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New York Times, Friday, June 13, 2014

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
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David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 30 Missing: {Q} Spans: 4, (2 double stacks) This is puzzle # 28 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
I constructed this puzzle a long time ago . . . in April 2012, to be precise! My seed entries were SKINNER BOX, GOOGOLPLEX, and the ... read more

I constructed this puzzle a long time ago . . . in April 2012, to be precise! My seed entries were SKINNER BOX, GOOGOLPLEX, and the symmetrical 15-letter musical entries from different time periods I SHOT THE SHERIFF and SOULJA BOY TELL'EM. I used double stacks instead of triple stacks in the top and bottom sections of the puzzle to maximize the quality of my two other 15-letter entries; I was pleased to be able to incorporate some lively 7-letter entries, such as MADE MAN, NETWORK, and KRYPTON, in the spaces where an additional two 15-letter entries could have been placed.

Looking back on this puzzle two years later, I might have tried to rework the bottom right/center area to eliminate entries like OESTE, RETAR, and X'D OUT, or refilled the upper left/center area to include fewer proper names (even though I'm a huge fan of ALTON Brown's Cutthroat Kitchen!), but I'm still happy with how this puzzle turned out overall. As always, Will did an excellent job making the clues wickedly clever! My favorite of the clues from my original version is, "Animal whose tongue is more than a foot long" (quite fun to research!), but Will's "Extremely long string" for GOOGOLPLEX and "Word menu option" for ROGET are so much more fun. I hope you all enjoy this puzzle . . . and crank that Soulja Boy!

Jeff Chen notes:
One aspect I really like about David's constructions is that they're hardly ever derivative. Sometimes it gets a little tiring to see ... read more

One aspect I really like about David's constructions is that they're hardly ever derivative. Sometimes it gets a little tiring to see the same (or similar) themeless skeletons used. There's something really cool about opening up a file and oohing and aahing about the empty black and white pattern. Today is no different, as I studied the skeleton for a few sections, admiring its beauty, before jumping in.

With these puzzles featuring 15-letter entries, it's super important to make your grid-spanners count. I SHOT THE SHERIFF was one of my favorite songs back as a young 'un. And AUDIO VISUAL AIDS was a good one too, hearkening me back to the good ol' carefree days of being sat down to watch movies in class, day after day. It's a wonder I learned anything, really. Or did I? Because I had no idea about...

SOULJABOYTELLEM makes me feel... old? Deprived? Cranky? Just for fun, I tried to parse it before looking it up. Apparently Soul Jaboy Tellem was incorrect. I ended up recognizing the phone kissing song, remembering some of the kids I work with singing it. But hoo boy, that was a toughie. I was very, very glad each of the crossings was fair. Thanks, Will!

I like how David draws from so many different walks of life. A SKINNER BOX is commonplace in animal experimentation, and it provided for a great misdirect. I cycled through all sorts of workout devices before realizing it had nothing to do with exercise at all. Great entry.

And GOOGOLPLEX (10 to the googol power, where googol is a 1 followed by 100 zeroes) was another beautiful entry. I couldn't remember if it was GOOGOLPLEX (the number) or GOOGLEPLEX (the Google facility). Made me think of when one of my MBA profs was talking about the arbitrary nature of marketing. "I mean, what does any name mean? Why 'Google', what a ridiculous word!" Makes you wonder about MBAs (even more than you already do) ...

I've noticed that David tends to be a constructor who's okay with a little glue-y stuff if it means it can enable his great stuff. Seeing ROSAS, EDO, OESTE, MCI, MIES, RETAR is a little much for me, but heck, if I get MADE MAN, ECOCIDE, PACE LAP, and XD OUT, I think that trade-off is fair. And I appreciate how David just double-stacks, not triple-stacks, which I'm sure would have made the puzzle crunchier.

Finally, two neat things to point out: ADRIEN over BRODY is a masterwork of fill. Now that's the way to cross-reference. And [Brat's place] is such a brilliant clue. I was thinking about timeout corners, in his/her room, hung up by his underwear on a flagpole, but that wasn't it at all. And I would never hang a brat up on a flagpole by his underwear, of course. Unless he looked at me funny.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0613 ( 23,593 )
Across
1. Family guy : MADEMAN
8. Create some ties : NETWORK
15. It often has chips : CHOCOLATECOOKIE
17. 1974 #1 hit written by Bob Marley : ISHOTTHESHERIFF
18. Almost equaling : CLOSETO
19. Brat's place : DELI
20. With 24-Across, "The Pianist" star : ADRIEN
23. Unlikely donor : MISER
24. See 20-Across : BRODY
25. Common shower garment : ONESIE
29. First name in westerns : ZANE
30. Conditioning apparatus : SKINNERBOX
34. Family guy, affectionately : UNC
35. Once-common commercial fuel : COALGAS
36. Skippered : LED
37. Extremely long string : GOOGOLPLEX
39. ___ Robles, Calif. : PASO
40. Like some symmetry : RADIAL
41. Congolese, e.g. : BANTU
42. Word menu option? : ROGET
45. Criminal activity : RACKET
46. Khloé Kardashian's married name : ODOM
47. Like St. Catherine : SIENESE
51. Rapper with the 2009 hit "Kiss Me Thru the Phone" : SOULJABOYTELLEM
56. Classroom films, e.g. : AUDIOVISUALAIDS
57. Like opinion pieces : SLANTED
58. World of DC Comics : KRYPTON
Down
1. Sprint competitor, once : MCI
2. Physical reactions? : AHS
3. "I'm such a fool!" : DOH
4. Deforestation, e.g. : ECOCIDE
5. Assorted : MOTLEY
6. TV foodie Brown : ALTON
7. Informal rejections : NAHS
8. Rail construction : NEST
9. Say again : ECHO
10. Nail site : TOE
11. Less direct, say : WORDIER
12. Steinbeck have-nots : OKIES
13. It can kick back : RIFLE
14. Fermented milk drink : KEFIR
16. Souvenir shop purchase : TEE
20. Feminist with the 1984 book "Gender Gap" : ABZUG
21. Product under a sink : DRANO
22. Dial-O-Matic maker : RONCO
23. ___ van der Rohe : MIES
25. Animal whose tongue is more than a foot long : OKAPI
26. Brand that's a shortened description of its flavor : NILLA
27. Topper of der Tannenbaum : ENGEL
28. Munchies, in ads : SNAX
30. "Storage Wars" cry : SOLD
31. Scrabble player's asset : BLANK
32. Durango direction : OESTE
33. Unlisted? : XDOUT
35. Dog breed distinction : COAT
38. Scapegoat for many a failure : GREMLIN
39. Driver's warm-up : PACELAP
41. In a vulgar way : BASELY
42. Día de San Valentín bouquet : ROSAS
43. Lefty out in left field : ODOUL
44. Cheese burg? : GOUDA
45. Fix, as some roofs : RETAR
47. Stat for a pitcher : SAVE
48. Term paper abbr. : IBID
49. Canon shooter : EOS
50. Stooge syllable : NYUK
52. Insignificant amount : JOT
53. Blitzed : LIT
54. Japan's ___ Castle : EDO
55. ___ Explorer : MSN

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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