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New York Times, Saturday, November 8, 2014

Author:
Barry C. Silk
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
929/1/20037/8/20166
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358532741
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.651215
Barry C. Silk
Earthrise

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 31 Missing: {JVZ} This is puzzle # 84 for Mr. Silk. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Barry C. Silk notes:
My puzzle essentially had two seeds: EARTHRISE and GREENTAPE. I was inspired to use EARTHRISE in a puzzle after looking at a ... read more

My puzzle essentially had two seeds: EARTHRISE and GREENTAPE. I was inspired to use EARTHRISE in a puzzle after looking at a photograph with that name taken during the Apollo 8 mission. My original clue for EARTHRISE referred to the photograph. I ran across the use of GREENTAPE in an article about excessive environment regulations and thought that was would be a cool entry for a puzzle.

I don't recall the whole construction process for this puzzle, but when I fill a grid, I try to strike a balance between 'interesting' longer entries (BATSIGNAL, BIOWEAPON, e.g.) and high-scrabble value fill (GASTAX, CEREALBOX, QUARK, e.g.), although puzzle didn't turn out to be as scrabbly as I'd prefer.

Jeff Chen notes:
Nice offering from Barry today, a good example of his 'crossword voice.' A lot of strong material — EARTHRISE, BIOWEAPON, ... read more

Nice offering from Barry today, a good example of his "crossword voice." A lot of strong material — EARTHRISE, BIOWEAPON, BLOOMBERG, what a great triplet — along with a smattering of crossword glue, plus a nod to the Phillies. Quintessential Barry Silk.

I'm usually not a fan of themeless layouts featuring seven-letter words, as constructors often fill those slots with neutral entries rather than colorful ones. But look what Barry does today in the NE corner. The triplet of LA BAMBA, STEP MOM, and AIR TAXI is really strong, plus everything around it is solid. He does sacrifice a little in terms of grid flow in order to achieve this, as there are only two entries that can help the solver break into that corner. But when those two entries are super strong ones like CEREAL BOX and GAS TAX, I don't mind as much.

A note on "clue echoes." Repeated clues work really well for me when they refer to completely different things. For example, POOL ROOMS and AILERON both are clued with respect to banking, but that word has wildly disparate meanings in the two clues. For POOL ROOMS, it's talking about banking shots off of rails; for AILERON, it's referring to a plane banking to turn. That sort of creative connection is a huge plus in my book.

I personally don't like clue echoes as much when they're within the exact same wheelhouse. [Searchlight element] for example, clues both XENON and BEAM. Along with (the awesome!) BATSIGNAL also being clued in a similar fashion, this repetition gets a bit tedious for me. Personal taste.

Alternate middle section

There aren't any ugly entries, just minor offenders. It's a shame that the weakest entries — L RON, SOLS, EL AL (SHEB Wooley ... he seemed to reach decent fame during his time, so he seems okay) — are concentrated in one region. L RON might have been something like FRED or FRAN (TAIL becoming NAIF; most of that section changing) but it would have required PICT, the ancient Briton, in the place of PACT (see left). I have a peculiar distaste for partials, but I can see how others would deem L RON as "gettable" and PICT as "too esoteric." As always, subjectivity is such a big part of construction.

A lot of tough but clever clues in this one. For those of you still mystified by [Binder?], think not of a school binder, but a bind-er, as in "something that binds."

Finally, I wish crosswords could evolve faster with respect to new technology. I hadn't looked up the "Earthrise" picture until Barry mentioned it. Super glad he did, because I forgot how breathtaking it is. How cool would it be to have a visual clue, just the picture, similar to Jeopardy? No idea how to do this given the medieval state of the art in crossword programs, but a guy can wish. Seems like this is a huge opportunity for someone enterprising, given the rapid evolution of crosswords.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1108 ( 23,741 )
Across
1. Up-coming world phenomenon? : EARTHRISE
10. Material for a float : BALSA
15. Anthrax, potentially : BIOWEAPON
16. Big name in old strings : AMATI
17. Notable switcher from Democrat to Republican to Independent : BLOOMBERG
18. Not ripped : SOBER
19. Offensive observance? : TET
20. Binder? : PACT
21. Really into something : RAPT
22. See 4-Down : IRON
24. It's turned before bolting : TAIL
26. Like emissions from some 40-Down : GAMMA
27. Put out : DOUSE
29. Life preserver? : CEREALBOX
31. Puts in : ENTERS
33. Some notes : SOLS
34. Adversaire's opposite : AMI
35. Aid in creating a part : COMB
37. Phils' rivals : NATS
39. Settings for donors, briefly : ORS
42. Pick, say : TOOL
44. Allama Iqbal International Airport locale : LAHORE
48. Searchlight in comics : BATSIGNAL
51. Searchlight element : XENON
52. Number line : LYRIC
53. 1914 Belgian battle line : YSER
55. Searchlight element : BEAM
56. Eisner's successor at Disney : IGER
57. Cause of temporary blindness : SNOW
59. "Die Fledermaus" soprano : IDA
60. A tiny bit strange? : QUARK
62. Banking facilities? : POOLROOMS
64. Still to be attained : UNMET
65. First-and-second track options : PERFECTAS
66. "Sleepless in Seattle" quartet : ESSES
67. Bureaucratic environmental regulations : GREENTAPE
Down
1. Cyclic recession : EBBTIDE
2. Banking facilitator : AILERON
3. Get rid of : ROOTOUT
4. With 22-Across, obsolescent club : TWO
5. Eco-chic clothing option : HEMP
6. Capital across the river from its sister city Salé : RABAT
7. Drug used in aversion therapy : IPECAC
8. Assaults : SORTIES
9. Like Spender and Spenser: Abbr. : ENG
10. Relief may follow it : BAS
11. Libertine : AMORAL
12. Song whose title follows "Para bailar" : LABAMBA
13. Harry and Wills acquired one in 2005 : STEPMOM
14. Puddle-jumper : AIRTAXI
23. Minute minute part: Abbr. : NSEC
25. Author Hubbard : LRON
26. Pump add-on : GASTAX
28. Hot : EROTIC
30. Literally, "skyward" : ELAL
32. Blanket produced in Mexico City : SMOG
36. Too thin : BONY
38. Wooley of "Rawhide" : SHEB
39. Like some references : OBLIQUE
40. Futuristic fryers : RAYGUNS
41. Goes with the flow? : STREAMS
43. One pulling a calf, say : LASSOER
45. A tiny bit : ONEIOTA
46. Detailed plan : ROADMAP
47. How bands move : ENMASSE
49. Bob may follow it : SIRREE
50. "Sainted maiden" of literature : LENORE
54. Jamestown colonist : ROLFE
58. Cousin of a gnatcatcher : WREN
61. Some chessmen: Abbr. : KTS
62. N.B.A. scoring stat : PPG
63. Alternative to 10 : OCT

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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