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Puzzle of the Week

New York Times, Saturday, June 13, 2015

Author: Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
512/19/200510/21/201725
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
001201434
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60001
Brad Wilber
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
422/20/20063/9/201823
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
2273112132
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63200
Doug Peterson

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 29 Missing: {J} This is puzzle # 43 for Mr. Wilber. This is puzzle # 38 for Mr. Peterson. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: BRAD: The seed entry at 57A (SHRINK RAY) was in an early draft of the grid that appeared on 2/21/15, but I pulled it out of there ... more
Constructor notes:

BRAD: The seed entry at 57A (SHRINK RAY) was in an early draft of the grid that appeared on 2/21/15, but I pulled it out of there when the stack you see here presented itself. The editorial tweak to the clue eases up considerably on the original [Facilitator of filmdom's "Fantastic Voyage"], but it makes sense looking at the general degree of difficulty in that corner — Doug's great clues for DENVER, ART FORGER, SOUTH POLE, my definition of REGIFT, etc.

Starro in action!

We started the opposite corner with EXOTIC PET, and it was cool to have several Scrabbly entries settle in around it. Totally random that UNIBROW has made its way into 3 or 4 puzzles I've been involved with…I'd better take care not to develop one. I still have a few clues for it in the bag; the one here is Doug's, who I feel had a particularly inspired day when he sat down to work on this set (SWINE!).

DOUG: Brad mentioned that SHRINK RAY came from a draft that looked quite different by the time it was accepted. We've become quite adept at repurposing discarded entries, and sometimes we're even able to build a grid around an orphaned stack. I like to think of our grids as starfish. Because you can whack off an arm and use it to grow a whole new starfish. That really works, right? I think so, but bear in mind a lot of my starfish knowledge comes from comic books. Starro the Conqueror is one of my all-time favorite super-villains. (You think I'm joking? Look him up.)

Jeff Chen notes: A great puzzle from some of my favorite people in crosswordland. Always a treat to get a Wilberson themeless, usually a range of ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

A great puzzle from some of my favorite people in crosswordland. Always a treat to get a Wilberson themeless, usually a range of entries going all the way from erudite to hip. That upper left corner, with a Riemann ZETA function (an elegant math function) crossing a football TAXI SQUAD, exemplifies what I love about their co-constructions.

Interesting grid today, with far less long slots than average. The upper left and lower right feature the standard triple-stacks of longish answers, and both of them are beautiful. They contain six excellent answers, and five of them felt super fresh. (SOUTH POLE I've seen a few times in themelesses, but it's still quite a good entry what with its nice [Lowest point?] clue.)

FEAR THE BROW!

Where this diverges from usual themeless layouts is that there are fewer 8+ letter slots — only 10. This tends to make me worry that there won't be as much stellar material as I like, but Brad and Doug make great use of their seven-letter slots, with SYNCHRO, REGIFT, and UNIBROW. And it was amusing to see STAN LEE clued with respect to his Marvel movie cameos. He's such a visionary … and such a terrible actor. Yeesh.

Along with some supporting sixes — the interesting-sounding UBANGI river and the trivia of multiple FERRETs being called a "business" stood out to me — it makes for a count of roughly 13 assets. That's not a sky-high number, but it's fine as long as the liabilities are kept to a minimum.

And cleanliness is one area that Doug and Brad excel at. The top left stack only needing the minor glue dots of WIS and ETD, the lower one nearly perfect (SAS doesn't bother me, as it's a major airline), and what else? "AMY'S Kitchen" makes tasty, reasonably-healthy frozen food, so that's minor to me as well. Maybe GOOS, as it's an odd plural.

Overall, a great mix within the grid entries, something for everyone. I'm not usually very good with the upscale references, but I did enjoy learning more about Mahler's quartet of OBOES in his "Symphony of a Thousand" (which Jim tells me is not often performed because it's so expensive to put on) and the fact that there's Le Cordon Bleu as well as Cordon Bleus, the distinguished chefs. Along with some great clues like [Pen set] = SWINE, this one was a real treat.

1
Z
2
E
3
R
4
O
5
W
6
A
7
S
8
T
9
E
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Y
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U
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C
13
C
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A
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E
X
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P
E
T
16
O
B
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E
S
17
T
A
X
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S
Q
U
A
D
18
D
A
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A
M
Y
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N
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H
A
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L
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F
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Y
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G
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H
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A
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M
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L
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B
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B
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W
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S
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N
L
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R
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D
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D
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V
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K
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L
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0613 ( 23,958 )

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Students & seniors
Across Down
1. Ultra-environmental policy : ZEROWASTE
10. Desert plant pollinated by moths : YUCCA
15. Tiger or boa constrictor : EXOTICPET
16. Foursome in Mahler's "Symphony of a Thousand" : OBOES
17. Group of practice-only N.F.L. players : TAXISQUAD
18. Lead-ins to games of chicken : DARES
19. Tan and others : AMYS
20. Garden ornament : URN
21. Nickname : HANDLE
22. Regalia : FINERY
24. Bits of baby talk : GOOS
25. Source of the line "Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go" : HAMLET
29. Film : COATING
31. Alert at 52-Down : ONAIR
32. Ray variety : SKATE
33. "Putting the phone down for a sec," in textspeak : BRB
35. Sign of lycanthropy, to some : UNIBROW
37. Comic book legend with many movie cameos : STANLEE
39. The anchorman in "Anchorman" : RON
40. Are around : EXIST
42. Celerity : SPEED
43. It's often met "on the road taken to avoid it," per Jean de la Fontaine : DESTINY
45. Some summer fare : RERUNS
46. Went off the board : DOVE
47. Where Chipotle was founded and is headquartered : DENVER
49. Stop playing hide-and-seek : EMERGE
51. Butt : CIG
52. Engage in : WAGE
56. 1973 self-titled album with the #1 hits "Photograph" and "You're Sixteen" : RINGO
57. Miniaturizing device in "Fantastic Voyage" : SHRINKRAY
59. Script instruction : ENTER
60. Criminal who welcomes a hanging? : ARTFORGER
61. When doubled, very affectionate : KISSY
62. Lowest point? : SOUTHPOLE
1. Riemann ___ function : ZETA
2. Class act? : EXAM
3. New York City theater where CinemaScope debuted : ROXY
4. Big maker of moving walkways : OTIS
5. Land O' Lakes land: Abbr. : WIS
6. Clear : ACQUIT
7. Reject : SPURN
8. New Jersey city that's at the terminus of Interstate 80 : TEANECK
9. Gate fig. : ETD
10. Someone who speaks like the quote in 25-Across : YODA
11. Congo feeder : UBANGI
12. Julia Child, e.g. : CORDONBLEU
13. Singer who was a coach on four seasons of "The Voice" : CEELOGREEN
14. Twits : ASSES
21. "Grand" place to stay : HYATT
22. Pride : lion :: business : ___ : FERRET
23. Pig ___ : ROAST
25. Number before a colon : HOUR
26. Dating standard : ANNODOMINI
27. WrestleMania highlights : MAINEVENTS
28. Ad follower : LIB
30. One-minute excerpt, maybe : TEASER
32. Pen set : SWINE
34. They're raised in some gardens : BEDS
36. Lime, e.g. : OXIDE
38. "Latino USA" carrier : NPR
41. Mostly-women Olympics sport, familiarly : SYNCHRO
44. Suit materials : SERGES
45. Pass along, with dubious propriety : REGIFT
46. Literature Nobelist Walcott : DEREK
48. Bent for collecting curios : VIRTU
50. Rating an R rating, say : GORY
52. 1970s-'80s sitcom locale : WKRP
53. Legendary galley : ARGO
54. Manxman, e.g. : GAEL
55. Fictional hiree at Thornfield : EYRE
57. Parent of Air Greenland : SAS
58. Theatrical form : NOH

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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