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New York Times, Friday, April 17, 2015

Author:
Mary Lou Guizzo
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
244/17/20143/6/201913
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
31153641
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61440
Mary Lou Guizzo

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 30 Missing: {JQV} Spans: 6 This is puzzle # 5 for Ms. Guizzo. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mary Lou Guizzo notes:
After a few of my themed puzzles were accepted by the NYT, I decided to try my hand at a themeless grid. Will Shortz has noted that ... read more

After a few of my themed puzzles were accepted by the NYT, I decided to try my hand at a themeless grid. Will Shortz has noted that only 1-2% of his themeless submissions are from female constructors. I want to improve on that number.

Ride 'em, cowboy!

Peter Collins' grid with six spanners seemed like a good place to start. (Eventually, I needed to move a few black squares around to get clean fill.) I keep a running list of vocabulary words to enter in my crossword database. Fifteen letter entries get special note — I was glad to include ELIZABETH WARREN in the grid. I enjoyed reading her latest book and following her career in recent years. I thought HOSTESS TWINKIES was a fun entry too. SNOWDEN would also have been a debut entry for the NYT at the time of my submission but Brendan Emmett Quigley beat me out.

I'm trying to improve my cluing. My submissions for TARZAN, SNOWDEN and ELIZABETH WARREN — "A swinging guy", "A revealing guy" and "Wall Street concern" didn't make the cut. They were a little vague, even for a Friday. A clue like "Lover of Jane Porter", gives you the information you need yet can also misdirect by giving the last name which you don't usually hear and may never have known. I missed the opportunity to link SAINT and BEDE, but Will and Joel did not. I appreciate their editing expertise.

I am pleased to have my first solo themeless published in the NYT and hope you have enjoyed your solving experience.

Jeff Chen notes:
ML's first solo themeless! Unusual layout, featuring six grid-spanners, laid out in a criss-cross style. This type of arrangement is ... read more

ML's first solo themeless! Unusual layout, featuring six grid-spanners, laid out in a criss-cross style. This type of arrangement is tough to execute on cleanly, as every region around two crossing grid-spanners becomes highly constrained. And given that there are eight such intersections, which means that the entire puzzle faces tough constraints all over.

WAHOO! ML does quite well in smoothing out the short stuff holding the puzzle together. There's been some Facebook chatter about STRO, but I think it's a reasonable enough answer, especially for those fans in Houston. I imagine people not in Seattle would think I'm crazy for clueing THEMS as [Seattle's MLB team] = THE M'S, but it's super common here.

The "Venerable Bede" (sigh, all the great nicknames are already taken)

Really the only place I found tough was the south. I liked learning a tidbit about SAINT BEDE — the cross-reference works well because the answers are so close to each other — but not being familiar with BARI as an Italian port made the B a guess for me. There's an argument to be made that as an educated solver, I really ought to have known one of them. Grumble grumble, fine!

Ah, there was the KRIS KROS crisscross. KRIS felt much more like a real name of course, but END ON felt much more apt than END IN for [Finish with]. Darn my gullibility when it comes to B-list celebs!

Finally, A STROKE OF GENIUS regarding A STROKE OF GENIUS. Themelesses featuring grid-spanners rely on the long entries to be stellar, since there usually isn't much else of note besides them. Not only is A STROKE OF GENIUS fantastic in itself, but it's a devious trap. All the first letters were clued so easily that I quickly had ASTRO- as a start. So of course, [Something that's brilliant] had to be some sort of ASTRONOMICAL phenomenon, right? Just loved this trap, set up and sprung so fiendishly for a unique a-ha moment.

Hoping to see more of ML's byline on themelesses, and more diversity within themeless constructors in general. It would have never occurred to me to feature ELIZABETH WARREN or KROS — aaugh, KRIS! Kardashian — for example, so I like getting into the mind of someone who thinks very differently from me.

1
G
2
N
3
A
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W
5
H
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I
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M
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O
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M
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C
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E
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R
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T
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R
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S
A
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F
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H
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E
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A
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T
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S
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H
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S
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W
D
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S
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K
R
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S
T
R
O
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B
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A
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G
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C
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L
E
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N
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W
E
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P
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R
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N
O
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H
O
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P
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T
A
X
E
R
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E
T
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A
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O
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F
S
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W
H
E
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E
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S
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H
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O
M
G
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B
I
O
S
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S
L
A
W
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E
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C
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O
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T
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A
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M
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E
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N
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A
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B
E
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M
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M
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X
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0417 ( 23,901 )

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Across
1
Plague, with "at" : GNAW
5
Handmade sign at a stadium : HIMOM
10
Warrant, e.g.: Abbr. : CERT
14
Gift on el día de los enamorados : ROSA
15
Eyelike designs : OCULI
16
Tennis's Nastase : ILIE
17
Similar : OFTHESAMESTRIPE
20
Charge leader? : SUR
21
Unspecified degrees : NTHS
22
Lover of Jane Porter : TARZAN
23
Man who went into self-imposed exile in 2013 : SNOWDEN
25
Opera ___ : SERIA
26
Mother of Kourtney, Kim and Khloé : KRIS
27
Houston player, for short : STRO
28
Snare : BAG
31
Rout : CLEANSWEEP
34
Ashcroft's predecessor in the cabinet : RENO
35
Basket : HOOP
36
One making you do your duty? : TAXER
37
World Heritage Site since 2013 : ETNA
38
Boobs : OAFS
39
Direction seeker's query : WHERESTHAT
41
"u can't b serious!" : OMG
42
Stories of a lifetime? : BIOS
43
Side with a dog : SLAW
44
Budget, in adspeak : ECONO
46
Draw : TIEGAME
49
Title Inuit of film : NANOOK
51
See 60-Across : BEDE
52
Univ. aides : RAS
53
Very close : ONINTIMATETERMS
56
Ladies' man : STUD
57
Zac of "The Lorax" : EFRON
58
Repeatedly reposted item : MEME
59
Brand operated by Imperial : ESSO
60
With 51-Across, early adopter of the A.D. dating method : SAINT
61
Black ring material : ONYX
Down
1
Box-office figure : GROSS
2
Like a buzzkill : NOFUN
3
Something that's brilliant : ASTROKEOFGENIUS
4
Sound heard a lot by new parents : WAH
5
Longtime food product with a mascot in a cowboy hat : HOSTESSTWINKIES
6
New York's ___ Stadium (track-and-field venue) : ICAHN
7
Fall bloomers : MUMS
8
Stadium cry : OLE
9
Cry at a White House press conference : MISTERPRESIDENT
10
Atmospheric features of Mars : CIRRI
11
Senator who wrote "A Fighting Chance," 2014 : ELIZABETHWARREN
12
Last name in morning TV : RIPA
13
Follower of four or six, but not five : TEEN
18
Finish with : ENDIN
19
Its edible root is called an eddo : TARO
24
Finishes : WRAPS
25
Rounded-up figure? : STEER
27
Embellishes, with "up" : SEXES
29
Russian ruler after Peter II : ANNA
30
Zodiac symbol : GOAT
31
Shoe designer Jimmy : CHOO
32
Composition of some bricks : LOAM
33
"Yay, we did it!" : WAHOO
34
Change in a clothing store, in a way : RETAG
40
Unwelcome forecast : SLEET
42
Eject : BOOT
45
House alternative : CONDO
46
Sitting Bull, e.g. : TETON
47
Scarlett O'Hara's housemaid : MAMMY
48
Super Six maker of the 1920s : ESSEX
49
Torpedo part : NOSE
50
Threat in "The Naked Jungle," 1954 : ANTS
51
Port of Italy : BARI
54
Design deg. : MFA
55
Like some hairstyles with long bangs : EMO

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

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