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New York Times, Thursday, March 5, 2015

Author:
Jim Peredo
Editor:
Will Shortz
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71/7/201311/16/20160
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1.60120
Jim Peredo

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 46 Missing: {KQVXZ} This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Peredo. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jim Peredo notes:
Sometimes the Muse gives you an idea and you just have to go with it, regardless of whether an audience exists for it. That's how I ... read more

Sometimes the Muse gives you an idea and you just have to go with it, regardless of whether an audience exists for it. That's how I felt with this one. I wasn't sure it was NYT-appropriate, but I did the best I could with the idea and submitted it, not expecting an acceptance. Apparently though, according to the Interwebs, last year was the Year of the Butt. I didn't know that until just now, but maybe that's why Will gave it the go-ahead.

But he actually didn't at first. My submitted puzzle had a different revealer, one that was a punchline to this joke (which, as far as I know, I made up entirely): "What caused the market panic among investors in long johns?"

Answer: THE BOTTOM FELL OUT (cue rimshot)

I liked that puzzle better because I felt it was funnier, and since the phrase is 16 letters, the grid was bigger, and I had more room to space things out. But Will preferred my alternative revealer, FALLING BEHIND, and the normal-sized grid.

The grid was difficult because I wanted the BEHIND words to be isolated vertically (meaning blocks above and below each). This made for quite a challenge and many "cheater" blocks. I also ended up with those two large chunks of blocks on the left and right. (But to my sophomoric mind, I justified them by squinting and imagining a pair of cheeks with one side sagging.)

So, is this a new low for the NYT? Has the NYT hit bottom? Will this bit of cheek cause the NYT to be the butt of all jokes in the crosswording world? Well, just be thankful Will used the clue "Lagging" in place of my original clue: "Going into arrears".

Now to collect my booty...

Jeff Chen notes:
I recently got a very nice rejection from Will, commenting that he's starting to see too many 'turning' puzzles. I can understand the ... read more

I recently got a very nice rejection from Will, commenting that he's starting to see too many "turning" puzzles. I can understand the point, as we just recently saw something akin to today's. But as with all theme types, I believe there's always a place for an example with a great implementation, a different twist, or a laugh-inducing bit. Today's hit the mark for me, FALLING BEHIND interpreted as "synonyms for BEHIND" running downward.

Damme, Van Damme!

The execution is really strong. Turning themers are difficult to build around, and including four of them plus a central revealer makes things even tougher. Jim does well to quasi-segment his grid so that he can fill each of the four corners and two middle regions somewhat independently. Jim gives us some great long stuff in the NE and SW, using GODPARENTS, TIME COP, HEARING AID, DIORAMA in those important long slots.

Really, the only area I felt wasn't quite as smooth as I like was the PTERO / PEU region. Not surprising that it's smack dab at the "bend" within DONALD TRUMP; a highly constrained section.

A note about "cheater squares," those extra black squares that don't affect the number of words in a puzzle. Normally I'm fast and loose about using them, since they can really help a puzzle's fill sing. Too many of them can be visually unappealing, though. Here, I don't mind the blocks of three in the NE and SW. Completely fine on their own. But when you throw in the huge chunks of black in the west and east, it's too much for me. Personal taste, of course.

I can understand why Jim chose to use these big chunky masses, as separating BABY ALBUM and FALLING BEHIND and UNAMERICAN really helps to facilitate clean fill. For 75% of all constructors, I'd shrug and live with the unappealing visual aesthetics. But Jim's becoming experienced enough that I would have liked to see if he could fill the puzzle as cleanly and sparkly as he did, without using nearly so many cheaters. Challenge issued!

Very amusing puzzle. Perhaps I have seen too many turning puzzles recently, but I welcome ones like this, exemplifying the fun that this theme type can bring.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0305 ( 23,858 )
Across
1. Draws back (from) : SHIES
6. "The Great Escape" setting : STALAG
12. What's brewing? : TEABAG
14. Jean-Claude Van Damme film set in 1994 and 2004 : TIMECOP
16. Fleet : ARMADA
17. Who said about himself "Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money" : DONALDTRUMP
19. Record of infantile behavior? : BABYALBUM
21. Frequent word from a valet : SIR
22. Little, in Lille : PEU
23. Like faces after face-lifts : TAUT
25. Like some push-ups : ONEARM
27. Kona catch, maybe : AHI
30. Key of all white keys: Abbr. : CMAJ
32. Tiniest taste : DROP
33. Basis of a platform : TENET
35. Relaxing music genre : NEWAGE
38. Lagging ... or a hint to 17-, 19-, 56- and 61-Across : FALLINGBEHIND
41. No-goodnik : RASCAL
42. Totaled : RANTO
43. ___-engine : TWIN
45. José, to friends : PEPE
47. Fed. management agency : GSA
48. Accords, e.g. : HONDAS
51. Narcissist's focus : SELF
53. Bearskin, maybe : RUG
54. Race unit : LAP
56. Part of a story you might not want to know : GORYDETAIL
61. Hating baseball and apple pie? : UNAMERICAN
64. ___ Madre : SIERRA
65. It's a scene to behold : DIORAMA
66. Japanese mat : TATAMI
67. James of "Star Trek" : DOOHAN
68. Mideast money : RIYAL
Down
1. Skewer : STAB
2. "Great ___!" (Wonder Woman cry) : HERA
3. "Hurray" or "alas" : IAMB
4. Owner of Shopping.com : EBAY
5. World leader who was Time magazine's 1977 Man of the Year : SADAT
6. Part of S.O.P.: Abbr. : STD
7. Uruguayan uncles : TIOS
8. Fetal development test, for short : AMNIO
9. "That'll ___ ya" : LEARN
10. Often-torn body part in sports, briefly : ACL
11. Participants at many baptisms : GODPARENTS
13. Huger than huge : GALACTIC
15. Wing: Prefix : PTERO
18. ___ session (meeting after a legislative dissolution) : RUMP
20. No-good : BUM
24. Argues (with) : TANGLES
26. Fringe : EDGING
27. Org. that combats trafficking : ATF
28. Device placed next to a drum : HEARINGAID
29. Not coastal : INLAND
31. C.S.A. general Stuart : JEB
34. Golfer nicknamed "The Big Easy" : ELS
36. Comment upon driving past the same unfamiliar place again : WERELOST
37. Shout of success : AHA
39. Power ___ : NAP
40. Having no chance for success, as a proposal, for short : DOA
43. Kind of street : THRU
44. Ended (up) : WOUND
46. Identify : PEG
49. Last new Olds : ALERO
50. Funny Silverman : SARAH
52. Dominican, e.g. : FRIAR
55. Variety of cotton : PIMA
57. Figure that's unbelievable? : YETI
58. Farm cart : DRAY
59. Funny Bombeck : ERMA
60. Follow : TAIL
62. Low : MOO
63. Fire : CAN

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?