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New York Times, Saturday, March 18, 2017

Author:
Roland Huget
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
123/20/201511/5/20180
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0110028
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.52012
Roland Huget

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 26 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Huget. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Roland Huget notes:
This puzzle was constructed in January 2015, and a revision was suggested in June 2015. After re-submission the revision was accepted ... read more

This puzzle was constructed in January 2015, and a revision was suggested in June 2015. After re-submission the revision was accepted for publication in October 2015.

The construction started with WHAT A JOKE, a sarcastic comment that often finds me stifling a chuckle when I hear it in person. The next placement was ZEBRA FISH, a term I hadn't heard since I was a boy. So it was with these two scrabbly entries that things got underway, with fingers crossed for a you-know-what.

I mentioned in the notes for my debut puzzle that I use a home-made grid filler program. One of the limitations of the tool is that it uses an unranked word list (of freeware origin) that still contains plenty of clunkers. This means that achieving a clean fill with lively entries is an exercise in patience. In the original construction of this grid I wasn't patient enough, because I allowed two iffy words into the fill. It was lucky for me that they were confined to the SW quadrant, or Will and Joel might not have suggested a revision.

The clue for ROSETTI (36D – Mozart contemporary Antonio ____) is intended to be tricky. I figured some solvers would put SALIERI.

I think Will and Joel's YOYO DIET — [Go in and out of middle management?] — is funny and clever.

Jeff Chen notes:
Like Roland's others with similar grid designs, there are very few long (8+ letters) slots, but he does well with the ones he has: ... read more

Like Roland's others with similar grid designs, there are very few long (8+ letters) slots, but he does well with the ones he has: WHAT A JOKE crossing ZEBRAFISH, yes! Not only are both snappy entries, but each contains a rare letter. YOYO DIET and JIVE TALK are also fun (I'm fairly sure I've seen "Airplane" more times than you). And although BEST EVER and FINE TUNE aren't quite as nice, they're still solid entries.

Those 7-letter slots are so tough to convert to strong entries. Love AXL ROSE, and OUTTAKE is nice, with its good clue: [It could be a blooper], making me think about a bloop hit in baseball at first. But no other entries stood out on their own.

NAZI ERA … I appreciate the clue pointing out that this ended after WWII, but for me, crosswords are escapism. Not much fun to see NAZI ERA, even though it is a crazy-looking string of letters in NAZIERA. (Kind of looks like "nazier," i.e. more like a Nazi.)

It's tough to fill these sorts of big corners without dabbing on crossword glue, so it's no surprise that the upper right and lower left — the two more open corners — suffer more than the others. The grid flow is much appreciated, but man oh man does it make it tougher to fill those regions with smoothness and snazziness.

That DARIEN / ROSETTI / OUSE / TSE / IRVAN area felt particularly troubling. ROSETTI was already a tricksy misdirect, as I was 100% ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY SURE it was Antonio Salieri, Mozart's antagonist featured in "Amadeus." (You got me, Roland!) But, ROSETTI is a composer educated solvers ought to know. The other crossings, however … hmm.

Along with some random ASE, ERI, FLA, ENOTE (does anyone really use this term?), it was too much crossword glue for me in a themeless. Those big corners featuring a ton of 7-letters answers are so hard to fill.

But overall, a good workout, featuring a couple of strong long answers.

1
S
2
A
3
M
4
E
5
D
6
A
7
Y
8
E
9
C
10
S
11
E
12
G
13
A
14
R
15
E
X
A
N
I
M
O
16
C
O
U
R
A
G
E
17
A
L
D
O
R
A
Y
18
L
U
C
I
F
E
R
19
C
R
A
T
E
20
O
21
Z
A
R
K
22
F
L
A
23
R
O
M
E
24
I
D
E
S
T
25
Q
E
I
I
26
A
S
E
27
T
R
I
B
S
28
T
U
R
N
S
29
B
E
S
30
T
E
V
E
R
31
S
O
I
S
E
E
32
W
H
A
T
A
33
J
O
K
E
34
D
35
A
36
R
I
E
N
37
F
I
N
E
T
38
U
39
N
40
E
41
U
S
O
N
E
42
D
I
V
A
N
43
P
A
M
44
O
U
S
E
45
M
I
S
E
R
46
H
A
Z
E
47
T
S
E
48
N
I
G
H
T
49
P
A
N
I
N
50
O
U
T
51
T
A
K
E
52
A
53
W
A
R
D
E
D
54
N
A
T
I
V
E
S
55
L
E
C
T
U
R
E
56
E
L
I
T
I
S
T
57
K
N
E
E
P
A
D
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0318 ( 24,602 )
Across
1
Even faster than overnight : SAMEDAY
8
Creator of Bluto and Wimpy : ECSEGAR
15
From the heart, in Latin : EXANIMO
16
Heart : COURAGE
17
He played an escaped convict in "We're No Angels" : ALDORAY
18
Bad representation? : LUCIFER
19
Bucket of bolts : CRATE
20
Central U.S.'s ___ Plateau : OZARK
22
Keys are found in it: Abbr. : FLA
23
So-called "Caput Mundi" ("Head of the World") : ROME
24
Phrase usually abbreviated : IDEST
25
Longtime Cunard flagship, for short : QEII
26
Polymer add-on? : ASE
27
The Allegheny and Wabash, to the Ohio: Abbr. : TRIBS
28
Succession in a board game : TURNS
29
One for the record books : BESTEVER
31
"Clearly!" : SOISEE
32
"How ludicrous!" : WHATAJOKE
34
Town in Connecticut's Gold Coast : DARIEN
37
Tweak : FINETUNE
41
Rte. that ends in 22-Across : USONE
42
Lounge piece : DIVAN
43
Competitor of Baker's Joy : PAM
44
River of York : OUSE
45
"Death and the ___" (Bosch painting in the National Gallery of Art) : MISER
46
Confusion : HAZE
47
"The Cocktail Party" inits. : TSE
48
With 9-Down, hit sitcom of the 1980s-'90s : NIGHT
49
Prepare for a close-up : PANIN
50
It could be a blooper : OUTTAKE
52
Like stars in a review : AWARDED
54
Longtime locals : NATIVES
55
School address : LECTURE
56
Commoner contemner : ELITIST
57
One of a pair a gardener might wear : KNEEPAD
Down
1
Marine 10-legger : SEACRAB
2
"Welcome to the Jungle" singer, 1988 : AXLROSE
3
Marie Curie and Irène Joliot-Curie, e.g. : MADAMES
4
Line online : ENOTE
5
More than serious : DIRE
6
Org. for many residents : AMA
7
Go in and out of middle management? : YOYODIET
8
Mid-luxury Mercedes-Benz line : ECLASS
9
See 48-Across : COURT
10
Be lousy : SUCK
11
Form of the Italian verb "to be" : ERI
12
Set electricians : GAFFERS
13
Crow's-foot, e.g. : AGELINE
14
Aggressive poker play : RERAISE
21
Aquarium denizen with horizontal stripes : ZEBRAFISH
24
1991 Daytona 500 winner Ernie : IRVAN
25
Classroom command : QUIET
27
Tickling response : TEHEE
28
Coin at an arcade : TOKEN
30
Packing supply : TWINE
31
Whale facility : SONAR
33
Cat's tongue : JIVETALK
34
Photoshop color effect : DUOTONE
35
Predictably : ASUSUAL
36
Mozart contemporary Antonio ___ : ROSETTI
38
Honest or respectable course : UPANDUP
39
It ended after W.W. II : NAZIERA
40
Like first drafts, usually : EMENDED
42
Think over : DIGEST
45
Studio equipment : MIKES
46
"The Outcasts of Poker Flat" author : HARTE
48
Pandorans in "Avatar" : NAVI
49
Distance unit of about 30 inches : PACE
51
European crested ___ : TIT
53
___ Jiabao, 2003-13 premier of China : WEN

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?