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New York Times, Saturday, May 14, 2016

Author:
Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
957/5/20102/14/201957
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2468172398
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1.636202
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 62, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QX} Grid has both 90- and 180-degree symmetry. This is puzzle # 52 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
About 15 years ago, a buddy of mine bought a house. As an industrial designer, he had grand visions of rebuilding the fixer-upper into ... read more

About 15 years ago, a buddy of mine bought a house. As an industrial designer, he had grand visions of rebuilding the fixer-upper into an avant-garde mansion appropriate for his aesthetic sensibilities.

Walls got sledgehammered, windows smashed, and he wielded a SAWZALL at anything that looked at him funny. When we asked him if one column (which he had already sawed halfway through) was load-bearing, he stopped and asked:

"What does load-bearing mean?"

Thankfully, Shawn is still alive.

Jeff Chen notes:
I liked working with this grid pattern last time, so I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked it to figure out how I might be able to wring ... read more

I liked working with this grid pattern last time, so I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked it to figure out how I might be able to wring something different out of it. Even though I used quite a few cheater squares (those stairsteps of black squares), it's still rough to work with a low word count (62).

The SAWZALL. From personal experience, I can tell you it pretty much saws through all!

Every time I got the middle to work, I'd launch into the four corners, only to find that one or more (sometimes all four!) were just not tenable. Took me a few dozen starts and stops before I finally hit on this middle region with JAZZ AGE / SAWZALL. I got three of the corners to work out, but then I had a sinking feeling the NE corner was going to bonk — that W in TWEEDLES was giving me fits. The crossing of SHINOLA/ALEK is my least favorite part of the grid, but ultimately, I thought solvers who didn't know ALEK Wek would most likely guess ALEK instead of ELEK, ILEK, OLEK, etc.

Other random notes:

  • SHINOLA: I'm a big Steve Martin fan. If you've ever seen the classic "The Jerk," you might remember an old saw that gets referenced, "You don't know sh*t from Shinola." Sadly, there was no way I could sneak this one past Will. He and Joel came up with a fantastic clue, playing on "polish" vs. "Polish."
  • Speaking of capitalized vs. not, I like Will and Joel's simplification for my NBA TEAM clue, [Bucks, e.g.]. I had suggested either [Bucks taking shots, e.g.], or [Kings in court?].
  • [Golf takeback, e.g.] for REPO. Getting the hang of this capitalized vs. not thing yet?

I have one more themeless in the queue using this pattern, but I retired it after that. It's good to move on to something different.

Maybe something that doesn't cause my wife to ask me what I'm doing up at 4 a.m. for the tenth night in a row.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0514 ( 24,294 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
Colorful carnival offerings : SNOCONES
9
Off-key : SOUR
13
Farm-to-table advocate : LOCAVORE
14
What's now yours : THINE
15
Words recited before "gratia plena, Dominus tecum" : AVEMARIA
16
Put one's nose to the grindstone : TOILED
17
Moldable kitchen stuff : GELATIN
18
Like President Paul Kagame : RWANDAN
19
Actress Singer of "Footloose" and TV's "Fame" : LORI
20
Skipper whose #6 was retired in 2014 : JOETORRE
21
Where many nuts are housed : TOOLCASE
24
"The Mod Squad" role : LINC
25
Drifted off : SNOOZED
26
Supermodel Wek : ALEK
27
Terminal giant, once : IBM
30
Cutting-edge device named for its versatility : SAWZALL
32
Grp. with many missionaries : LDS
33
Tightener of locks : PERM
35
Bucks, e.g. : NBATEAM
37
Golf takeback, maybe : REPO
38
Crusades, e.g. : WAGESWAR
40
Like some food and flattery : OVERDONE
42
Promote to annoyance : FLOG
44
Piano bar? : MEASURE
45
Criticized : FAULTED
48
Hard up : INNEED
49
Cooler person to live with? : CELLMATE
50
Charon's passengers : SOULS
51
Language of the Twelve Tables : OLDLATIN
52
Revival V.I.P.s, perhaps : EMTS
53
They corral kids : PLAYPENS
Down
1
Some industrial waste : SLAG
2
Cutting-edge : NOVEL
3
Its name comes from Nahuatl for "jaguar" : OCELOT
4
Z28 and ZL1 : CAMAROS
5
They're often standing when the curtains are lowered : OVATIONS
6
Sushi wrapper : NORI
7
Mayo's place : ERIN
8
Arabian ___ : SEA
9
Polish giant, once : SHINOLA
10
Part of a rig : OILDRILL
11
Like runs caused by errors : UNEARNED
12
Hillbilly sorts : REDNECKS
14
Flawlessly : TOAT
16
Lures with music : TWEEDLES
18
Optimistic : ROSEATE
20
Setting of "The Sun Also Rises" and "Some Like It Hot" : JAZZAGE
22
Spanglish or Franglais component : LOANWORD
23
Plant poisonous to cattle : COWBANE
27
"Cross my heart" : IPROMISE
28
Material used in apitherapy : BEEVENOM
29
Shelled shill : MRPEANUT
31
By the book : LAWFULLY
34
Tidbits : MORSELS
36
Store locator, maybe : MALLMAP
39
Move like a tornado : ROTATE
41
Union jack? : DUES
43
Pickup line? : GETIN
45
Hew : FELL
46
He played the U.S. president in "Canadian Bacon," 1995 : ALDA
47
Fox network? : DENS
49
24-Across, for one : COP

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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