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New York Times, Friday, March 7, 2014

Author:
Matt Ginsberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
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1.57330
Matt Ginsberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 30 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 39 for Mr. Ginsberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Matt Ginsberg notes:
I am fighting a battle with Will Shortz that I fear I will never win. My goal is to put an Easter Egg in a NY Times crossword ... read more

I am fighting a battle with Will Shortz that I fear I will never win.

My goal is to put an Easter Egg in a NY Times crossword puzzle. So, for example, in my 9/8/11 effort with Pete Muller, the 72-word fill included the mini-theme KESEY, WOLFE and MERRY PRANKSTERS. Hidden and wrapping around the corners were ELECTRIC, KOOL-AID, ACID and TEST.

Will ran it on a Thursday and circled those letters.

On 2/18/12, I had a puzzle with a long row of diagonal squares. The letters above the squares spelled UPSTAIRS, and those below spelled DOWNSTAIRS. Will added a note in the Notepad: "This puzzle has two bonus answers in appropriate places. Can you find them?"

In today's puzzle, my original clues for 15- 39- and 43-Across were [TV show the last episode of which aired 6/23/99 5/23/10 9/23/11] (I liked the fact that the dates progressed forward in time this way). Will put a little extra in the clues. Sigh.

The reason I can never win this, I have realized, is that Will always gets the last word! And he actually does what is probably the right thing, catering to his broad audience instead of the handful of folks who would discover my Easter Egg.

A lesser man would give up. But not I! My only question is whether I should continue to *tell* Will when I put an Easter Egg in a puzzle. If I do, he'll spoil the surprise. If I don't, he'll be annoyed when he finds out. I'm caught on the horns of a dilemma.

But a word of warning. If you ever see a Friday or Saturday puzzle of mine that appears to have no theme, look again. There's never any telling when I'll manage to slip one by.

Jeff Chen notes:
As you're reading this, I will be having a drink with Matt, one of the most fun people to hang out with at the ACPT. He and I share a ... read more

As you're reading this, I will be having a drink with Matt, one of the most fun people to hang out with at the ACPT. He and I share a lot of interests including xws, bridge (yes, the old person card game), and programming, among other hobbies. Reading his Notes made me laugh and also go back to his older puzzles to see if I hadn't missed an Easter Egg (a surprise bonus inside a puzzle, not overtly called out, that only astute solvers will pick up) he cleverly slipped by.

Before getting to the puzzle, another story about Matt. He wrote me about one puzzle to see if I understood it, and I was honestly baffled. I stared at it for the longest time before finally admitting defeat. Check it out and see if you agree with Matt or Will on the clue for 36A. Now that I understand it, I side with Matt. The fact that I couldn't figure it out on my own probably means Will was right, though.

Ah, the puzzle, a extremely tough workout for me, especially the northern hemisphere. Matt works in some great marquee fill, my favorites being GARAGE DOOR, HAZMAT SUIT, and the incredibly difficult to spell SCHADENFREUDE (note: I spelled this wrong even after I double-checked it; thanks David Barnhouse!). What is the latter, you ask? It's that feeling you get of guiltily giggling behind your hands when a bird poops on the head of your enemy (not that I've ever done that — neither the giggling nor the pooping). Ah, those wacky Germans.

The north was so difficult for me, starting with SCHADENFREUDE appropriately enough (no giggling, please). I didn't know what MENE was, so I jammed MANE in, misspelling it SCHADENFRAUDE. Rats! And then the cluing in the NE corner was so opaque that it took a good guess on DEATH to break things open. I might have preferred at least one easier clue up there — [Furnishing in many tearoom] is a really nice clue for TATAMI, but surrounded by so many other vague clues, that area played like a hard Saturday more than a Friday for me. If you had trouble too, take solace that tomorrow's puzzle came much easier to me; perhaps the same will be true for you.

I didn't really get what THE NANNY / LOST / ALL MY CHILDREN meant, or why it was funny as a statement, so I was really glad to read Matt's Note. On previous puzzles, I've tended to agree with Will more than Matt (in the interests of catering to a larger number of solvers), but on this one, I think I like Matt's subtle tongue-in-cheekery better. Sorry Will!

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0307 ( 23,495 )
Across
1
Cause for squirming : ICKINESS
9
Container for Rip Van Winkle : FLAGON
15
TV show that debuted on 11/3/93 (and start of a parent's distressed cry?) : THENANNY
16
Furnishing in many a tearoom : TATAMI
17
Officer's "gift" : CITATION
18
Lemony, for example : CITRIC
19
Roles, metaphorically : HATS
20
___' Pea : SWEE
22
"The king of terrors," per Job 18 : DEATH
23
Anklebones : TALI
25
In the company of : AMONGST
27
Guilty pleasure? : SCHADENFREUDE
31
Poetic member of a Greek nonet : ERATO
32
Having a gaping hole, say : RENT
33
Org. in "Breaking Bad" : DEA
36
Setting for "The Shining" : MAZE
37
Bogart role : SPADE
39
TV show that debuted on 9/22/04 (middle of the cry) : LOST
40
Corporate giant co-founded by Thomas Watson : IBM
41
Jackie with acting chops : CHAN
42
Sit on it : ROOST
43
TV show that debuted on 1/5/70 (end of the cry) : ALLMYCHILDREN
47
Greek hunter trained by Chiron : ACTAEON
49
Language that gave us "slogan," originally meaning "battle cry" : ERSE
50
Dreaded sort? : RASTA
51
Outside: Prefix : ECTO
53
Noted septet : SEAS
57
Trojan rivals : BRUINS
59
Transfer, as wine : REBOTTLE
61
Merino, Suffolk and Dorset : OVINES
62
Like Christmas candles, typically : AROMATIC
63
"Says who?," e.g. : RETORT
64
So-so : NOTGREAT
Down
1
It may come with a bite : ITCH
2
Pet project? : CHIA
3
"Etta ___" (old comic strip) : KETT
4
Worked up : INASTATE
5
Turner of pages in history : NAT
6
Put on a key? : ENISLE
7
Isolate, somehow : SNOWIN
8
Burnsian "ago" : SYNE
9
Govt. agency that supports competition : FTC
10
Presented : LAIDOUT
11
See (to) : ATTEND
12
Thing often controlled by a remote : GARAGEDOOR
13
Drops : OMITS
14
Not in Germany? : NICHT
21
Ending with dog or jug : EARED
24
Flurry : ADO
26
Word on a biblical wall : MENE
27
Certain playoff game : SEMI
28
Zodiac symbol : CRAB
29
Requirement for special handling? : HAZMATSUIT
30
Swiss standard : FRANC
34
To be in ancient times? : ESSE
35
Subj. line alert : ATTN
37
Chucklehead : SHMO
38
Alexander who directed "Nebraska" : PAYNE
39
Guiding light : LODESTAR
41
Pledge, e.g. : CLEANER
42
Literary inits. : RLS
44
Marco Rubio, for one : LATINO
45
Straight : HETERO
46
Will Smith flick of 2004 : IROBOT
47
Subject of a celebration on the last Friday in April : ARBOR
48
Chisel : CARVE
52
Lead-in to Apple : CRAN
54
Trix alternative? : ETTE
55
Inter ___ : ALIA
56
Ending with inter- : SECT
58
Retired boomer : SST
60
Texter's "No way!" : OMG

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?