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New York Times, Friday, April 24, 2015

Author:
Joe Krozel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
877/7/20066/14/201815
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4147242621
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.48057
Joe Krozel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 19 Missing: {GJQXZ} Spans: 8, (4 double stacks) Average word length: 6.44 This is puzzle # 77 for Mr. Krozel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joe Krozel notes:
When I sat down to solve my own puzzle this week I had long forgotten the fill ... though 17-A was a nice reminder of the quality I ... read more

When I sat down to solve my own puzzle this week I had long forgotten the fill ... though 17-A was a nice reminder of the quality I was striving for. In fact, I feel pretty good about all the 15-letter entries: I try to find previously unused ones, and perhaps one or two might not even be in other constructors word lists. Beyond that, I was happy to get a lot of scrabbly letters into the fill.

There were a few entries I had no recollection of: CATALPA, INKSTER, EDELS and KINER. Nor do I really know these items from their clues — but I'm happy to say that none of them intersected, so I feel pretty confident that the no-Google solvers will be able to complete today's puzzle in its entirety. Some will probably even suggest that the puzzle was too easy ... another "paper tiger" as I like to describe sparse grids that are unexpectedly conquerable.

Jeff Chen notes:
Joe is one of a very small handful of constructors who seriously pushes boundaries. Like many of his other experiments, the direction ... read more

Joe is one of a very small handful of constructors who seriously pushes boundaries. Like many of his other experiments, the direction of today's puzzle will awe some and cause eye-rolling in others.

It's hard enough to construct an entertaining 64-word puzzle. Getting down to so few words often comes with compromises, like excessive gluey bits that detract from the solving experience. Often, I use "cheater squares," i.e. extra black squares which don't affect a puzzle's word count, in order to smooth things out.

Joe goes the opposite way today, using a near-record-low number of black squares. There have only been four NYT puzzles using fewer blocks, three of them written by … Joe Krozel. They all come with a big visual impact, a how-the-heck-is-that-possible kind of first impression. I mean, look at all the white space!

All of Joe's efforts in this arena use four pairs of intersecting double-stacked 15s. Joe mentioned to me that you get a lot of flexibility when you only have to worry about letter pairs (as opposed to letter triplets, in triple-stacks), and that's why he relies on this basic skeleton.

stink Stank STUNK!

I was impressed at how nice the grid-spanners were. There's a danger that a constructor will be happy that they just got the dang grid filled, period. But Joe features such great stuff as STINK STANK STUNK!, AUTOMATIC WEAPON, and STUCK TO ONES RIBS. CONFERENCE TABLE feels a bit off without "room" in the middle of the phrases, but it's still a reasonable answer.

Sure, there are compromises in the shorter entries. It's impossible not to notice. (I guessed wrong on the FIORE / KINER crossing, and that was very unsatisfying.) I wouldn't want a construction like this every week, or even once a month, but every once in a while, I really enjoy the amazement of seeing a constructor pull off something I'm not sure I could do. I'm really curious to see the next step in this evolution — can a similar feat be pulled off with less than the maximum number of gluey entries I usually like in a themeless (around 5)? My money's on Joe.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0424 ( 23,908 )
Across
1
Tree with white flowers : CATALPA
8
Int'l relations is a branch of it : POLYSCI
15
Put under pressure : TURNEDTHEHEATON
17
"The three words that best describe" the Grinch, in song : STINKSTANKSTUNK
18
They may be put out after traffic accidents : CONES
19
Gospel singer Franklin and others : ERMAS
20
Fidelity offerings, briefly : CDS
21
French Facebookers' connections : AMIS
22
Like good singing : ONKEY
23
Variety show offering : SKIT
24
Giant rival, for short : NAT
25
Like a U-Haul when you haul : LADEN
26
"I can handle this" : LETME
27
Under pressure : STRESSED
29
Executive using a check? : VETOER
30
Disinfect, in a way, as a wound : IODATE
31
Football Hall of Fame city : CANTON
32
Oxygen's protons, neutrons and electrons : OCTETS
33
Stuff inside : CONTENTS
35
Subtractions from the division? : AWOLS
36
"I Only Have Eyes for You" movie musical : DAMES
37
Suffix with Taiwan : ESE
38
Mom and pop, e.g.: Abbr. : RELS
39
Picks above others, informally : FAVES
40
Many educ. spots : PSAS
41
Charley who caught Warren Spahn's 1961 no-hitter : LAU
42
Ralph of Cooperstown : KINER
43
Madre de Jesús : MARIA
44
Not discouraging feedback : OPENTOCRITICISM
47
Office fixture surrounded by a board? : CONFERENCETABLE
48
Slowly took its toll? : KNELLED
49
Collects : AMASSES
Down
1
Images of organs, often : CTSCANS
2
One doing the rounds very quickly? : AUTOMATICWEAPON
3
Something to level with : TRINITROTOLUENE
4
Queen ___ Revenge (Blackbeard's ship) : ANNES
5
Albanian cash : LEKS
6
A.P.B. issuers : PDS
7
One who shows : ATTENDEE
8
Authors : PENMEN
9
Gershwin musical whose name sounds like an approval : OHKAY
10
What irregulars go for : LESS
11
China's Sun ___-sen : YAT
12
Was satisfying, as a hearty meal : STUCKTOONESRIBS
13
What may hold the mayo : CONDIMENTSAISLE
14
Juli who won the 1999 and 2000 L.P.G.A. Championship : INKSTER
16
Heeded a herald, say : HARKED
22
Brewery equipment : OASTS
23
Otto's preceder : SETTE
25
Future counselor's challenges, for short : LSATS
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Periods of forbearance : LENTS
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Writing brothers Leon and Abraham : EDELS
29
N-E-W-S directors? : VANES
31
Bank with a landmark tower in Dallas : COMERICA
32
Rowboat feature : OARLOCK
33
Setting for some prehistoric drawings : CAVERN
34
Some roll tops : SESAMES
36
Twisted, e.g. : DANCED
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Rosa, lilla or tulipano : FIORE
40
South American rodents : PACAS
42
Label of the "Singing to the Hits" series : KTEL
43
Former Xerox competitor : MITA
45
Org. that ex-Pats have left : NFL
46
Pro ___ : TEM

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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