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New York Times, Friday, June 12, 2015

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
916/16/20112/2/201917
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66681130222
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1.645163
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 30 Missing: {Q} This is puzzle # 41 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
Did you notice my new picture? I actually looked exactly like my 14-year-old photo until last week, when I magically aged four years. ... read more

Did you notice my new picture? I actually looked exactly like my 14-year-old photo until last week, when I magically aged four years. How did this happen? I contacted the spell-caster who haunts Rex Parker's blog comments, and just like that, I looked my age! I'm still waiting for the girl of my dreams to knock on my door and beg to date me, but the spell-caster seriously changed my life. You should contact him, too!

Anyway, this puzzle dates back to November 2013. My initial seed entry was JEWELRY BOX, and I was thrilled to discover that TAJIKISTAN fit two rows up without necessitating any unfortunate entries in the upper right. The other corners didn't turn out quite as smoothly, but I was nonetheless pleased to work in MASS EXODUS, TRAVEL TIME, ELECTROLUX, RAZORBACKS, and SLEAZEBALL. And I really like how LA VIDA LOCA intersects the tens in the lower left!

If I were constructing this puzzle today, I probably would've been tougher on certain pieces of crosswordese (EELER, ENERO, ORT, ISERE, ALTA, etc.). But that's just me being a perfectionist — after all, themeless grids with four triple-stacks of long entries often require more compromises than other themeless grid patterns. I hope you enjoy the puzzle — and don't forget to contact that spell-caster!

Jeff Chen notes:
Solid puzzle from the soon-to-be Stanford man. I was amused by David's struggles to choose between all these top schools he was ... read more

Solid puzzle from the soon-to-be Stanford man. I was amused by David's struggles to choose between all these top schools he was accepted into — for a guy interested in 1.) computer science 2.) entrepreneurship and 3.) cross-disciplinary study, was there any real choice?

Couldn't be that I'm biased, of course.

I may have omitted to mention Stanford's lack of dating life on campus. Ahem.

Standard themeless layout, triple-stacked 10s in the four corners. There isn't any marquee answer that sizzles, but so many of them are colorful. JEWELRY BOX was my favorite, partially because it's such a nice Scrabbly entry with the J and X, and partially because its clue was fantastic. I couldn't figure out what kind of FEATURE FILM or BLOCKBUSTER would have a cameo, a la Hitchcock appearing in most (all?) of his films. Turns out it was the "ring" meaning of "cameo." D'oh!

I've come to really prize these great combinations of colorful entry and awesome clue. It's neat to learn something completely new, i.e. the latest social networking thing or cutting-edge rapper, but to get an snappy entry in its own right with a wickedly clever clue is a real treat.

Now that's a cameo!

Ah, the poor dying NOOK. At least it serves a purpose in crosswordland, throwing me off by making me plunk in IPAD.

Speaking of misdirection, great one with [French body of water]. MER. No, EAU. Dang it, LAC!

I think more and more about "unstumperables" these days — short words that Stan Newman doesn't allow because they give away the game too easily. ORT falls into this category for me, as does ENERO. Not only are they answers nearly impossible to make devious (in a fair way), but they take a lot away from the solving experience crossword for me. Maybe it's the Maleskan feel they lend?

Personal preference, anyway. I bet plenty of people were overjoyed to see [Repast remnant] because ORT helped them break into that section.

Awesome clue on [Invasive plant]. Made me think of pulling out ivy from a local park. But a SPY is also invasive! And fun use of language in [You might call it an early night] for DUSK.

1
M
2
O
3
T
4
E
5
T
6
A
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J
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I
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K
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I
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S
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T
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A
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N
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A
C
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O
N
A
R
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M
P
A
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S
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A
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J
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W
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B
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A
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N
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N
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S
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E
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B
E
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Y
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X
F
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O
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G
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L
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D
E
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S
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K
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O
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K
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Y
A
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D
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T
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E
V
E
N
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T
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S
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U
N
M
E
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T
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I
F
N
O
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T
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A
S
A
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S
T
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E
R
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D
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G
O
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Z
O
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N
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P
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I
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S
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H
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U
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G
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D
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E
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C
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L
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A
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66
R
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67
S
L
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0612 ( 23,957 )
Across
1
Minute bit : MOTE
5
Land bordering western China : TAJIKISTAN
15
Field fraction : ACRE
16
Like the Hulk, typically : ONARAMPAGE
17
One having a ball at the circus? : SEAL
18
A cameo may be seen in it : JEWELRYBOX
19
Tempting words for shopaholics : SAVENOW
21
Called before getting married : NEE
22
Squad leader: Abbr. : SGT
23
Part of summer in Latinoamérica : ENERO
24
Hold fast at sea : BELAY
26
2001 sports flop, for short : XFL
27
Checked out like a wolf : OGLED
30
Library lineup : DESKS
34
Repast remnant : ORT
35
Laurence co-starred with him in "The Matrix" : KEANU
36
"Baa! Baa! Baa!" singer : YALIE
37
"That's an order!" : DOIT
39
Facebook listing : EVENT
41
Jay ___, British singer with the 2009 #1 hit "Down" : SEAN
42
Yet to be achieved : UNMET
44
Words before stating plan B : IFNOT
46
Rule lead-in : ASA
47
One with a brand name? : STEER
48
Soccer legend Maradona : DIEGO
49
"B.C." sound effect : ZOT
50
Attack like a playful pup : NIPAT
52
River rising in the Graian Alps : ISERE
54
O after an X, say : HUG
57
Paradise in fiction : SAL
58
"Sylvia" ballet composer, 1876 : DELIBES
60
Hoover competitor : ELECTROLUX
63
Strike setting : LANE
64
If so : INTHATCASE
65
Ski resort that prohibits snowboarding : ALTA
66
N.C.A.A. team with the mascot Boss Hog : RAZORBACKS
67
Part of a schedule : SLOT
Down
1
Going all at once : MASSEXODUS
2
Beach : OCEANFRONT
3
A tie-up increases it : TRAVELTIME
4
Certain fisher : EELER
5
Japanese P.M. executed in 1948 : TOJO
6
Over : ANEW
7
Pliers feature : JAW
8
Cary Grant's "Penny Serenade" co-star : IRENEDUNNE
9
Infant rocketed to Earth from Krypton : KALEL
10
"Let's roll!" : IMREADY
11
Invasive plant : SPY
12
They're sometimes picked up at bars : TABS
13
Twitter-filled : AGOG
14
Queue word? : NEXT
20
New tablet of 2011 : NOOK
24
Charity affair : BENEFIT
25
Motion carriers, at times : YEAS
28
"Well, lookee there!" : GEE
29
Subject of a 1999 Ricky Martin hit : LAVIDALOCA
31
Real lowlife : SLEAZEBALL
32
Toyota Highlander alternative : KIASORENTO
33
Hill position : SENATESEAT
38
Bar mitzvah, e.g. : TEEN
40
Coat, in old slang : TOG
43
Studio with a horse logo : TRISTAR
45
Emulate an esne : TOIL
51
Medicare option : PARTB
53
Monk in "The Da Vinci Code" : SILAS
54
Executor's concern : HEIR
55
Literally, "elbow" : ULNA
56
"The Sound" of music : GETZ
58
You might call it an early night : DUSK
59
An item no more : EXES
61
John who played Sulu in "Star Trek" films : CHO
62
French body of water : LAC

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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