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New York Times, Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Author: David Steinberg
Editor: Will Shortz
David Steinberg
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
716/16/201112/3/201713
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
5656921181
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.653133

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QZ} This is puzzle # 48 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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David Steinberg notes: I constructed this puzzle just over a year ago. At the time, I was making almost all themelesses, so I decided to construct a ... more
David Steinberg notes:

I constructed this puzzle just over a year ago. At the time, I was making almost all themelesses, so I decided to construct a themed puzzle for the sake of variety. I'm not sure where the inspiration for this puzzle came from, but I was fortunate to find just enough types of fur to scrape together a theme set. Interestingly, both OTTO PREMINGER and OTTO KLEMPERER would've worked for the center theme entry—I chose OTTO PREMINGER because I felt he would be more familiar to early-week solvers.

I settled on this grid pattern because I wanted to give solvers something a little different from the "several theme entries with a pair of long downs" structure used in most themed 15x15 crosswords these days. I personally use the traditional layout the majority of the time, but when I end up with a theme set that I could go a different direction with, I like to switch things up.

The 74-word grid with all the 7's was definitely a challenge, but I was pleased to work in MESHUGA, JUNIPER, and BLASTER. Keeping the less savory bits to a minimum was significantly harder, but I'm pleased with how the fill turned out overall (with the exception of NATALE, which the Tuesday solver in me is grumbling about!). I hope you enjoy my puzzle.

One of the RAs in my dorm just started solving the New York Times crossword—as of right now, he only attempts Mondays, so I'm hoping this puzzle will convince him to graduate to Tuesday!

Jeff Chen notes: FUR COATs today, various types of fur 'wrapped' around theme answers. I couldn't decide if I like the visual or not — there's ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

FUR COATs today, various types of fur "wrapped" around theme answers. I couldn't decide if I like the visual or not — there's something macabre about seeing the old-fashioned dead fox pelt sitting on someone's shoulders, with the head flopped over. But I think it works well as a crossword theme.

The BLASTER, source of much debate among us nerds whether Han shot first

I had no idea that OTTERs are used in furs. Man, people use just about anything! I think I would have preferred to see all types of furs which are super common — OTTER felt out of place compared to FOX, SABLE, and MINK — but there wasn't another type of animal that stood out as ultra-popular for furs. It might have been nice to give a shout-out to the anti-fur solvers out there with FAUX, perhaps "wrapped" around FRENCH CHATEAUX or something?

Some interesting fill today. MESHUGA was only vaguely familiar, and I liked getting the reminder of what a neat word it is. I enjoy Yiddishisms, and this one describing a crazy person is really fun. Very glad that David was careful to make all the crossing entries easy!

STALEMATE, BLASTER, JUNIPER, SHRINE, ST JOHN — David's skill with themelesses comes into play here, helping him give us a lot of good bonus fill without making us suffer through much (any?) crossword glue. Some might complain about THANE, but I think it's a perfectly valid entry. Most anything Shakespearean feels like fair game to me, and the THANE of Fife is no exception. I did appreciate David's care though, making all his crossing entries easy. That touch is much appreciated.

The only region that made me hitch included the HOPPERS / AHH entries. The former feels a bit made-up, and the second I usually think of as AAH. But Merriam-Webster does list "hopper" as ""someone or something that hops," and just like Yiddishisms, expressed sounds have many "correct" spellings. So overall, a well-executed grid.

It was a little creepy to see those FUR COATs wrapped around themers, but after I got over that, I enjoyed seeing the fruits of David's gridmaking skill.

1
I
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N
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A
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P
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F
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W
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0308 ( 24,227 )
Across Down
1. Unable to escape : INATRAP
8. Double helix parts : STRANDS
15. Cuckoo, from the Yiddish : MESHUGA
16. Hard work : TRAVAIL
17. Something to check if the lights go out : FUSEBOX
18. Tree whose berries flavor gin : JUNIPER
19. Memorable hurricane of 2011 : IRENE
20. Disneyland locale, briefly : SOCAL
21. Rebellious Turner : NAT
22. Lay out plates, silverware, napkins, etc. : SETTHETABLE
28. Princess in "Frozen" : ELSA
30. ___ shark : LOAN
31. Cabbage for miso soup? : YEN
32. Where Samsung is headquartered : SEOUL
34. Cut out (for) : SUITED
37. "Anatomy of a Murder" director : OTTOPREMINGER
40. The Taj Mahal, for one : SHRINE
41. Mrs. Eisenhower : MAMIE
42. One of the five W's : WHO
43. Poetic measure : IAMB
44. Step on a ladder : RUNG
48. Quick-cooking cut of meat : MINUTESTEAK
53. An eagle beats it : PAR
54. Fracking material : SHALE
55. Major artery : AORTA
57. Placate : ASSUAGE
60. Wrap "worn" by 17-, 22-, 37- and 48-Across? : FURCOAT
62. Cafeteria worker's wear : HAIRNET
63. Opening on the side of a vest : ARMHOLE
64. Toads and kangaroos : HOPPERS
65. Sci-fi weapon : BLASTER
1. "Nothing's broken!" : IMFINE
2. ___ network (term in anatomy and artificial intelligence) : NEURAL
3. Building, inventory, cash on hand, etc. : ASSETS
4. Now's partner : THEN
5. Unsophisticated sorts : RUBES
6. Previously : AGO
7. ___ Romana : PAX
8. Virgin Island that's 60% national park : STJOHN
9. Armistice : TRUCE
10. Stampeded toward : RANAT
11. Walled Spanish city : AVILA
12. 40 winks : NAP
13. Game cube : DIE
14. Camera inits. : SLR
20. No-win chess outcome : STALEMATE
23. Marry a cutie on the q.t., maybe : ELOPE
24. Get the show on the road : TOUR
25. Tiny memory unit : BYTE
26. Wolfish look : LEER
27. Crusty bread slice : END
29. Sparkling wine region : ASTI
33. Word found in "time on end," appropriately : EON
34. "The Lion King" lion : SIMBA
35. Prefix with brow : UNI
36. Disney bigwig Bob : IGER
37. "Fancy seeing you here!" : OHHI
38. Video game film : TRON
39. Broadway auntie : MAME
40. Certain bachelor, in personal ads : SWM
43. Archipelago parts : ISLETS
45. Pull from the ground : UPROOT
46. Christmas, in Italy : NATALE
47. Gadget for Parmesan : GRATER
49. Seize unlawfully : USURP
50. ___ of Fife (Macduff's title) : THANE
51. Like a beaver : EAGER
52. Destiny : KARMA
56. Adolph in New York Times history : OCHS
57. "That feels amazing!" : AHH
58. ___ Tomé and Príncipe : SAO
59. Drink hot chocolate, maybe : SIP
60. Like the Beatles, in 1960s lingo : FAB
61. Bookmarked thing : URL

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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