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New York Times, Saturday, August 20, 2016

Author: Mark Diehl
Editor: Will Shortz
Mark Diehl
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6811/11/198412/2/20171
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3014719322
ScrabRebusCirclePangrampre-WS
1.570018

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 27 Missing: {CQ} This is puzzle # 63 for Mr. Diehl. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mark Diehl notes: The initial criteria I set for this themeless: W-X-Y-Z, in order, in the four corners. Three stacked 10's radiating from ... more
Mark Diehl notes:

The initial criteria I set for this themeless:

  1. W-X-Y-Z, in order, in the four corners.
  2. Three stacked 10's radiating from each corner.
  3. Open flow in and out of each stacked area.
  4. Find interesting sets of stacks, preferably multiword phrases.

Modification (or compromise if you must) made early on: inclusion of two "cheater squares" that allowed the entry X AND Y AXES (I liked that one a lot), but it cost me criterion #2 (minor) and dual symmetry (minor).

Will rejected my first completed submission for including one of my favorite celebrities at 62-Across — you can see who it was by solving here. (Jeff: You can see the solution by pressing F9. And Will has mentioned in the past that he wouldn't run his own name in a grid, as that feels too self-serving.) Good news, the second version was accepted (and in retrospect probably fulfilled criterion #4 better).

And CONGRATULATIONS on the new addition, Jake David Denny Chen! (Jeff: two-week old Jake is a superb sleeper, thankfully. Also a prodigious pooper, not so thankfully — for me at least. He seems to greatly enjoy it.)

Jeff Chen notes: Mark's puzzles are tough but fair, making for an intense workout. Sort of a CrossFit experience, if you will — I felt the burn ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Mark's puzzles are tough but fair, making for an intense workout. Sort of a CrossFit experience, if you will — I felt the burn all throughout, pushed myself to the limits, and narrowly avoided hurting myself ... but did I feel great emerging with a victory!

Some beautiful answers today. SMOKY TOPAZ is not just a stunning "gemstone" but it's such a great answer, with a final Z as a bonus. And I haven't loved an answer so much as X AND Y AXES in years! It was so inscrutable at first glance … and at second … and at third, but it's a very common term in math that looks so crazy. What a great sequence of Xs and Ys linked together.

(Adding X Y AND Z AXES to the XWord Info word list …)

RUMBLE SEAT is another standout. Why don't today's automakers come up with such cool terminology? They don't look as awesome as they sound, and I can only imagine how uncomfortable they must be, but I imagine my kids would someday fight over dibs on the rumble seat if I had one.

A couple of long answers didn't hit quite as well for me. AGE-RELATED is perfectly fine — and I appreciated it more since my last company focused on drug discovery for AGE-RELATED macular degeneration — but it's not as colorful as the above-mentioned entries. And ONE IN FORTY seems arbitrary — I don't want the door opened for ONE IN SIXTY or ONE IN TWENTY, etc. Finally, IN THIS WAY also more takes up space than sings to me.

And there is a piece of deeper old-school crosswordese in TARNS. Sometimes I appreciate these, in that they provide a toehold into a tough section, but I don't like how this supports the popular notion that you have to know really esoteric trivia in order to be good at crosswords. Along with the arbitrary D TEN, these are more than minor gluey bits in my eyes.

But overall, some beautiful entries and a great workout leaving me feeling stronger than before. Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum! And I loved reading Mark's notes — I hadn't noticed the W X Y Z in the corners; very fun. This is exactly why I started asking every constructor for their take, way back when I joined onto XWord Info ... three years ago now!

1
W
2
A
3
T
4
E
5
R
6
T
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I
8
G
9
H
10
T
11
I
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M
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A
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X
15
A
Z
A
L
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A
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16
M
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G
A
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S
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P
E
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D
T
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N
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P
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V
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A
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B
O
A
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A
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H
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J
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D
E
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W
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L
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I
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M
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N
O
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T
A
X
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N
E
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D
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L
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S
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S
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N
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S
A
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T
M
I
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E
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U
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D
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A
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H
O
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D
O
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A
P
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Y
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D
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I
N
F
A
N
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T
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T
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D
A
Y
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S
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G
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I
M
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L
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D
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A
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W
A
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T
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R
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M
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B
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S
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A
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N
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Y
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62
S
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Z
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0820 ( 24,392 )
Across Down
1. Like a Navy seal : WATERTIGHT
11. Tall tale producer? : IMAX
15. Colorful ornamental with a trunk : AZALEATREE
16. Very large, informally : MEGA
17. One-stop shopping spot : SUPERSTORE
18. Battleship guess : DTEN
19. Advance look, commercially : PREVUE
20. Backing for a cartoonist : ARTBOARD
22. ___ Williams, Potsie player on "Happy Days" : ANSON
24. ___-on-Thames (regatta site) : HENLEY
25. Little bits : JOTS
27. Wet blanket? : DEW
29. Subject of the biography "Lightning in His Hand" : TESLA
30. Girl's name in which the last three letters are equivalent to the first? : IONE
31. Quality wool source : MERINO
33. It's an imposition : TAX
34. Acupuncturist's supply : NEEDLES
36. Feeling : SENSATE
38. "OMG, that's enough!" : TMI
39. Came (from) : ENSUED
41. Hawkeye State city : AMES
42. John Wayne title role : HONDO
44. Quick on the uptake : APT
45. Washington Sq. Park squad : NYPD
46. One not yet one, say : INFANT
48. Something to live for : TODAY
50. Primitive : STONEAGE
52. Marcos of the Philippines : IMELDA
56. Minor flaw : WART
57. Old-fashioned auto feature : RUMBLESEAT
59. Front money? : ANTE
60. Obama's first Homeland Security secretary : NAPOLITANO
61. Supportive cries : YAYS
62. Dark brown quartz sometimes sold as a gemstone : SMOKYTOPAZ
1. One might be involved in a sting : WASP
2. Like la mer : AZUR
3. Stick with it : TAPE
4. High : ELEVATED
5. Most TV Land programming : RERUNS
6. Paralyzes, in a way : TASES
7. Education's ___ Tech : ITT
8. "What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta," e.g. : GROANER
9. Foreign term of address : HERR
10. Ones put on retainer? : TEETH
11. "Not another bite for me!" : IMDONE
12. Imprinting tool : METALSTAMP
13. Like Alzheimer's disease : AGERELATED
14. Plot lines : XANDYAXES
21. Believe in : BETON
23. Frederick Forsyth thriller "The ___ File" : ODESSA
25. Four-for-four Super Bowl-winning QB : JOEMONTANA
26. 2.5% : ONEINFORTY
28. Seeing right through : WISETO
30. Thus : INTHISWAY
31. All the suspects in "The Usual Suspects" : MEN
32. ___ Land, 1954 Kirk Douglas sci-fi role : NED
35. Currency in Freetown : LEONE
37. Accept : SAYYESTO
40. Animato : UPTEMPO
43. Edmond ___, the Count of Monte Cristo : DANTES
45. "Your call" : NAMEIT
47. Mountain lakes : TARNS
49. Lollapalooza : DILLY
51. 53rd "state quarter" locale : GUAM
53. Capriole : LEAP
54. "Two Years Before the Mast" author : DANA
55. Leaving nothing out : ATOZ
58. ___ Tower Gardens, National Historic Landmark in Florida : BOK

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle.

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