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New York Times, Saturday, May 9, 2015

Author: Kristian House
Editor: Will Shortz
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1.65023
Kristian House

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 28 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. House. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kristian House notes: The seed entries for this one were 1-, 17-, and 58-Across along with 12- and 31-Down. I wasn't sure if 31-Down would pass ... more
Kristian House notes:

The seed entries for this one were 1-, 17-, and 58-Across along with 12- and 31-Down. I wasn't sure if 31-Down would pass muster, but I gave it a shot, and Will was okay with it. I wanted to get 58-Across into a puzzle for a little while since my boys are big fans of the show, and they begged me to try to work it into a grid, so I was pleased when I was able to get it into this puzzle.

I really like the mini-theme in the upper right side of the puzzle as well; 11-Down crossing 29-Across was a happy accident, so when I moved to the center, I decided to take it a step further by getting 42-Across in there, too.

I had a lot of fun making this puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes: Some really strong entries featured today, MUFFIN TOP bringing me back to my days of obsessively watching 'Seinfeld.' And that ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Some really strong entries featured today, MUFFIN TOP bringing me back to my days of obsessively watching "Seinfeld." And that upper-right corner is an absolute beauty, anchored by EVOLUTION running through both MUTATE and DARWIN, along with a BATARANG and a SPYGLASS tucked in. Not to mention, what a great clue for KING TUT — [Royal who toured the U.S. in the late 1970s] said nothing about the royal being alive!

A while back, I wrote a Saturday Stumper for Stan Newman, and he mentioned that one or two short entries were iffy in that they were "un-Stumperable." I didn't quite get what he meant, but today's puzzle made it click into place. In order to make a puzzle tough, it's important to have multiple ways of cluing an entry. Bits like AGHA, AMAH, and OGEE fall into that bucket. To regular solvers, [Eastern nurse] or [Asian au pair] is a dead giveaway for AMAH. And cluing it in some arcane manner would just be unfair. So I can understand how Stan would see it as critical to avoid these usual suspects in a puzzle meant to be extra-challenging.

Doctor Who's TARDIS was a source of awesome MIT-Caltech prankery

On that note of difficulty, I would have loved something harder for ONE IN FOUR. Those numbers felt arbitrary to me, and the clue was so easy that it felt like cheating to fill in the answer. Perhaps something more crunchy, more satisfying to suss out, like [Chance of heterozygous parents imparting a recessive gene]? Or [Chance of rolling a 5 or 6 in craps]? The latter is too arbitrary, but figuring it out entertained me.

Finally, a note on DOCTOR WHO. Although I've dedicated way too many brain cells to Star Wars and Star Trek esoterica, I've never seen DOCTOR WHO. I still find it a perfectly fine entry though, as it's popular (albeit niche) in sci-fi. "Time lord" would be too much as an entry for me, but that term makes for a perfectly good clue. Nice to learn more vocab I can use in metaphors to baffle my wife (who once thought "Live long and prosper" was a quote from Benjamin Franklin).

JimH notes: Jane Krakowski singing Muffin Top.
1
M
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F
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F
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0509 ( 23,923 )
Across Down
1. Effect of tightening an extra-tight belt, maybe : MUFFINTOP
10. Grilled dish : KEBAB
15. Chance of getting heads on two consecutive coin flips : ONEINFOUR
16. First name among 1991 divorcées : IVANA
17. "Whatever" : ASIFICARE
18. Vacationing, say : NOTIN
19. You might live by one : TENET
20. Tool for Capt. Jack Sparrow : SPYGLASS
22. Put up with put-downs : EATDIRT
25. Surgeon's closing line? : SUTURE
26. Shakes : DTS
27. Division of geology : AEON
29. Undergo change : MUTATE
31. Do halfheartedly : PLAYAT
33. Photoshop range : TINTS
34. Ottoman commander : AGHA
37. Common cry from a younger sibling : METOO
39. S-shaped line : OGEE
40. Trial and error, e.g. : NOUNS
42. Champion of 11-Down : DARWIN
44. Dish providers : YENTAS
46. First human character on "Sesame Street" : LUIS
47. Considerably : FAR
50. It burned and crashed in 1979 : SKYLAB
52. Marine mollusk named for its earlike tentacles : SEAHARE
54. 17-24, for Miss America : AGELIMIT
56. Reagan nickname : DUTCH
57. San Rafael is its seat : MARIN
58. Long-running show about a Time Lord : DOCTORWHO
61. It was boosted by Titan : AGENA
62. Opposite of bore : ENTERTAIN
63. Main antagonist in Disney's "Hercules" : HADES
64. Monopoly property : TENNESSEE
1. Like some castles and zoo exhibits : MOATED
2. Disposition? : UNSEAT
3. Diversionary tactics : FEINTS
4. Tootled, in a way : FIFED
5. Bit of product personalization : INITIAL
6. Org. for Cardinals and Saints : NFC
7. ___ turn (perfectly) : TOA
8. Partnership indicator : OURS
9. Sets up, informally : PREPS
10. Royal who toured the U.S. in the late 1970s : KINGTUT
11. Change of life : EVOLUTION
12. Weapon for the Caped Crusader : BATARANG
13. Flavorer for an espresso shot : ANISETTE
14. Blacks out : BANS
21. Indication of a pleased palate : YUM
23. Staples staple : REAM
24. Flirted (with) : TOYED
28. Port whose name means "Christmas" : NATAL
30. Legal suffix : ESE
31. Female fashion faux pas : PANTYLINE
32. Hula hoop, for one : TORUS
34. Even a single : ANY
35. Flips : GOESGAGA
36. Refused to yield, with "down" : HUNKERED
38. Boo-boo : OWIE
41. Home of California's National Steinbeck Center : SALINAS
43. Rosenfeld who wrote the best seller "Live Now, Age Later" : ISADORE
45. McCloud of 1970s TV's "McCloud" : SAM
47. Rulings from muftis : FATWAS
48. Griffin who's the only two-time Heisman winner : ARCHIE
49. Sharpen anew : REHONE
51. John's accompanier : BIDET
53. Hamstrings or kneecaps : HURTS
54. Asian au pair : AMAH
55. Mood : TONE
59. FedEx unit: Abbr. : CTN
60. The U.S. Treasury is on its back : TEN

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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