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New York Times, Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Author:
Bruce Haight
Editor:
Will Shortz
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1.59043
Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 76, Blocks: 51 Missing: {FJQVZ} Spans: 1 Grid is asymmetric. This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Bruce Haight notes:
The story of this puzzle is a bit like Disneys 'The Incredible Journey.' The poor animal started out in San Diego, 3000 miles from Will ... read more

The story of this puzzle is a bit like Disneys "The Incredible Journey." The poor animal started out in San Diego, 3000 miles from Will Shortz's house, and had to doggedly find its way there — without any cats to help. It was the seventh version of this puzzle that eventually got accepted — I think Will started to feel sorry for the little pooch!

I was always optimistic about this puzzle, in spite of the 51 blocks, the asymmetry, and the rejections, because to me the grid art is super clear. I have shown this image to about a hundred people over the last year or two, and ALL of them see the dog, sometimes with a little prompting. A lot of them don't just say "dog", they say "Oh look — a Scottish Terrier!"

This grid might not look hard to fill, but 76 words in a 15x16 puzzle equates to 71 words in a normal sized puzzle, and with a lot of theme entries the fill was LABorious. The area under Scottie's chin was particulary hard to fill cleanly, and that doesn't even have any theme entries in it. Will wanted it for a Monday, but I think ISEULT at 27-Across pushed it over into a Tuesday slot. It's certainly more fun to clue for a Tuesday.

Will was kind enough to take my suggestion and publish this puzzle on the day of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show finals, but he opted not to mention the show in any clues. He also did not seem at ALL interested in possibly appearing on live TV to discuss Scottie's physical attributes with the dog show judges.

Hope you enjoyed the puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes:
What a cool visual. Sometimes grid art takes a bit of squinting and an overly active imagination to properly enjoy, but I really liked how ... read more

Scottie dog What a cool visual. Sometimes grid art takes a bit of squinting and an overly active imagination to properly enjoy, but I really liked how well Bruce conveyed a Scottie dog with just 24 black squares. Compare to the image on the right — a spitting image.

I also liked the idea of "dog names that can be disguised as other things." CHOW, BOXER, POM, HUSKY, SETTER are perfect, as they have other definitions completely different than canine ones. Most of these have been mined for clever clues, so I enjoyed the turning of the tables. It's too bad that not all of the nine met this criteria.

WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? Or IN … since the dogs are inside the puzzle, not outside of it? As much as I love/hate that earwormy song, it doesn't feel quite apt for a revealer. Matter of opinion, of course.

While I enjoyed the novelty of the visual, the lack of symmetry did give me pause. We've had some puzzles with an asymmetrical center but symmetrical perimeter, and having at least a touch of symmetry somewhere is awfully pleasing to the eye. I don't think that's possible here, given all the theme material, but I might have liked less theme density in exchange for perimeter symmetry.

On that note, even taking out POODLE would have been nice, allowing the south section to be filled more cleanly. Such a tricky area, given BLOODHOUND's appearance. It's always tough to make these judgment calls about theme density vs. cleanliness of fill, and each constructor will have his/her different idea on where the line should be drawn.

But overall, I appreciate the gridwork. The west section is particularly pleasing given the raw size of the white space. I like that Bruce left himself with few constraints in the biggest section to fill, allowing himself to work in some nice answers with just AN EEL as the lone liability.

1
C
2
A
3
T
4
B
5
A
6
G
7
S
8
G
9
A
10
B
11
P
12
O
13
M
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H
M
O
15
O
O
N
A
16
A
C
E
17
Y
A
O
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O
A
T
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X
R
A
Y
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R
C
A
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R
H
O
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W
H
O
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L
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H
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E
D
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O
R
A
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S
E
U
L
T
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A
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R
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L
O
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T
A
N
N
E
R
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I
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E
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S
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S
E
E
K
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O
U
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E
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N
E
38
S
A
M
O
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A
40
N
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T
A
C
T
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I
D
U
N
N
O
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C
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A
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S
T
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A
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M
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P
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M
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H
O
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T
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S
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S
51
N
C
O
S
52
E
W
E
R
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B
L
O
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O
D
H
O
U
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N
D
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P
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I
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P
E
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B
R
E
A
D
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T
O
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A
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S
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T
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U
K
E
S
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A
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A
L
L
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H
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Y
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G
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D
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0217 ( 23,842 )
Across
1
Enemy of the pictured animal : CAT
4
Items checked at the airport : BAGS
8
Talk, talk, talk : GAB
11
*Fruit juice brand : POM
14
Managed care grp. : HMO
15
Wife of Charlie Chaplin : OONA
16
Hero war pilot : ACE
17
7'6" Ming of the N.B.A. : YAO
18
Kellogg's Cracklin' ___ Bran : OAT
19
Like Superman's vision : XRAY
20
First U.S. color TV maker : RCA
21
Pi follower : RHO
22
2000 novelty hit ... or a hint to the answers to the nine starred clues : WHOLETTHEDOGSOUT
26
___ pro nobis : ORA
27
Tristan's love, in Camelot : ISEULT
28
Singer Guthrie : ARLO
31
They convert hides to leather : TANNERIES
35
Car radio button : SEEK
36
Remove, as a dictator : OUST
37
Feminine suffix : ENNE
38
Pago Pago islander : SAMOAN
41
Diplomacy : TACT
42
"Don't ask me!" : IDUNNO
43
Suffix with Dixie : CRAT
44
Curb's place : STREET
45
Clock radio toggle switch : AMPM
49
Hydrant attachment : HOSE
50
Flips a coin : TOSSES
51
Sgts., e.g. : NCOS
52
Decorative pitcher : EWER
53
*Relentless pursuer : BLOODHOUND
56
Skateboarder's challenge : PIPE
59
Wonder product : BREAD
60
59-Across, after crisping : TOAST
64
Luau entertainers : UKES
65
In the least : ATALL
66
*Like Lauren Bacall's voice : HUSKY
67
Mannerly man : GENT
68
Gift recipient : DONEE
69
One coming down for a landing? : STAIR
Down
1
*Grub : CHOW
2
Indian nursemaid : AMAH
3
Pooch in Oz : TOTO
4
*One working on a canvas? : BOXER
5
Largest blood vessel : AORTA
6
Annoying pest : GNAT
7
Greet : SAYHITO
8
Busch ___ : GARDENS
9
Narrative : ACCOUNT
10
*Darwin's ship : BEAGLE
11
Firebug : PYRO
12
Frequent vacation locale for Obama : OAHU
13
___ point : MOOT
23
Dress to the nines, say : LOOKONESBEST
24
Jacob's twin : ESAU
25
Went from one seat to two, maybe : STRETCHEDOUT
28
Lend a hand : ASSIST
29
Entertain, as with a bedtime story : READTO
30
Madagascar primates : LEMURS
32
Lined up : INAROW
33
Box up : ENCASE
34
*Volleyball position : SETTER
39
Slippery as ___ : ANEEL
40
Middling : NOTSOBAD
45
Like the Incas : ANDEAN
46
1960s Borgnine sitcom title role : MCHALE
47
*Kind of skirt or haircut : POODLE
48
Spartans' sch. : MSU
54
"___ put it another way ..." : ORTO
55
Unspecified degrees : NTHS
56
*___ nose : PUG
57
"Likable" prez : IKE
58
Write : PEN
61
Sick ___ dog : ASA
62
One going on foot in the mountains? : SKI
63
Norse god of war : TYR

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?