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New York Times, Saturday, May 16, 2015

Author:
Byron Walden
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
9211/23/200111/18/201814
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1.59321
Byron Walden

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 24 Missing: {JQX} Spans: 1 Average word length: 6.28 This is puzzle # 75 for Mr. Walden. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Byron Walden notes:
A couple of clue edits caught my eye. For 1-Down (DRUG CZAR), I had [Coke head?]. I would have gone with [Pot head?] but for 1-Across. ... read more

A couple of clue edits caught my eye. For 1-Down (DRUG CZAR), I had [Coke head?]. I would have gone with [Pot head?] but for 1-Across. As such, the clue felt a little crass to me. I love the edited version, which works the same kind of joke in a much subtler fashion. (Jeff: [Highest officer in his field, ironically]; "Highest" — get it?)

For 8-Down, I had the somewhat rococo [Teddy Roosevelt's third-party endorsement?]. It interests me that my version made the first part of the entry easier to find, where the edited version gives a big hint for getting the end of the clue. It might be an easier clue that makes the puzzle harder, since the top of the entry is one of only two ways into the NE section. Fortunately, the baseball trivia at 20-Across is well-known to many, and easily findable for anyone else who gets really stuck getting into that corner.

Jeff Chen notes:
What intimidation the amazingly wide-open grid presents! From a constructor's standpoint, I cringed at the thought of trying to fill ... read more

What intimidation the amazingly wide-open grid presents! From a constructor's standpoint, I cringed at the thought of trying to fill such wide swaths, especially the NW and SE corners.

As a solver, I found it nearly impossible to get a toehold anywhere. Byron mentioned to me at the ACPT that he avoids three-letter entries like the plague, since they've been done to death. I depend on those little guys to give me a place to start, though! This one only had six of them, so it was an extremely solve difficult. Daunting when your first pass through the clues turns up only Douglas ADAMS.

GWB's BONESMAN's nickname was "Magog." Um, no thank you.

Byron has a unique constructing style. At the ACPT, a bunch of us were joking around that some of his entries need a tennis line judge to make a determination on whether it's a real thing or not. There's a huge amount of great fill in this puzzle — RED DIAPER BABIES, BULLY FOR HIM, HINDU GOD, DRUG CZAR — all super solid and zippy.

But I cocked my head a few times, at ECONOCAR (economy car?), LIT THE TORCH (lit the fuse?), DRIP POT (drip coffee or just coffee maker?), and BONESMAN (Skull and Bones member?). As the line judge, I think I'd call the first three just slightly out. However, BONESMAN turns out to be a recognized term for a Skull and Bones member. That's a keeper, IMO.

Typically a grid as open as this will depend on gluey words and RE- / -ER crutches, so it's amazing how little Byron needs. As RE- words go, RELEARN isn't bad, and NARIS apparently is the medical term for a nostril. The PENNI was in circulation until fairly recently, so it's not that bad either.

Overall, an impressive piece of work, Byron weaving creative answers throughout the grid in order to knit the entire thing together.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0516 ( 23,930 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1. Coffee-brewing device : DRIPPOT
8. "I haven't the foggiest" : BEATSME
15. Parole board consideration : REMORSE
16. Like news blogs, typically : UPDATED
17. Swedish university where Anders Celsius taught : UPPSALA
18. Faulty, as a tank : LEAKING
19. Natural shelter : GROTTO
20. Hall-of-Famer with exactly 3,000 hits : CLEMENTE
21. Goddess of magic : CIRCE
22. Expert in calculating : SLY
23. Big Florida export : SUGAR
24. Sixth in a series : ZETA
25. Off the ground : ALOFT
27. Ones skewered in P. J. O'Rourke's "Parliament of Whores" : POLS
28. Moves toward the middle : AVERAGESOUT
31. Children of American Communists : REDDIAPERBABIES
36. Started a movement, metaphorically : LITTHETORCH
37. Barbera d'___ (Italian wine) : ASTI
41. Hole in the head : NARIS
42. Former Jordanian queen : NOOR
43. Exactly, informally : SPANG
45. ___-com : ROM
46. Bygone Finnish coin : PENNI
47. Deva, for one : HINDUGOD
49. Big name in oil : WESSON
50. Poet who won three Grammys for Best Spoken Word Album : ANGELOU
51. Tufted songbirds : TITMICE
52. Brush up on : RELEARN
53. Being tracked, in a way : ONRADAR
54. Swore : PLEDGED
55. Tail waggers? : MOONERS
Down
1. Highest officer in his field, ironically : DRUGCZAR
2. Welcome out : REPRIEVE
3. Unsuitable for locavores : IMPORTED
4. Tourist purchase : POSTCARD
5. Rattle on : PRATE
6. Setting for Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" : OSLO
7. Contents of some chests : TEA
8. "Isn't he great!" : BULLYFORHIM
9. French pioneer of sign language : EPEE
10. Douglas who wrote "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" : ADAMS
11. Adopt : TAKEUP
12. British beer with a kick : STINGO
13. Bonkers : MENTAL
14. Tools with semicircular blades : EDGERS
20. What may help you hang in there? : CLOSETROD
22. Bed-hopped : SLEPTAROUND
25. "You ___?" : AGAIN
26. Some pasta : TUBES
29. Languish : AIL
30. Forever stamp? : TAT
32. Secret society brother to George W. Bush and John Kerry : BONESMAN
33. 1960s-'70s detective series : IRONSIDE
34. Cheap ride : ECONOCAR
35. Group governed by the Imperial Divan : SHRINERS
37. Note in B major but not E major : ASHARP
38. Rubylike gem : SPINEL
39. Wrestle : TANGLE
40. Verily : INDEED
44. Place bereft of happy campers? : GULAG
46. Rock: Prefix : PETRO
48. Cause for an R rating : GORE
49. Lush : WINO
51. Barnyard male : TOM

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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