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New York Times, Saturday, December 2, 2017

Author: Mark Diehl
Editor: Will Shortz
Mark Diehl
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6811/11/198412/2/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
3014719322
ScrabRebusCirclePangrampre-WS
1.570018

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 27 Missing: {FKQWXZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 68 for Mr. Diehl. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mark Diehl notes: I was wowed by the look of the wide open 10/29/16 grid by Patrick Berry when I solved it last year. In the XWord write-up for that ... more
Mark Diehl notes:

I was wowed by the look of the wide open 10/29/16 grid by Patrick Berry when I solved it last year. In the XWord write-up for that puzzle, Jeff Chen stated his curiosity was piqued wondering if the grid could be filled after trimming the six corner squares down to three. For kicks, I accepted the challenge and sent Jeff a very rough fill with the new grid parameters that had some fun stuff, but also more blah than sparkle.

The challenge then sat idle for a couple months will I worked on other projects, but I came across it again, flipped the grid, tweaked the placement of black squares a bit and finally came up with a fill that registered much higher on my themeless-fun scale. As always, thanks to Will and Joel for substituting the entertaining quote at 61 Across as a clue and all their other shiny touches.

Feel free to add the 15-letter DOUBLEDOGDAREYA to the word list, too, Jeff.

Jeff Chen notes: Few constructors would dare to tackle a grid like this. A quad-stack … with another triple-stack running through it? ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Few constructors would dare to tackle a grid like this. A quad-stack … with another triple-stack running through it? Shudder-inducing! With something so impossibly difficult, my solving expectations run low, wondering how much crossword glue or outright esoterica I'll have to wade through. And the long answers often end up boring.

What a delightful surprise to uncover the snazzy DOUBLE DOG DARE at 1-A! And BARNYARD ANIMALS nearby? Yes!

And down south, DIPSOMANIAC! over ONE THING AT A TIME! over ELLEN DEGENERES! over … SENIOR EDITORS. (*sad trombone*)

Well, three out of four is still fantastic.

ELLEN DEGENERES and SENIOR EDITORS are both so crossword-friendly, what with all common letters and such regular consonant/vowel alternation. But ELLEN is so much more fun, especially what with that hilarious quote in the clue.

I liked that down south region a ton. JOAN MIRO is a great answer running through the quad-stack, as is OLD TIMER. It's hard to imagine how so many sizzling long entries could be jam-packed and interlocked. I thought there would HAVE to be a price to pay, but those two ultra-crossword-friendly entries worked some magic. To have virtually no crossword glue or esoterica (DAIN = hmm) is amazing.

There's a lesson in that. I can just sense constructors racing off to their seed lists, scouring them for similarly crossword-friendly entries …

(Okay, there was a price to pay. But I'm choosing to overlook the TIME / TIMER crossing because everything else was so awesome. It's a TIER 1 DOUBLE PURPLE ALERT INELEGANCY though.)

The top didn't turn out as well in my eyes, what with DEBATERS, ON A VISIT, UNRENTED not very exciting. And LOYD crossing the O of ENNIO? I worry that solvers will miss that square and feel horribly unsatisfied, and I wouldn't fault them. DIRECT DEBIT is a yawner even for this finance wonk. GRACE CUP … wha? Along with ESTAB and BENE, the north didn't do it for me.

But wow, that south half was a memorable standout in the low-word-count genre. If the top had even come close to it, the POW! choice would have been a no-brainer for me.

JimH notes: I love the ELLEN DEGENERES clue at 61 Across.
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1202 ( 24,861 )
Across Down
1. Challenge with gusto : DOUBLEDOGDARE
14. "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" composer : ENNIOMORRICONE
16. Classic See 'N Say toy figures : BARNYARDANIMALS
18. Philadelphia's Allegheny or Aramingo: Abbr. : AVE
19. Automatic bill payment : DIRECTDEBIT
20. Specs spec : TINT
22. Notes in old Napoli : LIRE
23. Conductor with over 30 Grammys : SOLTI
24. Business sign abbr. : ESTAB
26. One sector of the Dow Jones index : TECH
28. Forward-looking sort : SEER
29. Big name in chocolates : RIESEN
31. Two and two? : DUOS
33. First bishop of Paris : STDENIS
35. Coveted position : PLUMJOB
40. Parent company of StubHub : EBAY
42. Pupil border : AREOLA
43. Hammett's "The ___ Curse" : DAIN
47. Opening at work : SLOT
49. "Heavens to Murgatroyd!" : EGADS
50. Ancient carvers of giant stone heads : OLMEC
52. First vice president not to become president : BURR
54. Kick in : ANTE
55. Lush : DIPSOMANIAC
58. Unit of thickness : MIL
59. "Quit rushing me!" : ONETHINGATATIME
61. Who said "I like my men like I like my coffee. I don't drink coffee" : ELLENDEGENERES
62. Masthead section : SENIOREDITORS
1. Ones involved in forensics : DEBATERS
2. Stopping in : ONAVISIT
3. Not let : UNRENTED
4. Plane compartment : BIN
5. Sam ___, author of the classic "Cyclopedia of 5,000 Puzzles" : LOYD
6. Something read with a scroll? : EMAIL
7. Dickens title character : DORRIT
8. Alphabetical, e.g. : ORDERED
9. Final toast of a meal : GRACECUP
10. Exertion : DINT
11. Vinegar and lime juice : ACIDS
12. Valentine senders : ROMEOS
13. Give a chance : ENABLE
15. Several cuts above : ELITE
17. Hullabaloo : STIR
21. Stun with a gun : TASE
25. Forum fine? : BENE
27. Greeting abroad : HOLA
30. Sharpened points of quill pens : NIBS
32. "I'm down" : SURE
34. Three-time World Series champ with the A's : SALBANDO
36. ___ Millions : MEGA
37. "Triptych Bleu I, II, III" artist : JOANMIRO
38. Fogy : OLDTIMER
39. Utterly unfounded : BASELESS
41. How hair dye may make you look : YOUNGER
43. Bubblehead : DODO
44. Simple dress design : ALINE
45. Urges on : IMPELS
46. Toll House cookie dough maker : NESTLE
48. Some disaster relief work : TRIAGE
51. Real last name of Mama Cass Elliot : COHEN
53. Made the grade : RATED
56. What doesn't go to great lengths? : MINI
57. "Please, Mommy ... Please, Daddy?" : CANI
60. Haiphong holiday : TET

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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