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New York Times, Thursday, May 28, 2015

Author:
Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
997/5/20106/13/201960
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2578172598
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.636212
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
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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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.

1
C
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A
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0528 ( 23,942 )
Across
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
Down
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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