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New York Times, Friday, February 17, 2017

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
966/16/20118/18/201918
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
76681132242
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645173
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 28 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 60 for Mr. Steinberg. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
This puzzle dates back to April 2015, just a few months before my high school graduation . . . and probably a few months before Daniel ... read more

This puzzle dates back to April 2015, just a few months before my high school graduation . . . and probably a few months before Daniel Larsen's elementary school graduation! Getting old sucks ;).

Anyway, I don't remember much about the construction process for this one. I think I started in the upper left with RACK OF LAMB/ELAINE CHAO/BUTTER DISH. BOHO CHIC was a nice bonus, and the crossings looked pretty decent, so I moved on to either the lower left or the lower right (can't remember which). I didn't have very many 10-letter seed entries at the time, so I was thrilled to discover HIDDEN MIKE and CHAIN EMAIL in Matt Ginsberg's crowdsourced word list!

The upper right came last, because I remember not being thrilled with PISH or POOLE but ultimately settling on the current fill. Grids with four long triple-stacks are always such a pain to work with.

Looking back on this puzzle, I'm still pretty happy with how it turned out! I especially like the bottom stack with CHAIN EMAIL/TEXT ALERTS/STEELY GAZE. As usual, Will and Joel added some nice touches to the clues, especially for MASH and CUBIC.

I hope you enjoy the puzzle! Time to get back to retirement planning now. . .

Jeff Chen notes:
A ton of sizzling material! It's easy enough for strong constructors to make a good, single triple-stacked quadrant, and even not ... read more

A ton of sizzling material!

It's easy enough for strong constructors to make a good, single triple-stacked quadrant, and even not so hard to make it both colorful and clean. Check out that great SW corner, for example: IN BAD TASTE / NEON YELLOW / HIDDEN MIKE are all fantastic answers, and nary a dab of crossword glue necessary to hold it all together.

But I've come to appreciate going above and beyond, linking stacked entries — what a delightful combination in INDIAN FOOD and Thai STICKY RICE. Same goes for CHAIN EMAIL and TEXT ALERTS. Four strong corners, two of them mini-themed on their own = very cool.

I also appreciated the long answers jutting into the middle, BOHO CHIC a beautiful entry. TEN HUT and CREAKY are two good mid-length answers, too. I wasn't sure about ONES ALL, as it felt like a partial, but in the end, I think it works.

On that note, there were a few answers I wondered about:

  • HONKY TONKS as a plural noun? I associate it with a musical style, but it does have dictionary support as a noun. And it's so fun to say, that I gave it a thumbs up.
  • CHAIN EMAIL … is that what those are called? After struggling to come up with something more accurate or snazzy, I decided it indeed was the correct term.
  • PISH. This isn't something I hear every day, but the word amuses me.
  • HOT LICK. I played in jazz bands for ten years but never heard anyone say this. I have seen it in reviews and critiques, though, so I think it's fine.

Overall, so many great entries — I'm hoping ELAINE CHAO brings some sensibility to the current administration, another yummy entry in RACK OF LAMB with a BUTTER DISH right next to said lamb (don't judge me with your STEELY GAZE) — and these are in addition to all the ones I've already mentioned. I love it when a constructor can pack so much juicy fill into a single grid.

And just a little AMO, SGT, TRE to hold it together. The last two are so minor I even hesitate to mention them.

Beautiful work of craftsmanship.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0217 ( 24,573 )

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Across
1
Its ribs stick out : RACKOFLAMB
11
"Fiddlesticks!" : PISH
15
First Chinese-American cabinet member : ELAINECHAO
16
Seeing through : ONTO
17
Where to stick a stick : BUTTERDISH
18
Owner of the horse Sleipnir : ODIN
19
Latin 101 word : AMO
20
Abbr. before Friday : SGT
21
Improvised jazz strain : HOTLICK
23
Surrender : WAIVE
25
Showing signs of age : CREAKY
26
Rapidly down : INHALE
29
Artsy L.A. district : NOHO
31
Washington Post competitor: Abbr. : NYT
32
"Jurassic Park" co-star Sam : NEILL
33
Teddy material : SATIN
34
Not to, say : FRO
35
Omen : BODE
36
Like the function ax3 + bx2 + cx + d : CUBIC
37
Come up with : COIN
38
Word sometimes elided to its middle letter : AND
39
Thwarts : FOILS
40
[!!!!] : SHOCK
41
The Romans obtained a purple one from snails : DYE
42
Draw money? : ANTE
43
They're often drawn at night : SHADES
44
Base order : TENHUT
46
Mar. figure : STPAT
48
Record of the year? : ALMANAC
50
Castigate : RIP
51
Colosseum crowd? : TRE
54
Dropped, as poll numbers : SLID
55
Certain Internet hoax : CHAINEMAIL
58
Take a hit : TOKE
59
News of flight delays, say : TEXTALERTS
60
Sources of ricotta cheese : EWES
61
Unwavering look : STEELYGAZE
Down
1
First name in country : REBA
2
Occasional "S.N.L." host, to "S.N.L." : ALUM
3
Who wrote "Wise men learn more from fools than fools from the wise" : CATO
4
Vixen's offspring : KIT
5
"110%" effort : ONESALL
6
Vocalist for the Black Eyed Peas : FERGIE
7
Flat tube? : LCDTV
8
Tuna type : AHI
9
Button-___ (hit everything at once, in gamer lingo) : MASH
10
Hippie-influenced fashion trend : BOHOCHIC
11
Grace ___, servant in "Jane Eyre" : POOLE
12
Curries, samosas, etc. : INDIANFOOD
13
Staple of Thai cuisine : STICKYRICE
14
Dives : HONKYTONKS
22
Suffix with magne- : TRON
23
Corduroy rib : WALE
24
Turns on : ENABLES
26
Vulgar : INBADTASTE
27
Highlighter color : NEONYELLOW
28
Bug : HIDDENMIKE
30
Big name in escalators : OTIS
33
Diamonds, e.g. : SUIT
36
Smartphone heading : CONTACTS
37
Some back-and-forth : CHAT
39
Mythical piper : FAUN
40
Voluptuous : SHAPELY
43
Kind of column : SPINAL
45
Another name for Pluto : HADES
47
Used too much : TRITE
49
Jazzman Baker : CHET
51
Reid of "Sharknado" : TARA
52
Luxury hotel in London's Piccadilly district, with "the" : RITZ
53
Word after who, what or where : ELSE
56
Hacker's tool : AXE
57
Part of a gig : MEG

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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