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New York Times, Saturday, March 11, 2017

Author:
Natan Last
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
277/17/200710/9/20186
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5122098
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1.60350
Natan Last

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 39 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 20 for Mr. Last. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Natan Last notes:
I'm in love with the stacks of 13+14 marquee entries, and given the constraints they laid on the rest of the grid, I'm really happy ... read more

I'm in love with the stacks of 13+14 marquee entries, and given the constraints they laid on the rest of the grid, I'm really happy with the pop and cleanliness of the rest of the answers. KEG STAND! WOOKIEES! OLD FLAME! (My college experience?!) Hopefully there are fun answers to discover in every quadrant.

I like writing clues that tie into one another in ways beyond traditional cross-referencing. I think this is pretty in print — I like the look of the streak of clues that reads "Rushed, Rush, Red ___, Red ___" — but it's interesting to note that many, many solvers do the crossword digitally now, where that kind of maneuver has less aesthetic cache. Something for me to unlearn, perhaps.

Generally, I thought this one wasn't edited as well as usual. You'll note that ironically, GLORIA STEINEM and WHITE PRIVILEGE are (precisely? nearly?) the only woman and person of color, respectively, in the puzzle. If memory serves, the original clues for at least MARC, STIR (either Tribe or Marley), HAJI, SAD, and SHRINE explicitly brought something, uh, deliberately un-Tom-Thumb-y to the cultural table. Even the clues for SHAD (kohada!) and PRUNE (tzimmes!) drew from milieus inferrable to Times solvers but more interesting, to me, than definitional clues, which this puzzle didn't lack. Strangely, the already-long clues for HOT TAKE and OTT were padded, to the point of clunkiness.

Shout out to my favorite poetry professor in college, Darren Angle, who had us read Matthea Harvey's "SAD Little Breathing Machine," a book of poems that's stayed with me for many years since. And shout out to Will and Joel for writing an amazing VIRTUAL REALITY clue!

Jeff Chen notes:
GLORIA STEINEM and WHITE PRIVILEGE headline today's puzzle. I enjoyed piecing together a historic figure in GLORIA STEINEM. But WHITE ... read more

GLORIA STEINEM and WHITE PRIVILEGE headline today's puzzle. I enjoyed piecing together a historic figure in GLORIA STEINEM. But WHITE PRIVILEGE … although I think it's an important concept more people ought to learn about, I wonder if some solvers will feel like the puzzle is trying to shame them. I wonder how I'd feel if I were white.

I liked the additions up top, WOOKIEES (yes, it's two Es, weird!) and ALT POP some nice bonuses. Not a fan of EFT ( a term for a juvenile newt) and LOT I, though.

Overall, a wide mix of entries I found entertaining — DRAMEDY, KEG STAND, VIRTUAL REALITY, OLD FLAME, OPEN WIDE, THE NERVE — along with some that didn't resonate with me. Not watching many cartoons these days, ADVENTURE TIME didn't do much for me, and although HOT TAKE is an interesting new term I didn't know, having to work so hard to piece it together wasn't super satisfying.

The level of crossword glue was just at my threshold. Along with the aforementioned, there was EME, OTT, and VAS. Thankfully these are all shorties and individually easy to overlook, especially since Natan did a nice job spreading them all out. But everything taken as a whole, I did feel like it was on the verge.

I really appreciated how many great clues there were; seemingly more than usual for a Saturday:

  • The Biblical ARK had a "double standard" — two by two!
  • Cool trivia that APHIDs are born pregnant. Neat biological advantage.
  • Bows may be made in a SHRINE … not ribbon bows, but bows at the waist.
  • [Lover of history?] is a great misdirection for OLD FLAME — a lover from one's personal history.
  • TRAY is something someone may be holding when waiting … waiting on a table!
  • [Soap box?] confused me, even after uncovering every letter. Ah, a TV SET is a type of box that plays soap (operas). Very nice.

So many clever clues! Wish all Saturday puzzles had this many.

1
A
2
L
3
T
4
P
5
O
6
P
7
B
8
L
9
O
10
K
11
E
12
G
L
O
R
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A
S
13
T
E
I
N
E
M
14
W
H
I
T
E
P
R
I
V
I
L
E
G
E
15
W
O
O
K
I
E
E
S
16
S
N
O
T
S
17
E
L
S
E
18
M
19
O
E
S
20
O
T
21
T
22
E
F
T
23
S
24
A
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V
A
N
T
26
S
O
A
R
27
S
H
R
I
N
E
28
M
A
N
N
A
29
H
30
O
31
T
T
A
K
E
32
D
33
R
A
M
E
D
Y
34
A
P
H
I
D
35
F
36
I
G
U
R
E
37
J
E
E
R
38
H
O
M
E
E
C
39
S
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A
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D
42
I
N
N
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P
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S
P
R
Y
45
W
E
46
I
R
D
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O
48
L
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D
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F
L
A
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E
51
V
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U
A
52
L
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A
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Y
53
A
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54
S
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55
G
Y
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E
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0311 ( 24,595 )
Across
1. Genre akin to indie rock : ALTPOP
7. Fellow : BLOKE
12. Co-organizer of the 1970 Women's Strike for Equality : GLORIASTEINEM
14. Modern topic in race relations : WHITEPRIVILEGE
15. Sci-fi natives of the planet Kashyyyk : WOOKIEES
16. Little monsters : SNOTS
17. Programming keyword : ELSE
18. Longtime TV tavern : MOES
20. To whom Durocher was referring when he said "Nice guys finish last" : OTT
22. Little wriggler : EFT
23. Wise one : SAVANT
26. Go through the roof : SOAR
27. Where bows may be made : SHRINE
28. It's described as fine and flakelike in Exodus : MANNA
29. Piece of glib journalism often written under a tight deadline : HOTTAKE
32. Theatrical hybrid : DRAMEDY
34. Insect that's born pregnant : APHID
35. 8, e.g. : FIGURE
37. "Are you blind, ump?," e.g. : JEER
38. Course on courses, for short : HOMEEC
39. Tearing up, say : SAD
42. Tolkien's Prancing Pony, for one : INN
43. 3, 4, 5 and occasionally more : PARS
44. Opposite of doddery : SPRY
45. Quite off : WEIRD
47. Lover of history? : OLDFLAME
51. Field in which a helmet and gloves are often worn : VIRTUALREALITY
53. Award-winning Cartoon Network series with Finn the Human and Jake the Dog : ADVENTURETIME
54. Repeated lyric in the Who's "Tommy" : SEEME
55. Twist and turn : GYRATE
Down
1. Uniform : ALIKE
2. "There's not a ___ can do" : LOTI
3. Word with family or Christmas : TREE
4. Main, say : PIPE
5. Sculler : OARSMAN
6. Wave function denoter in quantum mechanics : PSI
7. Some Vietnam War protests : BEINS
8. Disney's "___ & Stitch" : LILO
9. Corresponding exactly : ONETOONE
10. Frat party stunt : KEGSTAND
11. Suffix in linguistics : EME
12. Popular word game : GHOST
13. Soap box? : TVSET
14. Bolt (down) : WOLF
15. Like Tom Thumb : WEE
19. Wired : ONEDGE
21. What someone may be holding while waiting : TRAY
23. Kind of roe : SHAD
24. What had a double standard in the Bible? : ARK
25. Try to win : VIEFOR
26. Uniform : SAME
27. Ruckus : STIR
28. Fashion designer Ecko : MARC
29. Traveler to a certain 27-Across : HAJI
30. Request at the dentist's : OPENWIDE
31. "How dare they!" : THENERVE
33. Regret : RUE
36. "Apologies" : IMSORRY
38. Rushed : HADAT
39. Rush : SPATE
40. Red ___ : ARMY
41. Red ___ : DYE
43. Cut back : PRUNE
44. Snail trail : SLIME
46. Paragraph in the newspaper, say : ITEM
48. Look the wrong way? : LEER
49. Subject of a cellphone cap : DATA
50. Move like a fairy : FLIT
51. Biological duct : VAS
52. Palooka : LUG

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?