It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.

New York Times, Saturday, February 24, 2018

Author:
John Guzzetta
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2010/9/20129/14/20184
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1322453
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63100
John Guzzetta

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 18 for Mr. Guzzetta. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Guzzetta notes:
When I submitted this puzzle in 2016, MACRON was not the President of France. I'm glad to see that improvement in the clues, as well ... read more

When I submitted this puzzle in 2016, MACRON was not the President of France. I'm glad to see that improvement in the clues, as well as several others.

This puzzle was one of my early efforts at dropping the word count and working with the stair-step pattern. Since then I've demoted HORS and ET ALII, tried to make sure that at least two long entries punch into isolated sections, and avoided blocks of 3-letter answers. Still, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, and hope others enjoy!

Jeff Chen notes:
Beautiful middle stairstack! Delightful to get a mini-theme in BINGE WATCHING and SLIPPERY SLOPE. It's even better when they're ... read more

Beautiful middle stairstack! Delightful to get a mini-theme in BINGE WATCHING and SLIPPERY SLOPE. It's even better when they're located in positions that usually shouldn't allow for mini-theme placement. It's a similar sort of magic to a 15 + 15 letter phrase … stacked atop each other!

We've seen enough "stairstack" middles, that they're becoming easier and easier for me to critique – what's the quality of 1.) middle stairstack, 2.) NW/SE corners, 3.) SW / NE tail?

(On one hand, I like that more and more people are gravitating to this themeless grid type. It allows for a lot of great material, with interesting visual effect. On the other, I worry that it's going to become overused. I like innovation, dagnabit!)

Great work in criterion 1. PAROLE HEARING made for another snazzy entry – three for three winners. And such smoothness in the down answers holding that middle together. Not a fan of RESHIPS, but I do see it in alerts from Amazon.

Solid work in criterion 2. I didn't know we had an estate past the fourth estate (the media), but I can buy the FIFTH ESTATE. Fun to learn the term, anyway, and it didn't hinder my solve. IRA ROLLOVER is pretty dull even for this financial planner ... but RUMORMONGER helped keep up the color in that NW corner.

AVGAS … I'm a mechanical engineer, not an aerospace engineer. I'll grant you that. But AVGAS? I nearly choked because it crossed GIAN, which seemed like it could be GION or GIEN. Thankfully, that GAS part of AVGAS saved me. But even though the crossing ultimately seemed fair, it left me with a sense of inelegance.

Ah, criterion 3. That's where most people fall down. It's so hard to use those two tail sections in the SW / NE, once you've fixed your stairstack into place. Such juicy long slots … and PLODDERS is not the way to use them well. SAD SONG is a little better, and HEADLONG is okay.

If John had worked in a little more juice in these tough-to-fill sections, this could have been POW!-worthy. Pesky criterion 3!

Well crafted, got some POW! consideration from me. Not quite there, though.

1
F
2
I
3
F
4
T
5
H
6
E
7
S
8
T
9
A
10
T
11
E
12
A
13
H
14
S
15
I
R
A
R
O
L
L
O
V
E
R
16
R
E
A
17
R
U
M
O
R
M
O
N
G
E
R
18
G
A
D
19
S
L
E
D
S
20
G
I
A
N
21
R
E
D
S
22
T
E
D
23
P
A
C
S
24
M
E
N
L
O
25
A
26
S
I
N
27
E
A
S
T
O
N
28
B
I
N
G
E
29
W
30
A
T
C
H
I
N
G
31
P
A
R
O
L
E
H
E
A
R
I
N
G
32
S
L
I
P
P
E
R
Y
S
L
O
P
E
33
C
O
L
L
E
T
34
T
I
N
S
35
I
D
E
A
S
36
M
37
A
H
I
38
M
39
S
40
G
41
E
D
D
Y
42
R
O
M
E
43
P
44
R
O
W
L
45
N
E
O
46
P
I
R
A
T
47
E
R
A
D
I
O
48
C
R
U
49
C
A
N
T
I
L
E
V
E
R
S
50
E
S
T
51
B
A
S
I
C
S
K
I
L
L
S
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0224 ( 24,945 )
Across
1. Blogs, social media and other nontraditional outlets : FIFTHESTATE
12. Enlightened responses : AHS
15. Option when changing jobs : IRAROLLOVER
16. ___ Irvin, early cartoonist/designer for The New Yorker : REA
17. Dirt spreader : RUMORMONGER
18. Roam (about) : GAD
19. Winter Olympics sights : SLEDS
20. Italian sculptor ___ Lorenzo Bernini : GIAN
21. Section of a Crayola box : REDS
22. ___ talk : TED
23. Campaign supporters : PACS
24. ___ Park : MENLO
25. Words of explanation : ASIN
27. Pennsylvania city where the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers meet : EASTON
28. Exhibiting a modern form of obsession : BINGEWATCHING
31. Quick way to end a sentence? : PAROLEHEARING
32. "Where does it all end?" argument : SLIPPERYSLOPE
33. Socket for setting a gem : COLLET
34. Food preservers : TINS
35. "Any ___?" : IDEAS
36. Dolphinfish, informally : MAHI
38. Flavor additive, in brief : MSG
41. It goes clockwise or counterclockwise depending on the hemisphere : EDDY
42. Legend says it arose on Palatine Hill : ROME
43. Search for prey : PROWL
45. ___-con : NEO
46. Offshore waves? : PIRATERADIO
48. Grade of wine : CRU
49. Projecting beams on a bridge : CANTILEVERS
50. Cornerstone abbr. : EST
51. Reading and writing, for most jobs : BASICSKILLS
Down
1. Guinness Book adjective : FIRST
2. "Go, me!" : IRULE
3. Of renown : FAMED
4. Stepped : TROD
5. Start of a start of a menu? : HORS
6. The Liberty Tree, for one : ELM
7. Ad agency specialist : SLOGANEER
8. Picker-upper : TONIC
9. Fuel for planes : AVGAS
10. Follower of four or six, but not five : TEEN
11. Mess up : ERR
12. Containing silver : ARGENTINE
13. Without deliberation : HEADLONG
14. Breakup tune : SADSONG
21. Forwards : RESHIPS
23. Little squealer : PIGLET
24. Hollande's successor as president of France : MACRON
25. Factor in Billboard rankings : AIRPLAY
26. Buster of myths : SNOPES
27. Latin list ender : ETALII
28. Extricated from a jam : BAILEDOUT
29. Reason : WHY
30. Concept of beauty : AESTHETIC
31. Slow and steady types : PLODDERS
32. Prestigious academic journal : SCIENCE
36. When cock-a-doodle-doos are done : MORNS
37. Italian known for pulling strings? : AMATI
38. Paradigm : MODEL
39. Ice cream choice : SWIRL
40. Part of a makeup kit : GLOSS
42. Org. fighting copyright infringement : RIAA
43. Like very early education, for short : PREK
44. ___ Shankar, influence on George Harrison : RAVI
46. Chemical contaminant, for short : PCB
47. High ways? : ELS

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?