It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Edge, Safari, or Firefox for best results.

New York Times, Friday, December 5, 2014

Author:
Tim Croce
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
333/12/20106/27/20151
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
01332816
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56001
Tim Croce

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 34 Missing: {Z} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 31 for Mr. Croce. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tim Croce notes:
I did this one the (sort-of) good old-fashioned way — by hand. I say 'sort of' because I didn't quite use pencil and graph ... read more

I did this one the (sort-of) good old-fashioned way — by hand. I say "sort of" because I didn't quite use pencil and graph paper, but Microsoft Excel. I think I might have singlehandedly crashed onelook.com at one point during the construction process, if not worn out the "?" key on my keyboard. This had been one of the odder crossword goals of mine, to get a freestyle hand-constructed puzzle published. I'm glad I did it, because I have gained a completely new respect for those folks who did this before computers were a thing … and for the few of those who still don't use them. It's hard to keep away from crosswordese when doing it this way.

I'd be pointing out the obvious by saying that the whole thing started with 1-Across; when you're building these things manually, you really have to have a definitive seed answer at a definitive position. Happily, Will loved the answer I put there. It progressed (slowly) from NW to NE, through the center to the SW, and then to the SE.

As the hand-constructing process goes, the black square arrangement went through myriad changes to make this thing work; I wasn't even originally planning on having a grid-spanning entry in the middle, but it just kinda worked out that way after building the NE. The SE was the painstaking part — I had to do it twice. There was one particular entry (BADASS) that I thought may have been OK for the Times, but Will didn't quite feel the same way. (There were a few other iffy entries in that corner that pushed it over the edge, too.) So, true to form, I revised it the same way (it took another four weeks, on and off) until I got it into its final form.

(Shameless plug: I'm gonna be doing my own crosswordy thing at least once a week. It's like I've given myself my own playground now!)

Jeff Chen notes:
Some beautiful long entries today. The NW and SE stacks contain such goodness! Six answers, all pure gold. A colloquial bit in GOD I ... read more

Some beautiful long entries today. The NW and SE stacks contain such goodness! Six answers, all pure gold. A colloquial bit in GOD I HOPE NOT, something newer in the ITUNES STORE, a hippish guy in STEVE CARELL and another one for previous generations in EVEL KNIEVEL (with its A+ clue!). That's some great feature entry work.

I ended up finishing with an error due to a devilish clue for TENET than made me outthink myself (not hard, really). [Canon element] had to be tricksy, right? Surely the printer brand Canon was hidden in plain sight at the beginning of the clue? So with the T and the N in place already, I plunked down TONER. I figured RELEASE DARE was one of those things I'm not hip enough to understand (that's a big universe). And it was so EVEL KNIEVEL sounding. D'oh! Fun to be caught by my own "brilliance."

Ah, the old issue of excessive three-letter words. There is one case where I actually like seeing a lot of 3s, and that is when going to such a high three-letter word count means that there's way more long fill in the grid than usual. If the average word length stays roughly the same, more shorter words means more longer words, yeah?

And if this isn't the case, I think the frustration of the choppy solve brought by excessive 3s can be mitigated by making them as unnoticeable as possible. Avoiding unsavory glue like ENE, GIE, ITE, NOE, and the curious BIS would go a long way toward that.

I usually don't mind one or maybe two things like S AND L and B TWO (entries which are never seen in real life this way). One is kind of fun; kind of tricksy, making the solver think outside the box. Getting two of the same type, B TWO and A TEN, was not ideal. I would have much preferred A TEN being clued as the (somewhat esoteric) Egyptian sun god, although I can understand why Will chose the riskier path, in hopes of squeaking A TEN by.

Some beautiful clues really enhanced my solving pleasure, though. OTTER's clue made me worried, thinking about a different type of "oyster cracker" and why it might be furry. Great repurposing of the term. And GOWNS, TREE RINGS, even ELS twisted my brain around, producing great moments of clarity when the answers finally fell into place.

All in all, a puzzle on one end of the spectrum, one with a lot of sizzling entries made possible by enough glue to hold them together.

1
G
2
O
3
D
4
I
5
H
6
O
7
P
8
E
9
N
10
O
11
T
12
D
13
A
14
D
15
I
T
U
N
E
S
S
T
O
R
E
16
I
C
E
17
S
T
E
V
E
C
A
R
E
L
L
18
V
I
M
19
T
E
T
E
20
I
T
E
21
Y
E
22
S
I
D
O
23
R
O
S
24
I
N
S
25
X
E
S
I
N
26
T
R
E
27
J
28
A
29
W
30
W
I
F
E
31
S
32
T
I
R
33
B
O
R
I
34
C
35
B
I
S
36
T
U
R
N
E
37
D
T
H
E
T
A
38
B
L
E
S
39
E
N
E
40
G
O
W
N
S
41
M
R
E
D
42
A
T
E
43
N
44
C
O
Q
45
B
E
E
46
D
A
R
I
47
N
48
O
B
L
A
49
S
50
T
51
A
N
I
M
A
52
L
53
M
S
G
54
T
H
E
55
O
56
N
O
N
57
D
I
58
E
L
A
U
59
G
H
I
N
G
60
C
I
G
61
E
V
E
L
K
N
I
E
V
E
L
62
E
L
S
63
R
E
L
E
A
S
E
D
A
T
E
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1205 ( 23,768 )
Across
1
"Perish the thought!" : GODIHOPENOT
12
Many a delivery participant : DAD
15
It has a "Complete My Album" service : ITUNESSTORE
16
It'll slow down traffic : ICE
17
He played Maxwell Smart in 2008 : STEVECARELL
18
Energy : VIM
19
Idée origin : TETE
20
The end of Samson? : ITE
21
"Absolutely" : YESIDO
23
Ingredients in bowstring waxes : ROSINS
25
Marks, as a box : XESIN
26
One-sixth of diciotto : TRE
27
What may drop in disbelief : JAW
30
Certain union member : WIFE
31
Show signs of life : STIR
33
Kind of acid used in fireproofing : BORIC
35
"Encore!" : BIS
36
Made a comeback, say : TURNEDTHETABLES
39
Greenwich-to-New Haven dir. : ENE
40
They might come with trains : GOWNS
41
Old show horse : MRED
42
Athletic conf. for UMass : ATEN
44
Title bird in a Rimsky-Korsakov opéra : COQ
45
One may be smoked out : BEE
46
"If I Were a Carpenter" singer : DARIN
48
Province : Canada :: ___ : Russia : OBLAST
51
Part of a large kingdom : ANIMAL
53
Umami source, briefly : MSG
54
16-season N.H.L.'er Fleury : THEO
56
Start to sense? : NON
57
Totally break up : DIELAUGHING
60
One smoked, informally : CIG
61
Renowned long jumper : EVELKNIEVEL
62
Causes of street rumbles? : ELS
63
National coming-out day? : RELEASEDATE
Down
1
Drift : GIST
2
Furry oyster cracker : OTTER
3
By dint of : DUETO
4
Get a share of, say : INVESTIN
5
Chuckle bit : HEE
6
Of songbirds : OSCINE
7
They have 125 questions and last 130 mins. : PSATS
8
French soliloquy starter? : ETRE
9
Arche de ___ (boat in la Bible) : NOE
10
General-aviation alternative to Le Bourget : ORLY
11
Early text messager : TELEX
12
Like any number by itself : DIVISIBLE
13
Soured : ACIDIFIED
14
Succubus, e.g. : DEMONESS
22
Secure, with "up" : SEW
24
Like "come" and "go": Abbr. : IRREG
27
2002 Denzel Washington thriller : JOHNQ
28
Frequent foe of Wonder Woman : ARES
29
What "many a man hath more hair than," in Shakespeare : WIT
31
Browning selection? : SUNTANOIL
32
Aids for dating : TREERINGS
33
Riboflavin, familiarly : BTWO
34
Transport over dry land? : CAMEL
36
Social event in "No, No, Nanette" : TEADANCE
37
Rx writer : DOC
38
Showed signs of life : BREATHED
43
Ancient game much studied in game theory : NIM
45
Options for target practice : BBGUNS
47
Early touter of air bags : NADER
48
Home to baseball's Orix Buffaloes : OSAKA
49
Sanskrit for "the auspicious one" : SHIVA
50
Canon element : TENET
52
Unexploded : LIVE
53
"___ Modiste" (Victor Herbert operetta) : MLLE
55
Eyeball, in a way : OGLE
58
Gulper ___ : EEL
59
Bestow, to Burns : GIE

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?