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New York Times, Friday, November 21, 2014

Author:
Kevin Christian
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
95/22/201311/27/20173
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0422010
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.

1
J
2
O
3
N
4
E
5
S
6
I
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N
8
G
9
A
10
I
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R
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B
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U
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S
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P
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R
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A
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K
A
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M
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L
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P
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N
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Q
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B
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A
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L
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D
N
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27
N
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P
A
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S
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O
29
N
30
I
A
M
31
F
A
Y
S
32
N
B
A
33
G
A
M
E
34
H
35
E
36
L
E
N
A
37
S
C
A
L
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D
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O
P
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R
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A
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A
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W
I
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D
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O
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R
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C
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N
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H
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O
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E
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M
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H
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L
O
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C
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A
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1121 ( 23,754 )
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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