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New York Times, Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Author:
Michael Dewey
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
61/9/201210/5/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0303000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.73000
Michael Dewey

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JQZ} Grid has repeated answers This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Dewey. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael Dewey notes:
This is my second NYT puzzle publication (the first was Jan. 9, 2012). As an educator, husband, and father, I have to credit my loved ... read more

This is my second NYT puzzle publication (the first was Jan. 9, 2012). As an educator, husband, and father, I have to credit my loved ones and students as the inspiration for my puzzle ideas. My wife lets me bounce my crazy ideas off of her, my dad filled my childhood with puns, and my mom taught me to laugh at myself and to use humor when things grow uneasy. For example, awaiting the needle before donating at our school blood drive, I tried to cut the tension by saying, "PRESENT ARMS." Nearby students thought it was funny, but my phlebotomist was all business. Later on, I was in dad mode when I told my boys to "FORWARD MARCH" upstairs to bed. My oldest gave me a mock salute and said, "SIR, YES, SIR!" Et voila! The theme was born.

From there, the trick was to come up with the right combination of military commands with matching letter counts. COMPANY HALT worked nicely, but ABOUT FACE didn't make the final grid. I thought the fourth entry, READY AIM FIRE, added a little extra challenge because it contained three words instead of two. Plus that pattern gets echoed in the three-word response, albeit as separate entries.

Upon cluing, I already had "what blood donors do first" for PRESENT ARMS, and the others followed fairly easily. Will's editing bailed me out on 20-Across; originally, I had "Blunt month?" as the clue for FORWARD MARCH. The grid went through a number of iterations (I played with moving the two "SIR" entries around the grid) before Will gave his final stamp of approval. Kudos to him for his patience! I was also happy to place DIPHTHONG, PRESORTED, and IMPIETY (three new NYT puzzle words, if I'm not mistaken) into the grid. Lastly, I offer a genuine salute to all of our past and present military personnel. Thank you for the sacrifices you make to keep us safe! Peace to all.

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun reinterpretations of common military phrases, along with the bonus SIR / YES / SIR. There are very few puzzles in the Shortz era ... read more

Fun reinterpretations of common military phrases, along with the bonus SIR / YES / SIR. There are very few puzzles in the Shortz era that have repeated words, and Michael joins the club today.

Interesting construction. Typically cross-referenced entries work best when they're close in proximity. If they aren't, it forces the solver to jump around the puzzle (or in my case, ignore the clue and move on). It was fun to see that bonus set of entries, SIR / YES / SIR, after I finished, but it felt a bit loosey-goosey to me. I think I would have preferred 1.) to see those three entries straight across the middle or at least closer, and 2.) if those entries had answered the themers more relevantly or something.

Some people might complain today about the appearance of two of our most famous crosswordy literary names, Melville's OMOO and Salinger's ESME, especially situated so close together. I'll admit I was a little put off by that at first, but looking back on the grid, I kind of like the echo between those entries.

I enjoyed Michael's note and totally agree that debuting (the incredibly hard to spell) DIPHTHONG and IMPIETY is cool. PRESORTED... not so much for me (although Jim really liked this entry; there's no accounting for taste). As I've told a couple of co-constructors now, debuting a snazzy entry is the bomb dot com. (I still have my 2002 Motorola Razr.) Debuting an entry for the sake of debuting an entry, not so much.

Note those big chunks of five black squares in the NE and SW, not terribly attractive. But given the arrangement of themers Michael has chosen, using zero cheater squares there would require the filling of a big 6x3 area in the west and the east, never a simple task. From an aesthetic viewpoint, I would have preferred to see zero or only one set of cheater squares in these areas (making the block above LOSER (and its symmetrical pair) white instead of black), but I do appreciate the relative smoothness of those sections. All in all, I would almost always accept extra cheaters if that allows for better resulting fill.

Finally, I'll leave all today by highlighting a clue that delighted me: "What might get you through a quiet stretch?" for YOGA. I loathe yoga (I know, blasphemy for a Seattle-ite!), but I would totally sun-salutate that clue.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0219 ( 23,479 )
Across
1
Crumples (up) : WADS
5
Word of comparison : THAN
9
Destroy, as hopes : DASH
13
Drop : OMIT
14
Relatives of Yodels : HOHOS
16
Object of ancient Egyptian veneration : IBIS
17
Work written between "Typee" and "Mardi" : OMOO
18
"Maria ___," 1941 #1 hit : ELENA
19
Vivacious : PERT
20
Overly bold member of the "Little Women" family? : FORWARDMARCH
23
Salinger's "For ___ - With Love and Squalor" : ESME
24
Granola bar ingredients : OATS
26
"No seats left," in short : SRO
29
Result of bankruptcy? : COMPANYHALT
34
"Hungry hungry" game creatures : HIPPOS
36
Schlep : LUG
37
Siouan tribe : OTOE
38
Turn away : AVERT
39
See 11-Down : YES
40
Jewish deli offering : KNISH
41
Thinker Descartes : RENE
42
Intellectual range : KEN
43
Nod's meaning, maybe : IAGREE
44
What blood donors do? : PRESENTARMS
47
"___ fancy you consult, consult your purse": Franklin : ERE
48
Some summer wine : ROSE
49
Dueling implement : EPEE
51
Motivational words for a boss at layoff time? : READYAIMFIRE
57
"___ that sweet?" : ISNT
60
Part of LED : DIODE
61
One might run Lion or Leopard : IMAC
62
Squeakers : MICE
63
Bob of "Full House" : SAGET
64
Metaphor for punishment : LASH
65
Spur : PROD
66
Actor Coleman or Oldman : GARY
67
World's fair : EXPO
Down
1
Pound sound : WOOF
2
What might go on a belt : AMMO
3
Parisian house of design : DIOR
4
Vermont winter destination : STOWE
5
Lunchbox accessory : THERMOS
6
Variety of poker : HOLDEM
7
"Pardon the interruption ..." : AHEM
8
Singer Hendryx : NONA
9
"Oy" or "ow" : DIPHTHONG
10
Japanese P.M. Shinzo ___ : ABE
11
With 39-Across and 58-Down, response to a military command : SIR
12
F.D.R.'s third veep : HST
15
Tahitian garb : SARONG
21
Fancy necktie : ASCOT
22
Archipelago constituent, maybe : CAY
25
Much of "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" : SATIRE
26
Quick : SHARP
27
"Cry me a ___" : RIVER
28
First game of the season : OPENER
30
Joint assemblies : PLENA
31
Vienna's land: Abbr. : AUS
32
Schlemiel : LOSER
33
Titter : TEHEE
35
Like much media mail : PRESORTED
39
"And ___ it moves" (what Galileo allegedly said in reference to the earth) : YET
40
Casey of "American Top 40" : KASEM
42
Works, as dough : KNEADS
43
Ungodly display : IMPIETY
45
Suffix with many country names : ESE
46
Kindle or Nook : READER
50
I.R.S. submission : EFILE
52
TV meas. : DIAG
53
What might get you through a quiet stretch? : YOGA
54
Kind of screen : IMAX
55
Potential flu symptom : RASP
56
Effect of a yodel, perhaps : ECHO
57
Rapscallion : IMP
58
See 11-Down : SIR
59
Sgt., e.g. : NCO

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?