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New York Times, Saturday, April 12, 2014

Author:
Mel Rosen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3812/28/197011/3/20161
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
10663346
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.5311224
Mel Rosen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 30 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 37 for Mr. Rosen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mel Rosen notes:
Anything can inspire a themed puzzle. My inspiration for an unthemed puzzle is usually an anchor word or two, and for this market ... read more

Anything can inspire a themed puzzle. My inspiration for an unthemed puzzle is usually an anchor word or two, and for this market fresh is better. I've enjoyed "The Colbert Report" since its debut, so COLBERT BUMP at 1-Across made a dandy debut entry. GEOCACHING at 27-Down is another debut entry. I've enjoyed the hunt several times. You can read about the activity on — what a shock — Wikipedia. MYCOLOGISTS in the SE corner is another debut item, and so are BACK BENCH, MAO SUIT, HEATHERY, and BINGHAM. DARK STARS is new, although DARK STAR has been used before clued using the racehorse or the sci-fi film. Likewise, the singular entry CONSULATE has appeared before.

I supplied two clues for every entry; Will kept many of them, tweaked some more while retaining the sense of my offering, and — what a shock — rewrote many.

Jeff Chen notes:
Quite a lot of good stuff packed into the grid today. As always, a big part of themeless construction is the race to debut a nice ... read more

Quite a lot of good stuff packed into the grid today. As always, a big part of themeless construction is the race to debut a nice entry. I'm surprised that GEOCACHING took so long to make its first appearance, especially considering its popularity among the puzzling crowd. I hadn't heard about it until a few years ago but really enjoyed my first time at it, finding something hidden in the local arboretum. I really like the entry and am guessing it's a keeper; something that will stand the test of time.

It's too bad that these newer entries aren't well-known enough across the country that a clever clue can be used. Too often, these freshies need to be clued with something like you'd see out of the dictionary, because being too clever would befuddle a large majority of Will's solvers. Similarly, the COLBERT BUMP is such a recent term that anything but the definitional [Popularity boost due to ...] would be way too tough. As it is, I could barely suss it out (I don't watch Colbert). Perhaps it will stand the test of time, but if I had to pick, I think GEOCACHING is the one people will still recognize 10 years from now. COLBERT will certainly be remembered, especially given his taking over for Letterman, but COLBERT BUMP... well, we'll see.

Mel does a great job packing in all sorts of stuff, my favorites being MR ROARKE (I snuck in episodes of Fantasy Island as a kid) and DARK STARS (the nerd in my shining through — or not (pun intended)). It's a combination of great stuff at the price of a few not-as-great entries, the usual sort of ATOI, ERAT, SSNS kind of stuff.

Stacked 11's (in the NW and SE) are very tough arrangements. The longer they are, the more likely there will be compromises. I like the 11's themselves (EVER SO SORRY is quite nice, and I personally really like MYCOLOGISTS) but it's tough to not get an URU or ACC or ASCI across those long stacks.

Additionally, using stacked 11's means blocks of 3's (in the NE and SW). Often that's no issue whatsoever, but a combination of random Roman numeral (LII) and ENG made that SW stick out a bit for me.

Finally, a beautiful Saturday clue which stood out today: [They often provide illumination in galleries]. I went through ARC LAMPS, LED LIGHTS, SPOTS, any sort of lighting options I could reel off. What a beautiful a-ha moment when I realized that the type of illumination (informational) was totally different than I had been thinking. I would love an entire Saturday puzzle full of these!

1
C
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B
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M
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0412 ( 23,531 )
Across
1
Popularity boost due to a certain TV endorsement : COLBERTBUMP
12
Rebel in a beret : CHE
15
"A thousand pardons" : EVERSOSORRY
16
Athlete in a shell : OAR
17
Diet, e.g. : LEGISLATURE
18
"Collages" novelist, 1964 : NIN
19
Arab spring? : TROT
20
Mexicans roll them : ARS
21
Composers of some rhapsodies : ODISTS
23
Business of 41-Down: Abbr. : INS
24
Wear for Hu Jintao : MAOSUIT
25
Mythical abode of heroes slain in battle : ASGARD
29
"Each of us bears his own Hell" writer : VIRGIL
30
Part of a drag outfit : HEELS
31
Relatives of black holes : DARKSTARS
34
Cousin of an agave : ALOE
35
Dispatch : HASTE
36
To you, in Toulouse : ATOI
37
Place for rank-and-filers in the House of Commons : BACKBENCH
39
Ozone menace : FREON
40
Pungent panini ingredient : ASIAGO
41
Gets started : SETSTO
42
They often provide illumination in galleries : DOCENTS
44
Arm with many vessels, maybe : BAY
45
Like angels : ONHIGH
46
Palooka : OAF
47
Throws for a loop : AWES
51
Shakespeare sonnet that begins "So am I as the rich, whose blessed key" : LII
52
Parts of some alarms : HEATSENSORS
55
Fleece : CON
56
White whale's whereabouts : ARCTICOCEAN
57
Bath setting: Abbr. : ENG
58
People sampling mushrooms, say : MYCOLOGISTS
Down
1
Druid, e.g. : CELT
2
Spanning : OVER
3
Theme of several theme parks : LEGO
4
Piltdown man, say : BRIT
5
Dot-dot-dot : ESS
6
Casualty of the Battle of Roncesvalles : ROLAND
7
Old dynasts : TSARS
8
Some spam senders : BOTS
9
The Negro R. runs through it : URU
10
"Fantasy Island" host : MRROARKE
11
Stray mongrels : PYEDOGS
12
Chancellery settings : CONSULATES
13
Where Nord, Nord-Est and Nord-Ouest are departments : HAITI
14
Arp contemporary : ERNST
22
"Interesting ... but museum-worthy?" : ISITART
23
Org. whose logo has an eagle and scales : IRS
24
Opposite of gloom : MIRTH
25
King of Kings : AHAB
26
1987 Lionel Richie hit : SELA
27
21st-century pastime for treasure hunters : GEOCACHING
28
Leonov who was the first man to walk in space : ALEKSEI
29
Balboa's first name : VASCO
31
Alternative to shoots? : DANGS
32
A cube has one : ROOT
33
___-Soviet : SINO
35
Like many a purple-tinged moorland : HEATHERY
38
"Fur Traders Descending the Missouri" painter, 1845 : BINGHAM
39
Creator of "30 Rock" : FEY
41
Its parent is Liberty Mutual : SAFECO
42
Opposite of agitato : DOLCE
43
Pizza topping : ONION
44
Pizza topping : BASIL
46
Bart and Lisa's bus driver : OTTO
47
Sacs studied by 58-Across : ASCI
48
Parts of a sob story : WOES
49
Latin 101 word : ERAT
50
Phishing loot: Abbr. : SSNS
53
Orange's org. : ACC
54
Periodic dairy aisle offering : NOG

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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