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New York Times, Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Author: Bruce Haight
Editor: Will Shortz
Bruce Haight
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261/3/20136/21/20171
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2884220
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1.55022

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 25 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Bruce Haight notes: My first attempt at this theme hid scrambled state names in phrases, but most of the states were only four letters long. Will and ... more
Bruce Haight notes:

My first attempt at this theme hid scrambled state names in phrases, but most of the states were only four letters long. Will and Joel wrote back that "hiding California in AFRICAN LION is beautiful (!), but....they were not impressed with the shorter ones.

They suggested I try to find some longish states (seven or more letters) where adding one letter and scrambling led to something interesting. That turned out to take a LOT of digging because most state names (like Illinois and Hawaii for example) don't have easy letters to anagram with — none of these five phrases had ever appeared before in the NYT, and three of them were not even in any of my word lists. They all Google well though, so I decided to give it a shot.

When I got the preview version of the puzzle last week, I needed all six crosses to get SENT UP (my memory is not great) because I had never heard this phrase used as a synonym of "parodied." There is a LOT of support for this clue in dictionaries, but I surveyed five word-nerd friends of mine, and none of them had heard of this usage. I think if I were an editor, I would have to lean toward dictionary definitions over my personal experience, but I'm sure sometimes it's a close call.

This is one of the puzzles I'm most proud of at this point because I did not think it was going to be possible and it turned out way better than I had even hoped for.

Jeff Chen notes: Sometimes I wish the NYT weekday crosswords ran titles. I'm not sure what today's would be — is there a catchy phrase that ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Sometimes I wish the NYT weekday crosswords ran titles. I'm not sure what today's would be — is there a catchy phrase that means TAKE A STATE PLUS A LETTER AND ANAGRAM INTO REAL PHRASES? Perhaps … "Altered States"? "Plus ones"? Neither is quite right, but both start to get at it. Sort of.

I so badly wanted the additional letters, R E O T N, to … spell something? To be representative of that state? Anything but "add a letter because that's what was needed for this anagram." I spent some time searching for some higher meta layer, but this NOTER notes none.

That's likely asking for too much given the constraints, but a guy can wish.

Ignoring that for now, I like the themers overall. WARNING SHOT, IM SERIOUS, and AFRICAN LION are great phrases. NORMAL DAY and BANK RATES are a bit drier, but they still work.

Pretty good gridwork, too. Bruce's chops have improved greatly over the past year, largely avoiding the usual crossword glue constructors resort to, while integrating a lot of nice bonuses. RAW BARS. The full ARAL SEA. POOP OUT. KID LIT. LADY DI. Such great use of those mid-length slots.

He did employ a curious word up top, CAPSID. I thought I was pretty good with biology (my previous company was in pharmaceutical development), but this was a mystery to me. I like the word, after having looked it up, and I think it's fair game. But I can see how some solvers might need every crossing, and even then still think they must have something wrong. That would be not terribly satisfying.

I would have liked the upper left and lower right corners to be less segregated from the rest of the puzzle, too. Perhaps moving the black square between NAN and BAN one to the right? The segmentation does make the construction process much, much easier, but it can also make for a choked-off feeling for solvers.

There's an interesting seed of an idea here — altering states somehow. I so badly wish there had been some extra layer to bring together those extra letters somehow, though.

1
R
2
A
3
F
4
T
5
C
6
A
7
P
8
S
9
I
10
D
11
P
12
E
13
P
14
A
R
I
A
15
O
R
A
C
L
E
16
O
N
O
17
W
A
R
N
18
I
N
G
S
H
O
T
19
O
R
S
20
B
L
E
N
D
S
21
U
S
E
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D
P
O
T
23
A
S
H
E
S
24
I
25
M
S
E
R
I
O
U
S
26
R
E
A
D
27
A
M
I
S
28
T
U
T
U
29
S
A
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L
I
A
R
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I
32
N
S
T
E
P
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N
O
R
M
A
34
L
D
A
Y
35
D
36
E
37
V
I
L
S
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C
O
I
N
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B
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A
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S
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A
L
E
C
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S
L
O
G
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K
A
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E
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B
A
N
K
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R
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A
T
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B
I
B
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E
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E
P
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L
A
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Y
D
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A
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A
F
R
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C
A
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E
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0516 ( 24,661 )
Across Down
1. Whole slew : RAFT
5. Outer protein shell of a virus : CAPSID
11. Verve : PEP
14. "Celeste Aida," e.g. : ARIA
15. Futures analyst? : ORACLE
16. Famous Tokyo-born singer : ONO
17. WASHINGTON + R = Intimidation tactic : WARNINGSHOT
19. Option words : ORS
20. Fusions : BLENDS
21. Smoked marijuana : USEDPOT
23. Word repeated in "Ring Around the Rosy" before "We all fall down" : ASHES
24. MISSOURI + E = "No fooling!" : IMSERIOUS
26. Interpret : READ
27. Martin who wrote "London Fields" : AMIS
28. Short dance wear : TUTU
29. Rode the bench : SAT
30. Whopper inventor : LIAR
31. Marching well : INSTEP
33. MARYLAND + O = Period in which nothing special happens : NORMALDAY
35. Imps are little ones : DEVILS
38. Sacagawea dollar, e.g. : COIN
39. ___-relief : BAS
42. Evelyn Waugh's writer brother : ALEC
43. Laborious task : SLOG
44. Salad green : KALE
45. NEBRASKA + T = Mortgage specifications : BANKRATES
48. Aid for administering an oath of office : BIBLE
49. Segment of a binge-watch : EPISODE
50. Prince William's mom : LADYDI
51. Mule's father : ASS
52. CALIFORNIA + N = Majestic beast : AFRICANLION
55. 1920s car : REO
56. Parodied : SENTUP
57. "___ it ironic?" : ISNT
58. Phishing target: Abbr. : SSN
59. Gave an exam : TESTED
60. "Divergent" actor James : THEO
1. Places where oysters are served : RAWBARS
2. Victim of river diversion in Asia : ARALSEA
3. Professional headgear that's stereotypically red : FIREHAT
4. Got some sun : TANNED
5. Fleeces : CONS
6. S. Amer. home of the tango : ARG
7. Ballet step : PAS
8. Straight downhill run on skis : SCHUSS
9. "You win," alternatively : ILOSE
10. Put off : DETER
11. Get dog-tired : POOPOUT
12. Neither here nor there? : ENROUTE
13. Prepares to shoot near the basket, say : POSTSUP
18. Phishing targets, briefly : IDS
22. Scatterbrained : DITSY
24. Muslim leader : IMAM
25. One-in-a-million event : MIRACLE
27. Affected manner : AIRS
30. [You crack me up] : LOL
31. "Understood, dude" : IDIG
32. A Bobbsey twin : NAN
33. Shaving mishaps : NICKS
34. English johns : LOOS
35. Chicago squad in old "S.N.L." skits : DABEARS
36. Passes by : ELAPSES
37. Hunter's freezerful, maybe : VENISON
39. Infantile : BABYISH
40. "Finished!" : ALLDONE
41. View, as the future : SEEINTO
43. Rears of ships : STERNS
44. "Curious George" books, e.g. : KIDLIT
46. Honor with insults : ROAST
47. Charge for a plug? : ADFEE
48. Complete block : BAN
50. SoCal force : LAPD
53. Big inits. in the aerospace industry : ITT
54. Nod from offstage, maybe : CUE

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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