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# New York Times, Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
876/16/201111/2/201816
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
66681129192
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645163

## This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 80, Blocks: 38 Missing: none – this is a pangram. Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 24 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: The answers to the 13 starred clues follow an unusual two-way progression from 1- to 73-Across. Can you figure out what it is?
David Steinberg notes:
I first came up with the idea for this puzzle when I was 14. I had no idea how I was going to go about squeezing thirteen symmetrical ... read more

I first came up with the idea for this puzzle when I was 14. I had no idea how I was going to go about squeezing thirteen symmetrical theme entries in a particular order into a 15 x 15 grid — I wasn't even sure I'd be able to come up with a set of theme entries that would work at all! Anyway, the big breakthrough happened when I discovered JOHN Q for the J to Q arrangement. Unfortunately, I then had to find an entry that fit the D???W letter pattern. The only two entries I could find were DO NOW (either a contrived phrase or an awkward partial) and DEPEW (as in Chauncey Depew, a turn-of-the-century politician). I decided that DO NOW was the lesser of two evils and proceeded to the grid. I soon discovered that CHATTERBOX and KARATE CHOP were the same length, which allowed me to open up the grid a bit more, though I was still dissatisfied with the puzzle, since all the other theme entries were very short and the grid had 82 words.

Fast forward a few months to April 2012, after my 15th birthday. I was playing around with this idea some more and, after a substantial amount of grid wrangling, produced an 80-worder that replaced GET AT with GARMENT DISTRICT (a 15-letter entry). The fill had a few compromises and irksome "duplicates" in the down entries like GOES SOFT, though I was still very happy with how it turned out. After I submitted the puzzle, I noticed that I had absentmindedly clued GARMENT DISTRICT as "Big Apple district with many labels"; "Part of Manhattan's Midtown West" works much better. I also worked on a Z TO A puzzle to complement this one for a little while, though I couldn't come up with a satisfactory Q*J entry (the best I could think of was QZXJ ["Highest scoring Scrabble tiles"], which I felt would permanently mangle Amy Reynaldo's Scowl-o-Meter!).

In all, this puzzle was a lot of fun to construct, and I hope it makes for a fun solve as well!

Jeff Chen notes:
Very neat concept today, not sure if I would have ever thought it up: thirteen words in a progression, starting with A, B, C... and ... read more

Very neat concept today, not sure if I would have ever thought it up: thirteen words in a progression, starting with A, B, C... and ending in Z, Y, X, ... (the appropriate letters are highlighted in the answer grid below). Sort of a dual alphabetic progression, the starting letters going forward, the ending letters going backward.

A perfect start to it, A TO Z being the ideal revealer at 1-across. Often times, revealers at 1-across can come across as deflationary, sort of giving away the puzzle even before the solver starts. So I like the way David/Will presented the puzzle. It's not ideal having to read a note even before you begin solving, but I think it was a reasonable solution.

Extremely tough from a construction standpoint. Not only must you incorporate 13 theme answers, but they all have to follow a particular alphabetic constraint. It did feel a little odd that so many starred clues were for short answers, but it would be near impossible to have your themers be the longest answers in a feat like today's.

As with all audacious constructions, signs of stress pop up in the grid. Once you lock in the (slightly made-up feeling) EX-GOV, FONDU, and ICIER, there's the MTGE, GENL, SLUE pile-up in the middle. Not ideal from a smoothness standpoint, but almost necessary given the high constraints.

Another shoot-for-the-moon decision was to use GARMENT DISTRICT instead of another short answer such as GET IT? or GLOAT or even GET. I have a feeling that would have smoothed things out in the west and east (where HIKES and FONDU overlap GARMENT DISTRICT) but it is pretty impressive to have that grid-spanner as a theme entry. Same goes with CHATTERBOX (the more boring CAR WAX, CONVEX, etc. could have eliminated the old-timey ONERS plus ERI, ENORM, ORONO) and KARATE CHOP (KIDNAP, KISS UP, etc.).

All in all, a clever idea and a high-reaching construction with some trade-offs in solving smoothness.

 1A 2T 3O 4Z 5B 6A 7R 8B 9G 10O 11N 12E 13R 14C O D Y 15B B O Y 16O R O N O 17I D I G 18C H A T 19T E R B O X 20D O N O 21W 22O N E R S 23E R I 24T E 25A R 26I S 27I T M E 28H 29A 30K E E M 31E 32X G O V 33I C I 34A 35M I D 36F O 37N 38D 39U 40G A R 41M 42E N T D I 43S T R I C T 44H I K E S 45G E N L 46S O N 47I C 48I E R 49U 50R 51S I N E 52P 53I 54A N O S 55L E A H 56O R K 57R E 58U 59S E 60J O 61H 62N 63Q 64K A R 65A T E C H O 66P 67L U A U 68E N O T E 69L E N O 70O M N I 71D I N E D 72A L E X 73M E A N
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0218 ( 23,478 )
Across
1. *Everything : ATOZ
5. "Yo mama" joke, e.g. : BARB
9. Hopeless case : GONER
14. Buffalo Bill's surname : CODY
15. *Rap devotee, slangily : BBOY
16. University of Maine locale : ORONO
17. "Gotcha, dude!" : IDIG
18. *One who goes on and on : CHATTERBOX
20. *"What should I ___?" : DONOW
22. Lollapaloozas : ONERS
23. "___ tu" (Verdi aria) : ERI
24. Run like the wind : TEAR
26. "Am I nuts?" : ISITME
28. Former Rocket Olajuwon : HAKEEM
31. *Sarah Palin or Arnold Schwarzenegger, informally : EXGOV
33. "Vous êtes ___" (label on a French map) : ICI
34. In a crowd of : AMID
36. *Dish served with long-handled forks : FONDU
40. *Part of Manhattan's Midtown West : GARMENTDISTRICT
44. *Football snaps : HIKES
45. Robt. E. Lee, e.g. : GENL
46. Like a ___ to me : SON
47. *Less welcoming : ICIER
49. Bearlike : URSINE
52. Yamaha products : PIANOS
55. In-law of Esau : LEAH
56. 1970s-'80s TV planet : ORK
57. Get extra value from, say : REUSE
60. *2002 Denzel Washington drama : JOHNQ
64. *Wood cutter? : KARATECHOP
67. Hawaiian do : LUAU
68. Online line : ENOTE
69. *2014 TV retiree : LENO
70. Marriott alternative : OMNI
71. Supped : DINED
72. James Patterson sleuth Cross : ALEX
73. *Standard deviation deviates from it : MEAN
Down
1. Trip provider? : ACID
2. Hullabaloo : TODO
3. Role in "Thor" : ODIN
4. Fertilized egg : ZYGOTE
5. "Sherlock" and "EastEnders" network : BBC
6. Hate : ABHOR
7. Horse of a certain color : ROAN
8. Small storage unit : BYTE
9. Becomes less strict : GOESSOFT
10. Iceman Bobby : ORR
11. Casino pass? : NOBET
12. Huge, in poetry : ENORM
13. "Chicago" song : ROXIE
19. One of the Palins : TRIG
21. Like some hours : WEE
25. "Walk Like ___" (1963 hit) : AMAN
27. Composer Novello : IVOR
28. Over the estimate : HIGH
29. Healthful berry : ACAI
30. "Star Trek" captain : KIRK
31. What can get you down? : EIDER
32. Marked, as a box : XDIN
35. Loan insured by the F.H.A.: Abbr. : MTGE
37. Not final, legally : NISI
38. Popular pesticide : DCON
41. Chow ___ : MEIN
42. Accompanied : ESCORTED
43. Pivot on an axis : SLUE
48. Therapist's words : ISEE
50. Rule ending in 1947 : RAJ
51. Yiddish author Aleichem : SHOLOM
52. Moseyed (along) : POKED
53. Ayatollah Khomeini, for one : IRANI