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New York Times, Friday, May 15, 2015

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

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 31 Missing: {FX} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Phillips. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Phillips notes: To be frank, I was fairly shocked when Will accepted this puzzle in May 2014. (I sent it off in January of the same year for ... more
David Phillips notes:

To be frank, I was fairly shocked when Will accepted this puzzle in May 2014. (I sent it off in January of the same year for those curious about the publication timeline.)

After Will had accepted three of my first seven themeless attempts — two of which [the MTV.../GRAND... and WIISPORTS themelesses] have already published — I tried experimenting with different ways to build themeless puzzles. In my last NYT themeless, I locked the black squares in place first and then scrambled to find nice fill for the center that would also enable clean corners; however, with this puzzle, I started with the NW stack and tried moving a few black squares around until some goodies (GIGAHERTZ, ERUDITE, K.C. JONES, RAM INTO [with the vague clue]) locked in place.

This technique produced a pretty nice, albeit proper, NW section but eventually led to a more difficult time in the South — STRASSE, ATTIRER, IN SCALE, NTS, and AD-AWARE standing out as particularly irksome entries.

As always, Will and Joel did an awesome job spiffing up the clues. My favorites among their edits are [Goes one step too far?] for TRESPASSES, [Class for model students?] for ART, [200 at a 500] for LAPS, and [Grp. of 300 people?] for PBA. I'm also glad my clues for NAP, MAWS, DATA PLANS, and OLIVE TREE could stick around for publication. Unfortunately, my original clue for KIM JONG-UN, [Whom Dennis Rodman called "a friend for life" in 2013] didn't make the cut.

On a completely unrelated note, I really hope North Korea doesn't hack NYTimes.com today.

Will Shortz notes: For anyone who's curious, David's original clue for KIM JONG-UN was 'Whom Dennis Rodman called 'a friend for life' in 2013.' The ... more
Will Shortz notes:

For anyone who's curious, David's original clue for KIM JONG-UN was "Whom Dennis Rodman called 'a friend for life' in 2013." The reason I didn't keep the clue is ... it's not quite accurate. What Rodman actually said was that he, Rodman, was Kim's "friend for life." I didn't see a good way to reword the clue to make it correct, and it wouldn't have been as interesting the correct way anyway.

Jeff Chen notes: KIM JONG UN tied right to 'The Interview,' love it! I also love KIM JONG UN's accomplishments, like learning to drive at age three. ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

KIM JONG UN tied right to "The Interview," love it! I also love KIM JONG UN's accomplishments, like learning to drive at age three. Did you know he also beat Dan Feyer in this year's World Crossword Puzzle Tournament by three hundred minutes, taking his fortieth straight crown?

Loved seeing OLIVE TREE featured as [Athena's gift to Athens]. So cool how she out-thought Poseidon, who gave the people on that island a river of … sea water.

Really, Poseidon? Really?

And a great clue in TOUPEES, [Top-secret disguises?] repurposing the term "top-secret." In most cases, it's really not much of a secret. (Sorry, fellas.)

David wades into tough territory today in his NE and SW corners. Any 4x7 or bigger space is usually difficult to fill both cleanly and with color. I like David's execution in his lower left, GQ MAGAZINE along with MISS USA and G STRING. There's an amazing amount of testosterone there, but I appreciated how David kept the glue to just NISEI. And that's actually a fine term, a Japanese family friend using it to describe herself.

The opposite corner is more typical of the trade-offs seen with these 4x7s. Standard & Poor's upgrades / downgrades issues all the time. RERATES does technically describe it, but it's not really used. And CHEMO … what happened to the "no cancer references"? In some ways it's great to see the topic broached, but what a downer for someone in the hospital doing the crossword.

I loved CHO referenced to Harry Potter, as I've read the books five or six times. I can see how that would make some solvers grumble though, if they knew CHO Chang as much as I knew DARK ANGEL. Either-you-know-it-or-you-don't entries are tough, playing strongly to uberfans but potentially irritating to others.

If you're going to need gluey bits of the same type, probably best to not draw attention to them with clue echoes (SES / A TOI, NTS linked to SUITES).

The 68 word construction is tough. David goes to one end of the spectrum today, giving us some very fresh feeling entries like GIGAHERTZ and DATA PLANS and ADD TO CART, while requiring a relatively high count of liability entries to hold them together.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0515 ( 23,929 )
Across Down
1. 2000s James Cameron cyberpunk/sci-fi series : DARKANGEL
10. Sting : TRAP
14. Co-star of Greta Garbo in "Ninotchka" : INACLAIRE
15. Difficult treatment, informally : CHEMO
16. Interviewee in 2014's "The Interview" : KIMJONGUN
17. Catnip and others : HERBS
18. "The Da Vinci Code" priory : SION
19. Online shopping button : ADDTOCART
21. Trattoria order : PENNE
22. Variety of poker, briefly : HILO
23. French possessive : ATOI
24. Émile Zola's "La ___ humaine" : BETE
25. Financially secure : SET
26. Rioting, e.g. : UNREST
28. Troubles : ADOS
29. Goes one step too far? : TRESPASSES
31. Class for model students? : ART
32. "For sure" : YEP
33. "Look Sharp. Live Smart" sloganeer : GQMAGAZINE
38. 200 at a 500 : LAPS
42. Some Windows products : SUITES
43. Some Windows systems : NTS
44. Two-time mythological role for Anthony Hopkins : ODIN
45. Final, e.g. : TEST
46. It's an honor to wear : SASH
48. Poker declaration : ICALL
49. Home : RESIDENCE
51. Mouths to feed? : MAWS
52. Temper : INURE
53. Families often share them : DATAPLANS
56. Second-generation Japanese-American : NISEI
57. Athena's gift to Athens : OLIVETREE
58. It's got teeth : GEAR
59. Ones getting passes : RECEIVERS
1. Hägar creator Browne : DIK
2. Ouzo flavorer : ANISEED
3. Bash : RAMINTO
4. Hall-of-Famer from the 1950s-'60s Celtics : KCJONES
5. Forever ___ (Internet meme) : ALONE
6. Photographer Goldin : NAN
7. One billion cycles per second : GIGAHERTZ
8. Learned : ERUDITE
9. Three-time U.S. Open champ in the 1980s : LENDL
10. "Let's Go" group, 1979 : THECARS
11. Changes at Standard & Poor's, say : RERATES
12. Eisenhower and Nixon biographer Stephen : AMBROSE
13. Some office notes : POSTITS
15. ___ Chang, Harry Potter's onetime crush : CHO
20. Top-secret disguises? : TOUPEES
21. Grp. of 300 people? : PBA
25. Bonn boulevard : STRASSE
27. Experience a minor crash? : NAP
30. Fake : SYNTHETIC
31. Golden ___ : AGE
33. Burlesque show wear : GSTRING
34. She's "too cute to be a minute over 17" in a Chuck Berry song : QUEENIE
35. 46-Across wearer since 1952 : MISSUSA
36. Dresser : ATTIRER
37. Commensurate : INSCALE
38. Public access channel, e.g. : LOCALTV
39. Computer program that blocks viruses : ADAWARE
40. Stella Artois or Beck's : PILSNER
41. ___ alum : SNL
47. Legalese conjunction : ANDOR
48. Noted Guangzhou-born architect : IMPEI
50. ___ gratia : DEI
54. GPS abbr. : AVE
55. French possessive : SES

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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