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CLIMBING THE CORPORATE LADDER

New York Times, Sunday, June 21, 2015

Author: Timothy Polin
Editor: Will Shortz
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1.626130
Timothy Polin

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 137, Blocks: 74 Missing: {JQV} This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Timothy Polin notes: One of the advantages in doing this puzzle was that I was that working with a true word count of 144—not 137—since seven across answers are unclued and don't figure in the end total. The areas ... more
Timothy Polin notes:

One of the advantages in doing this puzzle was that I was that working with a true word count of 144—not 137—since seven across answers are unclued and don't figure in the end total. The areas around the turns can be thorny, but the extra wiggle room is definitely noticeable throughout the rest of the grid. Because of the depressed word count, I made an effort to keep it at 137 rather than going to 139, which splitting up SUGARLOAF and STITCHING would have done. It seemed better to use cheaters to keep the fill clean and push the word count a little lower with those open corners.

Wow, my clue for HOLY WATER ([Liquid harmful to vampires]) is dorky. Really dorky. I can't think of another good way to clue it, but that's pretty embarrassing. Thank God there's not another entry in here with a clue that points towards too much time having been spent in high school playing D&D-based video games ...

... Except for POLEAXE. Son of a #*(!*&. Why should anyone who isn't a military historian or a knight at Medieval Times know that poleaxes and halberds are similar weapons? Great question.

Can I disavow authorship of those two clues in exchange for arrogating to myself credit for the clue for SEXOLOGY? ([Study for a Masters?])

Here's a gratuitous Seinfeld reference for Jeff:

Although, one wonders if "War and Peace" ("Voyna i MIR") would have been as highly acclaimed as it was had it been published under its original title, "War, What Is It Good For?".

Jeff Chen notes: I enjoy when a theme catches me off guard. I was well past the point of frustration when I finally figured out what was going on, but the a-ha moment made me happy I stuck with it. Very rewarding. For the longest ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I enjoy when a theme catches me off guard. I was well past the point of frustration when I finally figured out what was going on, but the a-ha moment made me happy I stuck with it. Very rewarding. For the longest time I couldn't see that the themers don't start from the companies ... the companies are in the middle, with the themer "climbing" through them! I highlighted them below to make it easier to see.

I pondered why it took me so long to figure out. A previous puzzle, similar in nature, was easy for me to cotton to — perhaps too easy. So why was this so much harder? Maybe it's the fact that this one defies the normal top to bottom, left to right reading pattern I'm used to? Whatever the reason, it made the solve very tough and the payoff feel like I had really earned it.

Sugarloaf is a mecca for rock climbers

Impressive how much strong material Tim worked into the grid. With a whopping 17 long slots (eight or more letters), it often means that they get filled with neutral or bleh material. Tim's list of long fill reads like the inventory of a great themeless: HOLY WATER, IDLE HANDS, PENNY ANTE, RICE CAKES, SUGARLOAF, TEA TASTER, and more. Of those 17 slots, I'd say Tim converted about 90% of them into zippy entries; amazing efficiency.

And such a high degree of smoothness. Bending themers cause all sort of problems for constructors, forcing constraints around those bending points. But Tim finessed all of those regions nicely. Check out the two TRUEFA/ALSET/TESTS bends, for example. It's not easy to fill around that F-A-L bend. Yes, there is an EFT, but what else? Often, those sections propagate glue throughout. Not today.

I debated whether to give this one or MAS's Friday quad-stack the POW! Ultimately I decided this one was a bit too frustrating for me through the first 30 minutes, but looking back on it, it could easily be deserving. Good idea, solid choice of themers (very hard to do with their need to bend symmetrically!), and very well executed.

P.S. Yuri Testikov may be turning over in his grave, but I'm laughing my head off.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0621 ( 23,966 )
Across Down
1. Sunni jihadist grp. : ISIS
10. Alternatively, online : OTOH
19. Impermanent hill : DUNE
20. Bath-loving TV character : ERNIE
21. Lionhearted sort : HERO
22. College booster? : EASYA
23. Fuji rival : AGFA
24. Ingredient in glassmaking : SILEX
25. Meal plan : MENU
26. Architect of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao : GEHRY
27. Genetic variant : ALLELE
29. Melodramatic sound : SOB
31. What may be forever? : POSTAGESTAMP
33. High school class, briefly : BIO
34. Exams that students get F's on? : TRUEFALSETESTS
35. Liquid harmful to vampires : HOLYWATER
37. 100 Iranian dinars : RIAL
38. Fully caffeinated, say : ALERT
39. Stood for : DENOTED
40. Singer Carlisle of the Go-Go's : BELINDA
42. Yardbirds : CONS
43. Lexical ref. : OED
44. Land : GET
45. Former Seattle pro : SONIC
46. Looney Tunes "devil," for short : TAZ
49. Lighted icons on airplanes : SEATBELTS
53. Coming down the line? : FAMILIAL
57. Offshoot : SCION
58. Scratches (out) : EKES
59. Imaginary : DREAMT
61. Former Houston athlete : AERO
62. Annual celebration on January 6 : THREEKINGSDAY
65. First silent film to win Best Picture since "Wings" : THEARTIST
69. i, for -1 : ROOT
70. Arch locale : INSTEP
71. Give a zero-star review, say : HATE
73. "Once again ..." : ISAID
75. When viewed one way : INTHATRESPECT
76. Opposites of fantasts : REALISTS
80. Piddling : PENNYANTE
82. Response deflecting blame : HOWWASITOKNOW
83. More to come shortly? : ETC
85. Magnetic induction unit : GAUSS
86. Org. whose website has a lot of links? : PGA
88. Poetic dusk : EEN
89. Something to take to a beach : PAIL
90. English monarch called "the Magnificent" : EDMUNDI
93. Manhattan campus : BARNARD
95. ___ voce : SOTTO
96. Move like groundwater : SEEP
97. The devil's workshop, as the saying goes : IDLEHANDS
100. Sea dog : TAR
102. Peace, to Pushkin : MIR
103. Over again : AFRESH
104. Time for a siesta, perhaps : ONEPM
106. Boot : OUST
108. Whole essence : BEALL
110. Having a row : ATIT
112. Fibonacci, for one : PISAN
113. Atop : UPON
114. Shark girl in "West Side Story" : ANITA
115. TV amazon : XENA
116. Initiates : SETSINMOTION
117. Tickled, and how! : SENT
118. Part of an unsound argument : LOGICALFALLACY
119. As a consequence : ERGO
1. State bordering B.C. : IDA
2. Rio de Janeiro peak : SUGARLOAF
3. Something caught in the air : INFLUENZA
4. Some arctic hunters : SEALERS
5. [Automobiles] : TESLA
6. Member of a noted quintet : ERIE
7. Big inits. in comedy : SNL
8. Attaches, as with rope : TIESON
9. Study for a Masters? : SEXOLOGY
10. One doesn't have much resistance : OHM
11. Golfers drive off it : TEEPAD
12. Ready follower? : ORNOT
13. Mobile home : HOUSEBOAT
14. [Video games] : SEGA
15. ___ kwon do : TAE
16. Garbage collector : ASHBIN
17. Multitudinous : MYRIAD
18. Quid pro quo on the radio : PAYOLA
28. Young salamander : EFT
30. Small storage space : BYTE
32. North-flowing English river : TRENT
34. What might be revealed in silence : TACT
35. Ibsen's "___ Gabler" : HEDDA
36. Fresh from a shower : WET
37. Crunchy snacks : RICECAKES
39. Quit it : DESIST
41. Mad ___ : LIBS
43. Gape at : OGLE
45. Some offshoots : SECTS
47. [Sportswear] : NIKE
48. Firm, in a way : ALDENTE
49. Step above amateur : SEMIPRO
50. Debtor's burden : LIEN
51. Pamplona runner : TORO
52. Bank deposit? : SNOW
54. Getting together : MEETINGUP
55. [Mattresses] : SERTA
56. Fancy spread : PATE
60. Foolhardy : RASH
62. Paradoxically, when it's round it's not circular : TRIP
63. Trick, slangily : HOSE
64. Horse color : ROAN
66. Suggestions : HINTS
67. Improved, as relations : THAWED
68. [Elevators] : OTIS
72. Bean on the moon : ALAN
74. Actress Cannon : DYAN
75. Sneaky : INSIDIOUS
77. Vessels near washstands : EWERS
78. Lipton employee : TEATASTER
79. Needlework : STITCHING
81. Book report? : AUDIT
82. General defeated by Scipio, ending the Second Punic War : HANNIBAL
84. Grow tiresome : CLOY
86. "Balderdash!" : PAH
87. "g," to a chemist : GRAM
89. Relative of a halberd : POLEAXE
90. Prevents : ESTOPS
91. "Hey ___" (1977 Shaun Cassidy hit) : DEANIE
92. Minimal : MEREST
93. "Soap" spinoff : BENSON
94. Glandular prefix : ADRENO
95. Certain 35mm camera : SLR
98. Magnifying lens : LOUPE
99. [Insurance] : AFLAC
101. [Hotels] : OMNI
103. Some madrigal singers : ALTI
105. Ballet step : PAS
107. Earth-shattering invention? : TNT
109. 2008 bailout recipient, for short : AIG
111. Path to enlightenment : TAO

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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