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New York Times, Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Author:
David Levinson Wilk
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2412/2/19962/4/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6125271
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58120
David Levinson Wilk

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 34 Missing: {QVZ} This is puzzle # 22 for Mr. Wilk. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Levinson Wilk notes:
A few months ago, I sent the White House a letter stating that, in 2005, I became the first puzzle constructor to use OBAMA as an ... read more
  1. A few months ago, I sent the White House a letter stating that, in 2005, I became the first puzzle constructor to use OBAMA as an answer in a New York Times crossword. With my letter, I included a printout of every Times clue for OBAMA to date (pulled from xwordinfo.com) because I thought the president would get a kick out of seeing it. Last week, I received a note in the mail that contained a handwritten message from President Obama thanking me for the memento. Good stuff.
  2. If you like crosswords (you're reading this so ... you might), you should think about getting a book that's coming out this month called "TEDTalks Across, TMZ Down." It has 90 crosswords in it. And they're pretty good.
  3. If you are a young person reading this (14 is young; so is 33) and you think you might, sorta, wanna construct a crossword, I strongly encourage you to do it. As a college student, I sent an embarrassing-looking piece of filled-in graph paper to Will Shortz and his response could not have been more encouraging. If you happen to publish a crossword, it will open doors for you. Do it, do it, do it.
  4. I always love seeing Will's improvements to my clues. These originally-submitted clues are simply for your amusement: ORCA (15A): Animal whose name features the postal abbreviations of U.S. states it swims by during migration. POTOK (19A): Novelist whose name makes him sound like a proponent of marijuana legalization.
Jeff Chen notes:
Okay, all you solvers out there who didn't understand the theme at first, raise your hands! (My hand sheepishly raised) After ... read more

Okay, all you solvers out there who didn't understand the theme at first, raise your hands!

(My hand sheepishly raised)

After filling in the last letter, I was astonished that I got Mr. Happy Pencil, since WET HOODS looked so odd. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that the theme answers were all anagrams of the phrase immediately following "... out of ...". Confused still? [Weapon part that's out of this world] means the weapon part is made up out of the letters T H I S W O R L D. Anagrammed, you get SWORD HILT. Same goes for (out of) THE WOODS and WET HOODS. I thought it was pretty neat, once I got it. A bit of British cryptic crossword leaking over into the US.

"Wacky" phrase puzzles can be hit or miss. They usually need to be really funny, or at least produce an odd mental image to be successful. I liked most of the themers, but none of them spoke to me in particular. I did enjoy that SWORD HILT is a real thing — what a cool coincidence that THIS WORLD and SWORD HILT are anagrams!

I also appreciated some of the lively fill in David's puzzle. I GOT NEXT especially feels fresh and snappy. And it's rare that a four-letter entry will impress me, but I really liked the up-to-date NSFW (not safe/suitable for work). Nice job in adding to the NYT crossword's SFW lexicon.

There were some rough patches here and there. For whatever reason, four-letter random Roman numerals irk me, but that's simply a preference. Some people actually like them, in that they can be inferred, thus providing a toehold in a tough-to-solve section. If they must make an appearance, I usually prefer a crazy math problem, like XXXIII * XLVII or something referencing the fact that 1551 is palindromic. Then again, I'm a dork (and proud of it!).

Not a surprise to see a few glue-y entries in those wide-open NW and SE corners. But if all I have to pay for SEE PAST, NIPS AT, I GOT NEXT, ASTHMA is the partial TRY A, I'll take that most any day. Even better is the NW, which features a bevy of beautiful answers for the price of IT ON, SKEE and DIA. What made it totally worth it to me was my favorite clue/answer: [Paper tiger, e.g.] for ORIGAMI. I always struggle to remember what a paper tiger is (something that seems threatening but really isn't), and I got a big smile on my face when I realized I had been bamboozled.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0402 ( 23,521 )

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Across
1
Miami's county, familiarly : DADE
5
Stalled driver's request : JUMP
9
Inexperienced with : NEWAT
14
Words after pour or pass : ITON
15
Beast in the documentary "Blackfish" : ORCA
16
Amtrak bullet train : ACELA
17
Weapon part that's out of this world? : SWORDHILT
19
Chaim who created Asher Lev : POTOK
20
Kurt of Nirvana : COBAIN
21
Spanish diminutive suffix : ITA
23
Pronoun in a wedding statement : THEE
24
Paper tiger, maybe : ORIGAMI
26
One-room home : IGLOO
28
___-Ball : SKEE
29
Sturm ___ Drang : UND
31
Skedaddled : RANOFF
34
Wintertime airport supply : DEICER
37
Victoria's Secret garment : TEDDY
38
Swell place? : SEA
41
Attack on a Mideast land that's out of thin air? : IRANHIT
43
___ Lanka : SRI
44
Boxer's prize : PURSE
46
Protracted battles : SIEGES
48
Lady Schick target : ARMPIT
50
"A revolution is not a dinner party" writer : MAO
51
Jewelry designer Peretti : ELSA
55
Cries of pain : YEOWS
57
Some lines on a GPS screen : STREETS
59
"And ___ word from our sponsor" : NOWA
61
Anxious condition, for short : OCD
63
Bites playfully : NIPSAT
64
Plumber's unclogger : SNAKE
66
Fisherman's feat that's out of character? : RARECATCH
68
Happy gatherings : FESTS
69
Cameo stone : ONYX
70
Give the appearance of : SEEM
71
"Whoopee!" : WAHOO
72
Insect repellent ingredient : DEET
73
"___ Little Tenderness" : TRYA
Down
1
Places where people hustle? : DISCOS
2
On the job : ATWORK
3
Rock's ___ Brothers : DOOBIE
4
Steamed : ENRAGED
5
Sierra Club founder : JOHNMUIR
6
Mentalist Geller : URI
7
Mid 12th-century year : MCLI
8
Singer Smith of punk music : PATTI
9
Day care break : NAP
10
Environmental transition area : ECOTONE
11
Drenched gangsters who are out of the woods? : WETHOODS
12
The so-called "potted physician" : ALOE
13
Box-office receipts : TAKE
18
24 horas : DIA
22
Cabinet-level dept. since 1889 : AGR
25
Pachacuti's people : INCAS
27
Drink that may feature "foam art" : LATTE
30
Blue wear : DENIM
32
Yalta Conference monogram : FDR
33
Memo-heading initials : FYI
35
Letters in a children's refrain : EIEIO
36
Ostrich cousins : RHEAS
38
Aromatherapy spot : SPA
39
Liechtenstein's locale: Abbr. : EUR
40
Military laundry that's out of harm's way? : ARMYWASH
42
Challenger's announcement at a pickup game : IGOTNEXT
45
Have a talk with : SPEAKTO
47
Purposely overlook, as a fault : SEEPAST
49
Wee hour : TWO
52
NBC anchor Holt : LESTER
53
Actress Dash of "Clueless" : STACEY
54
Inhaler user's malady : ASTHMA
56
Atlantic fish : SCROD
58
Documentarian Burns who's the brother of Ken : RIC
59
Office-inappropriate, in web shorthand : NSFW
60
Suitable for induction : ONEA
62
Hamlet, e.g. : DANE
65
"___ Beso" : ESO
67
Manhattan ingredient : RYE

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later.

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