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New York Times, Saturday, March 23, 2019

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
936/16/20113/23/201917
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
66681131232
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645163
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 62, Blocks: 43 Missing: {QXZ} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 93 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
When I started constructing, very few grids used left-right symmetry. The only explanation I can think of is tradition — to me, ... read more

When I started constructing, very few grids used left-right symmetry. The only explanation I can think of is tradition — to me, left-right symmetry is just as elegant as rotational symmetry, and it also makes many otherwise-impossible themes doable.

Left-right symmetry feels especially underutilized in themelesses, so I decided to try my hand at a 62-worder with a pattern I (unsurprisingly) hadn't seen before. I started with DISTRESSED DENIM, a lively 15 whose middle letters seemed very friendly for a bottom stack. When constructing, I always tackle the most open sections first, since they tend to have the most constraints. My construction flow thus proceeded from the middle to the bottom to the upper left (where I needed 7-letter entries ending in the unfriendly letters B and U) to the upper right. I hope you enjoy this crunchy Saturday!

Jeff Chen notes:
Awesome-looking grid! I don't remember seeing anything like it – so rare for me to say that. Reminded me of a 'Space Invaders' ... read more

Awesome-looking grid! I don't remember seeing anything like it – so rare for me to say that. Reminded me of a "Space Invaders" alien.

I usually don't like grid segmentation, this one being cut into three mini-puzzles of the NW, the NE, and the rest. But in service of a stunning aesthetic, I let things slide.

That middle is daunting. So many long across answers, and so many long down answers running through them. It seems impossible to fill upon first glance. Upon second and third glances, too.

I didn't care for LOBAR or DELE, but that's all the crossword glue there was? Wow!

I wasn't sure what DISTRESSED DENIM was, but it made sense. Solid entry to anchor that megastack, all those common letters so constructor-friendly, especially the Ss. Will once commented that entries like STRESS TESTS are a bit cheap since they're not that interesting in themselves plus they have too many common letters. DISTRESSED DENIM appeals to me much more.

Big fan of the lower stack, too. TELEPORTING! ROAST PORK! LEMONADE STAND! Although, I questioned whether Lucy's stand was, in fact, a LEMONADE STAND. She sold psychiatric advice, not lemonade, yeah?

Great to get even more in the upper corners, LEFT JAB, VANUATU, MAI TAIS – call me a FANBOY indeed. Squee!

As a constructor, I was floored by this achievement. As a solver, I was a bit underwhelmed by entries like COME BEFORE and HORACE GREELEY. So overall, this fell just out of POW! contention. But it got some consideration.

Jim Horne notes:

Outstanding crossword.

1
L
2
E
3
F
4
T
5
J
6
A
7
B
8
C
9
A
10
S
11
H
12
C
13
A
14
B
15
O
N
A
R
O
L
L
16
O
D
W
A
L
L
A
17
V
A
N
U
A
T
U
18
M
A
I
T
A
I
S
19
E
M
B
E
D
20
S
21
T
E
22
M
E
M
E
S
23
R
E
O
S
24
P
H
O
B
25
E
26
D
U
N
E
27
S
L
Y
28
L
A
W
Y
E
R
29
S
30
P
S
T
31
S
O
L
I
D
F
O
O
32
D
33
S
O
B
A
N
O
O
D
L
E
34
S
35
H
O
R
A
C
E
G
R
E
E
L
E
36
Y
37
D
I
S
T
R
E
S
S
E
D
D
E
N
I
38
M
39
J
A
W
40
S
E
A
41
S
L
E
42
E
43
P
44
O
45
N
46
P
47
I
48
S
49
T
I
L
S
50
L
E
M
O
N
A
51
D
E
S
T
A
N
D
52
T
E
L
E
P
O
R
T
I
N
G
53
R
O
A
S
T
P
O
R
K
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0323 ( 25,337 )

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Across
1
One, in a one-two punch : LEFTJAB
8
Game show with a moving set : CASHCAB
15
Doing great : ONAROLL
16
Juice brand owned by Minute Maid : ODWALLA
17
Pacific land west of Fiji : VANUATU
18
Tiki bar orders : MAITAIS
19
Stick into a post, say : EMBED
20
Office room: Abbr. : STE
22
Ideas that spread : MEMES
23
Some old delivery trucks : REOS
24
Commitment-___ : PHOBE
26
Buggy locale : DUNE
27
Artful : SLY
28
Some deal with trust issues : LAWYERS
30
Ore. setting for part of the year : PST
31
What a recovering hospital patient may move to : SOLIDFOOD
33
Japanese bowlful : SOBANOODLES
35
Loser in the 1872 presidential election : HORACEGREELEY
37
Trendy jeans material : DISTRESSEDDENIM
39
Speaking part : JAW
40
Nereids' home : SEA
41
Take time to consider : SLEEPON
46
Female flower parts : PISTILS
50
Ten-year-old business, say : LEMONADESTAND
52
Futuristic travel method : TELEPORTING
53
Dish that may be glazed or served with cooked apples : ROASTPORK
Down
1
Intimates : LOVERS
2
Smooth finish : ENAMEL
3
Fellow who might go "Squee!" : FANBOY
4
T T T : TRUES
5
Steinbeck's Ma or Pa : JOAD
6
Music genre prefix : ALT
7
Rosé relatives : BLUSHWINES
8
Be more important than : COMEBEFORE
9
Lovelace of computing fame : ADA
10
1960s fad dance, with "the" : SWIM
11
Criticized severely, with "on" : HATED
12
Hush one's mouth : CLAMUP
13
Ones supposedly eligible for, but never yet seen in, the Miss Universe pageant : ALIENS
14
Kind of hound : BASSET
21
Pugs, e.g. : TOYDOGS
24
It's fit for a king : PALACE
25
Wore down : ERODED
28
Relating to part of the lung : LOBAR
29
Leather-___ shoes : SOLED
31
Instruction in a Word menu : SORT
32
Strikeout mark : DELE
33
"What a nice thing to say!" : SOSWEET
34
Picking up on : SENSING
35
Group email opener : HIALL
36
Info for an investor : YIELD
37
Prom V.I.P.s : DJS
38
"No ___!" : MAS
42
Like a retired prof. : EMER
43
Game that becomes another game when its last two letters are switched : POLO
44
Most fit to fight : ONEA
45
Breathers for kindergarten teachers : NAPS
46
Mug shot subject : PERP
47
Which ___ say : ISTO
48
Come out of a deep sleep : STIR
49
Lose suddenly : TANK
51
Highway overseer, for short : DOT

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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