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New York Times, Saturday, March 21, 2015

Author:
Frederick J. Healy
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
145/24/20042/11/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
01000310
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59000
Frederick J. Healy

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 30 Missing: {QVWX} Spans: 9, (3 triple stacks) This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Healy. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
I remember when I accepted my first triple-triple-stacked crossword for the Times. It was by the illustrious, triply-named Martin ... read more

I remember when I accepted my first triple-triple-stacked crossword for the Times. It was by the illustrious, triply-named Martin Ashwood-Smith back in 2000. I rushed it into print on May 19 of that year, because I thought it was so cool.

Over time, though, I've become a little less enchanted with triple-triple stacking, partly because, well, it's been done multiple times now (22 times, including today, according to XWord Info). Also:

  1. Today's grid design is inherently flawed, because there's so little connection among the three parts of the grid. Just two letters link the top to the middle, and two others link the middle to the bottom. An elegant grid provides greater flow among the sections, giving the solver more options for how to proceed.
  2. This grid has an oversupply of three-, four- and five-letter words. Of the 70 entries here, 56 (or fully 80%) are of these short lengths. And almost necessarily there's a lot of crosswordy stuff, like EHS, ITEA, USM, EDUC, ENES, SETT, EAR TO, POA, EDT, SO HOT, EFS, ADAS, IAL, LESE, OREN, etc. Altogether these don't make for lively solving.

What sold me on this puzzle, when I accepted it in April 2012, was the liveliness of the nine 15s. Every one of them is a gem, in my opinion. So the puzzle does provide some genuine pleasures, and I give Fred Healy major kudos for these.

But this is to report ... today's crossword is the last triple-triple-stacked puzzle in my files. And it's likely to be the last one I publish.

I'm still a sucker for elegant construction challenges, including crazy stacking, but it's time for this design to be retired.

Jill Denny notes:
Hanging my head in shame, I was forced to turn in my Hoosier credentials this week, never having heard of A HOOSIER HOLIDAY. A very ... read more

Hanging my head in shame, I was forced to turn in my Hoosier credentials this week, never having heard of A HOOSIER HOLIDAY. A very sad day indeed. I assuaged my chagrin by watching The Shot five times in a row. Nobody stopped the clock!

A triple stack of triple stacks, with narrow throughways between. The top section was a brambly brawl for me, between the aforementioned Dreiser reference and my shallow familiarity with the Rolling Stones. Weren't we all raised by toothless, bearded hags? (Just kidding, my mom is actually too beautiful for her own good.) I liked a lot of the down answers in that section, both for scrabbliness and for liveliness: ISUZU, JEEP, CHO, KORAN, HYMN. NISAN and POA were new to me, as was ITEA, the other plant genus in this grid.

The middle and bottom triple stacks came together more easily, but looking over the finished grid, I admire the top stack more. It sparks more, to my eye. Besides, ORANGE POPSICLES were never my favorite — grape all the way!

Hansel, SO HOT right now.

1
J
2
U
3
M
4
P
5
I
6
N
7
J
8
A
9
C
10
K
11
F
12
L
13
A
14
S
15
H
16
A
H
O
O
S
I
E
R
H
O
L
I
D
A
Y
17
N
O
C
A
U
S
E
F
O
R
A
L
A
R
M
18
E
H
S
19
Z
A
P
S
20
A
C
T
S
I
N
21
F
U
N
22
I
N
K
23
I
24
T
25
E
A
26
U
27
S
M
28
M
29
A
30
G
31
E
32
O
R
A
N
33
G
34
E
P
O
P
35
S
36
I
C
L
E
S
37
T
U
R
N
E
D
T
H
E
T
A
B
L
E
S
38
A
T
T
E
N
T
I
O
N
P
L
E
A
S
E
39
S
H
O
D
40
L
T
D
41
A
Y
E
S
42
M
43
O
T
44
D
45
S
L
46
Y
47
E
48
S
49
B
U
T
50
E
51
D
U
C
52
S
53
L
54
O
55
O
N
E
A
F
T
56
E
R
A
N
O
57
T
H
E
R
58
G
E
T
S
T
O
F
I
R
S
T
B
A
S
E
59
I
S
T
H
I
S
S
E
A
T
T
A
K
E
N
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0321 ( 23,874 )
Across
1
1968 hit with the line "I was raised by a toothless, bearded hag" : JUMPINJACKFLASH
16
Theodore Dreiser travelogue : AHOOSIERHOLIDAY
17
"Don't worry" : NOCAUSEFORALARM
18
Sounds of confusion : EHS
19
Sounds of shock? : ZAPS
20
Has a part of? : ACTSIN
21
What a buzzkill kills : FUN
22
Means of maritime defense : INK
23
Virginia willow's genus : ITEA
26
Sch. near Gulfport : USM
28
Conjurer, old-style : MAGE
32
Alternatives to lemon ices : ORANGEPOPSICLES
37
Went from being picked on to picking on, say : TURNEDTHETABLES
38
Announcement start : ATTENTIONPLEASE
39
Like racehorses : SHOD
40
Classic Ford : LTD
41
Passing side? : AYES
42
Bon ___ : MOT
44
Kind of provider, for short : DSL
46
Words said before qualifying? : YESBUT
50
Cabinet dept. : EDUC
52
___ Poke : SLO
55
Seriatim : ONEAFTERANOTHER
58
Makes early progress : GETSTOFIRSTBASE
59
Question on public transportation : ISTHISSEATTAKEN
Down
1
Dick's running mate : JANE
2
Slip accompanier : UHOH
3
Some slip-ons : MOCS
4
Bluegrass genus : POA
5
Trooper, e.g. : ISUZU
6
It comes before Iyar : NISAN
7
"Go anywhere, do anything" sloganeer : JEEP
8
Lab sounds? : ARFS
9
Actor John of "American Pie" films : CHO
10
A hafiz knows it by heart : KORAN
11
P.R. person : FLACK
12
Swinging rhythm : LILT
13
Some prosecutors, for short : ADAS
14
Wear over a petticoat : SARI
15
Service lines? : HYMN
21
Spread out ... or struck out : FANNED
22
Hang over one's head : IMPEND
23
Drops in the bucket : IOTAS
24
What a saw often has : TRUTH
25
Give ___ (mind) : EARTO
26
Raise, in a way : UPTILT
27
[wolf whistle] : SOHOT
28
Ally in a partnership : MCBEAL
29
Take the edge off : ALLAY
30
V composition, perhaps : GEESE
31
Indicators of possessiveness : ESSES
33
45-Down, for one: Abbr. : GEN
34
It's observed as far west as Ind. in the summer : EDT
35
500 letters : STP
36
Proverb follower? : IAL
42
Off-duty wear : MUFTI
43
Stephen King's "Uncle ___ Truck" : OTTOS
44
"Spider-Man" actress : DUNST
45
Hero of the Mexican-American War : SCOTT
46
Meditative sort : YOGI
47
Chemical endings : ENES
48
Granite paving block : SETT
49
More than dis : BASH
50
Lakeside tribe : ERIE
51
Olympic swimmer Torres : DARA
52
Common English lit subj. : SHAK
53
Start of treason? : LESE
54
Opera conductor Daniel : OREN
56
Bad marks : EFS
57
Alternative to "?" in some listings : TBA

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

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