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New York Times, Friday, June 10, 2016

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
936/16/20113/23/201917
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1.645163
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 72, Blocks: 28 Missing: {JQV} Spans: 4, (2 double stacks) This is puzzle # 51 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
Wow, this puzzle goes way back! I'd been experimenting with triple-stacked 16-letter entries at the time, and I was frustrated that I always ... read more

Wow, this puzzle goes way back! I'd been experimenting with triple-stacked 16-letter entries at the time, and I was frustrated that I always seemed to ended up with a ton of "meh" short fill, so I decided to switch things up a bit by doing a double stack of 16's. My two main goals were to ensure that my 16's were really snappy and to keep the short fill as clean as possible.

I was very happy with how the top stack turned out: I had just watched the Star Wars movies for the first time, so I was thrilled that EMPEROR PALPATINE fit on top of BATTLE OF THE SEXES! Unfortunately, after placing the rest of the blocks to make the fill in the top as smooth as I could, I ended up having relatively few options for the bottom. I HEAR YOU KNOCKING was new to me, though my parents assured me it was well-known. So at the end of the day, NER was the only entry that really got on my nerves! I ultimately decided that one short stinker was a fair tradeoff for an otherwise-smooth double stack.

My favorite entry in the puzzle is definitely NEOPETS, because it brings back so many fond childhood memories! I used to spend hours playing Ugga Smash, Turmac Roll, Mynci Beach Volleyball, and so many other games on that site. My pets eventually "starved" as I moved on to other interests, but Skiywoof the Gelert will always hold a special place in my heart! On that note, I hope you enjoy my puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun to see the new 16-letter entries. BATTLE OF THE SEXES is great, and COMPOUND SENTENCE's clue — [It has multiple clauses] — does ... read more

Fun to see the new 16-letter entries. BATTLE OF THE SEXES is great, and COMPOUND SENTENCE's clue — [It has multiple clauses] — does a nice job of misdirecting toward a legal contract. I HEAR YOU KNOCKING wasn't immediately familiar to me, but hearing the song got me humming.

Senator PALPATINE, before his "promotion" to EMPEROR

EMPEROR PALPATINE might be divisive. It was a gimme for this lover of all things sci-fi, but I bet it won't do much for solvers who might know him simply as "The Emperor," if at all. Thankfully, every one of the crosses is gettable (Pfizer is the company selling Viagra). As much as I personally love this entry, I'm not sure I'd feature it in a themeless, given its love it / hate it nature.

I wonder if David clued ATAT as [Four-legged "Star Wars" walker]. Again, that would be a completely obvious answer to me but opaque to many others.

Puzzles featuring a lot of grid-spanners often don't pack much punch outside of those feature answers, so it was great to see PETTY TYRANT (crossing EMPEROR PALPATINE!) and the BOILERMAKER. Not sure who came up with the idea to mix beer and whiskey, but they sure gave it a colorful name. And a couple of interesting mid-length answers in CATNAPS, BARBUDA, and the curious NEOPETS. I had thought the "virtual pet" concept died out after Tamagotchis — who knew!

Nice effort to keep the grid clean of crossword glue. WOOER made me struggle — it does seem to be in use as "one who woos," but it sounds odd to my ear. Other than that, the NER Tamid has saved many a constructor trying to fill a difficult region. That bottom left corner is a toughie, with so many long answers intersecting each other.

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N
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P
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A
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B
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W
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0610 ( 24,321 )
Across
1
Popular website with virtual animals : NEOPETS
8
Met for a party? : CAUCUSED
16
Film villain who says "Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side" : EMPERORPALPATINE
18
Classic conflict : BATTLEOFTHESEXES
19
Confederate : UNITE
20
Bold way to solve a crossword : ININK
21
Some AOL exchanges : IMS
22
Like teddies, often : LACY
23
Source of some leather : LIZARD
25
Wheel that runs? : BRIE
26
Rat-___ : ATAT
27
Feckless : INEPT
28
Beau : WOOER
29
Tough to get ahold of : EELY
30
Boots one : ERRS
31
Anytown, U.S.A., sign : MAINST
32
Something hot : RAGE
34
"___ on Fire" (2012 Alicia Keys hit) : GIRL
35
Executor's charge : ESTATE
38
Camp invader : BEAR
40
Bellwether's "belles" : EWES
44
Carried : BORNE
45
Put on hold : TABLE
46
Get-out-of-jail aid, maybe : RASP
47
Go without saying? : OMIT
48
Route through the boondocks : BYROAD
49
Protein-rich paste : MISO
50
___ Tamid (synagogue lamp) : NER
51
Raiser of horses? : TURBO
52
Like some cakes : OATEN
53
Classic R&B hit about a returning lover : IHEARYOUKNOCKING
57
It has multiple clauses : COMPOUNDSENTENCE
58
Honey : SWEETPEA
59
Post-Impressionist Seurat : GEORGES
Down
1
Very distant clouds : NEBULAE
2
Issue : EMANATE
3
Like spectroscopes and microscopes : OPTICAL
4
Dictatorial boss : PETTYTYRANT
5
Director ___ C. Kenton : ERLE
6
Prominent feature of a sloth : TOE
7
Sign adored by angels : SRO
8
Brief refreshers : CATNAPS
9
"The Green Hornet" trumpeter : ALHIRT
10
Stand on its head : UPEND
11
Holder of spirits : CASK
12
Literally, "land of the sun" : UTE
13
Second club used on a par 4 hole, maybe : SIXIRON
14
Adams and Jefferson, e.g. : ENEMIES
15
Final order of things? : DESSERT
17
Big name in drugs : PFIZER
23
Feudal lord : LIEGE
24
Memo starter : INRE
25
Beer-and-whiskey cocktail : BOILERMAKER
28
"... let slip the dogs of ___": Shak. : WAR
31
Stuck : MIRED
33
Grabbed something : ATE
34
Black-tie event : GALA
35
Vernacular much debated in the 1990s : EBONICS
36
By hook or by crook : SOMEHOW
37
Ancient Greek craft : TRIREME
38
Island north of Antigua : BARBUDA
39
Tablet contents, perhaps : EBOOKS
41
Not yet admitted : WAITING
42
Heart : ESSENCE
43
They hold water : SPONGES
45
Power in old films : TYRONE
48
Purchase in large quantity : BUYUP
51
Medium gait : TROT
52
Twice quattuor : OCTO
54
Wild way to go : APE
55
Bit of blood-typing shorthand : NEG
56
21st word of the Pledge of Allegiance : ONE

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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