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New York Times, Friday, June 20, 2014

Author:
Martin Ashwood-Smith
Editor:
Will Shortz
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866/5/19913/29/201910
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000246416
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1.520017
Martin Ashwood-Smith

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 31 Missing: {KQZ} Spans: 8, (2 quad stacks) This is puzzle # 76 for Mr. Ashwood-Smith. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Martin Ashwood-Smith notes:
I'll come right out and say it: sorry about the two 15-letter 'ONE'S' phrases in the top area of the puzzle. There are two reasons for ... read more

I'll come right out and say it: sorry about the two 15-letter "ONE'S" phrases in the top area of the puzzle. There are two reasons for this:

(1) Sheer laziness on my part. 15-letter "ONE'S" phrases tend to be easier to use, especially in stacked-style grids, and ...

(2) This puzzle was constructed more than two years ago, and the whole anti-ONES movement had yet to gain full momentum. So back then, I tended to use them a lot more than I would now.

Moving right along, a little about some of the other words in the puzzle:

LETTS: He's currently starring on Broadway in "The Realistic Joneses". Last year, he won a Tony for best actor in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and way back in 2008, his play "August: Osage Country" won both a Tony and a Pulitzer. Sure beats [Some Balts].

OREO: Back in Maleska's day, this would have been clued : "Mountain: comb. form". Brand names were largely verboten.

ETTORE: Is Italian for Hector, apparently.

HERSHEY BAR: I understand these are quite popular in America.

OLIOS: Ah yes, some old-fashioned crosswordese. You're welcome.

THES: It's what us Brits drink in France instead of cafés. Technically we call this a FPOC (French Plural of Convenience).

STAFFA: Wordsworth, and a whole pile of his poet buddies, wrote oodles about this island, and Mendelssohn based part of his "Hebrides Overture" on it.

LORA: If you thought there'd be loads of famous women who would spell their name this way, you'd be wrong.

Jeff Chen notes:
Ah, another from the quad-stack master, MAS. I really liked the open layout of this one, the puzzle flow being pretty darn good. That ... read more

Ah, another from the quad-stack master, MAS. I really liked the open layout of this one, the puzzle flow being pretty darn good. That bottom stack sure contains a lot of great stuff. When your 15's have to carry so much of the burden for pizzazz, WISDOM OF SOLOMON is the way to do it. ASCENT OF EVEREST felt a little newsy at first, but I think I like that one quite a bit too.

I like the direction in which MAS is moving, not just being content with quad stacks in themselves. The crossword art form is always evolving, and if you don't try new things as a constructor, you'll get left behind. In the past, we "just" saw triple stacks and quad stacks, but MAS's recent ones have all given us such nice long answers crossing through the stacks. NEON TETRA and HERSHEY BAR through those stacks? Yes, please! And note how those long guys keep the puzzle flow open. As a solver, I really appreciate that.

WHEN IM GONE... I'm a complete moron when it comes to pop music, perhaps only better than my (identical twin) brother, who once asked, "Who's this 'eh-my-nem' guy?" Ha ha ha, he's so out of it! (Sadly, I couldn't identify Eminem at that point, either.) Anyhoo, WHEN IM GONE is a song I recognize now, so that's saying something. Still, I like prefer the NEON TETRA type answers, unless the song is wildly popular, like BABY GOT BACK.

The top stack isn't quite as snazzy, especially given the two ONES phrases (glad MAS is humble enough to admit this issue up front) and the abundance of common letters. So many RSTLN E type squares. And there are some rough crossings, as with most quad stacks. The SOHNE / TRE area, STAFFA/SNERD... well, I won't belabor the point.

The first ever quad stack was a huge eye-opener, a visual stunner. Now that we've had a good handful of them, it's going to require raising the bar to keep them interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing how MAS can evolve, what different types of grids he can give us in the future. I'm betting we'll see more innovations out of him.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0620 ( 23,600 )
Across
1
Prepare to speak, say : CLEARONESTHROAT
16
Nurse : RESTORETOHEALTH
17
Not now : ATSOMEOTHERTIME
18
Puts somebody out : STEPSONONESTOES
19
FICA fig. : SSN
20
___ corde (piano direction) : TRE
21
Ganders, e.g. : HES
22
"Bummer" : AWGEE
25
President's first name on "The West Wing" : JED
26
Slicker go-with : RAINHAT
29
With 35-Down, slightly stale : DAY
30
Choice for bow-making : ELM
33
Inexperienced : AMATEUR
34
Their contents have yet to be dealt with : INBOXES
36
Tenor Vickers : JON
37
Defense Department dept. : NSA
38
She played Detective Sasha Monroe on "Third Watch" : NIALONG
39
Greetings : HIS
40
Dummy in "Stage Door Canteen" : SNERD
41
Cellphone feature, informally : CAM
42
Fr. religious title : STE
43
Hotel waiter? : CAB
46
Florida preserve? : ORANGEMARMALADE
52
Keen insight, with "the" : WISDOMOFSOLOMON
53
Peak performance in 1953? : ASCENTOFEVEREST
54
Focus of HGTV's "House Hunters" : REALESTATESALES
Down
1
Philistine : CRASS
2
"August: Osage County" playwright Tracy : LETTS
3
Westphalian city : ESSEN
4
Looking down on? : ATOP
5
DVD-___ : ROMS
6
Snack since 1912 : OREO
7
Fish with iridescent blue stripes : NEONTETRA
8
Automaker Bugatti : ETTORE
9
German boys : SOHNE
10
The old you? : THEE
11
Snack since 1900 : HERSHEYBAR
12
Named names, maybe : RATTED
13
Crazy quilts : OLIOS
14
"Look ___ now!" : ATME
15
Alternative to cafés : THES
22
Raid target : ANT
23
Top 10 hit for Eminem or 3 Doors Down : WHENIMGONE
24
Eponymous German physicist : GAUSS
25
Aerosmith's titular gun carrier : JANIE
26
Gandhi opposed it : RAJ
27
___, amas, amat : AMO
28
Crime writer Rankin : IAN
29
China shop purchase : DINNERSET
30
Intro to biology? : EXO
31
Business bigwig Blavatnik : LEN
32
Composition of Accent seasoning : MSG
35
See 29-Across : OLD
39
Big name in oratorios : HANDEL
40
Scottish island that's home to Fingal's Cave : STAFFA
41
First stabber of Caesar : CASCA
42
1930 tariff act co-sponsor : SMOOT
43
Joe, for one : CAMEL
44
"___ of Rock 'n' Roll" (1976 Ringo Starr hit) : ADOSE
45
Propensities : BENTS
46
"Hug ___" (Shel Silverstein poem) : OWAR
47
Exhibit upward mobility? : RISE
48
Some paddle wielders, briefly : EMTS
49
Propose in a meeting : MOVE
50
Bass line? : ALES
51
Romance novelist ___ Leigh : LORA

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

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