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New York Times, Saturday, May 31, 2014

Author: John Lampkin
Editor: Will Shortz
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912/15/20108/22/20180
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2203011
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1.58001
John Lampkin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 24 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Lampkin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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John Lampkin notes: I teach piano and composition for a living. After a lesson, a student mentioned POOL NOODLE in conversation. Because I lead a ... more
John Lampkin notes: I teach piano and composition for a living. After a lesson, a student mentioned POOL NOODLE in conversation. Because I lead a sheltered life, that was new vocabulary. Because I'm a constructor it was an omen and a seed!
Jeff Chen notes: Wow, what a workout today! I'm not skilled enough yet to solve every Saturday puzzle without a peek or two, but much of the time I ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Wow, what a workout today! I'm not skilled enough yet to solve every Saturday puzzle without a peek or two, but much of the time I can finish, given enough time. Today's however tied me up and tossed me down that flight of black squares running down the middle. A fine construction though, one that will help me become a better solver. That's one thing I like best about Saturday puzzles — even if you can't do them, looking at the answers to figure out how you might have been able to solve them is a great way to improve solving skills. I'd go so far as to say it's the best way.

John takes on a huge challenge today. Triple-stacking 10's is a difficult enough task. Often constructors must section of that triple-stack with lots of black squares. It's really tough to come up with a good stack that has clean crossings. Introducing a quad-stack makes things way, way more difficult. And check out what's going on in the SE corner: five long entries atop each other. I've never tried this, and I'm not sure I will. I find it just too difficult to come up with entries that are both snappy as clean.

So I was a bit nervous going in, wondering what types of entries I might see. I expected a lot of Wheel of Fortune free letters (RSTLN E), and there was a good amount of that. ESSENES is indeed a [Sect in ancient Judea], but it's not an entry a lot of constructors would get a kick out of seeing in their own construction. It does make things much easier up there though, what with the terminal E's and S's it allows for. I really, really liked the STREET FAIR / POOL NOODLE / ROUGH RIDER stack, and felt like ESSENES cheapened it a bit.

Where I thought the puzzle shined was in the other corners, the NE and SW. Having a much smaller space to work with, John works in great stuff. SMART ALEC next to TIGER MOTH and JERSEYITE, yes! And ONE LINERS with GO BANANAS and SNOW GLOBE, double yes! It's too bad there are a few NEBO ANON ENO AGR pieces holding them together, but overall those were so lively that I didn't really mind.

Sometimes Saturday puzzles go in the misdirectional wordplay direction (which is my favorite) but other times they go in a Stan Newman Newsday Saturday Stumper direction, and this one was the latter for me. With so many opaque clues like [Intensify] and [Cuckoo] and [Cuckoo] and [Some working parts] I found it very difficult to even get a toehold. At first I got frustrated, but quickly remembered that these types of situations are often the best learning experiences. An hour later, I finished. Okay, sort of finished. Okay, cheated! But the important point is that I went back and studied to admire all the good stuff that went into it. And perhaps the next Stumper-ish puzzle I'll solve with flying colors.

Or cheat. I'm okay with that.

1
S
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E
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F
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E
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0531 ( 23,580 )
Across Down
1. Cause of an artery blockage : STREETFAIR
11. Some working parts : COGS
15. Foam item at a water park : POOLNOODLE
16. Coming up, to milady : ANON
17. Follower of Roosevelt : ROUGHRIDER
18. Jordan's Mount ___, from which Jericho can be seen : NEBO
19. Innards : ENTRAILS
20. Black hat : OUTLAW
22. Sect in ancient Judea : ESSENES
23. Lacking backing : SOLOING
24. E.R. units : CCS
25. Protective, in a way : PATERNAL
26. Missouri city, informally : STJOE
29. Knuckle-bruiser : MELEE
30. "Discreet Music" musician : ENO
31. Ludwig ___ van der Rohe : MIES
32. "In" : LIKED
33. Seizure : GRAB
34. Field of fields?: Abbr. : AGR
35. Acoustic units : SONES
36. Hunter of a 20-Across : POSSE
37. Standbys : RESERVES
39. "___ Nibelungenlied" : DAS
40. Like hospital patients and much lumber : TREATED
41. Ephemeral : PASSING
45. "Saving Fish From Drowning" author : AMYTAN
46. Carry on : CONTINUE
47. Mom on "Malcolm in the Middle" : LOIS
48. Free : EMANCIPATE
50. James of jazz : ETTA
51. Hallmarks of Hallmark : SENTIMENTS
52. Old TV news partner of David : CHET
53. Visual expertise : TRAINEDEYE
1. Tear : SPREE
2. Pluto and Bluto, e.g. : TOONS
3. Debacles : ROUTS
4. Some Prado hangings : ELGRECOS
5. Intensify : ENHANCE
6. Conservative side : TORIES
7. Some candy wrappers : FOILS
8. Interjects : ADDS
9. ___ Sainte-Croix : ILE
10. Established in a new place, as a shrub : REROOTED
11. Hymn leader : CANTOR
12. They may be thrown out to audiences : ONELINERS
13. Flip out : GOBANANAS
14. One left shaken? : SNOWGLOBE
21. Lead role in the film known in France as "L'Or de la Vie" : ULEE
23. Brokers' goal : SALES
25. Some lap dogs : PEKES
26. Class clown, e.g. : SMARTALEC
27. A woolly bear becomes one : TIGERMOTH
28. Springsteen, notably : JERSEYITE
29. Like diamonds and gold : MINED
32. Trysting site : LOVENEST
33. Dished : GOSSIPED
35. Overseas deb: Abbr. : SRTA
36. Hobby : PASTIME
38. Distresses : EATSAT
39. 1978 Broadway revue that opens with "Hot August Night" : DANCIN
41. Rialto and others : PONTI
42. Cuckoo : INANE
43. Cuckoo : NUTTY
44. Big V, maybe : GEESE
46. Veronese's "The Wedding at ___" : CANA
49. Bleu body : MER

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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