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New York Times, Friday, July 11, 2014

Author:
Sam Ezersky and Victor Fleming
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
367/28/20122/16/20209
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
411335127
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.71211
Sam Ezersky
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
463/29/20055/12/201724
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
75106666
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55023
Victor Fleming

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 28 Missing: {QX} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Ezersky. This is puzzle # 40 for Mr. Fleming. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Sam: So, Vic, do you recall how we came up with this ANAKIN SKYWALKER puzzle? Vic: Uh ... Anakin was a classmate of yours. He ... read more

Sam: So, Vic, do you recall how we came up with this ANAKIN SKYWALKER puzzle?

Vic: Uh ... Anakin was a classmate of yours. He friended you on Facebook. And I said, "We should totally put him in a puzzle! I loved him in that Ewok movie."

Sam: Precisely! BTW, Anakin did well in Econ last semester. So, yeah, we designed this grid with as much lively fill as possible, garnished it with some Scrabbly flair. I even learned a word; when you suggested DEMIJOHN, I Googled for a tabloid name between stars Moore and Cusack ... since when are they an item?

Vic: When you told me that story about finding an ENERGY BAR in a SEWER LINE and thinking, "I bet that TASTES BAD!", who'd a-thunk you could jam those phrases into a crossword?! You use lots of multi-unit answers. In a themeless you did in May, there were, like, 50! Where'd you learn that?

Sam: I'll never tell. [wink] But it's not like I was working alone.

Vic: How cool is it that Will kept several of our clues! Like yours for PEEN, "Part for a whackjob?"

Sam: "What Kramer often called Seinfeld" was yours for JER.

Vic: "They might like your comments" — your clue for FACEBOOK FRIENDS.

Sam: My clue for BUTTS — "Moon units?" — was changed only slightly, to "Moon views?"

Vic: Close enough! I'll give it to you.

Sam: Loved your clue for TE AMO, "Phrase cooed en español."

Vic: And I loved yours for AREA CODES, "409 and 410, but not 411."

Sam: All in all, a good effort. I hope everyone likes what they see. It's been a pleasure working with you.

Vic! Here's to many more collaborations!

Vic: As they say in the clue for IT'D BE ... my pleasure!

Sam: That wasn't in our puzzle.

Vic: No, but it coulda been.

Sam: BARCA was the better choice.

Vic: Especially with your clue, "Spanish soccer club, to fans."

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun to see another one from a strong pair, wizened Judge Vic and the young Skywalker padawan. Er, Ezersky. If history tells us ... read more

Fun to see another one from a strong pair, wizened Judge Vic and the young Skywalker padawan. Er, Ezersky. If history tells us anything Vic, you might want to check Sam's dark-side pockets for light sabers. Seriously though, I enjoy seeing collaborations, and an established one that has this much fun working together gives me a great big smile.

A lot of strong material today, anchored by the nice central grid-spanners, ANAKIN SKYWALKER and FACEBOOK FRIENDS. They go big with the grid design, not just satisfied with four additional sets of triple-stacked corners. It would have been easy for them to section off the SW and NE corners to make them easier to fill (similar to how the NW and SE corners dead-end), but they chose to go for 1.) more puzzle flow and 2.) two additional long answers in JOE CAMEL and KING SIZE. I like how open those two corners are, giving the solver multiple ways in.

That decision did cost them a little, in various entries such as ARNE (not the most famous of cabinet members) and ONE AM (an arbitrary time) and JER (as much as I love Seinfeld, this answer looks so odd to me). Still, the overall effect is well worth the trade-off.

Speaking of the dark side, finding an ENERGY BAR in a SEWER LINE (and eating it George Constanza style) TASTES BAD all right. Not an image I can get out of my head unfortunately now. (Someone pass me a light saber for an emergency lobotomy.) It won't bother everyone, but if it grossed me out, I bet others will feel similarly. TASTES BAD also seems a bit arbitrary to me, opening up the door to TASTES GOOD, TASTES SALTY, TASTES FISHY, TASTES LIKE AN ENERGY BAR I FOUND IN THE SEWER LINE. All in all, it's a reasonable answer, just not one I would consider stellar at the big-impression 1-Across location.

Normally, I don't care for cross-referenced clues, which make you jump all over the grid. I ignore them most of the time, unless the two entries are close in proximity. But today I appreciated the SITS / BANC cross-ref, since it helped me finish the tough NW corner (in which I was stuck). It helped improve the quality of my solve, and that's really the most important factor to any puzzle.

I loved seeing PO-PO in the grid! I only heard the term a few years ago, but it stuck in my head. I like getting a bit of slang worked in. Too much goes away from what makes this the NYT puzzle, but every once in a while a piece of good (and up-to-date) slang does wonders. To my delight, WHAT'S UP G? has been used (although I've only heard the "more correct" WHAT UP G?). The first time one of the kids I work with said YO WHAT UP G? to me I was baffled. Gave him the silent head nod, and that seemed to be acceptable.

Finally, some beautiful clues. Some of my favorites were actually DERIDE and ONUS, with two seemingly innocent clues. [Knock sharply] threw me off track, thinking about RAP AT THE DOOR, and [Large charge] felt like it should be AMEX BILL or MEGACOULOMBS. But my top choice today was [Outerwear for moguls?], which misdirected to ITALIAN SUITS or something. Great a-ha when I figured out that the moguls were referring to ski slope moguls.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0711 ( 23,621 )
Across
1
Displeases one's buds? : TASTESBAD
10
Dart maker ... or dart : DODGE
15
R.V. park hookup option : SEWERLINE
16
When New York's Central Park closes : ONEAM
17
Snack in a gym bag : ENERGYBAR
18
Clog : GUMUP
19
Phrase cooed en español : TEAMO
20
Opposite of miniature : KINGSIZE
22
Uses a 49-Down : SITS
23
People thank God when it comes : FRIDAY
25
What Kramer often called Seinfeld : JER
26
Joseph of ice cream : EDY
27
Art ___, Steelers owner for 55 years : ROONEY
28
Cops, in slang : POPO
29
Moon views? : BUTTS
30
"Wiener Frauen" composer : LEHAR
31
They might like your comments : FACEBOOKFRIENDS
36
N.F.L. team that went 0-16 in 2008 : LIONS
37
Have an itch : YEARN
38
Duncan of Obama's cabinet : ARNE
39
Impound lot charge : TOWAGE
41
Jump start? : JAY
44
Gomer Pyle, e.g.: Abbr. : PFC
45
Trees used to make shoe trees : CEDARS
46
Enfant bearer : MERE
47
Ad mascot in sunglasses : JOECAMEL
49
Spanish soccer club, for short : BARCA
50
Spirit : ARDOR
51
Outerwear for moguls? : SKIPARKAS
54
Battery for many a toy : CCELL
55
Like a 1938 Andrew Jackson stamp : SEVENCENT
56
Writer featured in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" : KESEY
57
409 and 410, but not 411 : AREACODES
Down
1
Scary little sucker : TSETSE
2
12-book classic : AENEID
3
Like many exercisers : SWEATY
4
The "2x" and "5" in 2x + 5, e.g. : TERMS
5
Accordingly : ERGO
6
Designing : SLY
7
Restaurant accessory : BIB
8
Knight who fell to the dark side : ANAKINSKYWALKER
9
Knock sharply : DERIDE
10
Spot, to a tot : DOGGY
11
Large charge : ONUS
12
Cousin of a carafe : DEMIJOHN
13
It may cover a tear : GAUZEPAD
14
Power line? : EMPERORS
21
Unfavorable reply : NAY
23
Shot, informally : FOTO
24
Tiller attachment? : ROTO
27
Coats put on at barbecues : RUBS
28
Part for a whack job? : PEEN
29
Well, in Rome : BENE
30
Old change in the Vatican : LIRE
31
Hotcake : FLAPJACK
32
Jet pack? : AIRFORCE
33
Cries uncle : CONCEDES
34
What chickens have : FEAR
35
Clothing, colloquially : RAGS
39
Pro ___ : TEM
40
Seat of Ector County, Tex. : ODESSA
41
Moved like a whiptail : JERKED
42
Apprehended by a small group : ARCANE
43
Brewers' supplies : YEASTS
45
Pop singer ___ Rae Jepsen : CARLY
46
Cry in a swimming pool game : MARCO
48
He had a 1948 #1 hit with "Nature Boy" : COLE
49
Judge's perch : BANC
52
"___ no idea" : IVE
53
Kind of gravel : PEA

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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