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New York Times, Saturday, March 10, 2018

Author:
Ryan McCarty
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
96/17/20172/9/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000117
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58000
Ryan McCarty

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 32 Missing: {KQZ} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. McCarty. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ryan McCarty notes:
By pure coincidence, this puzzle happens to run on my fiancé's birthday, so I'll take that as an opportunity to talk about him ... read more

By pure coincidence, this puzzle happens to run on my fiancé's birthday, so I'll take that as an opportunity to talk about him a bit. Quinton and I met as students at Princeton, both singing in the Princeton Nassoons (a cappella group) and the Chamber Choir. After graduation he spent a year in Tajikistan on a fellowship before joining me in the DC area, where we now both work on federal contracts. Although I usually enjoy doing the New York Times themeless puzzles solo, I love him enough to save some Fridays and Saturdays to solve together every few weeks. He especially helps with foreign language, geography, and vocabulary clues. We'll see if he can finish this one solo!

This puzzle is a bit un-millennial of me in that much of the grid is skewed toward older references, which may trip up some younger solvers. I've always been a fan of wide open grids with heavy intersection, even at the sacrifice to some overall zippiness and trendiness in the grid entries. It often makes it more of a challenge to both construct and solve, which I appreciate. This puzzle is an example of this constructing style: it doesn't quite have the youthful verve throughout, but I think the overall fill quality and intersection in the middle makes up for it. The side sections were a bit more flexible – only the unfortunate plural BEERYS which I didn't like, but liked better than the inelegance of adding a black square in the corner.

Hope you like this (unexpected) birthday present Quinton!

Jeff Chen notes:
I'm a sucker for innovative patterns in themelesses. I still greatly enjoy standard themeless layouts, as long as the fill is sparkly, ... read more

I'm a sucker for innovative patterns in themelesses. I still greatly enjoy standard themeless layouts, as long as the fill is sparkly, but there's something so thrilling about seeing something new. Big swaths of white, swirling from SW to NE! More swirliness in the other corners! All done with pretty good grid flow, and a ton of long entries? Color me intrigued. Nervous, too – it's so difficult to fill a grid like this well – but intrigued.

Such a pleasure to get a snazzy triplet in the middle, FIXED ASSETS / HIGH AND AWAY / BARBARA EDEN. Okay, at least one of these could bore most anyone – finance haters, baseball haters, old sitcom haters. But I like the variety.

Personally, I like finance and baseball (at least the fun slang), but I did do some head-scratching at BARBARA EDEN. When I looked her up on Wikipedia … man oh man, that theme song! Though I never watched the show, I love that jingle.

Then, GEAR TRAINS and ICE CAPADES worked through the middle stack! As a gearhead, I love GEAR TRAINS. And [Arrangements of teeth?] obfuscating it made it even better.

And there was more — nice stacks in each of the four corners! Loved loved loved PIERCED EAR / ONE MAN ARMY / ISLAND HOPS. Such juicy answers!

Well, let's reduce that to two loves. Agreed with Ryan, BEERYS is one of the worst pluralized names I've seen in memory. Ick! I'd have preferred the black square at the S as Ryan described, but who knows what it would have done in the NW.

I personally would have never let BEERYS through. But if it enables such a great triplet of long entries, why wouldn't you? Woudja look at that, after all these years, I'm still adapting my thinking.

(Okay, I still probably would have fought like heck to get rid of BEERYS.)

Overall, great usage of his long slots, and I love the innovation and solid execution using a challenging grid pattern. Very impressive work from a relatively new constructor.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0310 ( 24,959 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
Pilot control? : GASTAP
7
For all to see : RATEDG
13
What "e" may signify : ONLINE
14
Bonnie of "Parenthood" : BEDELIA
15
Occasion for a piñata : FIESTA
16
Couldn't say "say," say : HADALISP
17
Gathering clouds and others : OMENS
18
Poker site : FIREPLACE
19
Glued to something : RAPT
20
Sluggers : BIGBATS
21
Ortiz of "Devious Maids" : ANA
22
Yoga command : EXHALE
23
Island dish : POI
26
Opposite of downs : SIPS
28
Arrangements of teeth? : GEARTRAINS
30
Freak : PANIC
32
Modern test subject : DNA
33
Shade of gray : STEEL
34
Bygone skating spectacle : ICECAPADES
37
"Aunt" of a 1979 best seller : ERMA
38
Org. concerned with cracking and leaking : NSA
39
He wrote "It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure" : DESADE
40
Cooler : CAN
41
Goes out in the rain : GETSWET
42
Babysit : TEND
43
Dr. Lester portrayer in "Being John Malkovich" : ORSONBEAN
46
One of the 12 tribes of Israel : JUDAH
47
Successful Olympic bidder : HOSTCITY
48
Ravel work in which the melody is passed among the instruments : BOLERO
49
Ones prepared to drop a few bucks? : HUNTERS
50
Tanning salon fixture : UVLAMP
51
"Weird ..." : ITSODD
52
Noah and Wallace of old films : BEERYS
Down
1
Ride around the block, say : GOFORASPIN
2
Warner Bros. cartoon series of the 1990s : ANIMANIACS
3
Breath-taking experience : SLEEPAPNEA
4
Quaint retort : TISNT
5
Line at a food stand? : ANTS
6
Snow ___ : PEA
7
Provided new hands : REDEALT
8
Common airport kiosk gadgets : ADAPTERS
9
Giveaways : TELLS
10
"Grace Before Meat" essayist : ELIA
11
Virtually every coin : DISC
12
Goggle : GAPE
14
"Jeannie Out of the Bottle" memoirist : BARBARAEDEN
16
Like some bad pitches, in baseball lingo : HIGHANDAWAY
18
Office building, equipment, etc. : FIXEDASSETS
20
Canine command : BEG
23
Spot for a stud : PIERCEDEAR
24
Rambo, e.g. : ONEMANARMY
25
Changes keys? : ISLANDHOPS
27
Canine command : SIC
29
Took in : ATE
31
In rhythm : CADENCED
35
Iago vis-à-vis Jafar, in "Aladdin" : PETBIRD
36
Decided : SET
41
Bugged : GOTTO
42
Common material in tutus : TULLE
43
"What a surprise to see you here!" : OHHI
44
Cream : ROUT
45
Hacking targets, for short : SSNS
46
"By ___!" : JOVE
48
Mac alternative : BUB

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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