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New York Times, Friday, April 28, 2017

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
986/16/20111/12/202019
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
86691132242
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645183
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JQV} This is puzzle # 62 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
This is the oldest puzzle I have in the New York Times queue: It dates all the way back to June 2014, the summer between my junior and ... read more

This is the oldest puzzle I have in the New York Times queue: It dates all the way back to June 2014, the summer between my junior and senior years of high school! Looking back on this puzzle now, I have mixed feelings about it. I still love SEXY AND I KNOW IT . . . yes, I'm totally a dork for getting excited about a trashy song from 2011, but it brings back so many memories for me! I also really like ACROPOLIS, GO DEEP, WHAT A DUMP, LEMON/LIME, and PEA-BRAINED.

Then there's GENTLEMEN'S CLUB, which I'm honestly less fond of as an entry now, since the whole concept of a gentlemen's club is kinda gross. Gentlemen's club is certainly well-known enough to appear in a crossword grid, but it's just not the kind of thing I'd want to showcase in a themeless now that I'm no longer a teenager. I still got a chuckle out of my original "Where less is often more" clue, but I'm glad Will and Joel went with something more neutral.

I also wish I'd made the lower left more lively—BOUNCES OUT and ADDICTED TO are both a bit bland, and I can't say I love ICC or XERO. I do like GO DEEP, GMAIL, and CITY MAP, though. Overall, I'm pleased with how smooth the fill in this one turned out, and I'd say there's a nice amount of zip. So even though this isn't my favorite themeless Will has on file from me, I'm very grateful it's being published!

Jeff Chen notes:
14-letter entries are hard to build themelesses around because they automatically force placement of a black square (at the start or ... read more

14-letter entries are hard to build themelesses around because they automatically force placement of a black square (at the start or end of the entry). That might not seem like a big deal, but the name of the game in smart themeless creation is flexibility. Retaining as much possibility to shift a block around is huge — often meaning the difference between a zippy, clean corner, and one that includes a glob of crossword glue right off the bat.

David employs a tactic that tends to work well when working with 14s — he basically creates a triple-stack in the upper left corner, but shifted one row down. This can be easier to create than a regular triple-stack, since you have some flexibility at those four letters inside of 1-Across.

Funny how much David's and my assessment of the puzzle match up! Great start, with ACROPOLIS over WHAT A DUMP, and ESPN ZONE running through it all. Short fill is all fine, and even shines with CODER's great clue, [Bug exterminator?] — CODERs spend a lot of their time debugging.

PEA BRAINED ... something about that word that makes me laugh. Maybe because having two young kids has made me even more PEABRAINED than usual.

At the opposite corner, it's hard for me to get excited about add-a-preposition phrases. BOUNCES OUT and ADDICTED TO don't compare to WHAT A DUMP in my eyes. And getting dabs of ICC (the … Interstate Commerce Commission?) / XERO (odd prefix) was indeed inelegant, as David pointed out.

Hard to get excited about SEXY AND I KNOW IT if you don't know it. (The song, that is! We all know that I'm sexy.) And yes, GENTLEMEN'S CLUB has a bit of an ick factor for me, too. At best, it evokes images of 19th century London, where many an establishment prohibited women. It's also a euphemism for a strip club. That said, I'm sure there will be some guys who dig these seeds. Maybe even some women.

I can see how people who love the song SEXY AND I KNOW IT could really dig this puzzle — even past that mysterious title, there are some nice features.

Also neat to see how David's perspectives have changed over the years!

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0428 ( 24,643 )
Across
1
Cuckoo : DAFT
5
Showed : CAME
9
Stack (or snack) on a table : CHIPS
14
Literally, "highest city" : ACROPOLIS
16
Mystical characters : RUNES
17
"This place looks horrible!" : WHATADUMP
18
Highway through the Yukon : ALCAN
19
Site where top hats and canes might be checked at the door : GENTLEMENSCLUB
21
Make : EARN
22
Drummer Starkey : ZAK
23
Sound that might be made while rubbing the arms : BRR
25
TV boy with spiked hair : BART
27
In front of, to Shakespeare : AFORE
29
Org. since 1902 with 50+ million members : AAA
30
Throw a long football pass : GODEEP
32
Intermission starter? : ENTR
33
Part of XXX : TIC
34
California's Harvey ___ College : MUDD
35
Santa player in "Elf" : ASNER
37
Food sticker : TINE
38
"Star Wars" nickname : ANI
39
Chucklehead : CLOD
40
Rebounded : ECHOED
42
Old RR watchdog : ICC
43
Like some columns : IONIC
45
Lacerate : REND
46
Court ruling : LET
47
"Eww, no more!" : TMI
48
Memo directive : ASAP
50
2012 #1 hit by LMFAO : SEXYANDIKNOWIT
56
Internet hookup : MODEM
57
Like Sprite : LEMONLIME
58
Hindu aphorisms : SUTRA
59
Producer of red-and-white blooms : AMARYLLIS
60
Get low : STOOP
61
Practice : WONT
62
No longer a draft, say : SENT
Down
1
Homey : DAWG
2
It hurts : ACHE
3
Ollie's friend on old TV : FRAN
4
Walked unsteadily : TOTTERED
5
Bug exterminator? : CODER
6
Mount Holyoke grad, e.g. : ALUMNA
7
Act out : MIME
8
Sports-themed restaurant : ESPNZONE
9
Soup go-with : CRACKER
10
Bottom of the sea? : HULL
11
Development period : INCUBATION
12
Dim : PEABRAINED
13
Application fig. : SSN
15
Oenophile's pride : PALATE
20
"The Flies" playwright : SARTRE
24
Went pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat : RACED
25
Doesn't stay in the hole, as a ball : BOUNCESOUT
26
Hooked on : ADDICTEDTO
28
Prada competitor : FENDI
30
Communication service since 2004 : GMAIL
31
Pablo Picasso's designer daughter : PALOMA
36
Jared Kushner, as a notable example : SONINLAW
37
Where people go to vote : THEPOLLS
39
Concierge's handout : CITYMAP
41
Narrow recess : CRANNY
44
Relative of an alligator : CAIMAN
49
Portmanteau garment : SKORT
51
Prefix with -graphic : XERO
52
Prefix with -graphic : DEMO
53
Subterfuge : WILE
54
Opposite of "Too rich for me" : IMIN
55
Word with road or blood : TEST
56
Pile at a publisher: Abbr. : MSS

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

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