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New York Times, Friday, August 1, 2014

Author:
Ashton Anderson and James Mulhern
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1111/16/20096/23/20176
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100073
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62000
Ashton Anderson
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2411/16/20096/23/20176
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
012001011
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60000
James Mulhern

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 33 Missing: {QVZ} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Anderson. This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Mulhern. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
James: We constructed this puzzle a little over a year ago. Ashton constructed the eastern half of the grid, seeded with my entry, ... read more

James:

We constructed this puzzle a little over a year ago. Ashton constructed the eastern half of the grid, seeded with my entry, CHA-CHING!, and I put together the west, seeded with Ashton's entry, THE CLOUD.

I think Ashton's NE is particularly good. We often rate entries on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being a "sale-killer," and 10 being reserved for what we consider explosive, top-shelf stunners. To stack two 10's (CHA-CHING and AI WEIWEI are 10's in my mind) and incorporate a ton of other entries that I consider 8+ is gorgeous work. His clue [Cash flow statement?] ups the ante in that section even more.

A final thought: although WSW isn't the best entry, I thought it was pretty cool that it fell in the WSWernmost spot of the grid. One of the clues left on the cutting room floor hinted as much. Oh well.

Ashton:

James's seed entry, CHA-CHING!, is one of my favourite entries in a long time. It's evocative, melodic, slangy, positive, and implicitly exclamatory. To sift through the language of daily life and unearth an ultra-rare gem-phrase that combines a lot of wonderful traits like this, and then start fashioning a freestyle grid around it, is the single greatest joy in puzzling for me.

Jeff Chen notes:
I love days like this. Sometimes I have to dig a little to uncover the assets of a crossword — almost every puzzle has something ... read more

I love days like this. Sometimes I have to dig a little to uncover the assets of a crossword — almost every puzzle has something to admire in it — but sometimes there's goodness everywhere I look. It's a true joy to write about a puzzle when I enjoyed it as much as today's.

I'll go back to my personal system of analytics to take measure of this puzzle. First, the ASSETS:

  • CHA CHING
  • AI WEI WEI
  • BEANTOWN
  • SIR KAY
  • SIXTH MAN
  • THE CLOUD
  • ON A HUNCH
  • WATERSKI
  • KOWTOW
  • IN A WORD
  • NO SWEAT
  • DONE AND DONE
  • I CAN RELATE
  • TRUST NO ONE
  • TAKE THE FALL
  • IWO JIMA
  • AM RADIO
  • NEW AGEY

An astonishing 18. More typically, I usually count about 12 in an average NYT themeless. Now, let's evaluate the LIABILITIES:

  • OISE
  • WSW
  • HIERO
  • ENS

Judgment of what's an ASSET and what's a LIABILITY is completely subjective of course (some might argue that RESTATE isn't great, but I hear about companies restating earnings all the time).

So how does the puzzle hold up? We have fewer than five LIABILITIES, and ASSETS minus LIABILITIES = 14 (much higher than my threshold of 10), so this puzzle easily crosses my thresholds. Not surprising, considering how much fun I had solving this bad boy.

Not to say that it's perfect — very few puzzles are. For me, the biggest issue was the slash in the middle of the puzzle tending to create a two mini-puzzle solving experience. It wasn't a serious problem, but it did hinder the puzzle's solving flow for me. I've used a similar effect before, because it makes puzzle construction easier. One of the biggest challenges in themeless creation is working with interlocking areas, where one change ripples through the puzzle. If you can section off your puzzle into separate pieces, it makes construction much easier.

Well done; such a pleasurable solving experience for me today.

Jim Horne notes:

Here's the famous Van Gogh at 42 Across from Musée d'Orsay.

1
A
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C
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I
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D
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N
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K
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K
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0801 ( 23,642 )

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Across
1
Very harsh : ACIDIC
7
Cash flow statement? : CHACHING
15
Ultra 93 vendor : SUNOCO
16
Winner of the inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent (2012) : AIWEIWEI
17
Two-dimensional : PLANAR
18
The Hub : BEANTOWN
19
Meander : WEND
20
"I say" sayer : BRIT
21
Ferrari rival, informally : JAG
22
Wildly cheering : AROAR
24
Real joker : RIOT
25
First talking pet in American comics : TIGE
26
Steel-eyed one? : CARNEGIE
28
Horse whisperer, e.g. : TAMER
29
Moves uncertainly : TODDLES
30
Boorish member of King Arthur's Round Table : SIRKAY
32
Like dungeons, typically : DANK
33
Footprint, maybe : CLUE
34
Tough to figure out : KNOTTY
36
Paraphrase : RESTATE
40
Coin with a hole in it : KRONE
41
First substitute on a basketball bench : SIXTHMAN
42
Van Gogh's "L'Église d'Auvers-sur-___" : OISE
43
Chop-chop : ASAP
45
Willy Wonka Candy Company candy : NERDS
46
Flint-to-Kalamazoo dir. : WSW
47
"The X-Files" program, for short : SETI
48
Soft spot : SOFA
49
Modern storage space : THECLOUD
51
Flush : LOADED
54
How Columbo often worked : ONAHUNCH
55
Queued up : INLINE
56
Be at the end of one's rope? : WATERSKI
57
Principal part : MELODY
Down
1
Ancient symbol of royalty : ASP
2
French bottom : CUL
3
Very succinctly : INAWORD
4
"No problem, I'm on it!" : DONEANDDONE
5
"Been there" : ICANRELATE
6
One of a vocal pair : CORD
7
Hack : CABBIE
8
Sacred: Prefix : HIERO
9
Anticipate : AWAIT
10
50 ___ : CENT
11
Google unit : HIT
12
It means "sulfur island" in Japanese : IWOJIMA
13
Into crystals and energy fields, say : NEWAGEY
14
Redhead : GINGER
22
Be part of the picture : ACT
23
Indian novelist Raja ___ : RAO
24
Kind of business : RISKY
25
Be a patsy : TAKETHEFALL
27
Hat-tipping sort : GENT
28
Catchphrase for the paranoid : TRUSTNOONE
30
Faux money : SCRIP
31
Holly : ILEX
34
Deity with more than 16,000 wives : KRISHNA
35
"Easy-peasy" : NOSWEAT
37
Rush home? : AMRADIO
38
Soupçon : TAD
39
Nation's exterior? : ENS
40
Submit : KOWTOW
41
Greeted someone : SAIDHI
43
Time immemorial : AEONS
44
Fast : STUCK
47
"Dirtbag," e.g. : SLUR
48
Remote : SLIM
50
Revolutionary name : CHE
52
Kill : END
53
"The Partridge Family" actress : DEY

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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