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New York Times, Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Author: Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Will Shortz
Zhouqin Burnikel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5211/13/20121/15/201819
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
518155342
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56281

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {FGJQXZ} This is puzzle # 9 for Ms. Burnikel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Zhouqin Burnikel notes: I had quite a few PC & MAC candidates to choose from, so gridding was not as challenging as I had imagined. Still a bit ... more
Zhouqin Burnikel notes: I had quite a few PC & MAC candidates to choose from, so gridding was not as challenging as I had imagined. Still a bit tricky at spots. I hope foodies and food bloggers spread "pomegranate arils" & "acai bowl" quickly so ARIL will not be treated as crosswordese, and ACAI will not be just a a trendy berry that often stumps some on our blog.
Jeff Chen notes: Neat idea for a puzzle from C.C., who's becoming quite the force in the crosswords. Hard to imagine doing a language-based art form ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Neat idea for a puzzle from C.C., who's becoming quite the force in the crosswords. Hard to imagine doing a language-based art form in a non-native tongue — extremely impressive how prolific she's become.

Ah, MAC VS PC, the old debate. I really like the crazy MACVSPC string and the overall concept, and the intersecting PC / MAC pairs are an interesting way of doing expressing it. Whenever I think of MAC VS PC though, I hearken back to those funny "I'm a Mac" Apple ads with sort of a split-screen approach. So expecting the puzzle to half be filled with MACs and half with PCs (deciding which you'd put in the "right" half would be an interesting statement in itself), I scratched my head at the crossing MAC/PCs. There is more overlap these days what with operating system emulators, but to me there still seems to be much more a chasm than an intersection.

That being said, C.C. does well here in many aspects of grid execution. Look at how elegant the PC themers are: all four are two-worders, all of them snappy, and all of them split the P/C, rather than incorporate the PC within a single word (like HEPCAT JIVE or IPCRESS FILE). She then selects short MAC themers which hide the word well, as in SMACKS.

It's hard enough to fill a grid with four "pinwheel" themers plus a central entry, but it's that much harder when you have four additional crossing answers to deal with. True, she had some flexibility in using different *MAC* words, but still, all the overlap makes things rough. She does well to deploy some cheater squares through the grid to facilitate smoother fill. There are a few issues like AS RED, but note how SUMAC overlaps POP CULTURE. Not a whole lot you can do with the ?SR?? pattern. The only other area that made me pause was the ARILS section — ENAMEL and LIP BALM are both nice entries, but I'm not sure they made ARILS worth its while. Botanists may disagree, of course.

ADDED NOTE: I had forgotten about "pomegranate arils" until C.C. mentioned them in her notes. Although the wikipedia article doesn't mention the word ARIL, POM (a large manufacturer of pomegranates) features it on its packaging. Perhaps I've been too hard on the poor ARIL.

Finally, I liked seeing iTunes in the grid and was hoping to find more MAC and PC related entries. It felt a little weird to have just one thing by itself. Perhaps if you squint really hard, REPRO is a description of all the copycat products PC makers have put out?

Now to await all the angry emails from Microsoft people...

I jest, of course. Microsoft does an amazing 1-for-1 match on XWord Info's year-end donation to Treehouse for Kids, and their ability to double our donation is both much appreciated and to be applauded.

Finally, a really nice little pair of entries: BRUCE right next to BATMAN, great stuff. Never easy to put adjacent related entries into a grid. Well worth the cross-referencing!

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0430 ( 23,549 )
Across Down
1. Unruly bunch : MOB
4. [Grr-r-r] : IMMAD
9. Pulls (out) : OPTS
13. Gate posting, for short : ETA
14. Ketchup is one : SAUCE
15. Aimée of "La Dolce Vita" : ANOUK
16. Bada Bing!, on "The Sopranos" : STRIPCLUB
18. Copy, for short : REPRO
19. Part of a car alarm, maybe : HORN
20. Puzzlers' direction: Abbr. : ACR
21. Loud kisses : SMACKS
22. Sitcom set at a Vermont inn : NEWHART
25. Like a well-kept lawn : LUSH
26. Ewers' mates : BASINS
29. Like Ogden Nash's verse : DROLL
31. Milo of "Ulysses" : OSHEA
32. Player of the hot-tempered Corleone : CAAN
33. Rubber ducky's spot : TUB
36. Peeples of "Fame" : NIA
37. Epic battle in technology ... or a hint to four crossings in this puzzle : MACVSPC
40. G.I. morale booster : USO
41. Locale for a hammer : EAR
42. "-zoic" periods : ERAS
43. Comparable to a beet? : ASRED
45. "Going Rogue" author : PALIN
47. Like Muddy Waters's music : BLUESY
48. Antiriot spray : MACE
50. Stick in a purse, maybe : LIPBALM
53. Online music source : ITUNES
55. "The signature of civilizations," per Beverly Sills : ART
56. Dark purple fruit : ACAI
60. "Two Women" star, 1960 : LOREN
61. Winning advantage : TRUMPCARD
63. Singer who's the subject of Carl Perkins's "The Whole World Misses You" : ELVIS
64. Award for 60-Across for her role in "Two Women" : OSCAR
65. Flying Cloud of autodom : REO
66. Large item in Santa's bag, maybe : SLED
67. Pint-size : TEENY
68. Close one : PAL
1. Fit nicely : MESH
2. Palindromic man's name : OTTO
3. "Fierce working-class domestic goddess" of a sitcom : BARR
4. AOL, for many : ISP
5. Colorful parrots : MACAWS
6. Garden ground cover : MULCH
7. Honda line : ACURA
8. Ball belle : DEB
9. Early tie score : ONEALL
10. Movies, TV, hit songs, etc. : POPCULTURE
11. Lira spenders : TURKS
12. Wee bit : SKOSH
15. Escort's offer : ARM
17. Belly button type : INNIE
21. Subway handful : STRAP
23. Fabergé coating : ENAMEL
24. Nutritional figs. : RDAS
26. Doggie bag item : BONE
27. Home to most 11-Down : ASIA
28. Hairpin, e.g. : SHARPCURVE
30. At the ready : ONCALL
32. Rx-dispensing chain : CVS
34. Draws upon : USES
35. Soul mate? : BODY
38. Seed covers : ARILS
39. "Ple-e-ease?" : CANI
44. Poison ___ : SUMAC
46. Post-Trojan War epic : AENEID
47. Superhero ally of Commissioner Gordon : BATMAN
48. Marathon markers : MILES
49. Coral ring : ATOLL
51. Break down, in a way : PARSE
52. ___ Wayne, a.k.a. 47-Down : BRUCE
54. U.S.N.A. grad: Abbr. : ENS
57. Be a nag : CARP
58. Field : AREA
59. Heathen's figurine : IDOL
61. Rug rat : TOT
62. Be nosy : PRY

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?