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New York Times, Thursday, June 8, 2017

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
916/16/20112/2/201917
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66681130222
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645163
David Steinberg

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
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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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
11
A
12
T
13
L
A
T
I
F
A
H
14
A
D
E
L
I
E
15
P
E
R
M
E
A
T
E
16
S
O
N
A
R
S
17
A
G
T
S
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R
O
B
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O
T
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S
P
I
T
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W
A
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R
A
N
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T
E
D
24
A
T
A
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D
26
M
I
N
C
27
E
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R
O
S
A
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T
O
Y
O
30
T
A
31
G
U
A
32
R
A
N
T
Y
33
B
I
C
34
S
35
E
V
A
N
36
C
37
A
38
P
I
T
A
L
39
Q
40
E
T
C
41
H
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E
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R
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O
B
O
E
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W
O
R
46
D
S
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H
O
S
E
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C
O
P
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A
C
E
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T
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H
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T
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E
N
O
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H
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A
R
G
O
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A
T
A
R
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I
S
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D
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D
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I
C
O
N
N
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M
B
E
A
T
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E
D
M
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D
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R
E
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63
S
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S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0608 ( 24,684 )
Across
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
Down
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: 7 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?