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New York Times, Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
966/16/20118/18/201918
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76681132242
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1.645173
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 34 Missing: {FJQZ} This is puzzle # 37 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
I came up with this puzzle idea back in 2012 when Michael Sharp (aka Rex Parker) was coordinating submissions for American Red ... read more

I came up with this puzzle idea back in 2012 when Michael Sharp (aka Rex Parker) was coordinating submissions for American Red Crosswords, a collection of 24 donated puzzles compiled to raise money for Hurricane Sandy victims. Anyway, Rex liked the idea behind this puzzle but was concerned that it was too similar to one he had already approved; he encouraged me to hold onto the puzzle, though, as he felt it would ultimately be salable. So I sent Rex a different crossword, which ultimately made the collection, and submitted this one to The New York Times.

To my delight, Will liked the puzzle — in fact, so much that he wanted to use it for the 2013 ACPT! Unfortunately, I had to inform Will that Rex had already seen the idea, which meant that the puzzle couldn't be used in the tournament since Rex would be competing. On the bright side, the Wednesday queue ended up being so long that the pay rate for daily puzzles increased, so I'll have more money to *drumroll please* fund my eventual college tuition with!

Looking back on this puzzle, I'm particularly pleased with how the fill turned out. My favorite entries are BUT WHY, AT SIGN, and OPA-LOCKA, all of which will be making their New York Times crossword debuts today, and the grid ended up necessitating only a few pieces of crosswordese and a smattering of proper names.

I've noticed that Will and Joel seem to be increasingly emphasizing clever clues in early-week puzzles, which I think is a delightful way to spice them up for those of us solvers who have "seen it all"! I especially like their "Something that's just not done at the dinner table?" for RARE MEAT and "It's a gas up north" for ESSO.

Hope you enjoy this relatively straightforward puzzle — the next time you see my byline, there's a good chance it will be on a Friday or Saturday. Mwahaha!

Jeff Chen notes:
David creates five RED CROSSes today, pairs of reddish answers literally crossing. At first I thought they were all shades of red, but ... read more

David creates five RED CROSSes today, pairs of reddish answers literally crossing. At first I thought they were all shades of red, but RARE MEAT threw me off. Does Crayola make a RARE MEAT crayon? (If not, I call dibs on that business idea.) And aren't many NAIL POLISHes non-red? So, a looser interpretation of "things that are generally red" crossing each other.

What, no PABST Blue Ribbon crayon?

Five pairs of crossing answers — and long ones to boot! — is a tough task. It's impressive that David not just pulled it off, but managed to work in a few good pieces of fill like TV TRAY and the awesome BUT WHY? All while keeping the grid mostly clean as a whistle.

Sure, some will argue that NASA's AMES Research Center is pretty esoteric, but I think it's a good piece of trivia to learn. I happened to intern there while in high school, so it brought back good memories of being on a 2 a.m. flight in a C-5, getting above the clouds to take astronomical readings.

One interesting bit about the grid design is the deployment of a huge number of black squares in the middle of the grid. This helps tremendously to separate the five crossing pairs, allowing David to treat them quasi-independently. Very important when it comes to clean fill.

But it doesn't leave a lot of black squares available for elsewhere in the grid. That means some region(s) is going to require some long answers — in this case, the NW and SE. I really like the SE, with PROSPERO and AIRBASES, but I wondered if WOMANISH is a real thing. And it would have been great to get a good piece of trivia on OPA LOCKA, but [Miami suburb] made me wonder if OPA LOCKA is really crossworthy.

Finally, [It might have a stirring part] gave me a laugh when I realized it referred to not an actor's stirring role, but actual stirring. Great clue for RECIPE.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0311 ( 23,864 )
Across
1
Ladylike : WOMANISH
9
Like the bodies snatched in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" : CLONED
15
Miami suburb : OPALOCKA
16
"So-o-o nice!" : OOLALA
17
Something that's just not done at the dinner table? : RAREMEAT
18
Salad bar item : RADISH
19
"Frozen" character who sings "Let It Go" : ELSA
20
@ : ATSIGN
22
___ États-Unis : LES
23
Census information : SEX
25
Traffic problem : TIEUP
27
Stinkbugs and others : PESTS
30
Crunch beneficiaries : ABS
32
Reacts to gravity : DROPS
35
"___ is to console those who are broken by life": Van Gogh : ART
36
Couch potato's holder : TVTRAY
39
"On cloud nine" feeling : GLEE
40
Metro : Washington :: ___ : San Francisco : BART
42
Tailgate dish : CHILI
43
It goes from Carndonagh to Skibbereen : EIRE
44
Symbol on Captain America's shield : STAR
45
It might have a stirring part : RECIPE
47
Word with flour or milk : SOY
48
Like some ships at harbor : TOWED
50
Half of a candy duo : IKE
51
Longtime New York Philharmonic conductor : MEHTA
53
Things that may help you get out of a jam? : BEEPS
55
Fifth-century invader : HUN
56
Independence in Washington, e.g.: Abbr. : AVE
58
Cry from a whiny child : BUTWHY
61
"___ that" : TRUE
65
Dark wine : MERLOT
67
Aid provider since 1864 ... or a hint to this puzzle's shaded squares : REDCROSS
69
Wandering : ERRANT
70
Providers of pilot programs : AIRBASES
71
Give the green light : SAYYES
72
Shakespearean character who says "We are such stuff as dreams are made on" : PROSPERO
Down
1
Became threadbare : WORE
2
Gem of a girl? : OPAL
3
Twix maker : MARS
4
Rays' div. : ALEAST
5
Athos, Porthos or Aramis : NOM
6
Polar explorer's implement : ICEAX
7
Trick-taking game : SKAT
8
Top gear : HATS
9
Welsh ___ : CORGI
10
Like some cars and library books : LOANED
11
No longer funny : OLD
12
Purse item : NAILPOLISH
13
"What ___?" : ELSE
14
"Tom," entirely, in Morse code : DAHS
21
"Don't believe that one bit!" : ITSALIE
24
Car mechanic's fig. : EST
26
Spur (on) : URGE
27
Colt 45 maker : PABST
28
Muse whose name means "beloved" : ERATO
29
Kool-Aid flavor : STRAWBERRY
30
One who's beyond belief? : ATHEIST
31
Adobe, e.g. : BRICK
33
Reform Party pioneer : PEROT
34
"I gotta run!" : SEEYA
37
TiVo predecessor : VCR
38
Puppy's plaint : YIP
41
Symbol on the state flag of Maine or South Carolina : TREE
46
Avian sprinter : EMU
49
Prepare, in a way, as fish : DEBONE
52
Lure into lawbreaking : ENTRAP
54
Sounds from jalopies : PUTTS
55
Eco-friendly power source, informally : HYDRO
56
NASA's ___ Research Center : AMES
57
Unseen "Cheers" wife : VERA
59
Finish (up) : WRAP
60
One who's succeeding : HEIR
62
Stood : ROSE
63
___ experience : USER
64
It's a gas up north : ESSO
66
Kind of preacher : LAY
68
"Hawaii Five-O" network : CBS

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?