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New York Times, Saturday, April 30, 2016

Author:
Mark Diehl
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
7311/11/19848/18/20183
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3214719352
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.571038
Mark Diehl

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 27 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is puzzle # 62 for Mr. Diehl. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mark Diehl notes:
According to my records, it's been about 4 years since my last submission to the NYT — but then I've always been a streaky sort ... read more

According to my records, it's been about 4 years since my last submission to the NYT — but then I've always been a streaky sort of constructor. The last few years of my puzzling spare time I spent digitizing old crosswords for David Steinberg's ambitious Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project, from the NYT newspaper archives going back to the debut of its puzzle in 1942. It was a diverting time, moseying through the passing decades of Americana and reveling in the ever-changing usage of our language. And once that was done, it seemed natural to submit some new ones.

This is the first of several to come. FACE PLANT with the clue [Result of a bad trip] was the starting point. The fill flowed from there without a hiccup, which rarely happens. Did upgrade the lower left from FANATIC crossing FALLOVER, AGUILERA, NELLIGAN in an initial version to the more lively (and less name-laden) SHOPVAC/SLAPJACK, otherwise not much heavy massaging was necessary.

Will's acceptance email included: "The fill has a lot of tough vocabulary, but it's all fair game. It should make for a tough test for even the sharpest solvers." Hopefully, it didn't cause much 61-Across :).

Jeff Chen notes:
Mark has done some amazing wide-open themelesses, which tend to be incredibly difficult to solve. It's no surprise that Will chose one ... read more

Mark has done some amazing wide-open themelesses, which tend to be incredibly difficult to solve. It's no surprise that Will chose one of his puzzles for the finals of the ACPT this year, a 60-worder using no cheater squares. You can still order it. Well worth the price.

Denzel AND Ray Allen, dang!

Today, Mark stays at 68-words, but he tackles one of the harder challenges in themelesses: the 9x4 chunk. Executing on a 9x3 — a triple-stack — is hard enough to do with cleanliness and snazziness, and a quad-stack is maybe five times as hard. I like what he's done with the NW corner in particular. HE GOT GAME is one of my favorite Spike Lee Joints, featuring the great Ray Allen playing Jesus Shuttlesworth. AMENHOTEP is an important name in history (and a cool one at that), and FACEPLANT is a great way to kick off that corner.

STATIONER … that's one of my quibbles with quad-stacks. It's so tough to get four great answers. STATIONER is fine, I just wouldn't personally count it as an asset.

Same goes with AVERAGING and EROSIONAL in the opposite corner. I do think AVERAGING was elevated by its clue [Doing mean work?] — but innately, I don't find it that colorful.

Some of Mark's entries remind me of Byron Walden's style — an incredible wealth of great answers, but some that make me wonder if they're really legit. SHOP VAC is fantastic. So is SLAPJACK (quite a painful game I used to play as a kid). GOBANG … yep, it looks like it's a thing. GAOLER … a jailer in England? MAGNETOS … huh. When a mechanical engineer scratches his head, it's likely that others will too.

Still, there was enough strong material that I really enjoyed the challenge of solving those big 9x4 corners. Mark's puzzles tend to be the type that really stretch me to become a better solver, and I appreciate that process.

Speaking of appreciation, I also want to say a personal thanks to Mark, who's been instrumental in catching some typos and scoring discrepancies in our XWord Info Word Lists. His help has been great.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0430 ( 24,280 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
Result of a bad trip : FACEPLANT
10
Signs of life : ANKHS
15
Paper pusher? : STATIONER
16
What some people do to vows : RENEW
17
1998 Spike Lee film : HEGOTGAME
18
Sunflowerlike flower : OXEYE
19
Royal name in ancient Egypt : AMENHOTEP
20
The Rosetta Stone, for one : STELE
21
Engineer's home, for short : RPI
22
"I'm not buying it" : NOSALE
24
Small vault : HOP
25
Caribbean port : PONCE
28
Choices, choices : MENU
29
Pantheon member : JOVE
30
They cast no votes : ANTIS
32
Key employer in England? : GAOLER
34
Woodworker's device, informally : SHOPVAC
37
Advance men? : MASHERS
38
"The Miseducation of ___ Hill" (1998 Grammy-winning album) : LAURYN
39
Allen of Hollywood : KAREN
40
Moscato bianco grape product : ASTI
41
Ring : GANG
43
City across the border from Eilat : AQABA
47
Max. 3,333,360, in Pac-Man : PTS
48
Game also called Five in a Row : GOBANG
50
What three of California's four largest cities share : SAN
51
Common name for a chimp : JOCKO
53
Doing mean work? : AVERAGING
56
Very loud : AROAR
57
Light : SETABLAZE
58
Teacher's implementation : CURVE
59
Affected by wind or water, say : EROSIONAL
60
Massage : KNEAD
61
Upset : DYSPEPSIA
Down
1
Key that's oxymoronic at school? : FSHARP
2
At the original speed, musically : ATEMPO
3
Entrap : CAGEIN
4
"A Yank at ___" (Mickey Rooney film) : ETON
5
Substance : PITH
6
Gain access, in a way : LOGON
7
Body-related : ANATOMIC
8
Fearsome foes : NEMESES
9
Bone-boring tool : TREPAN
10
Stopped lying : AROSE
11
Almost up : NEXT
12
Desk feature : KNEEHOLE
13
Grammy-winning LL Cool J song that starts "I've been watching you from afar for as long as I can remember" : HEYLOVER
14
They clean up well : SWEEPERS
23
Longtime Indiana senator defeated in 2012 : LUGAR
26
Mediterranean vacation spot : CAPRI
27
"Men always hate most what they ___ most": H. L. Mencken : ENVY
29
Public figure? : JOHNQ
31
"Whatever Lola Wants," e.g. : TANGO
33
No longer tied up, say : ASEA
34
Raucous card game : SLAPJACK
35
Really must go : HASTORUN
36
Best at play : OUTSCORE
37
Alternators in some internal-combustion engines : MAGNETOS
39
Acts of a scalawag : KNAVERY
42
Put down : ABASED
44
The Golden Horde, e.g. : ASIANS
45
War cry : BANZAI
46
First name in European politics : ANGELA
48
Ran through : GORED
49
Get a handle on : GRASP
52
Herbal stress reliever from Polynesia : KAVA
54
"___ Baby" (song from "Hair") : ABIE
55
Unappealing bowlful : GLOP

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 6 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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