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New York Times, Friday, November 21, 2014

Author:
Kevin Christian
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
105/22/20133/25/20194
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0522010
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64011
Kevin Christian

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 29 Missing: none – this is a pangram. Grid has both 90- and 180-degree symmetry. This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Christian. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kevin Christian notes:
All NYT crosswords have grid patterns that are symmetrical when you rotate them 180 degrees. For this puzzle, I decided to start with ... read more

All NYT crosswords have grid patterns that are symmetrical when you rotate them 180 degrees. For this puzzle, I decided to start with a grid that would also be symmetrical when rotated 90 degrees.

The longest answer has length 8, which is kind of short, but there are 12 of them. I keep a list of words and phrases that have never been in a NYT crossword, so I pulled that out and looked for length 8 possibilities. My three favorites on that list were JONESING, BUTT DIAL, and LOCAVORE, so I started with those.

I seeded the puzzle by putting JONESING in the NW, BUTT DIAL in the NE, and LOCAVORE in the SE. I didn't seed a 4th entry in the SW because I figured the fill would flow into that area, kind of like squeezing a tube of toothpaste, so I waited to see what entry would go there naturally. I felt lucky when it turned out that HOW'S THAT would fit there.

I like the intersecting 7's in the middle of the puzzle (PASSION, BAY AREA, LOBSTER, DESIREE): BAY AREA is nice for me because I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. DESIREE is a good one because I'm a big Neil Diamond fan. He's one of the few musical artists that my dad and I both like, and we've been to see him in concert together a few times.

A few more things: LET ER RIP is fun, as my son plays baseball and it sounds like something you would say to a kid when you're telling him to swing away. I find EPIPHANY to be a colorful word. I like ARIZONA because I have two sisters, and one lives there now, and the other used to live there although recently she moved to Florida. EMOTICON and USER NAME are nice because they both evoke the computer driven world we live in.

Overall, I'm happy with how this puzzle turned out, and I'm glad I was able to get the pangram without doing anything too unnatural.

Jeff Chen notes:
Interesting grid today, one that perfectly embodies a standard and timeless themeless-building principle: use four triple-stacks of ... read more

Interesting grid today, one that perfectly embodies a standard and timeless themeless-building principle: use four triple-stacks of 8's, separated out into the four corners. Visually, a pleasant grid pattern, easy on the eyes. There's something so pleasing about its symmetry, as Kevin described above.

Nice stacks. The NW corner is particularly fine; JONESING / EMOTICON (Do people really say EMOJI now? Kids these days.) / RED SAUCE. I might have preferred the more colloquial JONESIN', but that's splittin' hairs. Nice that Kevin managed to take pretty good advantage of his eight-letter slots, even the single-word entries carefully chosen to still give some oomph. CATALYST is a strong entry, and STREAMED gives the puzzle a bit of 21st century feel.

Hoosiers' warm-ups

I'd make a funny comment about INDIANAN being a middle-of-the-road entry, but Will is from Indiana. More importantly, so is my wife. And Bloomington, home of IU, is quite a nice place to visit. Not to mention IU's basketball team has the most ridiculous warm-up pants ever. (I may or may not secretly want a pair.)

This layout doesn't have other long (i.e. 8+ letter) entries, so Kevin has to take advantage of his seven-letter slots to gain more assets — often not an easy task. I really like NBA GAME with its fun clue (and schadenfreude against the often big-headed Heat), and BAY AREA spoke to me, as it's where both Kevin and I hail from. It's too bad that the rest of the 7s were just neutral, i.e. PASSION, OPEN ERA, etc.

For non-stunt grids, I like to see five or less glue entries, so getting CDT, SOR, SST, ASST, A TRY, ESAS, NITRE did feel somewhat inelegant. But overall, a nice array of eight-letter entries helped make up for that.

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J
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A
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1121 ( 23,754 )

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Across
1
Having a big itch : JONESING
9
Giant jet : AIRBUS
15
Sideways look? : EMOTICON
16
"Swann's Way" novelist : PROUST
17
Marinara, e.g. : REDSAUCE
18
When to put all your eggs in one basket? : EASTER
19
Late legend in countdowns : KASEM
20
Bell part : LIP
22
Fertiliser ingredient : NITRE
23
Neighbor of 10-Down : IRAQ
24
Underlying : BASAL
26
"Country Girl" memoirist O'Brien : EDNA
27
Capital player, briefly : NAT
28
Fire : PASSION
30
Soy, north of Mexico : IAM
31
Elves, in poetry : FAYS
32
Heat loss, maybe? : NBAGAME
34
Home of minor-league baseball's Brewers : HELENA
37
Like lizards and lizardfish : SCALED
38
Tennis since 1968 : OPENERA
40
"Give this ___" : ATRY
41
It can be dry or sparkling : WIT
42
Title woman of a 1977 Neil Diamond hit : DESIREE
44
Org. of sisters : SOR
47
Bit of design info : SPEC
49
Not still : ASTIR
50
Where a ducktail tapers : NAPE
51
Paroxysm : THROE
53
Looney Tunes devil, for short : TAZ
54
Ceilings, informally : MAXES
55
Refuse to leave alone : HARASS
57
Farmers' market frequenter, maybe : LOCAVORE
59
Novelist Shreve and others : ANITAS
60
Hoosier : INDIANAN
61
Key figure? : TYPIST
62
Spark : CATALYST
Down
1
Close-fitting, sleeveless jacket : JERKIN
2
1998 Masters champ Mark : OMEARA
3
Acknowledges without a sound : NODSAT
4
Footnote abbr. : ETSEQ
5
Neighbor of India and China in Risk : SIAM
6
Post-O.R. stop, maybe : ICU
7
What a boor has : NOCLASS
8
Rock with colored bands : GNEISS
9
Boor : APE
10
Neighbor of 23-Across : IRAN
11
Good name for an optimist? : ROSIE
12
Call from the rear? : BUTTDIAL
13
Avatar accompanier : USERNAME
14
Like music on Pandora Radio : STREAMED
21
Hassle : PAIN
24
Giants' environs : BAYAREA
25
Source of the delicacy tomalley : LOBSTER
28
Like many mirrors : PANED
29
Nautilus shell feature : NACRE
31
Home for a sedge wren : FEN
33
Like the out crowd? : GAY
34
"Come again?" : HOWSTHAT
35
Moment when the fog lifts : EPIPHANY
36
"Go for it!" : LETERRIP
39
Second: Abbr. : ASST
40
Major copper exporter : ARIZONA
43
Slanted : ITALIC
44
State bordering Poland : SAXONY
45
Unlikely fare for philistines : OPERAS
46
Mind a lot : RESENT
48
Kinkajou's kin : COATI
50
Like some forces : NAVAL
52
Those, in Toledo : ESAS
54
Hermes' mother : MAIA
56
Boomer for nearly 35 yrs. : SST
58
Setting for many Card games : CDT

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

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