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New York Times, Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Author: Mary Lou Guizzo
Editor: Will Shortz
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Mary Lou Guizzo

This puzzle:

Rows: 17, Columns: 17 Words: 69, Blocks: 87 Missing: {FQXZ} Grid is asymmetric. This is puzzle # 21 for Ms. Guizzo. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mary Lou Guizzo notes: This puzzle was originally submitted in December 2016 as a 17x diagramless submission. Will surprised me writing: 'Oddly enough, I think this ... more
Mary Lou Guizzo notes:

This puzzle was originally submitted in December 2016 as a 17x diagramless submission. Will surprised me writing:

"Oddly enough, I think this would work better for the regular paper than as a diagramless. As a diagramless the grid is too chunky — too difficult, I think. As a 69-word regular crossword, this could work as a daily.

However, to run as a daily, the puzzle would have to meet themeless standards, and this grid has a lot of unappealing vocabulary. ...

This doesn't look like an easy grid to fill. But if somehow you can improve the vocabulary, I'd be happy to take another look."

After many go-rounds on a very slow, old laptop I managed to come up with a more cleanly filled grid that Will was pleased with except for the upper right corner. A big thank you to Frank Longo who smoothed out the top of the grid and to Will for his patience.

I hope you enjoyed the puzzle. From my heart to yours.

Jeff Chen notes: ML got in touch with me last year, asking if I'd help redo this grid, but the concept didn't resonate. Maybe I just don't appreciate VDay? Or the themers ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

ML got in touch with me last year, asking if I'd help redo this grid, but the concept didn't resonate. Maybe I just don't appreciate VDay? Or the themers felt too overt, not playful? Or I couldn't get past the asymmetry?

I counterproposed a mini-theme that would run as a (mirror symmetry) themeless the Friday before VDay, with something like BOXING GLOVES / GARLIC CLOVES / THE ARTS. But Will felt that was too subtle.

What about a heart-shaped grid with LOVE TRUMPS HATE down the middle? Too political. Good point!

So, it just wasn't for me, and I passed. But I can see how VDay fanatics could dig what's going on, HEARTSTRINGS / CUPIDS ARROWS / SAINT VALENTINE forming a loose VDay theme. I would have preferred something tighter for a themed puzzle though; a stronger connection between the three themers. Not just "stuff related to VDay."

Mostly solid gridwork though, snappy entries in GO ON A SPREE, STATE SENATORS, ROTISSERIE, NEVERLAND, even BOATYARD, SO AND SOS and MARION ROSS (hands up for a childhood crush on Mrs. C?).

I don't mind a bit of EEO and TAS — I used to see EEO all the time when I was hiring for our startup way back when, and I had plenty of TAS even further back.

TIRO and TWPS are much, much more egregious to me, though. Not just TYRO, but a variant of it? Yikes! And TWPS is … twerps? TW Power Services of Australia? It's "townships"?

Huh.

And DINGE. Dingy, sure. But DINGE sticks out like some dinge on the puzzle.

I think the compromises to get the themeless-like feel to the puzzle were okay overall, but oof, did those three bits jar me out of my solve.

I still have a lot of trouble getting past the lack of symmetry inside the puzzle. The annoyingly OCD constructor inside me wants some reason for it, like Joe Krozel's clever BROKEN HEART concept. But I can appreciate the novelty of the puzzle, as well as the heartfelt sentiment from ML.

JimH notes: Non-rectangular grids are rare. Past examples include squares that pop out of the top (another top) or the bottom, a DNA molecule, cut corners, and a delicious chocolate chip cookie.
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0214 ( 24,935 )
Across Down
1. Trio in "Macbeth" : HAGS
5. Baldwin of "To Rome With Love" : ALEC
9. Loving, maybe : GERUND
11. 435 members, for the House : PLENUM
13. Marina facility : BOATYARD
15. Sometime babysitters : GRANDPAS
17. Actress Petty of "Tank Girl" : LORI
18. Goes after : PURSUES
20. Beginner: Var. : TIRO
21. Anxious : ANTSY
23. Suitable for sinking one's teeth into : MEATY
24. Gymnastics legend Comaneci : NADIA
25. Furniture mover? : CASTER
27. "There's many a man hath more hair than ___": Shak. : WIT
28. Thomas who lent his name to a "choice" : HOBSON
29. Part of Washington, D.C., known for lobbying firms : KSTREET
31. Home for Peter Pan : NEVERLAND
33. "Grand Ole" thing : OPRY
34. Act as : PORTRAY
36. Messes up : ERRS
37. Swiss canton where William Tell lived : URI
38. Vodka with a Russian name : POPOV
39. Citi Field team, on scoreboards : NYM
41. Aussie animal : ROO
42. Game of "love" : TENNIS
44. Some univ. instructors : TAS
46. How the answer to this clue goes in the grid : ACROSS
48. Expressionist Schiele : EGON
49. Purple shade : LILAC
51. Vise parts : JAWS
52. Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, at the starts of their political careers : STATESENATORS
55. "Fate would prove otherwise" : ITWASNTTOBE
56. Hungers : APPETITES
57. Stories to be continued : SERIALS
58. Dark, dirty shade : DINGE
59. Fair-hiring inits. : EEO
1. Deepest feelings : HEARTSTRINGS
2. Brilliant craftsmanship : ARTISTRY
3. Bloke : GUY
4. Pic : SNAP
5. "We need a government, ___, because of the nature of humans": P. J. O'Rourke : ALAS
6. Actor Cariou : LEN
7. Living room accent piece : ENDTABLE
8. They lead to love at first sight : CUPIDSARROWS
9. Binge : GOONASPREE
10. Beat it! : DRUM
11. Game : PREY
12. Actress who played Mrs. Cunningham on "Happy Days" : MARIONROSS
13. Power failure : BLACKOUT
14. Attracted : DREW
15. Bad place for a bowling ball or the mind : GUTTER
16. Bastards : SOANDSOS
19. February honoree : SAINTVALENTINE
22. Start of a rodeo cry : YEE
24. Fish-fowl link : NOR
26. Auto takebacks : REPOS
28. 2003 #1 hit for OutKast : HEYYA
30. Best : TOP
32. Furniture mover, maybe : VAN
35. Game's turning point? : ROTISSERIE
38. One getting smashed at a party? : PINATA
40. Unfulfilling work assignments : MCJOBS
43. Self-denial? : NOTI
45. World capital founded by a conquistador : SANTIAGO
47. Steak order : RARE
49. Bounded : LEAPED
50. Range rovers : CATTLE
53. County divisions: Abbr. : TWPS
54. Parts of the body that may be wiggled : TOES

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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