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New York Times, Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Author:
Tim Croce
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
333/12/20106/27/20151
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
01332816
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56001
Tim Croce

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 29 for Mr. Croce. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tim Croce notes:
Once the inspiration came for this theme (no, I wasn't at the zoo when the idea hit), I knew that this was the kind of theme that was ... read more

Once the inspiration came for this theme (no, I wasn't at the zoo when the idea hit), I knew that this was the kind of theme that was just begging for interlock. I honestly wasn't planning for this much interlock, though. My original plan was to have the two vertical theme answers intersect the A two columns closer to the center than what you see here, but I decided for the heck of it to see if I could wedge a seventh in there. (Well, "wedge" is the wrong term, I hope... that implies it fits where it shouldn't have. I suppose you all will be the judges of that.) It was a happy accident that it turned out to have a themeless word count, because the interlock forced my hand here; I needed to keep the sevens in the top left and the sixes in the top right (the unsightly clump of five blocks on the top and bottom were necessary too).

It was also a happy accident that I was able to include 1A and 16A in the same stack; I'd like to say that I meant to do that. With the multitude of 3s and 4s that resulted, my concentration was on the sixes and sevens. I spent more time than usual trying to get as much good fill in the top left and lower right as I could.

Jeff Chen notes:
A really nice change of pace today, a hugely ambitious grid that delivered a quality solving experience for me. A collection of ... read more

A really nice change of pace today, a hugely ambitious grid that delivered a quality solving experience for me. A collection of "adjective as an animal" similes, Tim not only packs in seven strong ones, but does so in a 72-word grid that gives us additional long fill and mostly clean short fill. Quite a fun experience for me, both to solve and to admire as a constructor.

It's easy as a constructor to fall back upon standard methodology in grid design (or even just use grids out of a grid library), so I really like seeing constructors push boundaries. I'm not sure I would have ever come up with the same grid design as Tim, especially considering how he carefully packed everything in. Some crossings will be natural given the simple theme — themers crossed through part of the "AS A" is a natural way to do that — but look how Tim crosses FAT AS A COW and BALD AS A COOT and SLY AS A FOX. Very cool.

And with seven themers, it's altogether too easy to call it good once you can fit them all in. So I really like the extra step, squeezing in BASS ALE over LOCAL PUB and TRASHBIN and ART DECO, all nice answers. As I go back and study this grid, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around how Tim managed to get everything so tightly packed. It's a Tetris-like solution.

There are blips here and there, not surprising due to the level-ridiculous constraints. BIG AS A WHALE overlapping BUSY AS A BEE is naturally going to be problematic, for instance. The ?HS?? pattern is not particularly friendly, so the OH SAY partial is one of the only options there. Our crossword monkey friend ABU shows up too, but that's an impressively low number of glue entries. Tim's work in the west section is remarkably clean, only UGA raising an eyebrow, at least until I remembered how cutely ugly the UGA bulldog mascot is.

Not a mind-blowing theme, but a great example of how to pull something off with panache.

1
B
2
A
3
S
4
S
5
A
6
L
7
E
8
E
9
M
10
B
11
E
12
R
13
S
14
E
D
I
T
I
O
N
15
N
O
I
R
O
N
16
L
O
C
A
L
P
U
17
B
18
C
O
G
I
T
O
19
T
S
K
20
F
A
21
T
A
S
A
C
O
W
22
A
23
B
24
L
25
E
26
L
A
M
E
S
27
L
28
E
S
L
E
Y
29
D
I
P
30
A
31
B
32
U
33
E
L
A
I
N
E
34
A
L
S
35
W
U
S
36
S
37
D
I
D
N
T
38
M
S
S
39
O
H
S
A
Y
40
S
H
O
D
41
D
O
A
42
P
L
A
Y
I
N
43
U
G
A
44
E
T
C
45
S
A
L
A
D
E
46
S
47
O
C
I
O
48
Y
V
E
S
49
S
50
L
51
Y
A
S
A
F
O
52
X
53
A
54
P
55
E
56
T
O
O
B
A
D
57
T
R
58
A
59
S
60
H
B
I
N
61
O
L
D
A
G
E
62
A
R
T
D
E
C
O
63
P
L
A
T
E
S
64
Y
E
S
L
E
T
S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0528 ( 23,577 )
Across
1
British brew with a red triangle logo : BASSALE
8
Ones dying in a fire? : EMBERS
14
Book version : EDITION
15
Permanent-press : NOIRON
16
Neighborhood spot to order 1-Across, say : LOCALPUB
18
"Ergo" preceder : COGITO
19
"You should know better!" : TSK
20
Scale-busting : FATASACOW
22
Up to the task : ABLE
26
Shoots in the foot, maybe : LAMES
27
Gore who sang "It's My Party," 1963 : LESLEY
29
Reason for a road warning : DIP
30
Aladdin's monkey pal : ABU
33
"Seinfeld" gal pal : ELAINE
34
Singers Green and Jardine : ALS
35
Wimpy sort : WUSS
37
Denier's contraction : DIDNT
38
Some advanced degs. : MSS
39
Pregame song opener : OHSAY
40
Like dressage horses : SHOD
41
___ good deed : DOA
42
George Carlin's "___ With Your Head" : PLAYIN
43
The Bulldogs' sch. : UGA
44
Yadda, yadda, yadda : ETC
45
___ niçoise : SALADE
46
Prefix with economic : SOCIO
48
Actor Montand : YVES
49
Quite cunning : SLYASAFOX
53
Gibbon, e.g. : APE
56
"Better luck next time" : TOOBAD
57
Place to eighty-six things : TRASHBIN
61
The golden years : OLDAGE
62
Rockefeller Center style : ARTDECO
63
Armadillo defenses : PLATES
64
"Sure, why not?!" : YESLETS
Down
1
Boxer's trophy : BELT
2
Commotions : ADOS
3
Really ill : SICKASADOG
4
Stop on the tracks: Abbr. : STA
5
Be 3-Down : AIL
6
Cut (off) : LOP
7
Sufficient, informally : ENUF
8
Bivouacs : ENCAMPS
9
Archie Comics character : MOOSE
10
Humongous : BIGASAWHALE
11
Holder of a cabinet position : ERIC
12
___-Rooter : ROTO
13
Monet's "___ Scene at Argenteuil" : SNOW
17
Like a chrome-dome : BALDASACOOT
21
Half of all flips : TAILS
23
Unable to see the "E" on the Snellen chart, say : BLINDASABAT
24
Post-Carnival time : LENT
25
Batter's asset : EYE
27
Watch readouts, briefly : LEDS
28
Yale or Root : ELIHU
31
Working away : BUSYASABEE
32
Foreign relief org. created by J.F.K. : USAID
36
January 1 song title word : SYNE
38
Decorator's theme : MOTIF
39
Kingly name in Norway : OLAV
41
The 1980s and '90s, e.g. : DECADES
42
"Gangnam Style" rapper : PSY
47
___ orange : OSAGE
49
"Freeze!" : STOP
50
Veg out : LOLL
51
Luke Skywalker's mentor : YODA
52
Help in finding fractures : XRAY
54
Ancient Brit : PICT
55
Grandson of Adam : ENOS
58
"Come as you ___" : ARE
59
Block boundaries: Abbr. : STS
60
"Good" cholesterol, briefly : HDL

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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