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New York Times, Saturday, April 12, 2014

Author: Mel Rosen
Editor: Will Shortz
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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

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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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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!

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0412 ( 23,531 )
Across Down
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
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: 8 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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