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New York Times, Saturday, February 13, 2016

Author: Peter Wentz
Editor: Will Shortz
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Peter Wentz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 34 Missing: {Q} This is puzzle # 23 for Mr. Wentz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter Wentz notes: I like this puzzle a lot! Once the central triple 11's and 7's were in order, it was easy enough to tackle each of the four, now ... more
Peter Wentz notes:

I like this puzzle a lot! Once the central triple 11's and 7's were in order, it was easy enough to tackle each of the four, now contained, corner quadrants on their own. It's much easier to fill chunks without worrying how the whole grid is going to connect.

Both WINSAT and WEMET gave me some pause, though not necessarily because they're deal breakers. They're fine I suppose, but below average almost-partials like that are going to get extra scrutiny from their prominence as the puzzle's 1-Across and 1-Down. In the end, I felt like their inclusion was worth it to get those longer marquee entries in that section. Hopefully, the solvers feel the same way.

In the post-acceptance correspondence, Joel mentioned he and Will had a back and forth between KIDORY and SRSLY, with each arguing for one while needing convincing on the other. It's great to see that the New York Times has such a broad appeal where both entries are expected to be known to the average reader.

Jeff Chen notes: Very nice puzzle that I would have picked as the POW! in many other weeks. Peter is so strong at taking full advantage of his long ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Very nice puzzle that I would have picked as the POW! in many other weeks. Peter is so strong at taking full advantage of his long slots, converting them into colorful entries, while keeping his grids almost completely empty of short gluey entries. It's like those beautiful 3-D Chihuly glass installations, where you can't see any of screws or wires holding everything together, and you wonder how the heck he achieved it.

Doesn't that BUTTERBEER look tasty?

Peter is also really good at pushing and pulling at his grids in order to generate a couple of extra long slots. This "stair-stacked" center arrangement — BIODEGRADED over CAMDEN YARDS over JUDGE WAPNER — is something that many constructors can execute on. But how many stretch that middle section so that they can add MADE WAR, ONE NAME, and IGGY POP to an already juicy center? That's a great way to give the solver even more than they expect.

There's so much nice material packed into this grid. ERYKAH BADU (even this pop culture idiot knows some of her music) intersecting the central stairstack, and IVORY TOWER / NOSY PARKER running off of that? Wow, that's impressive. And on the opposite side, BUTTERBEER from Harry Potter (always something I wanted to try) with I SMELL A RAT is excellent work.

And to end the puzzle with SRSLY, texting shorthand kids these days use, that's fun. Gives the puzzle a little freshness.

The only region I thought had a little missed potential was the upper right. LIMEADE(S) has been in crosswords a bunch of times so it feels a bit stale to me, and AVERTED is a fine word but nothing I'd count as an asset. There's also ADDRESS BAR ... that feels fine, but perhaps not stellar. And I sort of know KID ORY because I played trombone for 20 years, and I *think* he's gridworthy, but I wouldn't count him as an asset.

Finally, sectioning Peter mentions does make construction immensely easier, able to tackle one portion at a time. It does cut off the NW and SE more than I would like, with just two entries connecting each section to the middle of the puzzle.

These types of items are picky; not things I would even mention for most other constructors. But just like Patrick Berry, I have to employ extremely high standards for Peter's puzzles, otherwise I'd give almost every one of his the POW.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0213 ( 24,203 )
Across Down
1. "Yes, I already know her" : WEMET
6. Put off : FAZE
10. Foundation piece : SLAB
14. Neocon's target of derision : IVORYTOWER
16. Prepare for a later showing, maybe : TIVO
17. Buttinsky : NOSYPARKER
18. Major name in cards : AMEX
19. Satisfied : SLAKED
20. Pro sports figures : OWNERS
22. Pumas alternative : AVIAS
23. Wavy fabric pattern : MOIRE
26. Got into a stew? : ATE
27. Part of STEM, for short : TECH
28. [All of a sudden!] : BANG
29. Major in the future, perhaps : CADET
31. Broke down, in a way : BIODEGRADED
34. Charm City landmark : CAMDENYARDS
35. Arbiter of 1980s TV : JUDGEWAPNER
36. Gardens of Babur city : KABUL
37. Hectically : AMOK
38. Mountains have grown over them : EONS
42. Well-connected people : INS
43. One dealing in space and time : ADREP
45. Setting for Ansel Adams : FSTOP
46. Tony Blair's period as British P.M., e.g. : DECADE
48. Critical assignment : MUSTDO
49. Gorge oneself with, facetiously : ODON
50. Quaff at the Three Broomsticks inn : BUTTERBEER
54. Wipe the floor with : ROUT
55. "Something seems off ..." : ISMELLARAT
56. Legend of climbing expeditions : YETI
57. "The ability to describe others as they see themselves," per Lincoln : TACT
58. Possible "OMG!" follow-up : SRSLY
1. Beats someone in : WINSAT
2. Develop : EVOLVE
3. "Navicella" at St. Peter's, for one : MOSAIC
4. "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop)" Grammy winner : ERYKAHBADU
5. B and O, e.g. : TYPES
6. In the pros? : FOR
7. Aviary cry : AWK
8. One of two slices of pizza? : ZEE
9. Miss, e.g. : ERROR
10. Van Gundy of the N.B.A. : STAN
11. Sweet, tangy drinks : LIMEADES
12. Directed elsewhere : AVERTED
13. Complete works, maybe : BOXSET
15. Modicum : TAD
21. Clichéd company slogan : WECARE
23. Attacked : MADEWAR
24. Something Rihanna and Madonna each have : ONENAME
25. "I Wanna Be Your Dog" vocalist : IGGYPOP
28. Warn of : BODE
30. Browser feature : ADDRESSBAR
32. "Good to hear" : IMGLAD
33. Malodorous : RANK
34. One with the motto "Do Your Best" : CUBSCOUT
35. Woman of mystery? : JANEDOE
36. Noted jazz trombonist's nickname : KIDORY
39. Some pups : OTTERS
40. Negotiation's terse conclusion : NODEAL
41. Like many convertibles : SPORTY
44. Gas pump option : DEBIT
45. Puts away, as a banner : FURLS
47. Set against : ANTI
48. Krusty's sidekick on "The Simpsons" : MEL
51. "Royal Pains" network : USA
52. Showtime affiliate : TMC
53. Occasion for gifting red envelopes : TET

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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