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New York Times, Thursday, May 28, 2015

Author: Jeff Chen
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
907/5/201010/11/201852
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2467172088
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1.634192
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 37 Missing: {JQWXZ} This is puzzle # 39 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Jeff Chen notes: The concept for this one tumbled out of a brainstorming session with an up-and-coming constructor; it sprung out as an offshoot from ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

The concept for this one tumbled out of a brainstorming session with an up-and-coming constructor; it sprung out as an offshoot from another idea we had been discussing. He declined my offer to co-construct, but I'd never have come up with this one if it hadn't been for him spurring me on. So, I thought I'd at the very least I'd acknowledge him:

Be on the lookout for Lars V. (55-Down)!

Jeff Chen notes: I started searching for themers by hand, working with favorable letter patterns to turn out entries like SCHOOLED = SHOE + COLD. But ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I started searching for themers by hand, working with favorable letter patterns to turn out entries like SCHOOLED = SHOE + COLD. But that seemed like a silly way to approach the problem. Why not use all the modern tools at one's disposal?

Thanks to Bob Klahn, who spurred me on to pick up programming again, I was able to futz out a Python script which helped me to turn up many more options. I was delighted to find so many fine two-word phrases in particular. And when ALTERNATION turned up, it sealed the deal.

I used to be able to play almost all of the Bach Cello Suites (badly)

But how to work in ALTERNATION to the cool EVEN / ODDS revealer? Luckily I had CELLO SUITES as a symmetrical entry to ALTERNATION, but having those two as my first and last themers and EVEN / ODDS in the center only allowed for two additional themers, for a total of five.

Or did it? I normally dislike overstuffing of themage, since it tends to cause ugly or even egregious fill, but I figured I'd at least see what was possible with seven themers. I experimented with a few dozen combinations, and this stacking pattern with BLUETITS over FREE MEAL over ALTERNATION gave me enough of what I wanted: flexibility in fill plus the ability to work in some good medium-length fill. The grid doesn't allow for as much juicy long entries as I usually like, but I had fun monkeying with all the seven-letter slots.

And my favorite entry of the grid? It amuses me to no end to imagine speed solvers stalling out at the kooky-looking EINK [Noise from a scared pig?]. I'm a huge fan of Kindles and e-readers in general, so I was happy to work in E-INK.

Apologies to the non-physics ubergeeks out there if the ENTROPY / MESONS combination stumped you. One of my alternate grids also contained Z BOSONS — probably a good thing I (just barely) managed to restrain myself.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0528 ( 23,942 )
Across Down
1. CBS's "___: Cyber" : CSI
4. Facet : ASPECT
10. Sound at a sauna : AHH
13. Many a school benefactor : ALUM
14. Middle of a square, maybe : STATUE
15. John : LOO
16. Hits hard + famed spokescow = some Bach compositions : CELLOSUITES
18. Exceptional start? : BUT
19. "Star Wars" whistler, for short : ARTOO
20. Rends + word of regret = commuter's purchase : RAILPASS
22. Cloak + Egyptian deity = some spooks : CIASPIES
25. C. S. Lewis land : NARNIA
26. "That ___ you" : ISNT
27. "Law & Order" spinoff, familiarly : SVU
28. Technology inside Kindles : EINK
29. Shakespearean assents : AYS
30. Show of hands? : CLAP
31. Noneditorial matter : ADPAGE
33. With 34-Across, 50-50 chance ... or a hint to answering six equations in this puzzle : EVEN
34. See 33-Across : ODDS
35. Superior woman? : ABBESS
38. Rain slightly : SPIT
39. Jumper line : HEM
42. Back : REAR
43. Home of Umm al-Quwain, for short : UAE
44. Something braided on a farm : MANE
45. Monotony : TEDIUM
48. Rear + floral rings = colorful birds : BLUETITS
50. Relief org. + stagger = soup kitchen offering : FREEMEAL
52. Back in : RETRO
53. "Holy ... !!!" : OMG
54. Duke's ride + slowly = this puzzle's theme : ALTERNATION
57. Turkoman, e.g. : RUG
58. Lines often in Latin : MOTTOS
59. Drops out? : NAPS
60. Classic roadsters : MGS
61. "Don't rush me!" : INASEC
62. Choice word : ANY
1. Intelligentsia : CLERISY
2. Mideast V.I.P.s : SULTANS
3. "Whoa, whoa, whoa - go back" : IMLOST
4. Fool : ASS
5. Good name for an R.V. inhabitant? : STU
6. Couples : PAIRSUP
7. Italian suffix for "small" : ETTA
8. Bring up to speed : CUEIN
9. Palo Alto-based car company : TESLA
10. NATO member since 2009 : ALBANIA
11. Dormitories and apartments : HOUSING
12. Winter serving in a Japanese restaurant : HOTSAKE
13. Gum arabic source : ACACIA
17. No longer available, as a book: Abbr. : OOP
21. Readies : PREPS
23. Key chain? : ISLES
24. Writer Osnos of The New Yorker : EVAN
30. Pharmacy chain : CVS
31. Bye line? : ADIEU
32. "Silent Spring" topic, in brief : DDT
33. Spine-tingling : EERIE
34. Olympic Australis is the world's largest one : OPAL
35. Novel, sonata or sonnet : ARTFORM
36. One hanging around a bar? : BEERMUG
37. No-goodniks : BADEGGS
38. Some temporary residences : SUBLETS
39. Citizen of the second-oldest independent country in the New World : HAITIAN
40. Topic of the second law of thermodynamics : ENTROPY
41. Quark-plus-antiquark particles : MESONS
44. Italian smoker, for short : MTETNA
46. "Savoriness," in Japanese : UMAMI
47. Head, in slang : MELON
49. A good one is under 3.00, in brief : ERA
51. The U.N.'s Kofi ___ Annan : ATTA
55. Anonymous name in court cases : ROE
56. White House advisory grp. : NSC

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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