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New York Times, Saturday, March 8, 2014

Author: David Steinberg
Editor: Will Shortz
David Steinberg
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This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 29 Missing: {FQV} This is puzzle # 25 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes: In September 2012, I noticed that I had a lot of 9-letter seed entries lying around, so I decided to throw some of them ... more
David Steinberg notes: In September 2012, I noticed that I had a lot of 9-letter seed entries lying around, so I decided to throw some of them together into a high word count themeless grid. I was particularly happy that JAILBREAK and CANDY SHOP fit into the upper left corner and that GOOGLEBOT and SEXY SADIE fit into the lower right. In the other two corners, I especially liked COKE ZERO, CLARITIN, JUST DO IT, and MOJITO. ARIOSI, AIOLIS, and LLDS weren't (and still aren't) my favorites, though I was pleased with how the fill turned out overall, so I wrote up the clues and submitted the puzzle to Will.

Will liked the puzzle but had concerns about BIG HOAX sounding a bit contrived; luckily, though, he decided to let it stand. When I first saw the edited version of this crossword, I couldn't tell which one of my puzzles it was, since Will's brilliant "Cooler idea?" and "One stocking bars" clues completely eluded me! I had clued JAILBREAK in the sense of jailbreaking a phone and CANDY SHOP as the 50 Cent song, so it took me an embarrassingly long time to identify the puzzle, because Will's clues for these entries were completely different. Enjoy my puzzle, and I look forward to seeing some of you at the ACPT (perhaps even solving this crossword!).

Jeff Chen notes: Sometimes I'm not on David's wavelength because he's roughly 130 years younger than I am, but I sped through this puzzle. A bunch of ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Sometimes I'm not on David's wavelength because he's roughly 130 years younger than I am, but I sped through this puzzle. A bunch of very nice entries, SEXY SADIE not surprisingly being my favorite, closely followed by GOOGLE BOT — in the same stack!

I was at Stanford a few years before Sergey Brin and Larry Page (of Google; slightly more famous than me). One of my favorite stories about GOOGLE BOTs (warning: this may be apocryphal) is that a marketing person told one of the high muckety-mucks that they needed to spin how much better Google's search engine was than the competition. The reply: if Google's algorithm wasn't the best out there, they didn't deserve to win. That's a philosophy that deserves a huge amount of respect. You go, GOOGLEBOTs!

A lot of good stuff today, along with a couple of AOLERS and STEARIC kind of answers, which makes me want to point out a thoughtful post David put up regarding what makes a puzzle stand the test of time (it's toward the bottom of the post). The key observation is:

"But when I encounter a theme I've never seen before, a trick that was brand new at the time, or a particularly impressive theme entry interlock, I slow down and admire the puzzle and the constructor for trying something a little different. If the fill has an entry or two I don't like, then so be it. The puzzle is still highly memorable and successful, in my opinion, for holding interest more than thirty years later."

I appreciate how he stands up for a philosophy that sometimes gets unfairly derided in the blogosphere. Wise beyond his years. Honestly, I'm not completely sure where I fall in the spectrum, but I think having two pretty iffy answers is well worth the price of having so many great ones.

I'll finish off by pointing out two beautiful clues, exactly the kinds that tickle me as they should on a Saturday. [Popular line of footwear?] for JUST DO IT and [It's flown in] for AIR SPACE. The former is a great piece of wordplay, "line" referring to an advertising line, not a line of clothing. And the latter is my favorite, misdirecting the solver to think about what types of objects get flown in (as in shipped in). I love that it doesn't give itself away with a question mark!

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0308 ( 23,496 )
Across Down
1. Cooler idea? : JAILBREAK
10. Home to the Great Mosque : MECCA
15. It included a moonwalk : APOLLOXII
16. Spirit of St. Petersburg? : STOLI
17. One stocking bars : CANDYSHOP
18. West African capital : DAKAR
19. Old sitcom sot : OTIS
20. Pimienta's partner : SAL
21. Many instant message recipients : AOLERS
22. "Sketches" pseudonym : BOZ
23. Bad-tempered : BILIOUS
25. Compress, as a file : ZIP
26. Turn the air blue : SWEAR
28. Where many games can be viewed : ESPN
29. Prefix with data : META
30. Motor problems : TICS
32. Fat-derived : STEARIC
34. Havana highball : MOJITO
37. Recite mechanically : INTONE
38. Swank : OPULENT
40. Word before red : BEET
41. Beech house? : NEST
42. Quarter of zwölf : DREI
44. Tables in western scenes : MESAS
48. Word after red : ANT
49. Like time, inexorably : GOINGBY
51. "___ I forsook the crowded solitude": Wordsworth : ERE
52. Walters portrayer on "S.N.L." : RADNER
54. Dance piece? : CHA
55. Thé addition : LAIT
56. Produce sentimental notes? : CROON
57. Big-name Web crawler : GOOGLEBOT
59. "The Asphalt Jungle" revolves around one : HEIST
60. Like Francisco Goya : ARAGONESE
61. "Breaking Away" director : YATES
62. She "made a fool of everyone," in song : SEXYSADIE
1. A. J. ___, author of the best seller "The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World" : JACOBS
2. Director of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "This Is 40" : APATOW
3. Turn positive, say : IONIZE
4. Some Yale degs. : LLDS
5. Nellie who wrote "Ten Days in a Mad-House" : BLY
6. Martini accompanier? : ROSSI
7. Uses a drunkometer, e.g. : EXHALES
8. Provençal spreads : AIOLIS
9. 100-at currency unit : KIP
10. It was run in the 1980s-'90s : MSDOS
11. Abbr. for the listless? : ETAL
12. Tab alternative : COKEZERO
13. Big name in allergy relief : CLARITIN
14. It's flown in : AIRSPACE
21. ___ Anne's (pretzel maker) : AUNTIE
23. Ultra ___ : BRITE
24. Quick missions? : OPS
27. Slightly biased? : ATILT
29. Like some finishes : MATTE
31. Hole in one on a par 5 hole : CONDOR
33. "No ___ is worse than bad advice": Sophocles : ENEMY
34. Bahrain, Bhutan or Brunei : MONARCHY
35. Clearing : OPENAREA
36. Popular line of footwear? : JUSTDOIT
39. Endurance race, briefly : TRI
40. Cardiff Giant, e.g. : BIGHOAX
43. Cry for another piece : ENCORE
45. Starfish setting : SEABED
46. Some opera passages : ARIOSI
47. Parlor piece : SETTEE
49. Word on a restroom door : GENTS
50. Loose : BAGGY
53. Thing twitched on "Bewitched" : NOSE
55. River known for the goldfields in its basin : LENA
57. Sign on an interstate : GAS
58. "___ Tarantos" (1963 film) : LOS

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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