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New York Times, Monday, June 15, 2015

Author:
Mike Buckley
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
138/17/200910/5/20150
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0433300
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1.60001
Mike Buckley

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Buckley. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mike Buckley notes:
Ever had a great idea only to learn that someone had already thought of it? I was pleasantly surprised when this puzzle was approved ... read more

Ever had a great idea only to learn that someone had already thought of it? I was pleasantly surprised when this puzzle was approved in February. It didn't seem likely that I would be the first to submit a Magna Carta theme when the year of its 800th anniversary was well under way, but I was lucky this time. I was asked to revise both the grid and the content so that it could appear on June 15, Magna Carta Day, a Monday. Two rewrites (and two "cheater squares") later, the puzzle was accepted. It then went through the editorial process: sixteen clues were unchanged but 28 were modified to varying degrees and 32 were new and improved, all in the spirit of greater Monday-friendliness.

Nicholas Vincent, author of "Magna Carta: A Very Short Introduction," said that "John really was an absolute rotter through and through; the worst king in English history." Even A.A. Milne wrote "King John was not a good man," and Robin Hood had no respect for him according to Disney. To make John behave, he was forced by the barons to seal the "Great Charter," but as soon as he was away from Runnymede, he asked Pope Innocent III to have it annulled. The charter, later named Magna Carta, was pretty well ignored by everyone at the time and no English king was ever again named John.

Here's something for physics buffs to ponder. Living at the same time as Pope Innocent III was Antipope Innocent III. One wonders, had the pope and antipope ever met, would they have annihilated each other in a burst of photons and gluons?

Hope you enjoyed the puzzle and are having a jolly good octocentenary.

Jeff Chen notes:
Timely puzzle. Interesting facts too — I hadn't realized DUE PROCESS derived from the MAGNA CARTA, nor had I known that Pope ... read more

Timely puzzle. Interesting facts too — I hadn't realized DUE PROCESS derived from the MAGNA CARTA, nor had I known that Pope INNOCENT issued an annulment. That surely makes him famous — or at least infamous. (Note: it's a little weird that it was Pope INNOCENT III, while the entry led me to believe it was INNOCENT I. Harrumph.)

Not so INNOCENT, eh, trey?

RUNNYMEDE isn't quite as interesting to me, as it doesn't have any trivia tidbits that go with it. I'm sure others will disagree. It is sort of cool how it interlocks into MAGNA CARTA and DUE PROCESS — never an easy task to achieve fortuitous interlock — but to me, the other themers had greater interest and impact.

That interlock also puts huge constraints on the grid, forcing big corners in the grid and not allowing very many long pieces of fill. Mike does well in the lower left, with SOLOMON / SO THERE adding to the quality of the solve. Those two nice answers at the price of only ESSO (which is still a big brand up in Canada)? Yes please! And SAMOVAR and PICASA are pretty nice as well.

In the lower right, I hitched on IN A SUIT. It takes up a precious 7-letter slot, and it felt arbitrary to me at first. Does that open the door for IN SLACKS, IN VELOUR, IN A THONG? Ultimately I decided I was being too picky though, as the phrase gets plenty of Google hits.

ULRIC crossing RUNNYMEDE is likely to give some people fits. I think it's more fair than not, as RUNNYMEDE felt familiar-ish to me, but that won't stop some people from grumbling.

Generally, it's a pretty clean puzzle, aside from a few RATER / AIRER things. I like to have all my gluey bits from different categories so they don't stand out as much, so it's too bad that these are both of the "add an -ER" variety.

I really liked the clue for OEDS. Funny to think of having a magnifying glass included in the sale! Again, an interesting piece of trivia to learn.

All in all, I liked the trivia. Those tidbits helped the puzzle stand out from other tribute puzzles.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0615 ( 23,960 )
Across
1
Groups plotting coups : CABALS
7
Places where yachts are docked : MARINAS
14
Not individually, in sports : ASATEAM
16
The Devil, informally : OLDNICK
17
Relative of a wood engraving : LINOCUT
18
Hockey's ___ Cup : STANLEY
19
Document issued on June 15, 1215 : MAGNACARTA
21
Ref. books sometimes sold with magnifying glasses : OEDS
22
Break into tears : CRY
23
German prelate who was the first person to be canonized, A.D. 993 : ULRIC
25
Movie critic, often : RATER
28
"___ questions?" : ANY
29
Minimum amount : LEAST
33
Before, in poetry : ERE
34
Bring in, as a salary : EARN
36
Pacific weather phenomenon : ELNINO
37
Pig sound : OINK
39
Justin Timberlake's boy band : NSYNC
41
Prerequisite for calculus, informally : TRIG
42
Step down from a position : RESIGN
44
Cow sounds : MOOS
46
Smog-fighting govt. group : EPA
47
Actress Close : GLENN
48
Church seating : PEW
49
After: Fr. : APRES
51
Much-photographed figure outside Buckingham Palace : GUARD
53
Ascap alternative : BMI
54
Key of Beethoven's "Fidelio" Overture: Abbr. : EMAJ
57
Heart of the U.S. legal system, with roots in the 19-Across : DUEPROCESS
62
Biblical wise man : SOLOMON
64
Tropical grassland : SAVANNA
65
"What'd I tell ya?!" : SOTHERE
66
Dressed for the office, say : INASUIT
67
Contents of a Sunkist crate : ORANGES
68
Preliminary versions of a paper : DRAFTS
Down
1
Not windy : CALM
2
Home of India and Indonesia : ASIA
3
Word repeated before "You're dead!" : BANG
4
Right away : ATONCE
5
John who wrote "A Perfect Spy" : LECARRE
6
Cheeky : SAUCY
7
Pretty much : MOSTLY
8
Where couples get hitched : ALTAR
9
Abbr. on old vitamin bottles : RDA
10
Pope who issued an annulment of the 19-Across : INNOCENT
11
World's longest river : NILE
12
Scored 100 on : ACED
13
"The ___ the limit" : SKYS
15
Kingston Trio hit that inspired the CharlieCard for Boston commuters : MTA
20
Where the 19-Across was sealed : RUNNYMEDE
24
Unhealthy : ILL
25
Corp. shuffle : REORG
26
Disney mermaid : ARIEL
27
Future perfect, for one : TENSE
28
Horace's "___ Poetica" : ARS
30
Broadcaster : AIRER
31
Take a potshot : SNIPE
32
Ancient Roman garments : TOGAS
35
Beach Boys' "Barbara ___" : ANN
36
Environmental prefix : ECO
38
He sealed the 19-Across : KINGJOHN
40
Right away : NOW
43
Wildebeest : GNU
45
Russian urn : SAMOVAR
48
Dried plums : PRUNES
50
Google's image organizer : PICASA
52
Be wild about : ADORE
53
Mark on a steer's rear : BRAND
54
Canadian gas station : ESSO
55
Tie up, as a boat : MOOR
56
Ski resort next to Snowbird : ALTA
58
Trident-shaped Greek letter : PSI
59
Ample, informally : ENUF
60
Peeved state : SNIT
61
Exams for coll.-bound kids : SATS
63
Ryan of "Sleepless in Seattle" : MEG

Answer summary: 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?