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New York Times, Saturday, February 10, 2018

Author: Finn Vigeland
Editor: Will Shortz
Finn Vigeland
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1610/20/20103/25/20184
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7123012
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1.64230
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 69, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQX} Spans: 3, (1 triple stack) This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Vigeland. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Finn Vigeland notes: Go big or go home, right? For my first published triple-stack, I added an extra column to accommodate my long-time idol (and Twitter ... more
Finn Vigeland notes:

Go big or go home, right? For my first published triple-stack, I added an extra column to accommodate my long-time idol (and Twitter follower!) at 29-Across. I think he's worth it. Lin, I think your way with words would translate well to puzzle construction—let me know if you're interested!

I'm a bit sad to see the neutered clues on ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE—originally [Literary trope that's getting revived?]—and MLB DRAFT—[Occasion to cover one's bases, familiarly?]. I write a lot of themelesses for fun but often leave them sitting in my drafts folder without cluing them, so I guess I'm still getting used to Will's style on late-week puzzles. I avoid partial phrases in my puzzles unless there's really no other option, so I was disappointed that 11-Across's clue change caused it to be reparsed from the Latin AMO to the two-word A MO. Other than these quibbles, I'm quite pleased with the final version of this puzzle, which underwent several drafts over the last few years. Redoing themelesses until you finally get that golden fill is such a satisfying exercise, so I'm glad I persisted on this one.

Lastly, I'm over the moon that this puzzle is coincidentally being published the same day as the Boston launch event for Down and Across, the debut novel of one of my best friends, Arvin Ahmadi. Arvin began writing the book when we were college roommates, and I'm honored to have served as a bit of a puzzle consultant on it (and reader of several drafts). It's a great coming-of-age story with complex, diverse characters that will assuredly appeal to puzzle fans of all ages.

Jeff Chen notes: Loved it! I'm always nervous when I see a triple-stack — way too much crossword glue usually needed, destroying elegance — but this ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Loved it! I'm always nervous when I see a triple-stack — way too much crossword glue usually needed, destroying elegance — but this one was a delight. I mean, ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! I admit that "28 Days Later" scared the bejeezus out of me, and let's not even mention "World War Z," but ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE is a feature entry I would have loved to debut.

Plus LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, the guy behind "Hamilton"? IN ALL PROBABILITY, this might be one of my favorite triple-stacks of all time. Especially considering Finn pulled it off with just an INO and the DTS.

Okay, I admit I didn't know Miranda until people made fun of me for that at the ACPT a few years ago. But now I know him! Prolific writer, even hosting SNL. Amazing guy.

And Finn kept the rest of the grid wide open, running the awesome MLB DRAFT, GOLDEN PEN (didn't know it, but what a great award name!), LIBATIONS, THESSALY through the stack. Such flowing grid design, never bottlenecking.

Heck, even the NW and SE corners have some sizzle, especially that SE with SWIFFER, SOLO CUP, and D LIST. The NW didn't have much sparkle, but the clue for ORGAN was awesome — [Player in a baseball stadium] is so innocently misdirectional.

The one sticking point I had was LATE APRIL. We recently had MID MARCH, and I didn't like the arbitrary feel of that either. But if LATE APRIL (or APRIL SECOND or END OF APRIL or THIRD WEEK OF APRIL) was required to make the flowing grid keep flowing, I think it's an okay price to pay.

This is one of my favorite themelesses in recent memory. Elegant to solve, visually stunning, and a technical marvel from a construction standpoint. I give it a Miranda-worthy Standing O.

JimH notes: I play in a Hamilton tribute band so LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA is a big part of my life, but I wasn't expecting to see that name in a daily puzzle. It's ... more
JimH notes: I play in a Hamilton tribute band so LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA is a big part of my life, but I wasn't expecting to see that name in a daily puzzle. It's 16-letters long. Finn Vigeland didn't care, making room for ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE too. Bravo.
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0210 ( 24,931 )
Across Down
1. Player in a baseball stadium : ORGAN
6. Kind of system in which 64 is 100 : OCTAL
11. "Hold on ___!" : AMO
14. "Serial" podcast host Sarah : KOENIG
16. "Far out!" : WHATATRIP
18. ___ Panza, sidekick of Don Quixote : SANCHO
19. Not go out to dinner : EATATHOME
20. <-- ÷ 40 : ONEHALF
22. Jesus, with "the" : REDEEMER
23. Went to bat (for) : STOODUP
25. Adjective on Tex-Mex menus : ASADA
26. "Seriez" is a form of it : ETRE
28. Things with microgrooves : LPS
29. Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama : LINMANUELMIRANDA
38. Almost certainly : INALLPROBABILITY
39. Backdrop to AMC's "The Walking Dead" : ZOMBIEAPOCALYPSE
40. Remote area? : DEN
41. Letters on some bulletproof vests : SWAT
42. Mass-produce, with "out" : CHURN
45. Big name in mops : SWIFFER
50. One of a kind : RARAAVIS
54. Beer pong receptacle : SOLOCUP
56. Seemingly expressing : ASIFTOSAY
58. Wife in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Tender Is the Night" : NICOLE
59. Fugitive's destination, maybe : STATELINE
60. Painter's undercoat : SEALER
61. Sly chuckle : HEH
62. Newspaper divisions : DESKS
63. Group of near nobodies : DLIST
1. "Your point being ...?" : OKSO
2. Mounts with a little white on top? : ROANS
3. French novelist/dramatist associated with the Theater of the Absurd : GENET
4. Dried chili pepper on Tex-Mex menus : ANCHO
5. Greeting in Guangzhou : NIHAO
6. Fall behind : OWE
7. Scorch : CHAR
8. Home to Rodin's "The Kiss," with "the" : TATE
9. Slightly : ATAD
10. When Taurus begins : LATEAPRIL
11. Oenophile's criterion : AROMA
12. Copied : MIMED
13. Word with space or rock : OPERA
15. British writing award : GOLDENPEN
17. Region near Mount Olympus : THESSALY
21. Bauhaus-influenced typeface : FUTURA
24. Hospital sections, for short : PREOPS
27. Nudges : ELBOWS
28. Celebratory round : LIBATIONS
29. Tracy and Jenna's boss on "30 Rock" : LIZ
30. Odysseus' rescuer : INO
31. Marvel series depicting the Tet Offensive, with "The" : NAM
32. Annual June sports event, informally : MLBDRAFT
33. Cut off : ALIENATED
34. Colorful birds : MACAWS
35. Bite : NIP
36. Letters that come before AA? : DTS
37. House call? : AYE
42. Not stay awake any longer : CRASH
43. "Manners require time, as nothing is more vulgar than ___": Ralph Waldo Emerson : HASTE
44. ___ the Hittite, soldier in King David's army : URIAH
46. Popped (out) : FLIED
47. Main : FOCAL
48. C.D.C. concern : ECOLI
49. Game sheet : RULES
51. Burrowing animal : VOLE
52. Pompeii's Temple of ___ : ISIS
53. Made, as a putt : SANK
55. Fresh : PERT
57. Shortest Magic 8 Ball response : YES

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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