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New York Times, Saturday, April 9, 2016

Author: David Phillips
Editor: Will Shortz
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207/24/20148/5/20171
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1021277
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1.57000
David Phillips

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 71, Blocks: 30 Missing: {JQWXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Phillips. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Phillips notes: Well, it would seem I have the honor/curse of batting cleanup for St. Patrick this week. (Hey, Kameron, if you're out there reading this, ... more
David Phillips notes:

Well, it would seem I have the honor/curse of batting cleanup for St. Patrick this week. (Hey, Kameron, if you're out there reading this, I'll take one of those "I Survived ..." t-shirts [referencing his 11/14/2015 note], assuming I don't drown in negative solver feedback over the weekend.)

Accepted in October 2013, this puzzle was my third accepted NYT themeless out of seven attempts. I started with the central 16, THE BIG BANG THEORY, and then I placed black squares below the two G's hoping that I'd find at least one spicy -ING word/phrase. After those initial block placements, I went for as much open space as I could muster without going over the 72 maximum word count. (For some reason, I remember still wanting to clear the word count despite the extra column.)

In retrospect, I like the relatively wide-open space, a few neat entries (e.g. NO HARM DONE, EDO PERIOD, LIVERMORE [clued in reference to the new element], BROMANCE, TROLLING, HOUND DOG, GLEE CLUB, and some others), and the nerdy vibe overall. However, there's also a bit more glue and/or "killer" entries, notably APT TO, NYAH, BATOR, SES, SML, and BASINETS, than I'd allow in my current submissions. Looking back, these trade-offs are a bit hard to stomach, but I hope they don't detract too much from the puzzle's positive aspects.

As for cluing, Will and Joel changed a lot for the better IMO. Top honors go to 20A, 21D, and 31D with honorary chuckle points for 15A and 4D.

Jeff Chen notes: Extra-wide grid to accommodate THE BIG BANG THEORY. Great trivia that Stephen Hawking and Buzz Aldrin guest-starred! (Will Shortz guest-starred ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Extra-wide grid to accommodate THE BIG BANG THEORY. Great trivia that Stephen Hawking and Buzz Aldrin guest-starred! (Will Shortz guest-starred on "How I Met Your Mother," but no nod from TBBT yet.) I don't watch TBBT show very often, but I love that a cast full of hard-core nerds is so popular.

What, Will Shortz isn't good enough for you, TBBT?

Some nice entries in TALL ONES, NO HARM DONE, AIR CARRIER, and my favorite, SHELL GAME. Plus, I like how they're spread all across the grid, rather than concentrated like usual in the four corners.

Running so many long answers through each other does make filling difficult, though. Check out how HOUND DOG, EDO PERIOD, and LIVERMORE intersect that NE stack … as well as THE BIG BANG THEORY! That constrains the section so rigidly. I don't mind a bit of NEB at all, but CUT ABOVE without "a" feels pretty partialish and inelegant. CCC clued as the Roman 300 (L = 50, times 6) also feels pretty weak. Tough to make a region with so many intersecting long answers without a flaw or two.

I like GONERS as an answer — totally in my regular usage. DOER is even fine, as in "I'm a doer!" SCARERS … not so much.

I was baffled by [Whitehouse in D.C., e.g.]. It had to be some clever clue, right? Nope, but what a cool piece of info — there's a senator named Sheldon Whitehouse. I imagine it gave him quite a leg up during elections. (Makes you wonder why no candidate has legally changed their first name to "President.")

Also baffling was RIVES. I so badly wanted that to be RENDS, which I never really used before I started doing crosswords. Not sure if I had seen RIVE before, so I looked it up: "to rend." Thanks, dictionary!

It's so tough to work with so many intersecting long answers. Some slots like GLEE CLUB and RAY KROC are so well utilized, but others like BELITTLED and ELONGATE feel like just neutral results to me. Still, an enjoyable solve with a fantastic backbone entry.

1
M
2
O
3
F
4
F
5
A
6
T
7
C
8
H
9
A
10
N
11
N
12
E
13
L
14
S
15
E
C
L
A
I
R
16
S
17
C
O
P
Y
E
D
I
T
18
R
A
Y
K
R
O
C
19
C
U
T
A
B
O
V
E
20
G
L
E
E
C
L
U
21
B
22
N
T
H
23
P
E
A
24
E
A
R
25
A
L
F
R
26
E
D
O
27
G
E
R
M
28
T
R
I
F
O
L
D
29
N
O
R
M
30
O
31
S
32
B
O
R
N
33
M
O
O
34
O
N
I
O
35
N
36
T
H
E
B
I
G
37
B
A
N
G
38
T
H
E
O
R
Y
39
C
E
L
I
E
40
A
N
G
41
H
A
R
D
E
E
42
L
I
A
R
43
S
C
A
44
R
E
R
S
45
B
L
T
S
46
P
I
E
T
I
S
M
47
S
48
M
49
L
50
A
G
T
51
D
I
N
52
E
V
I
D
53
E
N
C
E
54
T
A
L
55
L
O
N
E
56
S
57
E
R
O
T
I
C
A
58
O
M
E
L
E
T
T
E
59
S
E
N
A
T
O
R
60
R
E
D
C
R
O
S
S
61
N
E
L
S
O
N
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0409 ( 24,259 )
Across Down
1. Steven who co-created TV's "Sherlock" : MOFFAT
7. Remote possibilities : CHANNELS
15. Fat fingers? : ECLAIRS
17. Get the word out, maybe? : COPYEDIT
18. Big name in fast food : RAYKROC
19. Better than, with "a" : CUTABOVE
20. School group working in harmony? : GLEECLUB
22. Unspecified power : NTH
23. Something to shuck : PEA
24. Something to shuck : EAR
25. Kind of sauce : ALFREDO
27. Thought starter : GERM
28. Three-piece : TRIFOLD
29. It's no surprise : NORM
30. "The Paper Chase" novelist : OSBORN
33. Stock report? : MOO
34. It has layers upon layers : ONION
36. Sitcom on which Stephen Hawking and Buzz Aldrin have appeared : THEBIGBANGTHEORY
39. "The Color Purple" role : CELIE
40. Lee making a scene : ANG
41. Wilber who founded a fast-food chain : HARDEE
42. Whopper server? : LIAR
43. "Monsters, Inc." employees : SCARERS
45. Alternatives to clubs : BLTS
46. Old Lutheran movement : PIETISM
47. Range of sizes, briefly : SML
50. Member of comicdom's S.H.I.E.L.D.: Abbr. : AGT
51. Disturber of the peace : DIN
52. Exhibit, e.g. : EVIDENCE
54. Some brewskis : TALLONES
57. "The Naked Maja" and such : EROTICA
58. IHOP option : OMELETTE
59. Whitehouse in D.C., e.g. : SENATOR
60. It may be out for blood : REDCROSS
61. Hold with both arms, say : NELSON
1. Command in Excel : MERGE
2. Fort town in the Second Seminole War : OCALA
3. Circular : FLYER
4. Clifford Irving's "Autobiography of Howard Hughes," e.g. : FAKE
5. Sky line : AIRCARRIER
6. Unwelcome Internet activity : TROLLING
7. Six L's : CCC
8. One who wasn't high-class, per a 1956 hit : HOUNDDOG
9. Probably gonna, more formally : APTTO
10. When doubled, a taunt : NYAH
11. Home to Bellevue U. : NEB
12. 250-year span in Japan's history : EDOPERIOD
13. California city for which element #116 was named : LIVERMORE
14. Tick off : STEAM
16. Slight blemish : SCUFF
21. It may grow between buds : BROMANCE
26. Draw out : ELONGATE
27. They can't be saved : GONERS
28. ___ Ragg, Sweeney Todd's assistant : TOBIAS
29. "That's O.K., everything's fine" : NOHARMDONE
30. Like Advil or Motrin, for short : OTC
31. It's a hard act to follow : SHELLGAME
32. Took down a peg : BELITTLED
35. Dec. 31 : NYE
37. Medieval steel helmets with visors : BASINETS
38. Alter ego of "Batman" villainess Lorelei Circe : THESIREN
44. Tears apart : RIVES
45. Mongolian for "hero" : BATOR
46. Focus of some high-profile 1970s lawsuits : PINTO
47. Dithers : SNITS
48. Marilyn of the 5th Dimension : MCCOO
49. Watch's partner : LEARN
51. Ending for evil or wrong : DOER
53. Stand-in for the unnamed : ETAL
55. Inc. cousin : LLC
56. French possessive : SES

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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