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New York Times, Friday, March 4, 2016

Author: Evans Clinchy
Editor: Will Shortz
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210/11/20143/4/20160
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1.64000
Evans Clinchy

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 30 Missing: {QVXY} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Clinchy. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Evans Clinchy notes: So this is my second crossword published in the Times, and if you compare this puzzle with my previous one, you'll notice a host ... more
Evans Clinchy notes:

So this is my second crossword published in the Times, and if you compare this puzzle with my previous one, you'll notice a host of similarities. Both are themeless, both feature stacks of 11-letter entries across the top and bottom three rows, and both are built around the seed entry of a famous NBA player. Last time, back in 2014, it was KEVIN DURANT; this time, I give you Kareem ABDUL-JABBAR. I swear, I have other ambitions in life beyond cramming as many basketball players as possible into Times puzzles. Eventually I'll have no names left to play with besides FESTUS EZELI or someone equally obscure. I should quit now while I'm ahead.

Anyway. This puzzle was a joy to construct — I remember it began with the realization that the fun CARTOONLIKE fit perfectly beneath ABDUL-JABBAR, and it all flowed from there. I liked getting to sneak in PERIWIGS (which I've always thought is a cool word, no?) and ONE-TWO PUNCH.

Including the name LOUIS C.K. in a puzzle was always something of a bucket-list goal, as the comedian has always been a favorite of mine. Funny, though — I thought I was so original for including Louie at the time I wrote this puzzle, as he'd never been featured before. Then his name showed up three times shortly thereafter — once each in November 2014, January 2015 and March 2015. Great minds think alike, or something? At least I had the neat twist of crossing the comic's name with TITLE ROLE, since he has one on his FX show. It's the little victories.

As for the clues, I'm happy with a few that I wrote (especially the "pyramid scheme" wordplay for CHEERLEADER), but I'm equally grateful for Will sprucing up some of my duller clues with some flavorful ideas of his own. "One who can see right through you?" for RADIOLOGIST is great. Wish I'd thought of that. Also the BAHRAIN clue in the print edition includes a picture of Bahrain's flag, which is crazy. I didn't even know that was a thing.

Jeff Chen notes: I like seeing new themeless grid patterns which don't fall into the normal 'triple-stacked long answers in each of the four corners.' ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I like seeing new themeless grid patterns which don't fall into the normal "triple-stacked long answers in each of the four corners." It was fun to get two pairs of long answers crossing each other in the NW / SE corners, something you don't see in many themelesses. It is tough to do this with all four entries being great, so the kooky/awesome PERIWIGS and DRACONIAN crossing EPHEMERAL and DISPARATE is pretty darn good. I didn't care as much for the opposite corner, as PROHIBITS and TOLERABLE fall more into "everyday language" in my eyes, but TITLE ROLE and BLOTCHES are nice.

Sadly, the great Bruce Lee's final film

Evans does employ normal triple-stacking in the upper right and lower left, and does a reasonable job with it. I especially liked ONE TWO PUNCH under a RADIOLOGIST (with a great clue, [One who can see right through you?]), and a sneaky GARDEN SNAKE … or was that a GARTER SNAKE? I enjoyed working my way out of that trap.

That triplet does require some crossword glue to hold it together — A GUN (partial) and ZAC / ADANA / EDOM, which produces two very tough crossings for some. I suppose ADANA being a historic Churchill conference site and EDOM a Biblical location makes them things that a NYT solver ought to learn if he/she doesn't already know them, but I think these crossings carry a high risk of dissatisfaction for a good chunk of solvers.

I absolutely loved seeing Kareem ABDUL JABBAR in a prominent location — how is it that this is his debut in any major publication? I remember his skyhook and defiantly dorky goggles (if anyone is looking for a present for me …), but his "Game of Death" role stands out most for me, a seven-footer fighting Bruce Lee. Who knew a guy that tall could move like that?

In general, Evans used a good chunk of his long slots to good effect. Aside from the aforementioned neutral ones, there was CARTOONLIKE — cartoonish is more in use, yeah? — but still, there were enough colorful ones that I enjoyed the puzzle overall.

JimH notes: Flag of Bahrain In the print version of this puzzle, the clue for 5 Down is "Country with this flag":
1
B
2
E
3
D
4
A
5
B
6
D
7
U
8
L
9
J
10
A
11
B
12
B
13
A
14
R
15
R
P
I
16
C
A
R
T
O
O
N
L
I
K
E
17
O
H
S
18
C
H
E
E
R
L
E
A
D
E
R
19
W
E
P
20
T
21
R
I
S
E
S
22
B
E
L
A
23
M
A
R
24
T
A
25
N
O
26
G
27
N
A
N
28
P
E
R
I
W
I
29
G
30
S
31
N
A
32
B
33
D
R
A
C
O
N
I
A
34
N
35
S
E
36
P
37
T
38
A
39
F
A
T
E
S
40
F
H
A
41
K
A
R
O
L
42
S
L
E
P
T
43
T
I
T
44
L
E
R
O
L
E
45
S
E
46
T
47
B
L
O
T
C
H
E
S
48
Z
49
A
50
C
51
P
A
52
D
53
U
S
A
I
R
54
E
D
O
55
M
56
I
R
57
A
58
N
I
59
T
B
A
60
R
61
R
A
D
I
62
O
L
O
G
I
S
63
T
64
I
B
O
65
O
N
E
T
W
O
P
U
N
C
H
66
T
L
C
67
G
A
R
T
E
R
S
N
A
K
E
68
S
E
A
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0304 ( 24,223 )
Across Down
1. King or queen : BED
4. Record six-time N.B.A. M.V.P. : ABDULJABBAR
15. Northeast sch. in the Liberty League : RPI
16. Rather caricatured : CARTOONLIKE
17. Understanding responses : OHS
18. One involved in a pyramid scheme? : CHEERLEADER
19. Broke down, say : WEPT
21. End of a Hemingway title : RISES
22. Fleck on the banjo : BELA
23. Atlanta train system : MARTA
25. Drink often served chilled : NOG
27. Bert's sister in children's literature : NAN
28. Dandy headpieces : PERIWIGS
31. Catch : NAB
33. Excessively harsh : DRACONIAN
35. Philadelphia train system : SEPTA
39. Trio in Greek myth : FATES
40. New Deal org. : FHA
41. Pope John Paul II's first name : KAROL
42. Was out : SLEPT
43. Aida in "Aida," e.g. : TITLEROLE
45. Go preceder : SET
47. Unsightly spots : BLOTCHES
48. Country music's ___ Brown Band : ZAC
51. Digs : PAD
53. Early customer of Boeing : USAIR
54. Old Testament kingdom : EDOM
56. Like the cities Yazd and Shiraz : IRANI
59. Transport method usually used in the winter : TBAR
61. One who can see right through you? : RADIOLOGIST
64. Author Chinua Achebe, by birth : IBO
65. Back-to-back hits : ONETWOPUNCH
66. "Kate Plus 8" airer : TLC
67. Harmless slitherer : GARTERSNAKE
68. See 63-Down : SEA
1. Something that's knitted : BROW
2. Here today, gone tomorrow : EPHEMERAL
3. Quite different : DISPARATE
4. Latin grammar case: Abbr. : ACC
5. Country with the King Hamad Highway : BAHRAIN
6. Trio abroad : DREI
7. Shoshone relatives : UTES
8. Player of Cleopatra in "Two Nights With Cleopatra" : LOREN
9. Who had a #1 hit with "Toot Toot Tootsie (Goo'bye)" : JOLSON
10. Suffix with meth- : ANE
11. Spill everything : BLAB
12. Politico with the 2007 autobiography "Promises to Keep" : BIDEN
13. "The Jungle Book" wolf : AKELA
14. Put back on : RERAN
20. Muscle used in bench-pressing : TRICEPS
24. Simple dance : TWOSTEP
26. Things that may be blown : GASKETS
28. Some email pics : PDFS
29. Photographic memory or perfect pitch, e.g. : GIFT
30. Master : SAHIB
32. Cincinnati athlete : BEARCAT
34. NASA part: Abbr. : NATL
36. Outlaws : PROHIBITS
37. Not too awful : TOLERABLE
38. Consumables often described with a percentage : ALES
44. Comic who said "I open my eyes, remember who I am, what I'm like, and I just go 'Ugh'" : LOUISCK
46. Worker on London's Savile Row : TAILOR
48. Weightlessness : ZEROG
49. 1943 Churchill conference site : ADANA
50. Computer programmer : CODER
52. Dives : DROPS
55. Useful thing to keep on hand? : MITT
57. "Janie's Got ___" (1989 Aerosmith hit) : AGUN
58. First in a historical trio : NINA
60. Almond ___ (candy) : ROCA
62. Be short : OWE
63. With 68-Across, end of a Hemingway title : THE

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle.

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