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New York Times, Saturday, March 10, 2018

Author:
Ryan McCarty
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
76/17/201711/3/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000115
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 )
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.

Found bugs or have suggestions?