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New York Times, Friday, May 13, 2016

Author:
David Phillips and David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
207/24/20148/5/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1021277
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57000
David Phillips
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
966/16/20118/18/201918
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
76681132242
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645173
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 31 Missing: {QX} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Phillips. This is puzzle # 50 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
DAVID S.: Dave and I met at the now-defunct Silicon Valley Puzzle Fest back in 2012, which feels like just a few months ago to me! ... read more

DAVID S.:

Dave and I met at the now-defunct Silicon Valley Puzzle Fest back in 2012, which feels like just a few months ago to me! Time flies when you're busy with crosswords, I guess. Anyway, Andrea Carla Michaels and I were giving a presentation about crossword construction, and Dave (who at that point had just started constructing) was one of the more enthusiastic-looking audience members. He approached us after the talk and showed us some of the puzzles he had been working on, which I remember being very impressed with. In fact, our first collaborative effort, which appeared in the Los Angeles Times back in 2013, spun off of one of the puzzles Dave showed me that day!

Dave and I have remained in touch ever since. I was thrilled to see him make his New York Times debut with an ingenious Paint It Black puzzle in 2014! He followed that up with one great themeless after another (and a handful of fun themed puzzles to boot!). Dave was also one of the most accurate Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project proofreaders—he used to make Excel files with all the mistakes he would find, which were always both helpful and fun to read.

I don't remember much about the construction process of this particular puzzle (my 50th published New York Times crossword, built back in late 2014), but I'm pretty sure we started with my bottom stack in one of Dave's insanely wide-open grids! We went through a ton of possibilities for the top before finally settling on the one you see. Most of the clues are Dave's, though "Piano-playing Cat" for STEVENS was definitely mine!

These days, I haven't had as much time for crossword construction, but Dave and I still keep in touch . . . even though he went to Berkeley and I ended up at Stanford! We hope you enjoy our puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes:
Two young guns teaming up! Fun to see David and David work on something together. Also fun to see some nice stacking work — ... read more

Two young guns teaming up! Fun to see David and David work on something together. Also fun to see some nice stacking work — really long triple-stacks with clean crossings are very hard to do, but D&D pull theirs off pretty well.

Where are their tails?

I liked the top stack a lot. I wasn't familiar with IMAGINE DRAGONS, but that's not surprising given my pop culture deficiencies. I still enjoyed piecing it together though — what a cool name, and accessible too. The multi-talented VANESSA WILLIAMS gets a nice clue, about her fashion line "V." Gives her a fresh feel, as that fashion line was introduced this year.

D&D take such meticulous care with their crossings up top. MISE isn't great, since it can really only be clued in one way, and ANS is minor. 13 of 15 crossings being perfectly fine is good work.

And turning the corner into another triple-stack of SNARE DRUM/SMART CAR/STEVENS! That's tough to do. They make their task easier by adding three black squares in the upper right, which reduces it from a head-bangingly difficult construction to just a rough one. Those black squares do take away from the grid's total visual appeal for me, but not by that much. So I like this trade-off, allowing D&D to work in the snazzy SNARE DRUM and SMART CAR.

The bottom stack is also nice, plus every one of the 15 crossings is clean. MAKE MINE A DOUBLE is really colorful, too. However, DATING AGENCIES … I had to force myself to type in that last word, because it just didn't sound right to my ear. A lot of crossword-friendly letters in AGENCIES allows for super-clean crossings, but that entry fell flat for me. Always the trade-offs.

Themelesses featuring triple-stacks often rely very heavily on those stacks, giving not much else to the solver. So I really appreciated D&D working in those additional triple-stacks with great entries like ATTACK AD. With a bit of ODWALLA and SICHUAN spicing things up, plus the near-zero number of gluey entries, the overall result was an entertaining solve.

Jim Horne notes:

Congratulations to Mr. Steinberg on his 50th NYT crossword.

1
P
2
A
3
J
4
A
5
M
6
A
7
B
8
O
9
T
10
T
11
O
12
M
13
S
14
I
M
A
G
I
N
E
D
R
A
G
O
N
15
S
16
V
A
N
E
S
S
A
W
I
L
L
I
A
M
17
S
18
E
Z
I
N
E
19
A
B
L
E
20
R
A
T
21
N
E
E
D
22
S
23
P
L
A
Y
S
24
E
R
E
25
A
26
P
P
A
L
L
27
H
D
T
V
28
S
29
A
30
G
31
A
R
I
A
32
F
33
I
E
R
C
E
34
E
T
E
35
R
N
A
L
36
S
I
C
H
U
A
N
37
A
T
T
E
S
T
38
C
O
R
E
39
M
R
S
40
G
A
B
S
41
T
R
U
S
T
42
S
43
R
C
A
44
T
45
S
H
I
R
T
46
P
47
R
48
I
49
G
50
A
K
C
51
A
T
O
M
52
C
R
U
D
E
53
M
A
K
54
E
M
I
N
E
55
A
56
D
O
U
B
L
E
57
D
A
T
I
N
G
A
G
E
N
C
I
E
S
58
T
A
L
K
S
N
O
N
S
E
N
S
E
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0513 ( 24,293 )

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Across
1
Bedroom set piece? : PAJAMABOTTOMS
14
Band with the 2012 double-platinum album "Night Visions" : IMAGINEDRAGONS
16
Celebrity with the fashion line "V." : VANESSAWILLIAMS
18
Internet issue : EZINE
19
Hacking it : ABLE
20
One tailed in the sewers : RAT
21
Want : NEED
22
Flares : SPLAYS
24
"___ on my bed my limbs I lay" (line from Coleridge) : ERE
25
Fill with horror : APPALL
27
It has a good resolution : HDTV
28
Lose energy : SAG
31
"Di quella pira," e.g. : ARIA
32
Tigerlike : FIERCE
34
"___ life belongs to those who live in the present": Wittgenstein : ETERNAL
36
Chinese province where a spicy cuisine originated : SICHUAN
37
Swear : ATTEST
38
Fitness center? : CORE
39
Half of a couple : MRS
40
Doesn't shut up : GABS
41
Targets of President Taft : TRUSTS
43
Big maker of 27-Acrosses : RCA
44
Souvenir item : TSHIRT
46
Unlikely swinger : PRIG
50
Org. with a name registration : AKC
51
Captain ___ (DC Comics superhero) : ATOM
52
Lacking subtlety, say : CRUDE
53
Extra sauce order? : MAKEMINEADOUBLE
57
Match.com competitors : DATINGAGENCIES
58
Jibber-jabbers : TALKSNONSENSE
Down
1
Jeremy of "Entourage" : PIVEN
2
Leave speechless : AMAZE
3
Girl with a gun in an Aerosmith hit : JANIE
4
What a chair covers : AGENDA
5
___ en scène : MISE
6
Puzzle hunt?: Abbr. : ANS
7
"___ dear ..." : BEA
8
Big name in energy bars and smoothies : ODWALLA
9
Like some councils : TRIBAL
10
It may be running : TALLY
11
Checks out : OGLES
12
"J'accuse!" reply : MOI
13
Punch line instrument : SNAREDRUM
15
Little something for the road? : SMARTCAR
17
Piano-playing Cat : STEVENS
22
Sardine relative : SPRAT
23
Beach mold : PAIL
26
Slams : PANS
27
Snarky syllable : HEH
28
Distillery eponym Joseph : SEAGRAM
29
Mud spot? : ATTACKAD
30
Wreak vengeance on : GETBACKAT
32
"That's a ___!" : FIRST
33
Celebrity whose name sounds like a drink : ICET
35
Thing, at bar : RES
36
Bad way to turn : SOUR
38
___ Peninsula (2014 crisis site) : CRIMEAN
41
Some beachwear : THONGS
42
Neat : SPRUCE
44
Source of the words "curry" and "pariah" : TAMIL
45
Perform poorly : STINK
47
Apply, as Bengay : RUBIN
48
Lies around : IDLES
49
Chuckleheads : GEESE
52
Takes in : CONS
54
H : ETA
55
Opposite of hence : AGO
56
Place of corruption : DEN

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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