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New York Times, Friday, May 24, 2019

Author:
Stanley Newman
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
245/5/19845/24/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1832523
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.640012
Stanley Newman

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 34 Missing: {FJK} This is puzzle # 24 for Mr. Newman. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Stanley Newman notes:
This is my 24th New York Times crossword. It has been 983 days since my 23rd. My first was 35 years and 19 days ago. You see, I can't ... read more

This is my 24th New York Times crossword. It has been 983 days since my 23rd. My first was 35 years and 19 days ago. You see, I can't help counting things, and looking for chronological milestones. So you ought to be able to deduce how today's puzzle came about.

Early this year, I discovered that the bicentennial of Queen Victoria's birth was coming up and that it would fall on a Friday. That cried out to me for a Times themeless with QUEEN VICTORIA in the center. So with Will's approval, and a couple of revisions, both to "lively it up" and remove the unfortunate dupe of MEXICANS and TEXMEX (now TEXTED at 40 Across), today's grid was born.

My cluing was intended to be top-to-bottom tough, endeavoring to have as many never-before-seen clues as possible, with as much wordplay meanness as possible. Will did ease up on the overall difficulty but kept my favorites, including the double-twist "Opening of an account" for AS I RECALL (63 Across), "Grp. that no one under 30 can join" for U.S. SENATE (36 Down), "Priciest 1952 Topps baseball card" for MANTLE (27 Down) and the rather long and weird "Fictional land named in some real-life international law cases" for RURITANIA (60 Across)—which avoided the usual citing of "The Prisoner of Zenda".

In the memorable words of the eminent American philosopher Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.

But wait, one more thing. My snooping around 1819 a few months ago turned up another very famous person born exactly one week after the Grandmother of Europe. I think it rather unlikely that next Friday's Times puzzle will mention him, but whether it does or not, you'll be able to find him quickly enough with a Web search.

Jeff Chen notes:
QUEEN VICTORIA's 200th birthday! An excellent feature entry to build around, and so nice to catch the bicentennial. Can you imagine ... read more

QUEEN VICTORIA's 200th birthday! An excellent feature entry to build around, and so nice to catch the bicentennial. Can you imagine people naming an entire (Victorian) era after you? Unfortunately, "Chennian" doesn't have the same ring to it.

Stan's "Saturday Stumper" puzzle in "Newsday" is often the hardest puzzle of the week, of any publication, bar none. It's great for the top of the tip-top solvers who want a devilish challenge. I gave it up a while back because I averaged approximately zero point zero zero letters filled in.

Today's puzzle had a stumper-ish vibe: not many playful clues, and a ton of difficult (to the difficult power) ones. Even the one delightful clue, [London or Manchester] for WRITER made me stop and think. Jack LONDON, yes, but MANCHESTER? That's ... William MANCHESTER, who confusingly was an American? It's clever, but it would have a bigger impact on someone more well-read than me.

TIX are [Passes, informally]? Yes, when they're passes to the movies. [Tool used on foot] is an EDGER? I suppose so, although I've used them while sitting down, too. Why so specific about using them on foot?

Satan is the DEUCE?

Yikes! This is supposed to be the easier of the themelesses, Fri vs. Sat. I bet it's tough for Stan (you ever notice how Stan and Satan only differ by one letter, hmm?) to make things easier when he's so used to aiming for harder than diamonds.

I liked some of the other feature entries, like SLAPDASH, OPEN BAR, LEND AN EAR, US SENATE. There were so many entries that felt out of my generational grasp, though. I do like PASCAL and MANTLE, both timeless fellas. But with the addition of ABRAM, NONCE, LINDY, the puzzle as a whole had a past-tense / historical vibe.

Not a bad thing, considering how many older solvers there are.

However, with how hard it played for me — more a hard Saturday than a Friday — it wasn't my cup of Victorian tea. I'm a big fan of Earl Grey's spicy bite, so I appreciate Will asking Stan to lively (liven?) it up. Could have used another round of iteration in that regard.

Jim Horne notes:
I understand Stanley Newman's reticence to avoid well-worn clues, but no sneaky international law reference is going to stop me from ... read more

I understand Stanley Newman's reticence to avoid well-worn clues, but no sneaky international law reference is going to stop me from being reminded of one of my favorite films, The Prisoner of Zenda. Of course, I mean the 1937 version with Ronald Colman and Madeleine Carroll. There are several other film versions including two previous ones from the silent film era and a near shot-for-shot color remake in 1952 starring Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr, and James Mason. The Colman version is best.

The point is, crossword solving is personal, and a single answer that happens to spark joy, even for tangential reasons, can elevate the whole experience. I enjoyed today's puzzle far more than Jeff did. "We are, in fact, amused."

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0524 ( 25,399 )
Across
1
Too fast to be careful : SLAPDASH
9
Stockpile : HOARD
14
Gaze at, as someone's eyes : STAREINTO
15
Tool used while on foot : EDGER
16
Be heedful : LENDANEAR
17
"___ LANDS!" (headline of 1927) : LINDY
18
Shoe brand that's also a man's name : ALDO
19
Exact match : TWIN
20
Euphemism for Satan, with "the" : DEUCE
21
Unctuous utterances : SMARM
23
Prey for a heron : NEWT
25
Short : SHY
26
TV series inspired by Sherlock Holmes : HOUSEMD
29
Someone glimpsed in a concert film, maybe : ROADIE
31
Rum cocktail : MAITAI
34
Need settling : PEND
35
So-called "Grandmother of Europe," born 5/24/1819 : QUEENVICTORIA
39
Boot : OUST
40
Reached out with one's hands? : TEXTED
41
Inventor of a 17th-century calculator : PASCAL
43
One use for a tablet : EREADER
48
La saison de juillet : ETE
49
Backpack and its contents, e.g. : GEAR
52
What a football penalty may be seen in : SLOMO
53
Time being : NONCE
55
Odds and evens, say : BETS
58
Do so hope : PRAY
59
Pioneering rocket scientist Wernher von ___ : BRAUN
60
Fictional land named in some real-life international law cases : RURITANIA
62
Worshiper of the war god Huitzilopochtli : AZTEC
63
Opening of an account : ASIRECALL
64
Like the sound of an oboe : REEDY
65
Some descendants of 62-Acrosses : MEXICANS
Down
1
Patron of sailors : STELMO
2
Horse-drawn four-wheeled carriage : LANDAU
3
Passions : ARDORS
4
Shade of green : PEA
5
By ___ of : DINT
6
Over : ANEW
7
Bring discredit upon : STAIN
8
Star of Broadway's "The Lady and Her Music," 1981 : HORNE
9
Didn't stray from : HELDTO
10
Cartoon character often shown with his tongue out : ODIE
11
Mass movement : AGNUSDEI
12
Cold War opponent, informally : REDCHINA
13
Not moved at all : DRYEYED
14
URL element : SLASH
22
Rickrolling or the Dancing Baby, e.g. : MEME
24
London or Manchester : WRITER
27
Priciest 1952 Topps baseball card : MANTLE
28
Shabby club : DIVE
30
National Garden Mo. : APR
32
Passes, informally : TIX
33
Part of un opéra : ACTE
35
Louis ___ (French king) : QUATORZE
36
Grp. that no one under 30 can join : USSENATE
37
One way to reduce a sentence : ETC
38
Portion of Alexander Pope's work : ODES
39
Amenity at many a wedding reception : OPENBAR
42
F.B.I., e.g. : AGENCY
44
Source for fine sweaters : ALPACA
45
Jamie ___, co-star in the "Fifty Shades of Grey" movies : DORNAN
46
Modern cause of flooding : EMAILS
47
Kind of jelly : ROYAL
50
Presidential middle name : ABRAM
51
Get more mileage from : REUSE
54
Signaled to start : CUED
56
Colorful breakfast bowlful : TRIX
57
Who often says "I found this on the web" : SIRI
61
Sam Spade, e.g., informally : TEC

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?