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New York Times, Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Author: Bill Thompson
Editor: Will Shortz
Bill Thompson
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1.59011

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 37 Missing: {BQVX} This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Thompson. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Bill Thompson notes: The idea for this theme came to me when I was solving another crossword and noticed that the word 'east' was hidden in the center ... more
Bill Thompson notes:

The idea for this theme came to me when I was solving another crossword and noticed that the word "east" was hidden in the center of ADELE ASTAIRE. I found it surprisingly difficult to find other suitable theme entries meeting this criterion. I was on the fence whether to include the two theme entries across the middle of the grid — they are outliers both in terms of length and consistency (E-A-S-T in the answer is pronounced as "east," and it does not break across two words). In the end, I decided the puzzle was better with them than without them.

My favorite part of constructing puzzles is cluing. In researching ways in which an entry might be clued, you pick up a lot of interesting information. Two of my favorites in this puzzle are 3-Down (WANG) and 46-Down (PAC MAN). On 3-Down, I expect some solvers were looking for a five letter answer (APPLE). And the limitation in 46-Down's clue exists because the game implodes at level 256 (binary 0001 0000 0000). The game's level register has only eight bits, and the software does not make allowance for going beyond level 255 (binary 1111 1111).

Jeff Chen notes: MIDDLE EAST interpreted as 'phrases with EAST smack dab in their middles.' Bill's elegantly chose themers which are both colorful and ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

MIDDLE EAST interpreted as "phrases with EAST smack dab in their middles." Bill's elegantly chose themers which are both colorful and have EAST exactly in their centers. With so many phrases containing EAST in various places, that exact centering is a much-appreciated bonus.

I'll bet William Hung has a perfect Pac-man game under his belt

Speaking of bonuses, kind of fun to have YEASTY and FEASTS. Normally I don't care for themers shorter than the surrounding fill (like FOUL TIP and IMPASSE), but having them in the center of the grid sort of fits with the theme. Thumbs up.

YAWP is an interesting word to kick off the puzzle. I personally think it's hilarious and love it, but I was surprised when Ben Tausig commented that it was probably his least favorite entry in one of my recent puzzles; an oddity. It's good to remember how much subjectivity there is in the crossworld.

With four long themers and two shorties, I appreciate how much thought Bill put into his grid. Not only does he work in some nice long fill in SUGAR PEA and SKILL SET, but he uses the 7-letter slots well, giving us FOUL TIP and PERSEUS. Best of all, the short stuff is relatively smooth and clean. I don't care for the forgettable DR. T role, and A FLY and FREI aren't great. But the latter two are necessitated by the bonus themers, YEASTY and FEASTS, so I think that's an okay trade-off.

At first I thought having ESTE, the Spanish word for EAST, was inelegant. But it's 1.) another trade-off for getting in those two bonus answers, and 2.) there's something kind of cool about where it's placed in the grid: in the east.

And a great piece of trivia about PACMAN, a game that can be played "perfectly." (This factors into "Ready Player One," one of my favorite reads in recent memory. Can't wait for the movie.)

All in all, some little trade-offs but all reasonable, given how much extra material it allowed Bill to work in. If "SHE Bangs" had been clued to the awesome William Hung "She Bangs" meme, I might just have given it the POW!

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0818 ( 24,024 )
Across Down
1. Complain loudly : YAWP
5. "Proud" ones with cigars : PAPAS
10. Cheek : SASS
14. Iridescent stone : OPAL
15. Prince Valiant's love : ALETA
16. ___ Reader : UTNE
17. *Left the flock : GONEASTRAY
19. Greek earth goddess : GAEA
20. Kind of test for newborns : APGAR
21. "___ Bangs" (Ricky Martin hit) : SHE
22. ___ Sea, victim of Soviet irrigation projects : ARAL
23. *Walk out : STAGEASTRIKE
27. Tenor Carreras : JOSE
30. Catcher's catch off a batter's bat : FOULTIP
31. Part of an oval : ARC
32. Competitor's lament : ILOST
33. Kyle ___, "The Terminator" hero : REESE
37. *Like baking dough : YEASTY
39. *Sumptuous spreads : FEASTS
40. Crashes, with "out" : ZONKS
41. Got by word of mouth : HEARD
44. Word that, spelled backward, can be a clue for itself : PAT
45. Stalemate : IMPASSE
47. Prefix with diluvian : ANTE
48. *Half of a brother/sister dance duo : ADELEASTAIRE
52. Laze : LOLL
53. Inits. for Windy City commuters : CTA
54. Loosen, as a knot : UNTIE
58. Leon who wrote "The Haj" : URIS
59. World hot spot ... or a hint to the answers to the starred clues : MIDDLEEAST
62. Labyrinth : MAZE
63. "That's ___" : AMORE
64. Mass-market furniture company : IKEA
65. Furniture strip : SLAT
66. Homes for warblers and wasps : NESTS
67. Two of diamonds? : DEES
1. Exercise discipline : YOGA
2. Individually : APOP
3. First computer company to run an ad during the Super Bowl : WANG
4. Entreaty that may follow "pretty" : PLEASE
5. Faux ___ : PAS
6. PC key : ALT
7. Slayer of Medusa : PERSEUS
8. Stopped : ATAHALT
9. Speak, in the Bible : SAYEST
10. Legume with an edible pod : SUGARPEA
11. Game company with a Japanese name : ATARI
12. Weasel : SNEAK
13. Bobby who co-founded the Black Panther Party : SEALE
18. The "A" of MoMA : ART
24. Wouldn't hurt ___ : AFLY
25. Wet gunk : GOO
26. Hackneyed : TIRED
27. Rapper born Shawn Corey Carter : JAYZ
28. Product first released by the National Biscuit Company in 1912 : OREO
29. Survey with binoculars, say : SCAN
32. Informal identification : ITSME
34. Sister company of ABC : ESPN
35. Runs, hits or errors, for short : STAT
36. Villa d'___ : ESTE
38. Everything one can do : SKILLSET
39. Without cost: Ger. : FREI
41. Isn't at the deadline yet : HASTIME
42. Tabasco and Chihuahua, in México : ESTADOS
43. Cool ___ cucumber : ASA
46. Game with a "perfect score" of 3,333,360 : PACMAN
47. Source of the Trojan horse story : AENEID
48. Grads : ALUMS
49. Miami golf resort : DORAL
50. Slave woman in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" : ELIZA
51. "The Murders in the ___ Morgue" : RUE
55. Grab : TAKE
56. "Mm-hmm" : ISEE
57. Data for airport chauffeurs, for short : ETAS
60. Richard Gere title role : DRT
61. French article : LES

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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