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New York Times, Monday, November 25, 2013

Author:
Kevin G. Der
Editor:
Will Shortz
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403/12/200710/13/20182
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1.65865
Kevin G. Der

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QZ} This is puzzle # 29 for Mr. Der. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kevin G. Der notes:
So many good constructors are creating puzzles today that it's hard to find an original idea. Whenever I think of a theme that might ... read more

So many good constructors are creating puzzles today that it's hard to find an original idea. Whenever I think of a theme that might work, I add it to a list on my phone, which I'll check later when I feel like constructing. In this case, I think I saw a bumper sticker on the street that began with "HONK IF YOU LOVE...", which had clear Monday possibilities.

In the grid, the theme entry lengths (12's and 13's) forced a certain pattern because I prefer to avoid two cheater squares for 13's. The result is two long vertical entries that pass through three theme entries, which drastically reduces the possibilities. (I now see that I could've just flipped the top and bottom pairs instead. No idea why I didn't.) The two vertical entries I found are consequently ok but not amazing. I tried to compensate by increasing the number of 7- and 8-letter entries. Finally, I try to avoid using 3 letter words that cross the grid's center, because it feels suffocating.

Will Shortz notes:
Kevin's puzzle has a completely fresh theme idea that makes me laugh. He knows I'm perennially short on Monday puzzles, too, which is ... read more

Kevin's puzzle has a completely fresh theme idea that makes me laugh. He knows I'm perennially short on Monday puzzles, too, which is why he geared this one for this day of the week.

A special comment about PLEB (10D): I often read comments on the crossword blogs that a somewhat uncommon word like this is "not a Monday word." I don't happen to think that every answer in a Monday New York Times crossword has to be common. Times readers are intelligent and well-educated. They're perfectly capable of handling an occasional bit of new vocabulary. PLEB is a useful word. All the crossings here are easy. So in my opinion it's suitable even for Monday.

Whew! I finally got that off my chest.

Jeff Chen notes:
Before we start, let's acknowledge the elephant in the room: all Asians actually do look alike. So as a public service, here's a quick ... read more

Before we start, let's acknowledge the elephant in the room: all Asians actually do look alike. So as a public service, here's a quick primer. Kevin is the brilliant Asian, Joon is the Asian of Einsteinian brainpower, and I'm the smart one (and Asian). Seriously though, Kevin has worked in high-tech, helped President Obama get re-elected, and has a top-secret in-his-garage project in the works. Joon is the physicist who blew up Jeopardy! records. I'm the one who can morph the space-time fabric (as well as reality)*. Claro?

Excellent Monday puzzle from Kevin. It's not often that a Monday carries a novel theme, one I've never seen before. Bravo for breaking the mold! Neat to see this collection of well-known bumper sticker starters, each one immediately apparent to me. Even better, I couldn't think of any others right away that would fit in. Consistency and specificity, that's excellent theme work.

Far more impressive though, is the quality of his construction. It starts with the fact that the four themers are of inconvenient lengths (12 and 13), which makes grid layout challenging from the start. But Kevin sets it up so that he takes advantage of these lengths, using the black squares in rows 4 and 12 to end long downs (SIDE BENEFIT and DNA SAMPLING).

Then look at the sheer quantity of long downs: TEAHOUSE/EXPELLED, FUTURAMA/IN HEAVEN stacked together, along with RHESUS, MILADY, SANDPIT, BAD OMEN. With so much packed in, I'd expect a host of ugly entries (especially around the stacked long downs), but I didn't notice anything during my solve. Going through a second time I saw the unseemly ERGS, but that was it. Just amazing how clean and Monday-friendly this thing is.

Will brings up an interesting point about PLEB. To me, PLEB is perfectly fine — it's more esoteric entries like AMOUR PROPRE that I don't care to see in a Monday puzzle. So much about crosswords is subjective, isn't it?

Finally, I always enjoy getting a constructor's personality shining through the puzzle, and seeing FUTURAMA, CHANG (another dude who looks like Kevin, Joon and me), SATAY, all felt Kevin-ish. Man, that's some good stuff. Great way to start the week.

*I'm also the good-looking one.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1125 ( 23,393 )
Across
1
Remarks not made seriously : JESTS
6
Tiny arachnid ... or tiny amount : MITE
10
Greek letters resembling tridents : PSIS
14
Hawaiian greeting : ALOHA
15
Wild mountain goat : IBEX
16
___ trap (part of a dryer) : LINT
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Italian city with a semiannual fashion week : MILAN
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Big jump : LEAP
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___ Krabappel of "The Simpsons" : EDNA
20
Start of a bumper sticker that may end with one's favorite vacation spot : IDRATHERBEIN
23
Spanish hero El ___ : CID
26
___ Xing (street sign) : PED
27
Cheer for a torero : OLE
28
Mattress site : BED
29
Start of a bumper sticker that may end with one's favorite hobby : HONKIFYOULOVE
33
Expect : AWAIT
34
Employ : USE
35
Pens' contents : INKS
38
Condé ___ (magazine company) : NAST
39
Penalized for a driving violation, say : FINED
41
Slugger Carlos : PENA
42
Buzzing pest : GNAT
43
Chapel Hill sch. : UNC
44
Prove appropriate for : BEFIT
45
Start of a bumper sticker that may end with one's favorite (usually expensive) vehicle : MYOTHERCARISA
49
Piece of stage equipment : AMP
51
Wish undone : RUE
52
Possessed : HAD
53
"Love ___ neighbor ..." : THY
54
Start of a bumper sticker that may end with one's favorite attraction : WILLBRAKEFOR
58
Where Tibet is : ASIA
59
Madison and Fifth, e.g.: Abbr. : AVES
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College student's concentration : MAJOR
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Casino game with numbered balls : KENO
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Restaurant window display : MENU
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Circumvent : EVADE
67
Small fractions of joules : ERGS
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Tiny colony dwellers : ANTS
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Geeklike : NERDY
Down
1
Alternative to jelly : JAM
2
Inventor Whitney : ELI
3
Note after fa : SOL
4
Spicy ethnic food : THAI
5
Hole dug on a beach : SANDPIT
6
Term of address for a noblewoman : MILADY
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Sarcastic reply : IBET
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Place to sip oolong : TEAHOUSE
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Kicked out : EXPELLED
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Commoner : PLEB
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Secondary advantage : SIDEBENEFIT
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Concave belly button : INNIE
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Be upright : STAND
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Hoops official : REF
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Vintage car inits. : REO
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Former tennis pro Michael : CHANG
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Des Moines native : IOWAN
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Gathering of biological evidence after an arrest : DNASAMPLING
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Poker pot : KITTY
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1/16 of a pound : OUNCE
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Venomous snake : VIPER
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Jewish turnover : KNISH
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4-Down skewered meat dish : SATAY
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Comedy Central cartoon set in the year 3000 : FUTURAMA
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Beyond elated : INHEAVEN
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Troubling sign of things to come : BADOMEN
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Celestial body : ORB
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___ monkey : RHESUS
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Half-___ (latte order) : CAF
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No longer sleeping : AWAKE
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Stingy sort : MISER
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Vientiane's land : LAOS
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Clark ___, alter ego of Superman : KENT
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Four-star review : RAVE
61
Jelly container : JAR
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Strange : ODD
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King: Sp. : REY

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?