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New York Times, Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Author:
Ian Livengood
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
554/12/20109/15/20164
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617667112
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64371
Ian Livengood

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 38 for Mr. Livengood. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ian Livengood notes:
What's better: LETO with a fresh clue {Jared of 'Dallas Buyers Club'} or VETO? In a vacuum, VETO always wins — it's got the ... read more

What's better: LETO with a fresh clue {Jared of "Dallas Buyers Club"} or VETO? In a vacuum, VETO always wins — it's got the scrabbly V, it's not a proper noun and a has a number of clue possibilities. But with a new and improved LETO clue ... (Thinking) ... nah, I should have gone with VETO.

Oh, this puzzle was inspired by Sam Donaldson and Doug Peterson's wonderful 3/26/13 offering. The magic of reinterpreted spoken phrases!

Hope solvers like this one!

Jeff Chen notes:
Another highly polished piece of work from one of the masters. Five theme answers, all common three-word admonitions with IT in the ... read more

Another highly polished piece of work from one of the masters. Five theme answers, all common three-word admonitions with IT in the middle, interpreted in wacky ways. It's especially nice that they're all clued as "That's enough!" to a specific type of person. My favorite was KEEP IT DOWN to a hot-dog eating contestants, as it hits on my fascination with competitive eating. There's a sport-specific term called a "reversal" which I won't go into.

Where Ian really makes a name for himself as a constructor is his ability to jam-pack snazzy fill into a puzzle with clean overall results. With five medium-length themers, many constructors would call it good to have simply one pair of long downs. Ian's moved way past that point, giving us GAS STOVE, SEES FIT, CREW TEAM with its fun clue, APE SUIT. And that's just in two of the corners!

Because the central entry is an "inconvenient length" (it sort of splits the grid into an upper and a lower half), it forces open white spaces in the NE and SW. As anyone who's tried to fill a moderate-size chunk of crossword grid knows, it's not easy to do with quality. Sure, it's a simple thing to fill a subsection so that it works, but it's another matter completely to do it without a single blemish. With only a single glue-y answer (CHA) to hold it all together, Ian still manages to work in EXACTA, TEN HUT, ECOLAW. Ian even rescues CHA with a really fun clue.

How does he do it, you might ask? Some people assume that constructors just hit a button and let the computer do the work for them. Some constructors actually do that, but the auto-fill process almost always spits out subpar fill. I've had the pleasure of working with Ian on a few grids, so I've seen that he takes a significant amount of time with every grid he makes, trying out multiple layouts, testing out dozens of possibilities in the critical junctions to figure out what will help him fill cleanly. From there, it's a matter of trial and error guided by hundreds of puzzles worth of grid-building experience to produce a clean result.

What's most impressive is Ian's track record of consistency. Whenever I see his name on a byline, I know I'm going to get a fun theme with more than a handful of long fill and a minimum of cruddy answers. This puzzle is no different, especially difficult given that the best Tuesday puzzles are smooth enough for relative beginners but interesting enough for more experienced solvers. I tip my hat to you, sir!

1
T
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A
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D
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A
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L
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A
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O
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K
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G
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B
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G
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M
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V
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A
L
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N
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G
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M
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N
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H
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G
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P
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O
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L
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F
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A
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E
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A
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W
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Y
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S
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0408 ( 23,527 )
Across
1
Dashboard gauge, for short : TACH
5
Palindromic title : MADAM
10
Jared of "Dallas Buyers Club" : LETO
14
Pretty agile for one's age : SPRY
15
"+" terminal : ANODE
16
Plow beasts : OXEN
17
"That's enough!," to a hot dog-eating contestant? : KEEPITDOWN
19
Covet : WANT
20
Alfred Nobel and others : SWEDES
21
Doofus : ASS
23
"___-ching!" (cash register sound) : CHA
24
Full of nerve : GUTSY
25
"That's enough!," to a store clerk at Christmas? : WRAPITUP
27
Certain graph shape : PIE
28
Thin and graceful : LITHE
31
Seeing red : IRATE
32
Doc's "Now!" : STAT
34
Bit of intimate attire : BRA
35
Miracle-___ : GRO
36
"That's enough!," to an assembly line worker? : MOVEITALONG
40
Action verb that's also a Roman numeral : MIX
41
Org. for the Suns or the Heat : NBA
42
Beauty pageant wear : SASH
45
Soothes : EASES
48
Dutch cheese : GOUDA
50
Siren's place : SEA
51
"That's enough!," to a collagist? : CUTITOUT
53
Unexpected victory : UPSET
55
Neighbor of Wash. : ORE
56
Singer DiFranco : ANI
57
I.R.S. inspections : AUDITS
59
Rich soil : LOAM
61
"That's enough!," to a carnival thrower? : KNOCKITOFF
64
Singer Guthrie : ARLO
65
Ghostly : EERIE
66
Sports shoe brand : AVIA
67
Dangerous stinger : WASP
68
Gridiron units : YARDS
69
Tennis units : SETS
Down
1
Scolding sound : TSK
2
Jungle film attire : APESUIT
3
Unit involved in a shell game? : CREWTEAM
4
Overly promotes : HYPES
5
Chess finale : MATE
6
&&& : ANDS
7
Scooby-___ : DOO
8
Program producing online pop-ups : ADWARE
9
Whiz group : MENSA
10
Simmer setting : LOW
11
Two-horse wager : EXACTA
12
Drill sergeant's shout : TENHUT
13
Like books for long car rides, say : ONTAPE
18
Bucolic verse : IDYL
22
Vice president Agnew : SPIRO
24
Rental car add-on, in brief : GPS
25
Miscellaneous things : WHATNOT
26
Gets wrinkles out : IRONS
29
Mountain goat : IBEX
30
A "T" in TNT : TRI
33
Marisa of "Crazy, Stupid, Love" : TOMEI
35
Pleased : GLAD
37
View from a lookout : VISTA
38
___ Dhabi : ABU
39
Appliance with a pilot : GASSTOVE
43
Deems it O.K. : SEESFIT
44
Deerstalker, e.g. : HAT
45
Body of environmental regulations : ECOLAW
46
Dawn goddess : AURORA
47
Super buys : STEALS
48
___ pig : GUINEA
49
"Truth in engineering" sloganeer : AUDI
52
Well-pitched : ONKEY
54
Falafel holders : PITAS
57
The "A" in RNA : ACID
58
Island music makers, for short : UKES
60
Cleaning tool : MOP
62
Boston #4 in years past : ORR
63
Musical notes after mis : FAS

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?