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New York Times, Saturday, March 5, 2016

Author: Roland Huget
Editor: Will Shortz
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113/20/20158/24/20180
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1.52012
Roland Huget

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 26 Missing: {QXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Huget. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Roland Huget notes: The crossword we see before us is actually the third version that was submitted using this grid skeleton. I recall several aborted ... more
Roland Huget notes:

The crossword we see before us is actually the third version that was submitted using this grid skeleton. I recall several aborted attempts at this grid before I completed a fill that I felt comfortable in submitting, in the summer of 2013. It was rejected, and from that effort only HERE AND NOW made its way into the final version, although not in the same word slot. The second version was submitted in late 2013, just when I was starting to get the hang of crossword construction. It too was rejected, but the top and bottom stacks and the vertical SILENT TREATMENT got a thumbs-up. The final version, incorporating these elements, was completed in June of 2014, and was accepted for publication in September of that year.

It's interesting to revisit an early construction that one hasn't seen in a while. Thankfully, there aren't any entries here that make me cringe, but my style definitely has changed since this puzzle was produced. More than I realized, this puzzle is tailored to the over-fifty crowd. I hope younger solvers aren't put off by that.

My favorite clues are 26A: MENNONITE: [One speaking the language Plautdietsch] and 56A: ARM WRESTLE: [Try to win hands down?]. I can't claim credit for either.

Jeff Chen notes: Will has a tough job, catering to a solvership with a huge range of backgrounds and interests. As Roland mentinoned, today's puzzle ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Will has a tough job, catering to a solvership with a huge range of backgrounds and interests. As Roland mentinoned, today's puzzle has an older feel, and although it didn't resonate with me, I think that's what a lot of older solvers would say about puzzles containing recent pop culture references and cutting-edge slang! Here are a few of the entries/clues that gave it an older vibe:

Not sure why my parents thought it was okay for a kid to watch TAXI ...

  • CLORIS Leachman playing Phyllis on "Phyllis," from 1975 to 1977
  • PETER FALK in his 1960 "Murder, Inc." role
  • THE HEIRESS, from 1949
  • Jimmy Carter's mother, LILLIAN
  • Danny DeVito's character from "Taxi," the greedy but amusing LOUIE. This one I actually do know (and love!) I thought he was hilarious when I was a kid.

I appreciate diversity in puzzles as a whole, certain ones aiming squarely for a specific market segment (especially when I'm in that segment!) But I really like when a single puzzle carries diversity within it, thus playing to a very wide range of solvers. This one carried a lot of older TV/movie references. Too many? Maybe not, but it's unfortunate that some of the longer entries didn't do much for me. (I did go look them up afterward, but that's a very different experience than getting an visceral jolt of joy from uncovering something you think is incredible.)

A few things that took me a while to get:

  • This engineer felt like he really should have known ITT, since its slogan is "Engineered for life." Apparently it's a "Diversified manufacturer of highly engineered critical components …" (I still don't know what they do.)
  • "Gym bunnies" describes people who work on their BODS. Apparently it can be applied to either males or females.
  • I struggled so hard with TAMALE, wondering why it was a [Husky food?]. Then I added a hyphen to see that it's a "husk-y" food, i.e. it has a husk. That's an awesome clue!

Aside from the older feel, there was a little too much CMDR, ESTE, ECH (echelon?), ENOL deeper kinds of crossword glue for my taste. But I did like a couple of the long entries, SILENT TREATMENT, ILL BE THERE, and CRIME SCENE in particular.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0305 ( 24,224 )
Across Down
1. Like a drumhead : TAUT
5. "Forget about it!" : NOSIREEBOB
15. Former education secretary Duncan : ARNE
16. What may hold a body of evidence? : CRIMESCENE
17. Tie securely : LASH
18. 1970 #1 hit with the lyric "Just call my name" : ILLBETHERE
19. She played Phyllis on TV's "Phyllis" : CLORIS
21. Film director ___ C. Kenton : ERLE
22. No-goodnik : RAT
23. With 33-Down, same old offerings : USUAL
24. Heavy duty : ONUS
25. Spock, e.g.: Abbr. : CMDR
26. One speaking the language Plautdietsch : MENNONITE
28. Dictatorial dispatcher on "Taxi" : LOUIE
29. Unfortunate : SAD
30. Encyclopedic : VAST
31. Dictatorial type : TINGOD
32. "Murder, Inc." Oscar nominee : PETERFALK
34. Husky food? : TAMALE
37. Overseas court figure : EARL
38. Bush native to the South : JEB
41. Santa ___ : ANITA
42. Get down to nothing? : BAREITALL
44. Gym bunnies work on them : BODS
45. Animal shelter : COTE
46. Party divider : AISLE
47. "Engineered for life" corp. : ITT
48. "Wow"-producing look : GLAM
49. Lack of punch : ANEMIA
50. Olivia de Havilland's Best Actress film, 1949 : THEHEIRESS
53. Trusting someone you don't know, e.g. : RISK
54. Present reality : HEREANDNOW
55. ___ ether : ENOL
56. Try to win hands down? : ARMWRESTLE
57. Gainsay : DENY
1. Choices in the baby department : TALCUMS
2. Body undergoing desertification : ARALSEA
3. Ill-conceived : UNSOUND
4. Capital in 1979-80 headlines : TEHRAN
5. Lead-in to "Los Angeles" or "New Orleans" : NCIS
6. Magic, on a sports ticker : ORL
7. Quiet after the storm, maybe : SILENTTREATMENT
8. Stain : IMBRUE
9. Reacts to a bombshell : REELS
10. Sevilla-to-Granada direction : ESTE
11. Level in an org. : ECH
12. A head might go over the top of it : BEERMUG
13. Coming in waves? : ONRADIO
14. Really embarrassed, maybe : BEETRED
20. Song played at Staples Center after every Lakers victory : ILOVELA
24. Department in Picardy : OISE
25. Crown : CONK
27. "Great" sleuth of kid-lit : NATE
28. Jimmy Carter's mother : LILLIAN
31. Weight allowance : TARE
32. Consoling gestures : PATS
33. See 23-Across : FARE
34. "Bewitched" witch : TABITHA
35. Barfly's request : ANOTHER
36. Spring break preceder, often : MIDTERM
38. Pale yellow : JASMINE
39. 20th-century novelist who shared first and middle names with poet Emerson : ELLISON
40. With very little hope : BLEAKLY
42. Theater stage : BOARDS
43. Like theater seating : TIERED
45. "Leavin' on Your Mind" singer, 1963 : CLINE
48. Stuff in a backpack : GEAR
49. ___ speak : ASWE
51. Give the ax? : HEW
52. What la Tierra orbits : SOL

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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