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New York Times, Saturday, December 2, 2017

Author:
Mark Diehl
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
7411/11/19845/4/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
3214719362
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.572038
Mark Diehl

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 ... read more

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? ... read more

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.

Jim Horne notes:

I love the ELLEN DEGENERES clue at 61 Across.

1
D
2
O
3
U
4
B
5
L
6
E
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D
8
O
9
G
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D
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A
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R
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E
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E
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15
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B
A
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A
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D
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17
S
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A
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D
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T
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T
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L
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S
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T
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24
E
S
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A
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B
26
T
E
C
27
H
28
S
E
E
R
29
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N
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D
U
O
32
S
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S
T
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34
S
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P
L
U
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M
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J
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O
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B
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E
B
A
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Y
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A
R
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L
A
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D
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A
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I
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N
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S
L
O
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T
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E
G
A
D
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O
L
M
E
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C
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B
U
R
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R
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A
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D
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P
S
O
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M
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A
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C
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M
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L
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O
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H
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60
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61
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62
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1202 ( 24,861 )
Across
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
Down
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, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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