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New York Times, Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Author:
Michael S. Maurer
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
255/4/19921/10/20183
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32511310
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.550006
Michael S. Maurer

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 22 for Mr. Maurer. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael S. Maurer notes:
Sitting in class my third year in law school, I noticed the friend next to me solving a crossword puzzle, and I was envious. We were ... read more

Sitting in class my third year in law school, I noticed the friend next to me solving a crossword puzzle, and I was envious. We were both bored with the lecture, but he had something else to do — something interesting, challenging and fun. I remember my mother used to work the daily puzzle from The Indianapolis Star, and I would assist her on occasion, but I really didn't get hooked until that spring morning in Bloomington, Indiana. Since that time, I have worked one puzzle a day with rare exceptions. I am addicted.

Many years ago, after completing a New York Times daily puzzle I found to be inane, I decided to create one and send it to The New York Times for publication. After waiting two weeks to receive notice of the acceptance of my masterpiece, the bad news came from former crossword puzzle editor, Eugene Maleska. My puzzle was a hopeless case. He said, "… the entries contain a plethora of esoterica. Frankly, I doubt that any crossword puzzle editor would accept such an amateurish creation." I don't know whether I was more let down by the blunt rejection letter or the fact that I had to look up the words "plethora" and "esoterica."

Eventually, I was accepted for publication in The New York Times. I loved the days when my puzzle appeared in the paper. I had to have more. I stepped up submissions to once a month. The addiction grew.

Maleska and I became friends until his death. When Will Shortz became the editor, he bundled up and returned to me six puzzles that had already been approved by Maleska for publication. I began to experience distress and dismay — withdrawal symptoms. Happily, I was able to adjust to the Shortz style and have been a regular, but not prolific contributor. It's great to be back in the Times after an absence of a few years.

Today's puzzle has a military theme. Construction was not difficult but I do regret not having room for more theme entries — "Arf" = CHOW LINE and "Bear hug" = ARMED FORCES, for example.

By the way, I lectured to a law school class a few years ago and I noticed one of the students working a crossword puzzle. Nothing's changed.

Jeff Chen notes:
WAR GAMES today, theme answers relating to war getting kooky interpretations. I liked PRESENT ARMS as something an RN might say, ... read more

WAR GAMES today, theme answers relating to war getting kooky interpretations. I liked PRESENT ARMS as something an RN might say, although I think I've seen that before somewhere. Ah yes, Michael Dewey's puzzle from earlier this year. SHORE LEAVE was fun too, a smile-inducing "description" of an ebb tide.

Mickey sure did a nice job in those NW and SE corners. I like long fill in my crosswords. Getting both the usual long downs as well as long acrosses that don't confuse the theme? Yes, please! That NW corner is so nice, SPITBALL and LISTEN UP featured at a very low price of admission in BSA. The SE does have SSW and STS, but those are so minor. I bet there are other good possibilities for where ANAGRAMS sits, ones that don't cause the terminal SS? problem at 60D, but ANAGRAMS is such an appropriate word for a crossword.

And some constructors would go whole hog, removing the black square between ISLE and BSA and trying for a themeless-like triple stack. I'm glad Mickey didn't. I really like the balance in those two corners, getting a good amount of nice fill without having to suffer through very much glue.

Man oh man, that NE corner did me in. I gave up after ten minutes, randomly guessing the last squares. (I'm pretty sure Jay BORNEY is a person, dagnabit!) It's nice that there are two ways in (LAVALIERS and SHORE LEAVE), but LAVALIERS was a random string of letters to me. Fun word to learn when I look at it now. During my solve though, I felt like there were too many random-ish guesses, one involving that LEM author, but much more so in the ACA/CARNEY/LAVALIERS pile-up. I would have much preferred if one of those had been clued much easier; if Art CARNEY had made an appearance ACA (here, in Spanish).

Educated Americans really ought to know the Accessible Care Amendment, though. Er, the Accelerated Coverage Act. Dang it! The Affordable Care Act. (Don't worry, I had to look that up too.)

All in all, the theme felt like it didn't quite cohere for me. Maybe more consistency would have helped, i.e. each of the themers could be reinterpreted as commands? Still, a fun solving experience … aside from the frustration involved with that NE corner.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1126 ( 23,759 )
Across
1
Buried treasure site, maybe : ISLE
5
Eagles' band?: Abbr. : BSA
8
What confirmed bachelors avoid : ALTARS
14
Wet missile : SPITBALL
16
Jay ___, onetime Obama press secretary : CARNEY
17
Potato? : MASHUNIT
18
Benefits : AVAILS
19
"Bewitched" spinoff : TABITHA
21
Take in, as patients : ADMIT
22
Major tanker port : ADEN
24
Ebb tide? : SHORELEAVE
26
Fled or bled : RAN
27
Not quite enough : SHY
28
Philanthropist Broad : ELI
29
Sci-fi author Stanislaw : LEM
30
Most of the symbols on a traditional slot machine : FRUIT
32
Willow shoot : OSIER
34
Inoculation order? : PRESENTARMS
38
Rotten tomato's sound : SPLAT
39
Put into law : ENACT
42
Org. originating the three-point shot : ABA
45
Suffix with super : IOR
46
Neither his nor hers : ITS
48
___ mag (Maxim or FHM) : LAD
49
"Clean out your desk!"? : FIRINGLINE
52
Goes down : SETS
53
Commencement participants, for short : GRADS
54
Eases : SOFTENS
56
Like Superman and Spider-Man : HEROIC
58
1983 sci-fi drama ... or a possible title for this puzzle : WARGAMES
61
Actress Bynes of "She's the Man" : AMANDA
62
Letterman's favorite activity? : ANAGRAMS
63
Took home : NETTED
64
A, B and C, in D.C. : STS
65
See 50-Down : KNOW
Down
1
Suffix with sex : ISM
2
Masseuse's workplace : SPA
3
"Pay attention!" : LISTENUP
4
Allen who captured Fort Ticonderoga : ETHAN
5
Exile : BANISH
6
Like the toves in "Jabberwocky" : SLITHY
7
E'en if : ALTHO
8
Signature Obama health measure, for short : ACA
9
Some microphones : LAVALIERES
10
Major League Baseball news : TRADE
11
Savage : ANIMAL
12
Go through again : RELIVE
13
What an anarchist rails against, with "the" : SYSTEM
15
Pal : BUB
20
"Give it ___!" : AREST
22
Toy sound : ARF
23
Historical org. : DAR
25
Director Kazan : ELIA
27
Words of welcome : STEPINSIDE
31
Code letters? : IRS
32
One side of Niagara Falls: Abbr. : ONT
33
Watergate initials : RMN
35
Tough trek : SLOG
36
Doo-wop group with the 1963 hit "Remember Then," with "the" : EARLS
37
Infomercial figure : SALESMAN
40
Cool ___ : CAT
41
Scores of Vikings, for short : TDS
42
Warm blanket : AFGHAN
43
Old galley : BIREME
44
Biblical debarkation point : ARARAT
46
Baby : INFANT
47
Aquarium fish : TETRAS
50
With 65-Across, "Not a clue" : IDONT
51
Midwest tribe : IOWAS
52
Snide comments : SNARK
55
Humpty Dumpty, e.g. : EGG
57
Scoundrel : CAD
59
Music genre : EMO
60
Chicago-to-Houston dir. : SSW

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?