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New York Times, Saturday, May 3, 2014

Author:
Sam Ezersky
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
297/28/201211/8/20189
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211334105
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1.71200
Sam Ezersky

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 30 Missing: {QVX} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Ezersky. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Sam Ezersky notes:
One of my favorite parts of crossword construction is being able to express my interests through juicy fill. This is especially why I ... read more

One of my favorite parts of crossword construction is being able to express my interests through juicy fill. This is especially why I most enjoy creating themeless puzzles, as there are so many possibilities for fresh entries that I can squeeze into each grid. A classic rocker at heart, I chose BABA O'RILEY to be the seed for this puzzle, and packed the grid with several other answers I felt connected to me: the SAY HEY KID of my favorite sport, the TOP HONORS I'm currently striving for as a first year at UVA, the modern-day "ABOUT THAT" I know I use a bit too often, and more!

I submitted this original grid back in early 2013, but Will replied that I needed to get rid of the ugly abbreviation ENER. (8D) in order for the puzzle to be reconsidered for acceptance. After several hours of revision, including another struck-down attempt, I stumbled across the very lucky pairing of OPERA MUSIC and BOY SOPRANO that fit nicely with my current 1A as well as preserved most of the original grid's fill ... perfect! Sure enough, Will acknowledged that the newest revision "turned out great," and wrote some pretty killer clues for me; I cannot claim the cluing brilliance behind 1A, 17A, the 19A/22A combo, 50A, 24D, 36D, 37D (evil!), and the saves made to the otherwise poorer entries 31D and 52D. Really glad he left mine in for 35A though :)

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed solving this puzzle as much as I enjoyed making it! Thanks to everyone involved for continuing to make this dream possible!

Jeff Chen notes:
Beautiful work today out of the SAY HEY KID himself, Sam, one of the prodigies of the crossworld. Talk about a tough construction ... read more

Beautiful work today out of the SAY HEY KID himself, Sam, one of the prodigies of the crossworld. Talk about a tough construction today. Sam starts where most themeless constructors finish, with two sets of triple-stacked 8's and two set of 10's. Then he connects the 8's across the middle of the grid. And then uses two more long answers to connect that central answer to the 10's. Finally, he throws in a couple more 7's and 8's to boot! And with such snazzy results, the overall pa-pow is impressive.

What's really outstanding about this puzzle is how effectively Sam manages to use his long spots. Everything from MAKES A MESS to TOP HONORS to SLAM DANCED to SAY HEY KID, such awesome answers in the corners. But it doesn't stop there — ALASKAN KING CRAB across the middle? MURDER INC, one of my favorite entries in recent memory as a connector? Out of 17 (!) slots for 8+ long entries, I really liked (or loved) 13 of them, and the other four were fine. A really impressive hit rate.

And the cluing. As with any strong Saturday, I expect a handful of clues that push me one way and give a great a-ha when I finally find my footing. [Bond film?] was really nice ("bond" as in glue, not "Bond" as in "Bond, James Bond"), [One hanging by a thread?] made me think of SPIDERS or TRUANTS or something, so TASSEL provided me a smile.

This puzzle is not going to be for everyone, as some hold the opinion that any puzzle with a handful of GLUE entries cannot be stellar. I'd certainly agree that I'd prefer not to have ODO, ABAA, and especially A POSE (DIETZ I'm still on the fence about), but I find these well worth the price for the TEAPOT DOME / BABA O'RILEY / BOY SOPRANO / ABOUT THAT snazziness.

My one hesitation, and it was big enough that I waffled whether or not to give this the POW, was the clue for ALASKAN KING CRAB. Sometimes I feel like a clue is trying too hard, or comes off too cutesy, or in this case, a bit creepy. I'm all for fun or funny innuendo, but there was something icky to me about the juxtaposition of "luscious legs" and eating crab legs (perhaps it evoked an image of George Costanza (from "Seinfeld") mixing his favorite pleasures?). Even the "long, luscious legs" phrase made my skin crawl a bit. Surely others will laugh at this clue, but I bet there will be others like me that were uncomfortable with this language. It's too bad that it was at the centerpiece entry.

ADDED NOTE: I had an enlightening conversation with Jim, who thought the aforementioned clue was fantastic. It's always eye-opening when I hear an opinion so different from mine — nice to get the reminder that most everything in art is subjective.

Overall, I thought this puzzle was dynamite. TOP HONORS to Sam this week.

Jim Horne notes:
Six Beatles songs: 'Ain't SHE Sweet' (1961), 'I Want You (SHE's So Heavy)' (1969), 'SHE Came in Through the Bathroom Window' (1969), ... read more

Six Beatles songs: "Ain't SHE Sweet" (1961), "I Want You (SHE's So Heavy)" (1969), "SHE Came in Through the Bathroom Window" (1969), "SHE Loves You" (1963), "SHE Said SHE Said" (1966), "SHE's a Woman" (1964).

1
M
2
A
3
K
4
E
5
S
6
A
7
M
8
E
9
S
10
S
11
A
12
T
13
A
14
D
15
O
P
E
R
A
M
U
S
I
C
16
B
O
B
O
17
B
O
Y
S
O
P
R
A
N
O
18
S
P
O
T
19
I
S
E
E
20
D
I
E
T
21
Z
22
H
U
H
23
L
E
D
24
M
25
M
E
26
W
I
I
27
M
O
T
E
28
T
I
A
R
29
A
30
A
G
E
N
T
J
31
P
32
S
A
L
M
I
S
33
T
34
C
O
H
O
35
A
L
A
S
K
A
N
K
I
36
N
37
G
C
R
A
B
38
L
A
Y
S
39
C
O
M
E
L
A
S
T
40
P
C
H
E
41
L
42
P
43
F
E
T
U
S
44
H
E
E
L
E
R
45
S
46
S
H
E
47
F
48
C
49
C
50
A
N
Y
51
G
O
T
52
A
T
53
K
A
R
L
54
S
A
K
55
E
56
B
A
B
A
57
O
58
R
I
L
E
Y
59
I
M
I
T
60
S
L
A
M
D
A
N
C
E
D
61
G
E
D
S
62
T
E
A
P
O
T
D
O
M
E
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0503 ( 23,552 )
Across
1. Is guilty of disorderly conduct? : MAKESAMESS
11. Not much : ATAD
15. Accompaniment for a 17-Across : OPERAMUSIC
16. Film featuring Peter Sellers as a matador, with "The" : BOBO
17. Kid getting into treble : BOYSOPRANO
18. Gym request : SPOT
19. Indication that you get it : ISEE
20. ___ & Watson (big name in deli meat) : DIETZ
22. Indication that you don't get it : HUH
23. Played a club, maybe : LED
24. What to call some femmes: Abbr. : MME
26. Hand-held game device : WIIMOTE
28. Wedding gown accessory : TIARA
30. 1997 role for Will Smith : AGENTJ
31. David, e.g. : PSALMIST
34. Fish also known as a blue jack : COHO
35. One with long, luscious legs : ALASKANKINGCRAB
38. Wagers : LAYS
39. Trail : COMELAST
40. Geek Squad service : PCHELP
43. Internal development? : FETUS
44. Many party hacks : HEELERS
46. Word in the titles of six songs by the Beatles : SHE
47. TV monitor, for short : FCC
50. Quantity that makes another quantity by adding an "m" at the front : ANY
51. Intimated : GOTAT
53. Sociologist Mannheim : KARL
54. Teriyaki go-with : SAKE
56. 1971 song that was the "CSI: NY" theme : BABAORILEY
59. Cry that makes children run away : IMIT
60. Performed hits at a concert? : SLAMDANCED
61. Some home-schoolers get them, briefly : GEDS
62. 1920s scandal : TEAPOTDOME
Down
1. Brand paired with On the Run convenience stores : MOBIL
2. Strike ___ : APOSE
3. Excited, with "up" : KEYED
4. Source of the word "trousers" : ERSE
5. Common word on a Portuguese map : SAO
6. Tour tote : AMP
7. Organized crime enforcers of the 1930s-'40s : MURDERINC
8. Morales of film : ESAI
9. Power cord? : SINEW
10. Burns's land, to Burns : SCOTIA
11. ___ of steel : ABS
12. First place : TOPHONORS
13. "Since you mentioned it ..." : ABOUTTHAT
14. Cut it : DOTHEJOB
21. Slalom path part : ZIG
24. What some formulas are based on : MILK
25. 24-Down producer, informally : MAMA
27. Large magnets? : MECCAS
28. One hanging by a thread? : TASSEL
29. Want from : ASKOF
31. Boston, Chicago or Kansas : PLACENAME
32. Follower of the Sultan of Swat in career homers : SAYHEYKID
33. Email attachment? : TIMESTAMP
35. Warren Buffett's college fraternity, informally : ALPHASIG
36. Where to find Edam and Gouda: Abbr. : NETH
37. Bond film? : GLUE
41. Tour part : LEG
42. Moderator of Tribal Councils on TV : PROBST
45. Like some humor : STALE
47. "Nurse Jackie" star : FALCO
48. Bygone publication subtitled "America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine" : CREEM
49. 1967 title role for Warren Beatty : CLYDE
52. Rhyme pattern at the end of a villanelle : ABAA
53. Clement : KIND
55. Coneheads, e.g., for short : ETS
57. Lead-in to meter : ODO
58. Singer : RAT

Answer summary: 14 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?