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New York Times, Friday, August 21, 2015

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
976/16/201110/30/201918
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76691132242
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1.645173
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 43 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
See? I told you the other puzzles I have in the queue are more challenging than the Monday that ran earlier this month! Anyway, I ... read more

See? I told you the other puzzles I have in the queue are more challenging than the Monday that ran earlier this month!

Anyway, I constructed this puzzle last March, when I was experimenting with stagger-stacked grid patterns involving 9-letter entries. When I build stunt themelesses of this variety, I limit myself to just one seed entry, which I place at the bottom of the stack. I decided on JUST RELAX since it struck me as fun and lively, hadn't been used much (just three other times, and not since 2009), and contained easy letters toward the middle of the stack (T, R, E, L, and A). Also, the J in JUST RELAX was convenient in that it was Scrabbly yet off to the side (thus not restricting my options much), though the X in a prime position made the entry a bit of a gamble.

That said, there were still too many options, so I decided to take even more of a risk in insisting that the second-to-bottom entry in the stack had to start with a Q. Much to my delight, a stack without any major compromises fell into place, though the grid still struck me as a bit closed off — at the time, I had an extra pair of black squares above CIDER and below BRONX. Since CIDER and BRONX struck me as especially expandable, I opened up the grid and plunked down APPLE CIDER and BRONX CHEER.

My next task was to determine what the two grid-spanners would be. PERSONAL SHOPPER was an easy choice, since it both fit the best and seemed especially fun! And although LINCOLN MEMORIAL struck me as kind of neutral, I appreciated that it was solid, allowed me to use LOUDSPEAKER, and didn't necessitate any irksome short entries. After sifting through numerous options for the rest of the fill, I settled on what you currently see.

I wasn't thrilled with SLUE, EDY, or SOC, but was quite pleased with how everything else turned out, so I called it a good day with the fill and whipped up a set of clues. I was pleased to see that more of my clues made the cut than in some of my previous published puzzles, though my favorite part of the post-submission process has always been discovering the ingenious new cluing angles Will and Joel come up with! For instance, their "Place to lead a private life?" is much, much better than my original "Two, ten, or sixty" for BASE. My favorite clue in the puzzle, though, is one of my own: "Call girl employer?" for AVON! Maybe that's why I'm still single!

Well, with that, I hope you enjoy the puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes:
Big chunks of wide open space are both pleasing to my eye ... and fear-inducing. A swath like the middle of today's puzzle is so ... read more

Big chunks of wide open space are both pleasing to my eye ... and fear-inducing. A swath like the middle of today's puzzle is so visually stunning. But knowing the painful process of constructing a giant section, it fills me with worry, wondering what compromises I undoubtedly will see.

The man known as "Mr. Rhythm," kicking back at the right

Thankfully, David pulls off a very nice fill with five good to great across entries — and two long downs crossing through them! All this with just LAINE (a bit on the outdated side?) and ANNAL (much more common in the plural). Smart to start off with the bottom of the five entries, looking for something both colorful and containing friendly ending letters.

After looking up Frankie LAINE, I decided being billed as "America's Number One Song Stylist" is pretty crossworthy. I still bet David would have preferred either someone more well known, or a regular word which could take a clever clue.

I like "clue echoes," when a single clue is used for two different entries … but only if the clue is used with two completely different meanings. I love when people are able to make those crazy connections. ORCA and PIRATE sharing a clue (ROUE and RAKE too) isn't that satisfying to me; simply synonyms.

Neat to see how David's body of themeless work has progressed over the years. Earlier on, some of his creations felt closed off, segmented into three or more chunks, so it's great to hear that he put a lot of effort into opening up this grid. It's hard enough to run strong entries through a big stack like this middle one, and to do it with APPLE CIDER and BRONX CHEER is pretty spectacular.

1
B
2
A
3
S
4
E
5
A
6
L
7
D
8
R
9
I
10
N
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T
12
O
13
M
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A
V
O
N
15
P
I
R
A
T
E
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S
R
O
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L
O
U
D
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S
P
E
A
K
E
R
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H
B
O
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L
I
N
C
O
L
N
M
E
M
O
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R
I
A
L
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A
D
D
U
C
E
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O
R
C
A
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D
E
L
T
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C
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L
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A
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M
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B
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R
O
T
H
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E
D
Y
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D
I
A
N
A
R
O
S
S
33
H
I
D
I
N
G
O
U
T
34
Q
U
E
E
N
A
N
N
E
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C
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P
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R
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J
U
S
T
R
E
L
A
X
39
G
O
R
E
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S
E
E
K
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C
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H
O
W
E
D
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P
E
R
S
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O
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N
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A
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L
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S
H
O
P
P
E
R
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A
R
I
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M
O
B
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L
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P
H
O
N
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51
R
A
E
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A
V
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N
U
E
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E
K
E
S
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E
T
D
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N
A
T
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E
R
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R
E
D
S
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0821 ( 24,027 )

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Across
1
Place to lead a private life? : BASE
5
Armstrong contemporary : ALDRIN
11
Daisy's husband in "The Great Gatsby" : TOM
14
Call girl employer? : AVON
15
Sea menace : PIRATE
16
Letters that delight angels : SRO
17
One may be put in the corner of a classroom : LOUDSPEAKER
19
Where to find "Girls" : HBO
20
Backing for some U.S. currency? : LINCOLNMEMORIAL
22
Cite as evidence : ADDUCE
23
Sea menace : ORCA
24
Upper body muscle, for short : DELT
25
New England stock : CLAMBROTH
31
Eponym in the frozen food aisle : EDY
32
Supreme leader? : DIANAROSS
33
Underground, perhaps : HIDINGOUT
34
English monarch after whom a brickwork building style is named : QUEENANNE
35
Y course : CPR
38
"Take a chill pill!" : JUSTRELAX
39
Stab : GORE
40
Car radio button : SEEK
41
Ate, with "down" : CHOWED
43
Paid purchaser, perhaps : PERSONALSHOPPER
49
N.L. West team, on scoreboards : ARI
50
Cell : MOBILEPHONE
51
Singer Carly ___ Jepsen : RAE
52
States in Monopoly, e.g. : AVENUE
53
Stretches, with "out" : EKES
54
What boarding precedes, for short : ETD
55
Talk on and on : NATTER
56
Cabs and such : REDS
Down
1
Verse with an envoi : BALLADE
2
Wanted nothing to do with : AVOIDED
3
Good way to sleep : SOUNDLY
4
Most-cooked part of a prime rib roast : ENDCUT
5
Drink sometimes served hot : APPLECIDER
6
Security measure : LIEN
7
Perfumery measure : DRAM
8
Playboy : RAKE
9
Two people in People, maybe : ITEM
10
Emperor who committed matricide : NERO
11
Some cannon projectiles : TSHIRTS
12
Jerry of "Dirty Dancing" : ORBACH
13
Kale : MOOLA
18
Part of Ascap: Abbr. : SOC
21
Settle down for the night : ROOST
26
Frankie whose song "That Lucky Old Sun" topped the charts for eight weeks : LAINE
27
Record book record : ANNAL
28
Vena cerebri ___ (brain vein) : MAGNA
29
Show of disrespect : BRONXCHEER
30
Playboy : ROUE
32
Not down very much? : DIET
33
Ear coverings : HUSKS
34
Asked : QUERIED
35
Range figure : COWPOKE
36
Combed, coxcomb-style : PREENED
37
Square, in a way : REDRESS
38
Show disrespect for, say : JEERAT
39
University of Minnesota mascot : GOPHER
40
Let off : SPARE
42
Triple jump jump : HOP
44
Home to Sultan Qaboos University : OMAN
45
Deli item that's 14-Across backward : NOVA
46
Assist with a job : ABET
47
Screen buildup : LINT
48
Swing around : SLUE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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