where I struck up a conversation with the gentleman across the table. He ... more
Peter A. Collins notes: A couple of weeks ago I was at a dinner engagement where I struck up a conversation with the gentleman across the table. He was quite interested in the fact that I constructed crossword puzzles. We had a nice chat, but at the end he said "I don't like it when they put that crazy stuff in there — like circles." At that point, I stared down at my plate and started pushing the peas around with my fork. I think I changed the subject to baseball.

Needless to say, I'm sure that guy is not too happy today. To add to the "crazy stuff", I threw in a couple of unchecked letters. The fact that the grid has left-right symmetry (as opposed to the usual rotational) might just throw him over the edge.

I wonder how many solvers will be confused by the two 15-letter down entries, thinking that they must be thematic. Well ... they aren't.

Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty" was a big album back in my college days. I can still hear the songs bouncing off the walls of my dormitory (as I pulled my pillow over my head trying to get some sleep).

Will Shortz notes: Peter's puzzle fits into a whole lot of special categories: Puzzles with circles, Puzzles with unusual symmetry (in this case, ... more
Will Shortz notes: Peter's puzzle fits into a whole lot of special categories: Puzzles with circles, Puzzles with unusual symmetry (in this case, left/right), and Puzzles with unchecked squares (although, technically, "E" and "F" here aren't really unchecked, because they're part of the theme). Maybe a new category should be added — Puzzles that form pictures when they're done. Besides the theme, which I love, the fillers OLD GLORY, CORN SILK, MOONBEAM, and SLOW ON THE UPTAKE are particularly nice.
Jeff Chen notes: Man oh man I loved this one. I realize some people are going to hate it because it breaks all kinds of rules and it's light on theme ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Man oh man I loved this one. I realize some people are going to hate it because it breaks all kinds of rules and it's light on theme density (or simply because they like to be a contrarian), but I'm a sucker for a puzzle with a good visual. Everyone's entitled to their opinion.

What a cool image, using a couple of well-placed circles to suggest a gas gauge. Sure, the dial doesn't really have an ARROW, but what would be better? NEEDLE? POINTER? Not sure. I really liked how Peter used mirror symmetry in order to place the revealer close to the bottom, so it didn't give away the trick halfway through the puzzle. When I finally uncovered RUNNING / ON EMPTY I smiled at his use of the unchecked squares E and F to represent empty and full. Very cool.

And I really like having so much good long fill. Stuff like OLD GLORY, EARSHOT, MOONBEAM (clued to Governor MOONBEAM would have been even better!), etc. If this is what Will means when he says he's looking for some puzzles with less theme density but more good long fill, I wholeheartedly agree.

And saving the best for last, being an electromechanical dork I loved seeing ELECTROMAGNETIC and FEYNMAN in the grid. Some people believe FEYNMAN was kind of arrogant and/or a jerk (if you haven't read "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" you owe it to yourself to do so) but he was both brilliant and extremely entertaining. I got a lot of pleasure out of uncovering these entries.

Very well done, Pete. Sure, there's some of ugly-looking ASSOC, ALG, TOR, and people might complain that they shouldn't have to know Ndamukong SUH, but overall, what a giant serving of win for me today.

1
A
2
H
3
E
4
A
5
D
6
G
7
P
8
A
9
A
10
S
11
S
12
O
13
C
14
V
A
L
S
E
15
A
R
T
16
T
U
L
L
Y
17
O
B
E
L
I
18
Z
O
O
19
R
H
O
D
A
20
W
A
C
21
G
22
E
E
23
P
24
O
I
25
W
G
N
26
I
N
T
27
E
N
D
28
N
A
29
P
O
L
I
30
N
E
R
D
31
S
32
H
33
A
34
P
E
35
A
N
O
D
36
G
R
O
G
37
E
R
R
38
E
T
R
E
39
A
M
A
40
C
D
R
O
41
M
42
S
H
Y
43
E
44
A
R
45
R
O
W
46
N
O
47
F
E
E
48
F
49
A
50
L
G
51
A
R
I
52
T
O
R
53
U
54
S
E
55
R
U
N
56
N
I
N
G
57
O
N
E
58
M
P
T
Y
59
S
P
E
E
D
S
60
B
E
A
T
E
N
61
H
I
T
S
62
I
63
M
64
A
65
G
E
66
F
A
R
M
67
O
N
I
T
68
L
I
B
R
A
69
I
K
E
A
70
T
E
C
S
71
K
A
S
E
M
72
A
E
O
N
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1120 ( 23,388 )
Across Down
1. Leading : AHEAD
6. Class-ranking stat : GPA
9. N.C.A.A. part: Abbr. : ASSOC
14. Ravel's "La ___" : VALSE
15. Designer's major : ART
16. Lincoln Center's Alice ___ Hall : TULLY
17. Division signs : OBELI
18. Chaotic scene : ZOO
19. Valerie Harper title role : RHODA
20. W.W. II female : WAC
21. "No kidding!" : GEE
23. Islands finger food : POI
25. Chicago Cubs' station : WGN
26. Have in mind : INTEND
28. Third-largest city in Italia : NAPOLI
30. Stereotypical Mensan : NERD
31. Most athletes are in it : SHAPE
35. "And giving ___, up the chimney ..." : ANOD
36. Privateer's potation : GROG
37. Boot one : ERR
38. To be, in Québec : ETRE
39. Org. criticized in "Sicko" : AMA
40. Software package medium : CDROM
42. Owing the pot : SHY
44. Direction indicator : ARROW
46. Like some checking accounts : NOFEE
49. Typical prerequisite to geom. : ALG
51. Celebrity groom in '68 headlines : ARI
52. Blue Jays, on scoreboards : TOR
53. Put into play : USE
55. With 57-Across, 1977 Jackson Browne album ... or a hint to what's depicted in this puzzle's grid : RUNNING
57. See 55-Across : ONEMPTY
59. Hightails it : SPEEDS
60. Like eggs in omelets : BEATEN
61. Pete Rose's 4,256 : HITS
62. Mental picture : IMAGE
66. Many hands may be found on it : FARM
67. Tending to the matter : ONIT
68. Someone born on Columbus Day, e.g. : LIBRA
69. Chain that sells Borgsjö bookcases : IKEA
70. P.I.'s : TECS
71. Casey with a countdown : KASEM
72. "___ Flux" (Charlize Theron movie) : AEON
1. Stating firmly : AVOWING
2. Cuban dance : HABANERA
3. Kind of force that affects charged particles : ELECTROMAGNETIC
4. Handy way of communicating?: Abbr. : ASL
5. Lower oneself : DEIGN
6. Steady look : GAZE
7. Moneymaker? : PRO
8. On : ATOP
9. Lobbies with trees, maybe : ATRIA
10. Ndamukong ___, 2010 N.F.L. Defensive Rookie of the Year : SUH
11. A bit dense : SLOWONTHEUPTAKE
12. American flag : OLDGLORY
13. Poison pill contents : CYANIDE
22. Mag. staffers : EDS
24. Number on a foam finger : ONE
27. Musician Johnny Winter's musician brother : EDGAR
29. Bel ___ cheese : PAESE
32. Harry Potter's owl : HEDWIG
33. Opposite of dep. : ARR
34. On the double : PRONTO
40. Shucker's debris : CORNSILK
41. Night ray : MOONBEAM
43. Eavesdropping distance : EARSHOT
45. A bust may come of it : RAID
47. Not busy : FREE
48. 1965 Physics Nobelist Richard : FEYNMAN
50. Wolflike : LUPINE
54. LP introduction of 1957 : STEREO
56. Exterminators' targets : NESTS
58. Omertà group : MAFIA
63. Unaccounted for, briefly : MIA
64. Six-pack ___ : ABS
65. College sr.'s test : GRE

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 6 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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