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New York Times, Monday, May 18, 2015

Author:
Gene Newman
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
153/20/19965/18/20150
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0463110
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1.51000
Gene Newman

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {BJQVZ} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Newman. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Gene Newman notes:
I created my first puzzle while house-sitting for my daughter in San Francisco in 1996. I thought it would be a fun time-filler. I had ... read more

I created my first puzzle while house-sitting for my daughter in San Francisco in 1996. I thought it would be a fun time-filler. I had no computer program, no computer and, of all things, no dictionary — I would drop in to the San Francisco library from time to time to look up a word. I drew the grid with a ruler and pencil and began filling it and erasing and erasing until the paper was in shreds. I was elated to get a conditional reject in the mail from Will Shortz who coached me through several reworks. What a guy!

The yellowing puzzle is framed on my office wall. I try to maneuver visitors over there hoping they'll ask me about it.

Jeff Chen notes:
One my favorite books about the craft of writing is Stephen King's 'On Writing.' Aside from being a master of storytelling, King gives ... read more

One my favorite books about the craft of writing is Stephen King's "On Writing." Aside from being a master of storytelling, King gives great advice about how to make novels compelling. One of his minor tidbits is to avoid adverbs unless absolutely necessary, as those pesky "–ly" words run you the risk of becoming a Tom Swifty farce. I bet King would enjoy today's puzzle as much as I did.

"Uncle Stevie," as he went by in his Entertainment Weekly column

Four great examples of Tom Swifties; I appreciated their outlandish nature. SHIFTLESSLY referring to an automatic transmission, UNWILLNGLY to someone being written out of a will, and OFFHANDEDLY to a Poe-esque dehandification. They exemplify the ridiculous nature that a good Tom Swifty ought to exhibit. WITHERINGLY was a bit too close to the actual look, which makes a person wither like a dried-up plant, but three out of four ain't bad.

Nice, clean grid, much appreciated for a Monday. I noticed OLA as I went and a bit of STS / YTD at the very end, but I appreciated Gene's efforts to keep the grid smooth enough for novice solvers. LICIT is a tough word, but it's easily inferable from the more common "illicit."

It would have been nice to get a little more long fill, though. You see the black square between REAM and AINT? If it had been shifted one square to the right, that would have opened up two nice slots for nine-letter fill (at 19-D and its symmetrical spot). Would have also served to open up the grid, reducing how separated the center of the grid is from the rest.

No doubt this would have made filling the grid cleanly more difficult, but I think it's doable. Entries like TOY SHOP help to spice up a grid, so getting a few more pieces of long fill would have been great.

King once said "the road to hell is paved with adverbs," but I think sparing use is just fine. Plus, if J.K. Rowling's road is one to hell, I'm sticking my thumb out to hitch a ride. (He said, richly.)

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0518 ( 23,932 )
Across
1
Ostrichlike bird : EMU
4
Alternative to rock and scissors : PAPER
9
T-bone, for one : STEAK
14
Sought office : RAN
15
Girl who was a guest at the Mad Hatter's tea party : ALICE
16
Bird on the back of a quarter : EAGLE
17
Column's opposite : ROW
18
"You forgot to water the plants," Tom said ___ : WITHERINGLY
20
Hunter constellation : ORION
22
Poems whose titles often start "To a ..." : ODES
23
Playwright Hellman : LILLIAN
26
Savory filled pastries : SAMOSAS
31
Delivered, as a punch : LANDED
33
Pop-up or foul : MISHIT
34
Prefix with cycle or color : TRI
36
Stared stupidly : GAPED
38
Doorbell sound : CHIME
39
Get the ___ of : HANG
41
Reaction to the Beatles in 1964 or Justin Bieber in 2010 : MANIA
43
Not many : AFEW
44
Former F.B.I. director J. ___ Hoover : EDGAR
46
Lawful : LICIT
48
Gridiron scores, for short : TDS
49
Salmon serving : FILLET
51
Lowly, as labor : MENIAL
53
North Pole workplace : TOYSHOP
55
Sound systems : STEREOS
58
Pitcher : EWER
60
"Saturday Night Fever" music genre : DISCO
61
"Oh, I just fed the alligator," Tom said ___ : OFFHANDEDLY
67
What crosswalks cross: Abbr. : STS
68
The "P" of R.S.V.P. : PLAIT
69
Hit 1977 musical with the song "It's the Hard-Knock Life" : ANNIE
70
Meadow : LEA
71
Prom duds for guys : TUXES
72
Fills, as a washer : LOADS
73
Since Jan. 1 : YTD
Down
1
Swashbuckling Flynn : ERROL
2
Native New Zealander : MAORI
3
"As much as I'd like, you're not getting any of my estate," Tom said ___ : UNWILLINGLY
4
Hocking : PAWNING
5
"___ Baba and the 40 Thieves" : ALI
6
Poe's "The ___ and the Pendulum" : PIT
7
Sound effect in a long hallway : ECHO
8
Baby Moses was found among them : REEDS
9
Earth-shaking : SEISMIC
10
Light brown : TAN
11
What might be cooked once over easy : EGG
12
Everybody : ALL
13
Item often kept on a chain : KEY
19
500 sheets of paper : REAM
21
Suffix with schnozz : OLA
24
Eve's man : ADAM
25
2015 earthquake locale : NEPAL
27
Dept. of Labor arm : OSHA
28
"Being a bit lazy, I prefer automatic," Tom said ___ : SHIFTLESSLY
29
Directed (at) : AIMED
30
Worries : STEWS
32
Jeans material : DENIM
34
Piracy, e.g. : THEFT
35
SiriusXM medium : RADIO
37
Cuts into cubes : DICES
40
Guys' partners : GALS
42
Fats Waller's "___ Misbehavin'" : AINT
45
Microwaves, say : REHEATS
47
Colors, as hippies' shirts : TIEDYES
50
Village : TOWN
52
___ Ben Canaan of "Exodus" : ARI
54
Part of a piano or bike : PEDAL
56
Duo quadrupled : OCTET
57
"It pains me to hear that" : SOSAD
59
So-called "Biggest Little City in the World" : RENO
61
Choose (to) : OPT
62
Annual winter outbreak : FLU
63
Obsolescent means of communication : FAX
64
Hasten : HIE
65
Genetic stuff : DNA
66
Cornea cover : LID

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

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