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New York Times, Friday, July 17, 2015

Author:
Paolo Pasco
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
137/17/20151/19/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1300054
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63011
Paolo Pasco

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQVXZ} Grid has both 90- and 180-degree symmetry. This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Pasco. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Paolo Pasco notes:
Hey, XWord Info! I'm a 15-year-old student, and I'm glad to be making my NYT debut today. Interestingly enough, this crossword had ... read more

Hey, XWord Info! I'm a 15-year-old student, and I'm glad to be making my NYT debut today.

Interestingly enough, this crossword had the same inspiration as this gem by David Phillips (despite similarities, this puzzle and that puzzle were constructed independently). I also happened to read Patrick Berry's comment, where he said that themeless crosswords with more open centers were more manageable than those with open corners, since open corners had equally-open symmetrical counterparts. That led me to experiment with freestyles having long entries stacked up in the middle.

Predictably, I started the grid with the staggered stacks of three 11's in the center. I started off with the stack of KICKSTARTER and BECAUSE I CAN, which created promising letter pairs for the crossings. By a process of trial and error (mostly error), I was able to find a promising intersection of six 11's, as well as a pretty arrangement of black squares. After that, the rest of the fill was basically segmented into four corners, which I tackled from the SE, and proceeded clockwise. Aside from the two seeds, I was pleased to include TIME COP, MAD ABOUT YOU, WALTER MITTY, and APE SUIT. I was less pleased about SAGOS/ANITRA/ESTOPS, etc., but I think the good outweighs the bad here.

Will and the crew did a great job of sprucing up the clues. Surprisingly, about half of the clues I wrote were either unchanged or given minor edits. My favorite unaltered clues include those for 45A, 57A, and 48D. Plus, I was glad to include a reference to "The Imitation Game," one of my favorite movies. Among the edited clues, I'm a fan of the ones for 7A, 8D, and 22D, but [Buff runner?] is my absolute favorite clue of theirs, no contest. I legitimately laughed when I saw it for the first time.

Thanks to Will, Joel, and the rest of the NYTeam, as well as my long-suffering family, who has been my sounding board for many a possible entry/clue. Hope it was an entertaining solve!

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut! And a young un, adding to our list of youngest constructors (sorted by age when they debuted). Amazing to think that Paolo is ... read more

Debut! And a young un, adding to our list of youngest constructors (sorted by age when they debuted). Amazing to think that Paolo is 15, and that he started constructing probably years before that.

Mad about MAD ABOUT YOU, or not so much?

I liked WALTER MITTY, MINOR THREAT, and KICKSTARTER. The latter is something I associate more with the youngsters, much more so than MAD ABOUT YOU. Amusing to think that that show went off the air … a year before Paolo was born.

I wonder if MAD ABOUT YOU is gridworthy. I don't think it'll stand the test of time like Seinfeld or the Simpsons, but we'll see. I gave up on the show after a few years because it got old, but perhaps the die-hards will keep it alive on fan sites. TIMECOP also felt outdated to me, although I imagine that some people will consider it a cult classic.

I liked the math bent, what with the ENIGMA and REAL clues. Neat to think about those English codebreakers, trying to figure out what the heck the Germans were doing with their ENIGMA machines. I loved reading about the spy games they played, especially after they managed to get a working Enigma machine. You want to use the information, but you don't want to use it so much that the Germans catch on …

And I had to stop and think for a minute about e being real. The mathematical constant e (roughly = 2.718) is irrational, meaning it can't be expressed by a fraction. But is it real? Took me a while to remember that anything that can be placed on the number line is real, so e qualifies but i (the square root of negative one) is not.

For a 66-word puzzle, there's not nearly as many gluey entries as I might have expected. ESTOPS is a usual suspect because of its common letters and the Ss which are useful as terminal letters. ATHENE helps anchor that lower right, but it is odd to see it as something besides ATHENA. Other than that though, pretty darn clean.

All in all, I'm looking forward to more from Paolo.

1
P
2
U
3
B
4
L
5
I
6
C
7
S
8
C
9
R
10
A
11
P
12
E
13
E
N
I
G
M
A
14
K
A
H
U
N
A
S
15
D
I
G
S
I
N
16
B
I
G
A
M
I
S
T
17
A
F
I
18
T
I
19
M
E
C
O
P
20
T
S
O
21
N
O
D
22
E
23
T
I
C
K
S
24
C
R
O
P
25
T
R
E
N
26
T
27
N
A
S
28
C
L
A
N
S
29
M
A
D
A
30
B
O
U
T
31
Y
O
U
32
S
O
M
E
R
S
A
U
L
T
33
S
34
W
A
L
T
E
R
M
I
T
T
35
Y
36
A
37
S
38
N
E
R
39
H
I
T
40
C
E
R
E
41
S
42
L
E
A
D
43
A
R
C
E
44
D
45
R
E
A
L
46
O
R
G
47
C
L
E
A
R
U
48
P
49
A
R
I
50
M
A
G
51
E
L
L
A
N
52
M
A
53
S
K
E
D
54
A
P
E
S
U
I
T
55
A
T
H
E
N
E
56
R
E
D
P
E
N
57
S
H
A
R
D
S
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0717 ( 23,992 )
Across
1
Open : PUBLIC
7
Fix ... or damage : SCRAPE
13
"The Imitation Game" machine : ENIGMA
14
Island bigwigs : KAHUNAS
15
Begins a meal : DIGSIN
16
Person having one too many? : BIGAMIST
17
"100 Years ... 100 Movies" grp. : AFI
18
1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme film : TIMECOP
20
Notable Chinese general : TSO
21
Meeting place : NODE
23
There are 60 in a minute : TICKS
24
Photoshop option : CROP
25
Gainsborough's river : TRENT
27
"Life Is Good" rapper, 2012 : NAS
28
Groups of gamers : CLANS
29
1990s sitcom set in New York : MADABOUTYOU
32
Flips : SOMERSAULTS
34
Daydreaming type : WALTERMITTY
36
Voice of Pixar's Mr. Fredricksen : ASNER
39
Producer's hope : HIT
40
2015 destination for the Dawn spacecraft : CERES
42
Dancer Fred Astaire, to Adele : LEAD
43
Like a rainbow : ARCED
45
Like e, but not i : REAL
46
Common URL ender : ORG
47
Explain : CLEARUP
49
Agent Gold of TV : ARI
50
Man who named the Pacific Ocean : MAGELLAN
52
Incognito, maybe : MASKED
54
Popular gag costume : APESUIT
55
Goddess of wisdom, to Homer : ATHENE
56
Marker of mistakes : REDPEN
57
Result of a messy breakup? : SHARDS
Down
1
Nitpicker : PEDANT
2
Catholic school requirement : UNIFORM
3
TED talk topics : BIGIDEAS
4
Some TVs : LGS
5
"You've got no one else to turn to" : IMIT
6
"Shut up!" : CANIT
7
Starchy palms : SAGOS
8
Get cracking? : CHAP
9
"Pirates of the Caribbean" quaff : RUM
10
"Peer Gynt" enchantress : ANITRA
11
Relay : PASSON
12
Bars, to members of the bar : ESTOPS
14
Money source since 2009 : KICKSTARTER
16
"Reason" that doesn't explain anything : BECAUSEICAN
19
Third-party candidate, typically : MINORTHREAT
22
Like some chairs : ENDOWED
24
Hoarder's problem : CLUTTER
26
Daughter of David, in the Bible : TAMAR
28
Baby problem : COLIC
30
Measure of volume : BEL
31
"Dee-lish!" : YUM
33
Buff runner? : STREAKER
35
Kind of bonus : YEAREND
36
Roberto in the Baseball Hall of Fame : ALOMAR
37
It's a wrap : SERAPE
38
Ate away (at) : NAGGED
41
Playground staples : SLIDES
43
Beat : ALLIN
44
"The Black Tulip" novelist : DUMAS
47
Fingerprint, perhaps : CLUE
48
It might be worn by a hiking group : PATH
51
Subj. of the opening scene in "Ghostbusters" : ESP
53
Nonsense song syllable : SHA

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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