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New York Times, Saturday, March 5, 2016

Author:
Roland Huget
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
123/20/201511/5/20180
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0110028
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
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
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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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
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
Down
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.

Found bugs or have suggestions?