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New York Times, Friday, April 21, 2017

Author: Damon Gulczynski
Editor: Will Shortz
Damon J. Gulczynski
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1.64320
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 31 Missing: {JQVWX} This is puzzle # 23 for Mr. Gulczynski. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Damon J. Gulczynski notes: This is one of the first themeless puzzles I ever constructed. My first version was rejected, and I set it aside for a ... more
Damon J. Gulczynski notes:

This is one of the first themeless puzzles I ever constructed. My first version was rejected, and I set it aside for a while, and then after this version was accepted, it sat in the queue for a while longer, getting jumped by a few of my other themeless puzzles.

Looking over it with fresh eyes, I like it. The Texas region makes me cringe a bit – ANNEE crossing RONA and LINTEL is less than stellar – but I'm quite satisfied with the rest of it. My favorite answers are GRAMMAR NAZI and GO-GO BOOTS (not coincidentally my seed entries). To my knowledge, neither has ever before appeared in a crossword puzzle, and I think the clue for the former ("Type for who this clue will be annoying?") is pretty clever. I really like my submitted clue for the latter too, which was basically the same as the published clue ("Iconic part of Nancy Sinatra's early attire"), but I omitted one word: Nancy. Of course, the solver will immediately think of Frank Sinatra, which is the trick.

In another bit of misdirection, I hope fellow baseball fans will appreciate the clue for TOTAL BASES ("A batter receives four for a grand slam"), once they realize RUNS BATTED IN doesn't fit.

Jeff Chen notes: SO MANY great entries! Damon starts with 14 long slots (8+ letters), and converts most into sizzling material. Love GO-GO BOOTS, and ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

SO MANY great entries! Damon starts with 14 long slots (8+ letters), and converts most into sizzling material. Love GO-GO BOOTS, and in my previous career, the ACTs OF GOD clauses in legal contracts were always good for a laugh. HOT DATES, SMEAR TACTIC, SPY STORY ... everywhere I looked, great material packed in tight.

My daughter has a weird fascination with HELLO KITTY. Sigh, so much pink. Still, a great entry.

SETTLE IN and TOTAL BASES didn't do much for me (I'm plus/minus on baseball), but Damon's slugging percentage (or whatever metaphor you baseball fans like to use) in converting long slots to great entries is very high.

Excellent use of mid-length entries, too. I grew up idolizing THE FONZ, a virtual MESSIAH to me. AFROPOP too? OMIGOSH! Constructors tend to overlook the potential of these mid-length slots, but Damon does so well with them.

GRAMMAR NAZI … I chuckled at this one in the end, but I uncovered the NAZI end of it first. Never pleasant to see NAZI in a crossword. GRAMMAR NAZI sure is a colorful term, though.

There was something non-themeless feeling to this puzzle, and it took me a while to figure out what. During my solve, I felt like I stopped and started dozens of times. Took me a while to figure out that the number of three-letter words was most of the root cause.

Now, most people won't care how many three-letter words there are in a themeless. But so many shorties leads to so much starting and stopping. Typically, themelesses don't have more than 12 three-letter entries, for good reason.

And entering ERG, then DAN, RIA, TEA, OHS, across the middle … that row of shorties takes away from the themeless feel to the layout.

But overall, a fairly smooth solve (aside from what Damon mentioned plus TE AMO, ERG, and OFT) and a huge number of great entries gave me a very nice solving experience.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0421 ( 24,636 )
Across Down
1. Areas where clerics are seated : APSES
6. Play's counterpart : PAUSE
11. Beldam : HAG
14. Thin layer of foam at the top of an espresso : CREMA
15. Selling point : ASSET
16. The Jazz, on sports tickers : UTA
17. Add, British-style : TOTUP
18. Business circles? : PIECHARTS
20. "Our remedies ___ in ourselves do lie": Shak. : OFT
21. Character assassination, for one : SMEARTACTIC
23. Collapse : FOLD
25. Bit of work : ERG
26. Brand that's a shortened description of its flavor : NILLA
27. "Heavens to Murgatroyd!" : GREATSCOTT
31. James, Jimmy or John : DEAN
32. "Heavens to Murgatroyd!" : OMIGOSH
33. Omegas represent them : OHMS
35. Savage of "Savage Love" : DAN
36. Cousin of a fjord : RIA
37. ___ party : TEA
38. Post cereal with an apostrophe in its name : OHS
41. Familia members : TIAS
42. Genre for Miriam Makeba and Ladysmith Black Mambazo : AFROPOP
44. Quiet (down) : PIPE
47. Toon who wears a red hair bow : HELLOKITTY
49. Zhou ___ : ENLAI
51. Mac : Scottish :: ___ : Arabic : IBN
52. They open in the morning : LIDS
53. Type for who this clue will be annoying? : GRAMMARNAZI
57. It's stretched out in yoga class : MAT
58. Iconic part of Nancy Sinatra's early attire : GOGOBOOTS
59. Kennedy colleague : ALITO
61. Café freebie : EAU
62. Year abroad : ANNEE
63. Unlikely donor : MISER
64. Pres. whose given birth name was David : DDE
65. Does business : DEALS
66. Alternative nickname for Liz : BETSY
1. Hurricane or flood : ACTOFGOD
2. Perfunctory : PROFORMA
3. Get cozy : SETTLEIN
4. Producer of a deep drumming call : EMU
5. Boobs : SAPS
6. Law school, so it's said : PAPERCHASE
7. Pungent cheese : ASIAGO
8. One who might need an ID : USER
9. Broken-off branch : SECT
10. "___ Brand" (Nathaniel Hawthorne tale) : ETHAN
11. Rush : HURTLE
12. Verdi opera based on a historic invader : ATTILA
13. Stranded motorist's boon : GASCAN
19. Eating things : ACIDS
22. Promised one : MESSIAH
24. Nobelist Hammarskjöld : DAG
28. Rings : TORI
29. A batter receives four for a grand slam : TOTALBASES
30. Shark-jumping sitcom character : THEFONZ
34. Beauty ___ : MARK
38. Bull, essentially : OPTIMIST
39. Highly anticipated social events : HOTDATES
40. Work with intelligence? : SPYSTORY
41. Latin lover's words : TEAMO
43. One may be essential : OIL
44. Classified : PEGGED
45. Foray : INROAD
46. Hound : PLAGUE
48. Doorframe part : LINTEL
50. Repeated boast in a 1987 #1 hit : IMBAD
54. Super : AONE
55. Author Jaffe : RONA
56. Foot type : IAMB
60. Get down, in a way : LIE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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