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New York Times, Friday, March 16, 2018

Author: Robyn Weintraub
Editor: Will Shortz
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1.58000
Robyn Weintraub
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 30 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 14 for Ms. Weintraub. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Robyn Weintraub notes: Jeff, I think you will be pleased to see that we have finally arrived at my post-divided-thru-the-middle themeless puzzle ... more
Robyn Weintraub notes:

Jeff, I think you will be pleased to see that we have finally arrived at my post-divided-thru-the-middle themeless puzzle design. I give you 100% of the credit for pointing out that crutch, which I didn't realize I was using. Though there may be exceptions in the future, I certainly won't revisit that design without having an imaginary debate with you about it first.

In my puzzles, I always look to incorporate at least one exclamation, question or "conversational" phrase, as I think they add a different dimension to mix. Over the years I've included: DO ME A FAVOR, ARE YOU DONE, IT FIGURES, DO I HAVE TO, KEEP TALKING and IMPRESS ME. In this particular puzzle, there are three — and it turns out that together they comprise a little story, the gripping (yet brief) tale of one character consoling another after a distressing and suspicious incident: THERE THERE, IN ANY EVENT, I SMELL A RAT.

Also, I don't usually go looking for interesting word intersections, but I find it incredibly amusing that VEGETARIAN runs through LIVING DEAD. I keep seeing images of zombies feasting on quinoa bowls and avocado toast.

Jeff Chen notes: Robyn is quickly becoming one of my new favorite themeless constructors. I've loved her voice in the past, what with glorious seed ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Robyn is quickly becoming one of my new favorite themeless constructors. I've loved her voice in the past, what with glorious seed entries such as MADE YOU LOOK, MIRACLE MAX, TRACTOR BEAM, RON WEASLEY. Sometimes you feel like you're right on the constructor's wavelength, and Robyn knows how to tickle my fancy.

Sure was the case today with LIVING DEAD, KING ARTHUR clued to "Monty Python," and that delightful WINEMAKER clue, [Port authority?]. Beautiful stuff!

Better yet, Robyn's been honing her work, continually perfecting her craft. I'd found some of her prior themelesses lacking in grid flow (choke points cutting off sections of the grid from each other), or using too much crossword glue. Not the case today! There's an ESTE and AMAN, but I'd happily take those for all the goodies she worked in.

And the goodies! Starting off with 16 long (8+ letters) slots is a tough ask — most constructors will manage to convert maybe only 10 of those into sizzling entries. Robyn used hers to the (miracle) max, SOUND BITES, FLOORS IT, I SMELL A RAT, etc. No THERE THERE needed, because everywhere I turned, more great stuff.

Perhaps NATTERED was more neutral than an asset? But even that is a pretty fun word. JEREMIAH may be dull for some, but what a great nickname in "The Weeping Prophet"!

And the cluing! WINEMAKER's clue was the highlight for me, but such an innocent [Full of ups and downs] for HILLY. [Make a (GARDEN) bed?]. A TUNER gets you from station to station (not a train). [School card] wasn't a report card, but a card, as in a joker; a CLASS CLOWN. So entertaining!

Loved this one. As much as I like variety in themeless constructors, Robyn is one of the few people whose byline I'd like to see perhaps once a month. Maybe more.

JimH notes: This is Ms. Weintraub's fourth POW in her last nine puzzles.
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0316 ( 24,965 )
Across Down
1. Pot component : CHIP
5. "Calm down, ace" : EASY
9. Saved : KEPT
13. Successor to Paar's successor : LENO
14. Partner of 5-Across : FREE
15. Full of ups and downs : HILLY
16. Everyone included, after "to" : AMAN
17. Attends to some personal care : FRESHENSUP
19. Pulitzer winner for "Sunday in the Park With George" : SONDHEIM
21. Captivate : ENGAGE
22. Bug expert? : SPY
23. Boarding pass info, for short : ETD
24. Celestial beast : URSA
25. Cheese made from goat's milk : CHEVRE
27. Puts the pedal to the metal : FLOORSIT
31. Hepatologist's study : LIVER
32. Product introduced in 1984 with an ad titled "1984" : MACINTOSH
33. Restaurant cook on TV's "2 Broke Girls" : OLEG
34. 2017 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom : BIDEN
35. Actor Cronyn : HUME
36. Port authority? : WINEMAKER
38. It gets you from station to station : TUNER
39. Talked too much : NATTERED
40. Cousin of a corset : GIRDLE
41. Yard sale caveat : ASIS
42. "Just like that!" : BAM
43. Three-ingredient sandwich : BLT
44. Largest moon of Pluto : CHARON
47. The Weeping Prophet : JEREMIAH
49. Zombies : LIVINGDEAD
51. Parisian being : ETRE
52. Billy the Kid, for one : ALIAS
53. Kind of speculation : IDLE
54. Parent : REAR
55. Indication of pain or pleasure : MOAN
56. Carriage : MIEN
57. Durango direction : ESTE
1. School card : CLASSCLOWN
2. Genetic disorder carried by Queen Victoria : HEMOPHILIA
3. "Regardless ..." : INANYEVENT
4. Where you might hear someone say "Duck!" : POND
5. Worn out : EFFETE
6. Mitchum rival : ARRID
7. Look like : SEEM
8. "You rang?" : YES
9. Character in "Camelot" and "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" : KINGARTHUR
10. Fictional queen of Arendelle : ELSA
11. Commercial pitch : PLUG
12. eHarmony info : TYPE
15. Big Bird attended his memorial : HENSON
18. Narc's concern : HEROIN
20. Mozart title : HERR
24. Sore spot : ULCER
26. Menu heading : VEGETARIAN
27. Not as bright : FADED
28. Media-friendly audio clips : SOUNDBITES
29. "Something's not right here ..." : ISMELLARAT
30. Words of consolation : THERETHERE
32. Press conference sights : MIKES
34. Revealing : BARING
37. Accelerator particles : MESONS
38. Marathoner's focus : TIME
40. Make a bed? : GARDEN
42. Memphis blues street : BEALE
44. Silent sort : CLAM
45. It has views of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea : HILO
46. Asics competitor : AVIA
47. Force-ful one? : JEDI
48. Only : MERE
50. Murky : DIM

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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