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New York Times, Friday, February 5, 2016

Author:
Mary Lou Guizzo
Editor:
Will Shortz
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224/17/201411/15/201811
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31142641
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1.61330
Mary Lou Guizzo

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 30 Missing: {QZ} Spans: 6 This is puzzle # 10 for Ms. Guizzo. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mary Lou Guizzo notes:
The third try was a charm with this grid. I received an encouraging response from Joel on my original version, submitted in June 2014. ... read more

The third try was a charm with this grid. I received an encouraging response from Joel on my original version, submitted in June 2014. He noted that it was a near miss. One longer word, MARGERY DAW, which Joel said neither he or Will were familiar with, as well as some of the shorter fill — MAWR, LELY, TYE, E MALL, RHEO, SLA and LEFAY — were mentioned as reasons for the rejection. That version had CHANCES ARE SMALL running across the top.

Will noted that my second version featuring BEATS ONES BREAST was a close call, but too many of the shorter entries were unappealing — TPS, MARA, ITO, AVI, SLA, ARN, INSP and SSTS.

A minor change was made in the accepted version with GRANDSTAND SEATS. The OZS / ZORA crossing I had was replaced with OHS / HORA.

I was pleased to work two strong women, SHAILENE WOODLEY and JESSICA CHASTAIN, who have triumphed over early difficulties to success, into the grid. GO AT A SNAILS PACE is also new to the NYT database. GRANDSTAND SEATS was last used in 1975 by Maura Jacobson. (She was quite a prolific cruciverbalist — great role model! I discovered her puzzles in some old NY Magazines at the library and found them quite addicting.)

I appreciate the concise feedback I received from Will and Joel on the earlier versions of this puzzle as well as their acceptance and editing of this final version. I'm still working on clever cluing. I appreciate their clues: "A dance that might give you a lift?" (HORA), "Setting for fans" (GRANDSTAND SEATS), "They might work at a revival" (EMTS) and "Doctor seen by millions" (PHIL).

Jeff Chen notes:
I loved WHAT MORE CAN I SAY and GO AT A SNAILS PACE, answers that felt like they could hit a broad audience with strong effect. And ... read more

I loved WHAT MORE CAN I SAY and GO AT A SNAILS PACE, answers that felt like they could hit a broad audience with strong effect. And CANNERY ROW has a special place in my heart, as my favorite Steinbeck novel. It was harder for me to appreciate A MODEST PROPOSAL, as I didn't recognize it, but some Googling shows that it's taught in some school curricula.

Jessica Chastain

Not being very well versed in pop culture, it was harder yet for me to appreciate SHAILENE WOODLEY and JESSICA CHASTAIN. I forced myself to go Google them, and afterward I especially appreciated Chastain's recent meteoric rise — such big roles in a short span of time! I'm sure some solvers will get a thrill out of seeing these two names (and A MODEST PROPOSAL), but I wonder how many who don't already know them will bother to look them up.

For me, that's a problem with themeless puzzles featuring full names that aren't of uberstratospheric star quality. I do appreciate learning a tidbit or two from my crossword, but sometimes that's not a very fun process for me.

Themeless grids featuring grid-spanning 15-letter entries are so tough to execute on, as those long entries tend to lock down the entire grid, choking flexibiilty to near zero. This one, with six grid-spanners and two other long answers, makes for quite a challenge. Every single subsection of the grid is so constrained by those eight long answers, making clean filling so difficult.

Not only that, but as soon as you fill one little area, that further restricts the region next to it ... which was already constrained to begin with! Very, very tough. Thankfully, most of the crossword glue like SENAT, AMPAS, ELEC, ABAFT, IRAE, PREV, etc. is spread out today, but it felt like a lot in aggregate.

The clue for ASCII made this nerd smile. ASCII — American Standard Code for Information Interchange — is a standard part of nerd culture. It has a chart mapping codes to symbols and letters, which makes it a fertile ground for various code puzzles.

So, not my favorite style of themeless, but I bet fans of Woodley and Chastain will get a kick out of seeing their full names in the NYT crossword.

1
G
2
A
3
W
4
P
5
O
6
D
7
I
8
C
9
U
10
N
11
G
12
E
13
R
14
A
C
H
E
15
H
O
R
A
16
N
A
O
M
I
17
G
R
A
N
18
D
S
T
A
N
19
D
S
E
A
T
S
20
A
E
T
N
A
21
S
E
N
A
T
22
T
S
K
23
M
E
R
24
C
25
E
N
O
26
L
A
27
A
28
M
O
D
E
S
29
T
30
P
R
O
P
O
S
31
A
32
L
33
M
A
R
34
D
I
A
R
Y
35
S
O
N
D
E
36
P
R
E
37
V
38
S
K
I
R
39
T
40
N
A
D
A
41
A
S
C
I
42
I
43
E
M
O
R
44
Y
45
I
L
K
46
S
H
A
I
L
47
E
N
E
W
O
O
48
D
L
E
Y
49
N
I
L
L
A
50
U
K
E
S
51
A
52
N
I
53
B
E
B
54
O
55
P
56
E
X
P
57
A
58
T
59
J
E
S
60
S
I
C
A
C
H
61
A
S
T
A
I
N
62
A
B
A
F
T
63
C
H
I
N
64
E
C
R
U
65
R
O
Y
C
E
66
K
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N
67
R
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S
T
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0205 ( 24,195 )
Across
1. Stare in astonishment : GAWP
5. Horatian or Keatsian : ODIC
9. Clean freak of sitcomdom : UNGER
14. Long : ACHE
15. Dance that might give you a lift? : HORA
16. Campbell on a catwalk : NAOMI
17. Setting for fans : GRANDSTANDSEATS
20. Fortune 100 company whose name starts with a silent letter : AETNA
21. Part of le Parlement français : SENAT
22. Judgmental sound : TSK
23. Chicago exchange, in brief : MERC
25. First name on a B-29 : ENOLA
27. Jonathan Swift satire : AMODESTPROPOSAL
33. Dent or crack : MAR
34. Frank narrative : DIARY
35. Balloon-carried probe : SONDE
36. Prior: Abbr. : PREV
38. Circumvent : SKIRT
40. Zip : NADA
41. System in which 33 and 63 are "!" and "?" : ASCII
43. Southern alma mater of Newt Gingrich : EMORY
45. Category : ILK
46. Actress who starred in "The Fault in Our Stars," 2014 : SHAILENEWOODLEY
49. Snack brand since 1967 : NILLA
50. Luau staples, for short : UKES
51. Threepio's first master : ANI
53. Some cat sounds? : BEBOP
56. Certain absentee voter, for short : EXPAT
59. 2012 Best Actress nominee for "Zero Dark Thirty" : JESSICACHASTAIN
62. Opposite of afore : ABAFT
63. With 67-Across, attachment to a string instrument : CHIN
64. Shade similar to camel : ECRU
65. Classic car company co-founder : ROYCE
66. City on der Rhein : KOLN
67. See 63-Across : REST
Down
1. Mad : GAGA
2. Plot piece : ACRE
3. Question upon completing an argument : WHATMORECANISAY
4. Like many farm animals : PENNED
5. Sister brand of Alpha-Bits : OHS
6. Sleuths connect them : DOTS
7. "Of wrath," in a hymn title : IRAE
8. John Steinbeck novel : CANNERYROW
9. De-clogs : UNSTOPS
10. Shetlands turndown : NAE
11. Crawl : GOATASNAILSPACE
12. They might work at a revival, for short : EMTS
13. Chance : RISK
18. Took a 13-Down : DARED
19. "Hawaii Five-O" nickname : DANO
24. Collectors of DNA, prints, etc. : CSIS
26. Avian symbol of Ontario : LOON
27. Grp. behind the Oscars : AMPAS
28. Reed section? : MARSH
29. Nonplussed : TAKENABACK
30. Amazon offering : PRIME
31. Nonplus : ADDLE
32. Unsafe, as a boat : LEAKY
37. Number on a grandfather clock : VIII
39. Drop ___ : TROU
42. "It's probably a trick, but tell me" : ILLBITE
44. They join teams : YOKES
47. Wire transfer?: Abbr. : ELEC
48. Role for which Michael C. Hall got five straight Emmy nominations : DEXTER
51. Cracked : AJAR
52. Mount near the Dead Sea : NEBO
54. 37-Down, to Diego : OCHO
55. Doctor seen by millions : PHIL
57. Hauteur : AIRS
58. Hardware bit : TNUT
60. U.S. Army E-7 : SFC
61. "___ Vickers," Sinclair Lewis novel : ANN

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

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