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New York Times, Friday, April 11, 2014

Author:
Peter Wentz
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
339/27/20078/31/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
200121216
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.81005
Peter Wentz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 28 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Wentz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter Wentz notes:
This was one of those rare themeless puzzles where my construction and seed entries began at the center rather than at 1-Across. I ... read more

This was one of those rare themeless puzzles where my construction and seed entries began at the center rather than at 1-Across. I fondly recall ZOLAESQUE from "Wordplay", and partly inspired by that, found KAFKAESQUE could fit nicely among other fun phrases and went from there. The grid is a little closed-off, which allowed me to first insert the marquee central answers and then attack the quadrant of corners individually. The NW corner was actually the last filled, and much of that time was spent trying to find a solid entry at 3-Down that could also support quality entries around it. A little bit of research led to VELVET ROPE, whose clue I wish I could take credit for.

For the last year or two, I've been focusing on attempting to create perfect Patrick Berry-style (BERRYESQUE?) grids free of clutter, and while for this one I'm happy with every entry of six letters or longer, those few ORKs, TETs, and KEAs still irk me. Thankfully they're not terribly obscure, but not ideal. That staircase of S's also isn't the best, but they all end common phrases without awkward or contrived plurals, so I can more than live with the result.

Overall though, I am very happy with how this puzzle turned out! There's definitely a joy in creating something lots of people will hopefully enjoy, but there's also no harm in always striving to do better. Makes for even better crosswords down the line, which benefits everyone!

Jeff Chen notes:
Pete Wentz! One of the younger constructors whose themelesses I always look forward to. I know I can expect several fresh, new entries ... read more

Pete Wentz! One of the younger constructors whose themelesses I always look forward to. I know I can expect several fresh, new entries and a clean puzzle when I see Peter's byline. What I particularly like about his WENTZIAN puzzles is that his vibe is almost always contemporary without feeling forced.

For example, look at the beautiful VELVET ROPE: new entry which evokes the image of a bouncer moving the rope back and forth at an upscale club. Beautiful entry. And the clue, even better! It took me a long time to figure out that it wasn't referring to the queue of people but the actual line of the VELVET ROPE. Beautiful stuff.

Another up-to-date entry came in the sneakiest of ways. [Alternative to cords] and BLUE????? led me to plunk down BLUETOOTH, the cordless protocol between smartphones and their accessories, etc. Pretty impressive to lay down the relatively BB KING and LIES ON to draw you right into the trap of thinking about Bluetooth.

The SW did give me slight pause, as I have very high expectations out of Pete's work, similar to what I go through with Patrick Berry, Josh Knapp, Doug Peterson, Brad Wilbur, David Quarfoot, Kevin Der, Ian Livengood, and Mike Nothnagel's (among others) work. TOO TOO feels like an outdated term, and right above THE ASP from Little Orphan Annie made it feel especially old. It would be one thing if THE ASP was a classic character, but I only know him through constructing. The ????SP is awfully constricting, after all — really no other options for that pattern. So I went back to figure out Peter's dilemma, and it could not have been easy. Getting KATE MOSS and KINESCOPE are well-worth plunking down, but it forces THE ASP. And once that goes in, not many other better options are available in that SW.

Check out the beauty that is POPE LEO X. LEO I, LEO X, etc. have been used so much in crosswords, but to get the full POPE LEO X is pretty awesome. Hard to believe that in all the time the crossword has been around, Pete has the honor of debuting the entry. POPE LEO and POPE LEO XI have both been used in the NYT, but not this important POPE LEO X and his role in the historic events around Martin Luther.

I usually don't notice excessive use of plurals, but I did pick up on that diagonal row of S's from MCS to KITTENS and beyond. Tough, wide-open section to fill in the middle and Pete has some great stuff in there, using his 7's wisely (FAT CATS crossing KITTENS!) but all the S's are a slight tick.

Finally, what beautiful cluing today. My favorite is the repurposed [High beams] which makes you think about cars and their high beams. But no, they're literally high beams = rafters. Ingenious.

1
M
2
O
3
V
4
E
5
B
6
A
7
C
8
K
9
B
10
B
11
K
12
I
13
N
14
G
15
I
R
E
A
L
I
Z
E
16
L
I
E
S
O
N
17
D
E
L
T
A
R
A
Y
18
U
G
A
N
D
A
19
V
A
D
E
R
20
P
E
G
21
T
E
T
22
S
23
P
E
W
E
D
24
R
A
J
A
25
H
26
I
O
T
A
S
27
F
A
C
E
M
A
28
S
29
K
30
S
31
G
O
R
Y
32
K
A
F
K
A
E
S
Q
U
E
33
H
B
O
34
K
I
T
T
E
N
S
35
U
R
L
36
T
A
P
37
D
A
N
C
E
R
S
38
N
A
T
E
39
S
H
E
D
T
E
A
R
S
40
D
O
R
I
C
41
T
E
S
T
S
42
D
I
V
E
S
T
43
A
44
N
45
N
46
M
C
S
47
C
U
R
E
D
48
T
O
O
49
T
O
O
50
P
O
P
E
L
E
51
O
52
X
53
T
H
E
A
S
P
54
I
D
E
C
L
A
R
E
55
N
O
L
O
S
E
56
T
E
D
T
A
L
K
S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0411 ( 23,530 )

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Across
1
Retreat : MOVEBACK
9
"3 O'Clock Blues" hitmaker, 1952 : BBKING
15
"Obviously ..." : IREALIZE
16
Uses, as a chaise : LIESON
17
Particle ejected from an atom during ionization : DELTARAY
18
Home of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park : UGANDA
19
"Star Wars" villain name : VADER
20
Identify : PEG
21
Celebration of the arrival of spring : TET
22
Blew out : SPEWED
24
Eastern hereditary title : RAJAH
26
Specks : IOTAS
27
Things worn at home? : FACEMASKS
31
Like some details : GORY
32
Maddeningly surreal : KAFKAESQUE
33
"Girls" home : HBO
34
Some adoption candidates : KITTENS
35
Address found online : URL
36
Ones unlikely to drag their feet : TAPDANCERS
38
___ Ruess, lead singer of Fun : NATE
39
Weep : SHEDTEARS
40
Order of ancient Greeks : DORIC
41
There might be a battery of them : TESTS
42
Rid (of) : DIVEST
43
Matt's onetime "Today" co-host : ANN
46
Runs the show, for short : MCS
47
Like prosciutto : CURED
48
Way over the top : TOOTOO
50
Head of the Catholic Church when Luther's "95 Theses" was posted : POPELEOX
53
Daddy Warbucks's henchman : THEASP
54
"Gracious me!" : IDECLARE
55
Completely safe, as a proposition : NOLOSE
56
Lecture series with well over a billion views : TEDTALKS
Down
1
Century starter? : MID
2
Something in that vein? : ORE
3
Line outside a club, maybe : VELVETROPE
4
Erode : EATAWAY
5
Leaves of grass : BLADES
6
Ran : AIRED
7
High-level appointee : CZAR
8
It has all the answers : KEY
9
Alternative to cords : BLUEJEANS
10
Bowls, e.g. : BIGGAMES
11
Mauna ___ : KEA
12
"... and who ___?" : ISNT
13
Network connection : NODE
14
Part of a moving cloud : GNAT
20
Foe of the Vikings : PACKERS
22
Tour parts : SIGHTS
23
Bigwig : POOBAH
24
High beams : RAFTERS
25
Orders in a restaurant : HAS
27
Millionaires and billionaires : FATCATS
28
Theodore Roosevelt's domestic program : SQUAREDEAL
29
Rapper ___ Blow : KURTIS
30
Elite : SELECT
32
Part of a TV archive : KINESCOPE
34
Model introduced in the 1990s : KATEMOSS
37
Target of a 1972 ban : DDT
38
"Breakfast at Tiffany's," for one : NOVELLA
40
Plain-spoken : DIRECT
42
Took in : DUPED
43
Routing aid: Abbr. : ATTN
44
Big Apple neighborhood next to the Bowery : NOHO
45
"Christians Awake," e.g. : NOEL
47
Semaphore signals, e.g. : CODE
49
Asian path : TAO
50
Hog roasting locale : PIT
51
Planet whose inhabitants age backward : ORK
52
Pair of Dos Equis : XES

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later.

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