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New York Times, Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Author:
Alex Vratsanos
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
156/13/20111/20/20183
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3132213
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60030
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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