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New York Times, Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Author: Michael Shteyman
Editor: Will Shortz
Michael Shteyman
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
552/13/200111/11/20176
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
336717694
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62524

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQX} Spans: 3 This is puzzle # 51 for Mr. Shteyman. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael Shteyman notes: You are seeing a puzzle sixteen years in the making! This was my very first crossword sent to The Times back in 1999. The ... more
Michael Shteyman notes:

You are seeing a puzzle sixteen years in the making! This was my very first crossword sent to The Times back in 1999. The theme contained three straightforward "state capital with its state" entries — LANSINGMICHIGAN, STPAULMINNESOTA, CHEYENNEWYOMING — in a grid inspired by my then 16-year-old classmate Ethan Cooper's debut NYT puzzle of May 17, 1999. Shockingly, that puzzle was rejected. :-P

It lay forgotten for the next twelve years, covered in virtual dust, until I decided to revive it. After some more brainstorming, I got very lucky with discovering the fourth and final element — the IOWA entry. Bingo! Obviously, it still is a straightforward Monday theme, but it's disguised in Wednesday clothes. And for those keeping track, the puzzle was accepted in July of 2013, a mere 19 months ago (note to self: make it a Monday next time).

Jeff Chen notes: Very nice construction. Tough to achieve theme interlock, and four crossing themers often creates difficulty in filling a grid. ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Very nice construction. Tough to achieve theme interlock, and four crossing themers often creates difficulty in filling a grid. Michael goes all the way down to 70 words, a really tough challenge when four of your themers are locked into place in a fixed skeleton.

And what a great start to the puzzle. That all-important 1-Across slot was so confusing — what could possibly end in –EDR? ROLLEDR looks so crazy awesome in the grid. Well done.

Interesting bit of trivia for ONE EARED. I wasn't sure the entry felt in the language, but I really enjoyed learning that factoid, that the praying mantis only has one ear. Apparently it's the only animal known to normally only have one ear?

Oh where, oh where has your O gone, ameba?

With such a gridwork challenge, it's normal to see a few gluey bits. I'm not a fan of AMEBA / AMEBAS / AMEBAE, as I had only seen AMOEBA / AMOEBAS / AMOEBAE in the real world before doing crosswords. It's something I've learned to live with as a solver, but I do go out of my way as a constructor to avoid it. Not sure why it's evolved (pun intended) to not require the dreaded "variant" tag, as Merriam Webster lists AMEBA as a variant of AMEOBA.

And Trevor ARIZA — do something crossworthy already so all of us constructors can feel fine using you in puzzles! How about trying for my record, which will be "the first 110-year old to play for an NBA team." Steph Curry, your great-great-great-grandsons (and daughters maybe even!) better get ready for competition.

Not sure if I'm missing some layer of cleverness on the theme? I do enjoy the interlock with DES MOINES IOWA serving as a backbone to the puzzle — shout out to Iowans! — but I would have liked some more connection between those four capitals (besides that they locked together nicely).

Finally, a delightful clue for MONTHS. [Their days are numbered], indeed.

1
R
2
O
3
L
4
L
5
E
6
D
7
R
8
A
9
M
10
E
11
B
12
A
13
E
14
O
N
E
E
A
R
E
15
D
16
B
O
N
E
R
S
17
C
A
N
T
L
O
S
E
18
E
N
V
I
E
S
19
W
I
S
20
P
21
T
O
N
N
E
22
L
23
A
24
N
25
S
26
I
N
G
M
I
27
C
H
I
G
A
N
28
A
D
O
P
T
29
N
O
E
L
S
30
I
D
E
A
T
31
E
32
I
C
U
33
D
34
I
35
S
36
K
37
L
I
N
C
O
L
38
N
N
E
B
39
R
A
S
K
A
40
A
N
D
Y
41
S
U
E
42
S
O
R
T
O
F
43
N
O
R
S
44
E
45
S
T
O
R
K
46
S
47
T
48
P
49
A
U
L
M
I
N
50
N
E
S
O
T
A
51
C
H
A
R
T
52
I
O
T
A
53
R
E
G
I
M
54
E
55
W
R
I
56
S
57
T
58
P
59
A
60
D
61
A
M
A
Z
E
S
62
A
A
V
E
R
A
G
E
63
M
E
N
A
G
E
64
P
E
N
A
L
T
Y
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0225 ( 23,850 )
Across Down
1. Part of "rico" or "roja" : ROLLEDR
8. Lives in a cell? : AMEBAE
14. Like the praying mantis, anatomically [weird, but true] : ONEEARED
16. Goofs : BONERS
17. Guaranteed to succeed : CANTLOSE
18. Covets : ENVIES
19. Bit of smoke : WISP
21. 1,000 kilogrammes : TONNE
22. Midwest capital #1 : LANSINGMICHIGAN
28. Take on : ADOPT
29. Many radio songs after Thanksgiving : NOELS
30. Think up : IDEATE
32. Where to find some very sick individuals, for short : ICU
33. U.F.O. shape : DISK
37. Midwest capital #2 : LINCOLNNEBRASKA
40. Samberg formerly of "S.N.L." : ANDY
41. "So ___ me" : SUE
42. In a way : SORTOF
43. Like early visitors to modern Nova Scotia : NORSE
45. Illustration on many a birth announcement : STORK
46. Midwest capital #3 : STPAULMINNESOTA
51. Location for patient information : CHART
52. Wee bit : IOTA
53. Junta, e.g. : REGIME
55. Carpal tunnel syndrome preventer : WRISTPAD
61. Flabbergasts : AMAZES
62. Stellar student's boast : AAVERAGE
63. Group of people living together : MENAGE
64. What a yellow flag may signify : PENALTY
1. Mythical bird with an enormous wingspan : ROC
2. Lead-in to date or dare : ONA
3. Spy novelist Deighton : LEN
4. Chair umpire's call : LET
5. Suffix with arbor : EAL
6. Be overwhelmed : DROWN
7. Terminate a contract ... or extend it : RESIGN
8. First prez to sport a beard : ABE
9. Their days are numbered : MONTHS
10. Final stanza in a poem : ENVOI
11. Life form : BEING
12. Sports venue : ARENA
13. German steel city : ESSEN
15. Midwest capital #4 : DESMOINESIOWA
20. Musical composition : PIECE
22. Boxer Ali : LAILA
23. Computer extra : ADDIN
24. Constantly : NOEND
25. Constantly daydreaming, say : SPACY
26. Leave ___ the pros : ITTO
27. Black suit : CLUBS
31. Symbol on the flag de Argentina : ELSOL
33. Game of motor precision that, strangely enough, is often played while inebriated : DARTS
34. Playground retort : ISTOO
35. Women's tennis garment : SKORT
36. "The Trial" author : KAFKA
38. Paavo ___, the Flying Finn of 1920s Olympics : NURMI
39. Jack's love in "Titanic" : ROSE
43. Eggnog ingredient : NUTMEG
44. Catch : ENTRAP
46. "Get lost!" : SCRAM
47. Principal melody : THEME
48. Polytheistic : PAGAN
49. Trevor of the N.B.A. : ARIZA
50. Like Little Red Riding Hood : NAIVE
54. Las Vegas-to-Austin dir. : ESE
56. V.I.P. on the Hill: Abbr. : SEN
57. Singing syllable : TRA
58. Hang out, with "around" : PAL
59. F.B.I. employee: Abbr. : AGT
60. Susan of old TV's "The Partridge Family" : DEY

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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