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New York Times, Thursday, June 8, 2017

Author: David Steinberg
Editor: Will Shortz
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David Steinberg
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 41 Missing: {JKXZ} This is puzzle # 64 for Mr. Steinberg. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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David Steinberg notes: This puzzle is dedicated to my dad, so I love how it happens to be running close to Father's Day! I started solving crosswords ... more
David Steinberg notes:

This puzzle is dedicated to my dad, so I love how it happens to be running close to Father's Day! I started solving crosswords soon after my dad started solving, and we always used to work the Wayne Robert Williams (may he rest in peace) and syndicated New York Times puzzles that appeared in The Seattle Times as a team.

My dad knows a ton of older pop culture, so between the two of us, we started off being able to solve Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and sometimes Thursdays. We can now get through almost any crossword, but we solve independently since he likes to savor the puzzles and I like to speed-solve them! That said, we still trade thoughts about the New York Times crossword every day—when I'm at college, I make a special point of Skyping him and my mom (also a regular solver now) so we can keep this ritual going.

I always get excited when my crosswords are published, but no one gets more excited than my dad! He reads the comments on XWord Info, Wordplay, Crossword Fiend, and Rex Parker; he also loves to watch me construct and often suggests new entries for me to add to my word list and even rough theme ideas.

The inspiration for this puzzle was my dad's "asparagus idea," which he's been nagging me to construct for years. After noticing that ASPARAGUS breaks up into ASP, ARA, and GUS, he got so excited that it was kind of adorable, and I knew I had to make such a puzzle at some point :).

That point was a few months ago when I decided to sit down with this idea as a special surprise for my dad. The breakthrough came when I noticed that ASP, ARA, GUS, and the horizontal parts of two "plus signs" would fit perfectly across a row of a 15x grid. I then decided to restrict the theme to 9-letter entries where the second and third three-letter chunks also formed a word. This meant that ASPARAGUS had to go (sorry, dad!) because aragus isn't legit.

I wrote a Java program to mine my word list for possible theme entries and discovered there were just enough good ones to make a puzzle out of, something I'd initially been worried about. I threw in MINCE/WORDS as a bonus, and the rest is history.

Since I won't be back in the Times again before June 18, Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, and I hope you enjoy this puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes: What a neat idea! David found four nine-letter words such that 1.) they split up into three valid three-letter words, and 2.) the ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

What a neat idea! David found four nine-letter words such that 1.) they split up into three valid three-letter words, and 2.) the final six letters form a valid word, too. [Called for] is not WAR, for example — it's WAR / RAN / TED. Add in an apt MINCE / WORDS revealer, and I had a blast solving this.

(I've fixed up the answers below so that the answers match the clues.)

Such a neat visual too, those four black pluses so artistic. I like seeing grid patterns I've never (or rarely) seen before, and this one qualifies.

Some strong fill, too, not easy given the constraints. It may seem easy to work around such short theme answers, but I've highlighted them below to give you a better sense of how inflexible the grid skeleton is.

I usually prefer when themeless-esque grids feature entries longer than seven letters since it's easier to convert those into sparkling fill. Today though, I might have liked it better if David had shifted over his first vertical set of black squares to where the SHE of SHEBANG is. It's tough enough to work around all those little theme answers, and entries like DIDICONN don't do much for me. (Sorry, Conn fans!)

Also, David's mid-length fill shone today. Starting off with a BAD ASS (take that, Gray Lady!), a BAR TRAY, continuing with ABOUT ME, HOT RODS, finishing with SHEBANG, I'M BEAT — that's a lot of great mid-length material worked in.

There were some SEINES ADELIE ETCHER SATORI entries that didn't shine as much (and/or felt like liabilities), but that's more par for the course with mid-length material.

Always the trade-offs — I like that David worked in a good amount of snappy fill and kept his crossword glue to a minimum, just some AGTS, ESTD. I'm sure he could have worked in a few more jazzy entries at the cost of more dabs of glue, but the balance that he chose made the puzzle seem highly polished and professional to me.

Four great theme finds plus above-average execution earns David another POW!

ADDED NOTE: I hadn't even noticed that the black square chunks look aptly like plus signs! Wow, I like this one even better now!

1
B
2
A
3
D
4
A
5
S
6
S
7
F
8
A
9
T
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C
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A
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T
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L
A
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F
A
H
14
A
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15
P
E
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A
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S
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A
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A
G
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B
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P
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W
A
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R
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T
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D
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A
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A
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D
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M
I
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C
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E
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R
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S
A
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T
O
Y
O
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T
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G
U
A
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R
A
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Y
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B
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C
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S
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E
V
A
N
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C
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A
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P
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T
A
L
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Q
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E
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C
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H
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E
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R
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O
B
O
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W
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D
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H
O
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C
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P
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A
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T
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N
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H
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A
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A
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D
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D
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R
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0608 ( 24,684 )
Across Down
1. Ultracool person : BADASS
7. Moneybags : FATCAT
13. Queen of rap : LATIFAH
14. Penguin species : ADELIE
15. Diffuse through : PERMEATE
16. They make waves in the ocean : SONARS
17. Hollywood V.I.P.s: Abbr. : AGTS
18. Roomba, for one : ROBOT
20. Bar at a roast : SPIT
21. Called for : WARRANTED
22. Sounded off : RANTED
23. Bear in a 2012 film and its 2015 sequel : TED
24. Not much : ATAD
26. With 45-Across, not be direct ... or what four groups of black squares in this puzzle do? : MINCE
28. Parks who stood up for the right to sit down : ROSA
29. Sequoia, e.g. : TOYOTA
31. Financial promise : GUARANTY
33. Certain lighters : BICS
35. Actor Peters of "American Horror Story" : EVAN
36. MapQuest feature : CAPITALQ
40. Impressionist artist? : ETCHER
44. Letter before Peter in the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet : OBOE
45. See 26-Across : WORDS
47. Scam : HOSE
48. Just fine : COPACETIC
49. ___ acid : ACETIC
50. Little jerk : TIC
51. Alien such as Jabba : HUTT
53. Methuselah's father : ENOCH
55. Best Picture partly adapted from a C.I.A. operative's book : ARGO
56. Breakout consoles : ATARIS
58. "Grease" actress whose first name consists of the same two letters twice : DIDICONN
60. "Let's call it a day!" : IMBEAT
61. Eight-time Gold Glove winner Jim : EDMONDS
62. Forward : RESEND
63. Nets with weights : SEINES
1. It might hold your glasses : BARTRAY
2. Security cam sites : ATMS
3. Certain nutritionist : DIETITIAN
4. "Our deeds still travel with us from ___, / And what we have been makes us what we are": George Eliot : AFAR
5. Zen enlightenment : SATORI
6. "Whole" amount : SHEBANG
7. Word before food, paradoxically? : FAST
8. Extreme fandom : ADORATION
9. Treasury bills? : TENS
10. #2 on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists" : CLAPTON
11. Most open : AIRIEST
12. Stressful time for a student : TESTDAY
13. Played smoothly : LEGATO
15. Handle roughly : PAWAT
19. Well-timed : ONCUE
25. "The Many Loves of ___ Gillis" : DOBIE
26. Relative of a cockatoo : MACAW
27. Provider of protection from the rain : EAVES
28. Dressing choice : RANCH
30. Red hair tint : TITIAN
32. Allowance : RATION
34. Penn : Wharton :: M.I.T. : ___ : SLOAN
36. Jointly run : COCHAIR
37. Personal website section : ABOUTME
38. Soda can features : POPTABS
39. Scannable black-and-white boxes : QRCODES
41. They have souped-up engines : HOTRODS
42. Endorses digitally : ESIGNS
43. Drone's job, maybe : RECON
46. Stop waffling : DECIDE
52. Sequoia, e.g. : TREE
53. Abbr. before a year : ESTD
54. ___ cable (computer/TV connector) : HDMI
55. Embarrassing spots? : ACNE
57. John, in Scotland : IAN
59. Na+ or Cl- : ION

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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