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New York Times, Friday, February 14, 2014

Author:
Bruce Haight
Editor:
Will Shortz
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511/3/20137/29/20195
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315149460
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1.59043
Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JWXZ} Spans: 2 Grid has both 90- and 180-degree symmetry. This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Bruce Haight notes:
This is only my second published puzzle — I was introduced to crossword construction by Pete Collins, who coincidentally ... read more

This is only my second published puzzle — I was introduced to crossword construction by Pete Collins, who coincidentally authored the puzzle from two days ago. Thanks Pete! I've also been inspired by Manny Nosowsky — a surgeon who published his first puzzle at age 59 (like me) and went on to become a legend in the crossword industry.

My original submission for this puzzle had ITS GOOD PR for one of the entries, clued as "This will help our image". I rather liked that one myself, but Will felt it seemed "made up" as a phrase. He liked the rest though, and I was able to repair the defect with surprisingly little impact on the rest of the grid.

If I squint real hard this puzzle grid looks like a diamond ring to me, with four prongs holding the main stone (imagination needed here) and some smaller baguettes in a swirl pattern — perfect for POPS THE QUESTION. Is anyone buying it?

Jeff Chen notes:
Nice Valentine's Day mini-theme today. I wouldn't want mini-themes in every one of my themelesses, but I really enjoy them when the ... read more

Nice Valentine's Day mini-theme today. I wouldn't want mini-themes in every one of my themelesses, but I really enjoy them when the occasionally pop up. A themeless with a WORLD DOMINATION flavor was one of my recent favorites.

Interesting layout today, many more three-letter words than usual (20). Typically I start to notice a proliferation of them in a themeless when I get to maybe 12-15, so they did bother me a little. Well, the natural ones like YET and CAT remained invisible, while the ITA ITO OPA kind of stuff stuck out. In my own themeless constructions, I hardly ever work with more than 12 of them, but today's puzzle makes me think I ought to experiment.

Why? Along with the extra three-letter words comes a lot of space for longer fill. Not only do we get the usual stacks in each corner, but a couple of nice longer phrases in the middle: KEEP IT UP, LAKE POET (I just learned this, so it felt awesome to plug right in), ON PATROL, PUPPETEER. Yeah, I'm going to have to do some experimentation. Thanks for the push, Bruce!

I did have a bit of trouble in certain sections, EASTON/ITO/EPI notably, and I wondered if something could be done to make the grid easier to work with. I love the aesthetics of it, wide-open with a free-floating windmill, but the fact that there is so much interconnect makes filling tough. I dinked around to see if repositioning a few black squares could help clean up the fill. The grid I came up with would segment things more, making each individual quadrant easier to fill since it has much less interconnect. But even though it reduces the number of three-letter words to 16, the pattern looks uglier to me. Would the hit to the visual appeal be worth some cleaner fill? Hard to say.

Happy World Domination Day!

1
A
2
R
3
M
4
Y
5
C
6
A
7
M
8
P
9
U
10
R
11
G
12
E
13
S
14
R
E
A
D
A
B
O
O
15
K
16
T
A
U
N
T
17
P
I
N
S
T
R
I
P
E
18
T
H
E
D
A
19
E
N
E
20
A
R
S
E
21
N
E
22
S
L
Y
23
L
A
D
24
Y
25
S
26
A
T
P
A
R
27
T
E
C
28
O
P
29
A
30
H
I
P
31
E
S
S
O
32
L
33
A
K
E
P
34
O
E
T
35
F
A
T
S
O
36
L
O
V
E
C
O
N
Q
U
37
E
R
S
A
L
L
38
I
D
O
L
S
39
P
U
P
P
E
T
R
Y
40
L
E
I
S
41
R
A
E
42
I
T
O
43
L
S
D
44
N
U
T
S
45
O
46
S
N
47
O
48
U
49
T
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I
T
A
51
Y
E
R
T
L
52
E
53
V
S
O
54
P
O
N
55
T
E
56
O
I
L
T
57
Y
58
C
O
O
N
59
U
N
C
U
T
60
L
O
I
T
E
R
I
N
G
61
T
E
E
N
S
62
N
E
A
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I
D
E
A
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0214 ( 23,474 )
Across
1
Bivouac, maybe : ARMYCAMP
9
Presses : URGES
14
Classic parental advice to bored children : READABOOK
16
Needle : TAUNT
17
Line of suits? : PINSTRIPE
18
1970s NBC courtroom drama : THEDA
19
Tacoma-to-Spokane dir. : ENE
20
Lupin of fiction : ARSENE
22
Scheming : SLY
23
___ finger : LADYS
26
Bond phrase : ATPAR
27
20-Across, e.g., informally : TEC
28
Gramps, to Günter : OPA
30
Wise : HIP
31
Standard offspring : ESSO
32
Wordsworth or Coleridge : LAKEPOET
35
String bean's opposite : FATSO
36
Phrase from Virgil appropriate for Valentine's Day : LOVECONQUERSALL
38
Favorites : IDOLS
39
Handy work in a theater? : PUPPETRY
40
Gifts of flowers : LEIS
41
Carly ___ Jepsen, singer with the 2012 album "Kiss" : RAE
42
Yamaguchi's 1992 Olympics rival : ITO
43
Agent of psychedelic therapy : LSD
44
Unhinged : NUTSO
46
Pig leader? : SNOUT
50
Spanish name suffix : ITA
51
Dr. Seuss title character : YERTLE
53
Liquor letters : VSO
54
___ Vedra Beach, Fla. : PONTE
56
Entrepreneur who's well-supplied? : OILTYCOON
59
Full-length : UNCUT
60
Going nowhere : LOITERING
61
Cold forecast : TEENS
62
"Clever thinking!" : NEATIDEA
Down
1
Adrien of cosmetics : ARPEL
2
Valuable chess piece, to Juan Carlos : REINA
3
Like horses : MANED
4
P.G.A. stat : YDS
5
Cool ___ : CAT
6
Magical opener : ABRA
7
Fate personified, in mythology : MOIRA
8
Delivers a romantic Valentine's Day surprise, maybe : POPSTHEQUESTION
9
Total : UTTER
10
Root word? : RAH
11
TV listings info : GUESTSTAR
12
Forever : ENDLESSLY
13
Informal goodbye : STAYCOOL
15
"Don't stop now!" : KEEPITUP
21
Quiet break : NAP
24
Sticks figures? : YOKELS
25
Building materials? : SPECS
29
Base letters : APO
31
Home of Lafayette College : EASTON
32
It was used to make the first compass : LODESTONE
33
Dodger's talent : AVOIDANCE
34
Policing an area : ONPATROL
35
Broods : FRETS
36
Fictional island with a small population : LILLIPUT
37
Prefix with -graph : EPI
41
Paris's ___ La Fayette : RUE
44
Some U.N. votes : NYETS
45
Skateboarding trick used to leap over obstacles : OLLIE
47
Like Humpty Dumpty : OVOID
48
Me.-to-Fla. route : USONE
49
The Friendly Islands : TONGA
52
First name in blues : ETTA
55
Wine container : TUN
57
"All the same ..." : YET
58
___ de guerre : CRI

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?