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New York Times, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Author:
Mel Rosen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3812/28/197011/3/20161
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
10663346
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.5311224
Mel Rosen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQVX} This is puzzle # 36 for Mr. Rosen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mel Rosen notes:
Some puzzles can truly be characterized as 'inspired.' This one, however, came from my 'I really ought to compose a puzzle' muse. That ... read more

Some puzzles can truly be characterized as "inspired." This one, however, came from my "I really ought to compose a puzzle" muse. That said: daily crosswords in most markets carry no titles; consequently, constructions utilizing a "reveal" entry appeal to me because they offer the solver an "aha" moment. "Reveal" entries are sometimes as long as the theme answer phrases. For example, the theoretical-but-probably-not-useful reveal AFTERMATH could be a hint for the same-length answer MAJOR DOMO (as in MATH MAJOR) as well as unrelated answers like SYMBOL FOR LEAD and TEST MARKET.

Casting about for ideas for this puzzle I thought of IN BUD, which is apt for springtime. Then I found four suitable long entries that seem to be first-timers, which is always fun: BUms arounD, BUrma roaD, BUll-noseD, and BUttonwooD.

As to the development of the grid: I don't remember what I had for lunch yesterday, so other than making sure the reveal was in the grid — near the bottom to delay the "aha" — I honestly don't recall if there were tricky regions of the construction. The grid design has lots of relatively isolated areas with many options everywhere. I knew I was aiming for Monday-Tuesday difficulty and tried to keep the fill on the straightforward side.

Jeff Chen notes:
I like a puzzle that reminds me spring is around the corner (fingers crossed). A real treat to see crocuses starting to emerge as I go ... read more

I like a puzzle that reminds me spring is around the corner (fingers crossed). A real treat to see crocuses starting to emerge as I go for long runs, so a puzzle themed on IN BUD was very welcome. Four phrases are (sort of) IN BUD, i.e. they have the letters BU and D at their ends.

BUMS AROUND is a great answer; snazzy stuff. And I smiled at BUTTONWOOD — it's a nice enough entry in itself, but it made me think how incredible this theme would be if there were four entries which satisfied the BU*D pattern AND were actually things that were currently in bud? Anyway, too much to hope for, methinks.

interesting layout today, one which sort of segments the grid into nine subsections. I don't mind the NW and the SE, but generally I think it's best to avoid sectioning off the NE and SW so severely. To me, it takes away from the overall flow of a crossword, choking down to a single entry which must be figured out (ON A BET or UPTICK) to move through that necking point.

I also found the placement of revealer a bit inelegant, as it's in a random-ish spot of the grid. I would have preferred IN BUD to be where UMPED is, for example. This is simply a personal preference — having a revealer with no symmetrical entry is perfectly fine but feels so much cleaner if it's in a margin or at the final across entry.

Not a lot of long fill today, but COOKBOOK carried a nice clue to it, and PARDON ME could only have been made better by referring to the old Grey Poupon ad. (I can't tell you how many times my brother and I have giggled over that old commercial.) And BEAN BAG is a great entry in the grid.

The short fill... usually short fill is like a chief of staff: the best you can hope for is you don't notice anything. If the chief has done his/her job well (see: Doug Stamper on House of Cards), everything runs like a machine, no knocks or pings. Today, I would have liked to see the west section smoothed out (ILIA and ANIL); same for the north (AGIN). Sometimes a constructor puts in "weird" entries on purpose (Tracy Gray's PLAGE for example) which I find perfectly fine — one of those here or there is acceptable, even desirable. And while both ILIA and ANIL are generally things one sees outside of crosswords, when seen together, they stick out (in my opinion).

Anyway, nice themers today, I really liked BULL-NOSED too (I have many pairs of BULL-NOSED pliers; they're extremely useful) and BURMA ROAD was a fun one to look up.

Spring has sprung! (as I sit in a coffee shop looking at the cold rain)

Jim Horne notes:

The ACPT ended this past weekend. Mr. Rosen famously co-wrote this homage to a former champion.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0311 ( 23,499 )
Across
1
Like yesterday's news : STALE
6
"Must be done NOW!" : ASAP
10
Reduce to a pulp : MASH
14
Lugs : TOTES
15
Latvia's capital : RIGA
16
It may be just a hunch : IDEA
17
Underway : AFOOT
18
Blend : STIR
19
Boxers Muhammad and Laila : ALIS
20
Idles : BUMSAROUND
22
Fey of "30 Rock" : TINA
23
Souvenir of Maui, maybe : TAN
24
How money may be won or lost : ONABET
26
Like windows : GLAZED
30
Window segment : PANE
32
Monday, in Madrid : LUNES
33
Allied supply route to China during W.W. II : BURMAROAD
38
Olympic skating champ Kulik : ILIA
39
Physics Nobelist of 1903 and Chemistry Nobelist of 1911 : CURIE
40
Toasted waffle : EGGO
41
Having a rounded end, as pliers : BULLNOSED
43
Tête topper : BERET
44
Big name in audio speakers : BOSE
45
Fracases : MELEES
46
Minor improvement in the Dow : UPTICK
50
Shout of inspiration : AHA
51
Thomas who wrote "Death in Venice" : MANN
52
Sycamore tree : BUTTONWOOD
59
"No ___" (reassuring words) : PROB
60
Spanish eight : OCHO
61
Tolkien's ring bearer : BILBO
62
Caesar's rebuke to Brutus : ETTU
63
Lena of "Chocolat" : OLIN
64
Supply, as a new ingredient : ADDIN
65
Like Easter eggs : DYED
66
"Citizen" of film : KANE
67
They return north in the spring : GEESE
Down
1
Blind guess : STAB
2
Protein source for vegetarians : TOFU
3
Tiny bit : ATOM
4
Some summer babies : LEOS
5
Topics for probate courts : ESTATES
6
Flaming felony : ARSON
7
In ___ (undisturbed) : SITU
8
Opposed to, to Li'l Abner : AGIN
9
"Scusi" : PARDONME
10
Autodom's MX-5 : MIATA
11
Wing it : ADLIB
12
What the Left Bank is a bank of : SEINE
13
Attacks with vigor : HASAT
21
"Far out, man!" : RAD
25
Three R's org. : NEA
26
Smooth-talking : GLIB
27
She's back in town, in a Fats Waller song : LULU
28
Blue dye source : ANIL
29
Fervor : ZEAL
30
Baby food, typically : PUREE
31
Like much of the Southwest : ARID
33
Smooch : BUSS
34
Recite quickly, with "off" : REEL
35
Brute : OGRE
36
James who wrote "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" : AGEE
37
"i" and "j" tops : DOTS
39
Volume that requires lots of preparations to compile? : COOKBOOK
42
"Parks and Recreation" network : NBC
43
Casual type of chair : BEANBAG
45
Unit of electrical conductance : MHO
46
Made calls, in baseball : UMPED
47
New Year's Eve staple : PARTY
48
Federal security, for short : TNOTE
49
About to bloom ... or a hint to 20-, 33-, 41- and 52-Across : INBUD
50
Observe Yom Kippur : ATONE
53
Pac-12 basketball powerhouse : UCLA
54
Slender : THIN
55
Broad : WIDE
56
Ye ___ Shoppe : OLDE
57
Kimono securers : OBIS
58
Puzzle solver's happy shout : DONE

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?