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New York Times, Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Author:
Steve Savoy
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
212/30/201212/11/20130
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1001000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53000
Steve Savoy

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QVXZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Savoy. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Steve Savoy notes:
Thanks for the blog invite Jeff and Jim! First off, in case you didn't know, this site is awesome. I've used it to construct every one ... read more

Thanks for the blog invite Jeff and Jim! First off, in case you didn't know, this site is awesome. I've used it to construct every one of my published puzzles ... er, that would be 2 now. Funny aside, this one was actually the first of the two that Will accepted. My debut puzzle took only 2 months to publish at the end of last year. This quote-style theme sat in the hopper for 16 months!

When I read this quote in a trade journal early last year, it was the first time I'd seen it. As the co-owner of a small nanotech firm, I related instantly. Einstein probably never encountered the modern day phrase we use for his "absurdity": brainstorming meeting! I'm sure he participated in many, though. Picture Einstein and colleagues pontificating around the chalkboard, "NEIN, ALBERT, that's just ABSURD!" Amazing to think of the volume of absurd figments that must have crossed his mind, yet didn't stick as well as special relativity and E=mc2.

Construction of this puzzle happened quick — just 3 hours to finish. I was even able to nestle both first and last name nicely into the southeast without the fierce battle that usually accompanies stuffing more theme into an already high density (RHO) grid. It took great INSIGHT to work in a constructor's dream Scrabble score name like EINSTEIN! Also, glad to usher BORDELLO back into the Shortzian puzzle era.

Hope you enjoyed the solve, and for the record, your next ABSURD thought today, well, ITSONME!

Will Shortz notes:
I don't run puzzles with quote or quip themes very often, as in my experience they're not terribly popular. Once in a while, though, I ... read more

I don't run puzzles with quote or quip themes very often, as in my experience they're not terribly popular. Once in a while, though, I think they're nice, for variety's sake, and the quote here by Albert Einstein (58A/39D) I thought was pretty amusing.

Jeff Chen notes:
As Will mentioned, the state of the art has evolved so much that a quote puzzle must have something extra to make it worth the variety ... read more

As Will mentioned, the state of the art has evolved so much that a quote puzzle must have something extra to make it worth the variety factor. This quote is pretty good, plus it's something I hadn't heard before. Nice to get that mental image of EINSTEIN with his awesomely goofy hair quipping this to eyebrow-raising listeners.

Although ALBERT and EINSTEIN are a bit oddly placed (no themers in the symmetrical locations), it is pretty neat that EINSTEIN intersects two chunks of the quote. Interlock is usually hard to achieve, and to be able to place EINSTEIN like this impressed me. Having ALBERT connect to EINSTEIN was pretty cool too. And to top it off, that section of the grid, with so many crossing and overlapping constraints, is awfully clean, with even DEEJAY and YENTL making appearances. That's some nice very nice fill work. Still though, I think from an elegance standpoint, I would have preferred to see just EINSTEIN as the last entry in the grid, or ALBERT EINSTEIN as the last theme entry.

It was as if time itself was relativistic, slowing like molasses, when I hit H TEN. "Coordinate in the game Battleship" I thought meant "coordinate" as in "work together". I was outraged that the NYT suggested that people should cheat by coordinating in a two-player game! (not really) Luckily I realized what was going on before emailing my smarmy note to Will: coordinate is used in its location meaning. Oops. Nice misdirection, almost making up for the arbitrary nature of the entry. That area is tough to fill (the best alternate I could come up with is HYMN which forces DELI to become something like MMLI (but I personally dislike random Roman numerals, especially ones longer than three digits). Does having BORDELLO in the grid make up for HTEN? Hard to say. No right, no wrong, more a matter of opinion.

One aspect I really appreciate to quote puzzles is if they're parsed naturally. Just like good poetry, it's elegant if the meter flows and the breaks come naturally. This is often very hard to accomplish because crossword symmetry dictates heavy limitations on how quotes can be broken. Specifically, I would have loved to see it parsed IF AT FIRST / THE IDEA IS NOT ABSURD / THEN THERE IS NO HOPE FOR IT. But of course that's 9 / 18 / 22, which works about as well as my perpetual motion machine. Dang thing keeps stopping; can't figure out why.

Jim Horne notes:
1
G
2
O
3
B
4
A
5
D
6
A
7
M
8
A
9
S
10
S
11
M
12
A
13
W
14
P
R
O
T
O
15
N
U
B
I
A
16
A
M
A
17
S
T
R
A
T
18
I
F
A
T
F
19
I
R
S
T
20
D
R
E
21
A
M
T
22
S
E
N
A
T
E
23
T
24
H
E
I
D
E
A
I
25
S
26
S
U
E
R
27
A
T
L
28
U
R
L
29
T
30
I
31
M
I
D
L
Y
32
D
E
L
33
I
34
R
E
T
A
G
35
N
O
T
36
A
37
B
38
S
U
R
D
T
H
39
E
40
N
41
S
L
A
K
E
42
T
I
E
43
R
44
M
45
I
46
N
O
L
T
A
47
C
48
O
49
D
50
N
I
H
51
A
M
E
N
52
T
53
H
E
R
E
54
I
S
N
O
55
S
G
T
M
56
A
57
J
58
A
L
B
E
R
T
59
H
O
P
E
F
O
60
R
I
T
61
J
E
E
62
R
63
S
64
E
N
A
65
T
H
A
T
I
66
A
N
I
O
N
67
D
E
Y
68
A
N
T
I
C
69
Y
E
N
T
L
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1211 ( 23,409 )

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Across
1
Become inedible : GOBAD
6
Pull together : AMASS
11
Big mouth : MAW
14
Start to type? : PROTO
15
Nile Valley region : NUBIA
16
Org. with a noted journal : AMA
17
Classic Fender guitar, for short : STRAT
18
Start of a quote about creativity by 58-Across/39-Down : IFATFIRST
20
Did some woolgathering : DREAMT
22
Body of 100 : SENATE
23
Quote, part 2 : THEIDEAIS
26
One on "Judge Judy" : SUER
27
Home of the Brave?: Abbr. : ATL
28
Cyberaddress: Abbr. : URL
29
In the manner of a milquetoast : TIMIDLY
32
Bagel and lox purveyor : DELI
34
Mark down, perhaps : RETAG
35
Quote, part 3 : NOTABSURDTHEN
41
Quench : SLAKE
42
Level : TIER
44
Bygone Japanese camera brand : MINOLTA
47
Shipping letters : COD
50
Biomedical research org. : NIH
51
"Agreed!" : AMEN
52
Quote, part 4 : THEREISNO
55
High-ranking noncom: Abbr. : SGTMAJ
58
With 39-Down, speaker of this puzzle's quote : ALBERT
59
End of the quote : HOPEFORIT
61
Boos : JEERS
64
"Bambi" deer : ENA
65
"Not ___ know of" : THATI
66
OH- or Cl-, chemically : ANION
67
Susan of "L.A. Law" : DEY
68
Shenanigan : ANTIC
69
Cross-dressing role for Streisand : YENTL
Down
1
Many 16-Across members : GPS
2
Food scrap : ORT
3
Red light locale : BORDELLO
4
Asteroids game maker : ATARI
5
End of an academic 28-Across : DOTEDU
6
Kid's cracker shape : ANIMAL
7
G.I.'s civvies : MUFTI
8
Org. for D.A.'s : ABA
9
Serves on a panel : SITS
10
Opposite of out : SAFE
11
Pillage : MARAUD
12
Dutch brew : AMSTEL
13
Weak, as a brew : WATERY
19
Deep perception : INSIGHT
21
Gaseous prefix : AER
23
Smidgen : TAD
24
Coordinate in the game Battleship : HTEN
25
Suffix with hip or hoop : STER
30
"___ be an honor" : ITD
31
Doorstep item : MAT
33
"Got it covered!" : ITSONME
34
Wish undone : RUE
36
"___ done!" : ALL
37
Be up : BAT
38
Trick-taking game : SKAT
39
See 58-Across : EINSTEIN
40
Deutsch denial : NEIN
43
Plato's P : RHO
44
Like the potatoes in shepherd's pie : MASHED
45
"See ya!" : IMGONE
46
What's taken home : NETPAY
47
Larry Bird, during his playing days : CELTIC
48
Object in the right hand of the king of clubs : ORB
49
Wedding hiree : DEEJAY
53
Port-au-Prince's land : HAITI
54
Pax's Greek counterpart : IRENE
56
Aqua Velva competitor : AFTA
57
Lav : JOHN
60
Turncoat : RAT
62
Become inedible : ROT
63
NBC show since '75 : SNL

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?