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New York Times, Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Author:
Alex Vratsanos
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
166/13/20112/26/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3142213
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60040
Alex Vratsanos

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FJQWXYZ} This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Vratsanos. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Alex Vratsanos notes:
This puzzle was inspired almost exactly five years ago, after I saw Peter A. Collins's OCTOPUS with eight ARMs. After several false ... read more

This puzzle was inspired almost exactly five years ago, after I saw Peter A. Collins's OCTOPUS with eight ARMs. After several false starts, I returned to the idea at the end of 2013 to try to "weave a web" of theme in the middle, and found the CHARLOTTE / ARACHNIDA / SPINNERET combo after much trial and error (BITE MARKS came from the resulting ??T???R?? pattern). I submitted the puzzle in July 2014 using the phrase "this puzzle's theme creature" instead of "spider" in the theme clues, but I guess that wording may have been too hard for a Tuesday.

I hope you enjoy solving this puzzle as much as I enjoyed constructing it!

Jeff Chen notes:
Neat first impression of those circled letters; they form such an interesting looking pattern. My very next thought was to worry what ... read more

Neat first impression of those circled letters; they form such an interesting looking pattern. My very next thought was to worry what compromises those diagonal words might bring about — they're so hard to fill cleanly around. So I was really looking forward to seeing if the payoff was worth whatever crossword glue was necessary.

Interesting idea, a spider represented with its eight LEGs in the grid. It looked a lot more octopus-ish to me, but the visual did evoke the image of a spider ... after it's been squashed. (My wife is an arachnophobe, so I have much experience with this. Sorry, arachnophiles.)

Fun to get some thematic material in CHARLOTTE of "Charlotte's Web," a SPINNERET, the class ARACHNIDA (though I would have preferred the more familiar ARACHNIDS). BITE MARKS felt much less specific, but as Alex mentioned, it is tough to find a fourth themer that interlocks CHARLOTTE and SPINNERET. Sure would have been nice to get another famous spider or something.

Those four corner LEGs create such filling difficulty. NEVEU is particularly tough (French for nephew), but the KRESGE / EREBUS crossing was the place that gave me the most pause. Oof. Along with some of the usual EDA GELL OMOO ULM BELLI it sure felt like a lot of crossword glue. No doubt, placing those eight LEGs in such a fixed pattern makes for a very difficult filling challenge. I'd be interested to see what a few cheater squares would do to improve the final product — I wonder if a black square at the end of KRESGE and/or EREBUS would have allowed for a better result in the SE corner, for example.

It would have been nice to get a more spider-like visual — sort of like the logo on Spider-man's chest — but still, an interesting grid image with three really nice interlocking theme answers.

1
G
2
A
3
M
4
E
5
R
6
K
7
G
8
B
9
B
10
R
11
A
12
G
13
G
14
N
E
U
R
O
15
L
E
A
16
E
U
L
E
R
17
A
R
L
E
S
18
E
L
L
19
D
E
L
T
A
20
S
I
C
21
I
22
C
E
L
E
23
S
S
24
I
O
C
25
H
E
H
26
H
E
H
27
E
P
I
28
C
E
N
E
29
A
R
A
30
C
31
H
N
I
D
A
32
P
33
L
34
E
D
35
R
E
A
36
N
E
B
37
U
38
L
39
A
40
G
E
L
D
41
L
O
R
42
E
N
43
O
L
E
G
44
A
I
K
I
45
D
O
46
E
V
E
47
O
M
O
O
48
B
I
T
49
E
M
A
R
50
K
S
51
B
52
A
53
S
S
E
T
T
54
E
R
E
55
B
56
U
57
S
58
E
D
A
59
D
E
R
60
A
61
L
T
E
62
E
S
T
63
I
L
L
64
G
O
65
A
L
I
66
S
67
O
L
T
I
68
N
E
V
E
U
69
D
E
M
70
G
A
L
E
N
71
G
R
E
E
T
72
E
G
O
73
E
K
I
N
G
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0628 ( 24,339 )
Across
1
World of Warcraft enthusiast, e.g. : GAMER
6
Enemy org. in many a spy thriller : KGB
9
North Carolina fort : BRAGG
14
Prefix with transmitter : NEURO
15
Meadow : LEA
16
Mathematician whose name sounds like a ship : EULER
17
City in SE France : ARLES
18
Architectural add-on : ELL
19
Airline whose main hub is in Atlanta : DELTA
20
"___ 'em!" : SIC
21
Not slippery at all, as a winter road : ICELESS
24
Grp. holding quadrennial competitions : IOC
25
Sneaky laugh : HEHHEH
27
Not gendered, as a noun : EPICENE
29
Spider's class : ARACHNIDA
32
Begged : PLED
35
Mens ___ (guilty mind) : REA
36
Cloud in space : NEBULA
40
Neuter, as a stallion : GELD
41
Sophia of "Marriage Italian-Style" : LOREN
43
Designer Cassini : OLEG
44
Japanese martial art that emphasizes not injuring the attacker : AIKIDO
46
Night before : EVE
47
Melville's second novel : OMOO
48
Things spiders leave : BITEMARKS
51
Actress Angela of "American Horror Story" : BASSETT
54
Antarctic volcano named for a place in the underworld : EREBUS
58
Child-care expert LeShan : EDA
59
Moniker for German chancellor Konrad Adenauer : DERALTE
62
The "e" of i.e. : EST
63
Volunteer's phrase : ILLGO
65
Rumble in the Jungle participant : ALI
66
Conductor Georg whose name consists of two musical notes : SOLTI
68
Niece's counterpart, in French : NEVEU
69
Blue on an electoral map: Abbr. : DEM
70
Ancient Greek physician : GALEN
71
Open the door for : GREET
72
Psyche part : EGO
73
Scraping (by) : EKING
Down
1
Grind, as the teeth : GNASH
2
Eagle's residence : AERIE
3
Soil enricher : MULCH
4
Poet's "before" : ERE
5
More optimistic : ROSIER
6
Swiss-German artist Paul : KLEE
7
Murray ___-Mann, Physics Nobelist who coined the term "quark" : GELL
8
Whalebone : BALEEN
9
Night stand locale : BEDSIDE
10
___ the day : RUE
11
1980s TV's "Kate & ___" : ALLIE
12
Board, as a plane : GETON
13
Blessing before a meal : GRACE
22
Spider of children's literature : CHARLOTTE
23
Spider's web-producing organ : SPINNERET
26
Staked a claim : HADDIBS
28
Last car : CABOOSE
30
One who might have a corner office, for short : CEO
31
Decidedly nonfeminist women's group : HAREM
32
Links org. : PGA
33
Use for flowers in Hawaii : LEI
34
Antlered beast : ELK
37
City where Einstein was born : ULM
38
Obama, astrologically : LEO
39
In days of yore : AGO
42
Mrs. Perón : EVA
45
Went extinct : DIEDOUT
49
Charles Schwab rival : ETRADE
50
Source of the "K" in Kmart : KRESGE
51
Organism : BEING
52
Freud contemporary Alfred : ADLER
53
Healing ointment : SALVE
55
Casus ___ (cause of war) : BELLI
56
Hwy. through Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan : USTEN
57
Police setup : STING
60
Words after break or shake : ALEG
61
Long way to go? : LIMO
64
"No kidding!" : GEE
67
Sturdy tree : OAK

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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