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New York Times, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Author:
Ed Sessa
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
389/10/20077/15/20190
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41067452
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1.64251
Edward Sessa

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 39 Missing: {JQWXYZ} This is puzzle # 23 for Mr. Sessa. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Edward Sessa notes:
Obviously the simple concept for this puzzle was the visual animation of a pendulum clock (going further I was thinking of those ... read more

Obviously the simple concept for this puzzle was the visual animation of a pendulum clock (going further I was thinking of those "moving eyes" cat clocks). I realized early on that I was in some trouble when the only entries I could come up with that did not have a S-TOCK ending was an old and probably unfamiliar to many John Wayne movie and of course the "bum" entry. Those two entries would dictate the length of their partners on the other side of the puzzle, also limiting those entries as well. So to critics I would say I recognize that the puzzle fill is not as good as I had hoped it would be. If I had to do over again I might have tried to add a central vertical entry in the vein of say "time marches on" but again I don't know if I could have pulled it off given the constraints of the grid. I'm delighted that Will Shortz thought enough of the concept of the puzzle to accept it, and I hope that solvers take some enjoyment in the visual play here. Time will tell.

Jeff Chen notes:
Interesting Tuesday puzzle, one which ping pongs between TICK and TOCK down the grid. I searched all over for some sort of element to ... read more

Interesting Tuesday puzzle, one which ping pongs between TICK and TOCK down the grid. I searched all over for some sort of element to tie it together, some revealing theme entry or visual of a clock? Maybe if I squint really hard, I can sort of see a little hand in the black squares?

(Squinting harder... nope)

Ambitious grid today. I like that Ed has done something different, something I've never seen before — that in itself is admirable. Too often, Tuesdays run the risk of being a slight variation on a theme, and this definitely is not that. Being a financial guy, I really like the entry COMMON STOCK, although I can see how some puzzlers might not common, er, cotton to it as much as me. Seeing BUTTOCK also gave me a immature giggle. So some good choices in his themers. I even appreciated McLintock! as pretty much anything starring The Duke is good by me. And the exclamation point at the end of McLintock! made me laugh. Easily amused, I guess.

Those NW and SE corners are hard to construct. Even as separated as they are from the rest of the grid (you can only enter them through AFLAC and HATER, respectively), any constrained 7x4 chunk of white space will be a challenge to fill. Ed does quite well in the SE corner, working in OPEN TOE and HATER, without much muss or fuss. BOS is probably the weakest element there, given that the clue [Cow genus] was mystifyingly hard for a Tuesday.

That NW corner gave me pause. I absolutely loved I GOOFED, a wonderful, colorful entry. Along with the shout-out to Eartha KITT and her smoky voice, that's a ton of good stuff in a single section. However, AGIO left me scratching my head, especially for an early-week offering. After studying finance for two years and being steeped in the finances of my start-up company, I had never heard of AGIO. ARBS, IPOS, LBOS, MBOS, totally fine terms in everyday use; AGIO... not so much. It's quite possible that it's commonplace in some financial niche, but yikes. Super, super tough for me and nigh impossible for some. I like learning new terms from crosswords — I think it's a great boon to a daily diversion — but AGIO 1.) strikes me as ADITesque and 2.) doesn't seem too fair to have crossing KAMPALA, which maybe should be better known in general knowledge but didn't come easily to me. As always, could just be me.

With such a novel grid and relatively high theme density, I appreciate seeing some of the great stuff Ed packed in, NUTCASE, MOBSTER, even Nat HENTOFF, who I had read about in a jazz history class in college (a reviewer reading about a reviewer, how meta). With even DEARIE and LOOFAH, Ed does well to slot in some nice stuff.

Overall, a nice idea for a theme. I would have loved an additional layer somewhere, either as a revealer (as Ed mentioned in his comments), or some sort of visual related to a kitty-cat shaped clocks. Really, what problems can't be solved with a kitty-cat clock with its cute little tail swishing back and forth and its cute wittle eyes... oops, I've said too much.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0422 ( 23,541 )
Across
1
Capital of Uganda : KAMPALA
8
Radio operator : HAM
11
Syringe units, briefly : CCS
14
"Whoops!" : IGOOFED
15
Peyton's QB brother : ELI
16
Chaney of horror films : LON
17
___ pink : TICKLED
18
Fruitcake : NUTCASE
20
Where sailors go : TOSEA
21
Number pad locale, for short : ATM
22
Geometric calculation : AREA
23
It's not preferred for investors : COMMONSTOCK
27
Station on the Alaska Highway : ESSO
31
Bather's exfoliant : LOOFAH
32
Peeved : TICKEDOFF
34
Clear the board : ERASE
39
Full : ENTIRE
40
Sweetheart : DEARIE
41
Full complement of dwarfs : SEVEN
42
1963 John Wayne comedy western : MCLINTOCK
45
Chemical "twin" : ISOMER
47
Thumbs-up responses : AOKS
48
Spot at the front of a theater : TICKETBOOTH
53
Bone below the elbow : ULNA
54
SEAL's org. : USN
55
___ Murphy, W.W. II hero : AUDIE
60
It may be read to a miscreant : RIOTACT
62
Half moon? : BUTTOCK
64
Odd or even, in roulette : BET
65
Swelling reducer : ICE
66
Like some women's shoes : OPENTOE
67
Praiseful verse : ODE
68
Palme ___ (Cannes award) : DOR
69
What a multiplex has a multiplicity of : SCREENS
Down
1
Smoky-voiced Eartha : KITT
2
Foreign exchange fee : AGIO
3
Soft slip-ons : MOCS
4
Dawdler : POKE
5
Insurer with a duck mascot : AFLAC
6
Tommy of Mötley Crüe : LEE
7
Do sums : ADD
8
Music critic Nat : HENTOFF
9
Wellesley grad, e.g. : ALUMNA
10
"Good Will Hunting" sch. : MIT
11
Mild cigar : CLARO
12
Trig ratio : COSEC
13
Act furtively : SNEAK
19
Feline : CAT
21
"I ___ the opinion ..." : AMOF
24
Ye ___ Shoppe : OLDE
25
Cow's call : MOO
26
Charlie formerly of "Two and a Half Men" : SHEEN
27
Hot times in la cité : ETES
28
Reciprocal of 12-Down : SINE
29
Onetime "S.N.L."-type show : SCTV
30
'30s migrant : OKIE
33
He sings "Rubber Duckie, you're the one / You make bath time lots of fun" : ERNIE
35
Pro ___ (in proportion) : RATA
36
Suffix with buck : AROO
37
Down with the flu, say : SICK
38
Squeals of alarm : EEKS
40
Gossip : DIRT
42
Tony Soprano, for one : MOBSTER
43
"Shake a leg!" : CMON
44
Lion constellation : LEO
46
Decorative wall coating : STUCCO
48
High-performance engine : TURBO
49
Perjurer's admission : ILIED
50
Bill worth 100 smackers : CNOTE
51
Kit ___ bar : KAT
52
Bigot, e.g. : HATER
56
___ Reader (bimonthly magazine) : UTNE
57
Be sweet (on) : DOTE
58
:-), for one : ICON
59
Squeezes (out) : EKES
61
Help : AID
62
Cow genus : BOS
63
Something a scanner scans, in brief : UPC

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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