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New York Times, Friday, August 22, 2014

Author: Sam Ezersky
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
287/28/20129/20/20189
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211324105
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1.71200
Sam Ezersky

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 31 Missing: {JX} This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Ezersky. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Sam Ezersky notes: The first time I ever saw the entry EZER in a grid, my mind was blown. I had no idea who this Israeli figure was, but all I knew ... more
Sam Ezersky notes: The first time I ever saw the entry EZER in a grid, my mind was blown. I had no idea who this Israeli figure was, but all I knew was that his name, combined with SKY, made my last name. I liked that I could hide my last name amid two crossword entries. "Ezersky" doesn't exactly rhyme with anything, and Microsoft Word always wants to correct it to some random word like "deerskin" (?)…so this was kinda cool. Over three years ago, I monkeyed with themeless grids with adjacent entries SAMUEL/EZER/SKY and the like…but having short entries as seeds just wasn't exciting, especially when the middle bit was hardcore crosswordese. This latter realization led me to create a grid based around what you now see as 67-across. Two Z's! An entry never before seen in a mainstream crossword! A full name that isn't just the crosswordese portion ... I love it when constructors do that! So I was pretty happy this all pulled together, and I hope it doesn't cause too much trouble for solvers that don't know the guy! Enjoy, folks.

Some additional constructing notes:

  • The top-left and bottom-right stacks were finalized before the rest of the grid was even designed; BBQ SANDWICH (which was originally clued as "Pit assembly, briefly?") was the genesis for the former.
  • There are a bit more blah 3- and 4-letter entries than I would have allowed if I had constructed this today, but I guess they're tradeoffs for some of my other debuts.
  • I'm pleased to see Will kept my clues for 43-across, 56-across, 7-down and 14-down, among others. Loved his new clues for 17-across, 21-across, 64-across, and 39-down.

Finally, I want to use this as an early opportunity for a promo, and say that I am in the process of creating a blog, where I will present a self-constructed weekly crossword much like several of the other indie websites out there. I'm still working on some of the basic setup procedures, but I have an arsenal of puzzles already created, mostly themelesses, that I am excited to share with the public—they may be a bit racy for NYT standards, and have some college-kid flair thrown in the mix. Anyway, look for me in the coming weeks as I move this blog forward; thanks in advance for the support!

Will Shortz notes: As I may have mentioned once, SDI (4D) is an entry I'd like to ban from crosswords, as it's a long out-of-date initialism. But ... more
Will Shortz notes: As I may have mentioned once, SDI (4D) is an entry I'd like to ban from crosswords, as it's a long out-of-date initialism. But here, since it crosses the lovely stack of BBQ SANDWICH, SAUDI ARABIA, and TRAIN SIGNAL, I had to make an exception.
Jeff Chen notes: Some strong entries in today's puzzle, with BBQ SANDWICH and BLISTER PACK singing to me. The former makes my mouth water, and the ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Some strong entries in today's puzzle, with BBQ SANDWICH and BLISTER PACK singing to me. The former makes my mouth water, and the latter is the focus of one of my product design projects during my first (engineering) career. You'd be amazed at how much work goes into foil thickness, adhesive selection, failure mode and effects analysis, etc. (amazed... or asleep, perhaps).

I like the variety today. Sam shortens up his NE and SW corners, putting more onus on the across entries to carry the puzzle's snazz. A nice example of a constructor experienced enough (how old is this kid, anyway?) to be able to create his own block patterns to fit the entries he wants. To get up to that point of construction skill is no mean feat.

I got a hint of choppiness during my solve, and I couldn't figure out why until I studied the grid. So many three-letter words — a whopping 18 of them. Typically Will prefers 12 or fewer, and there's a good reason for that: most have been used so frequently in crosswords that a super-hard clue is sometimes needed in order to keep the solver from blazing through the puzzle. I found myself stuck in the NE with nowhere to go, for example. Using so many three-letter words can allow for a higher number of headline entries (or longer ones), but there's a price to pay. And if you do need to lean on the heavier glue (LA-Z, SDI, INO), the effect can be less elegant than desired.

Still, there are a great number of strong 11-letter entries. That length occurs less frequently than 10's and 9's and 8's in themelesses, because using an 11 usually means pairing it with a three-letter word. So it's a treat to get EZER WEIZMAN's full name in there, as well as TRAIN SIGNAL and its nice clue, misdirecting the solver to a music conductor.

1
B
2
B
3
Q
4
S
5
A
6
N
7
D
8
W
9
I
10
C
11
H
12
H
13
E
14
H
15
S
A
U
D
I
A
R
A
B
I
A
16
I
N
O
17
T
R
A
I
N
S
I
G
N
A
L
18
B
A
M
19
A
H
I
20
G
A
V
E
21
T
22
E
A
M
O
23
R
O
L
24
L
E
25
E
W
26
E
27
S
28
D
C
O
N
29
S
P
A
Y
30
F
R
A
N
K
31
G
E
H
R
Y
32
S
T
E
33
A
L
34
R
O
Y
A
L
I
S
M
35
M
I
36
L
37
S
L
R
38
I
39
T
40
S
41
M
A
G
I
42
C
43
I
P
44
A
45
D
46
S
47
D
E
E
P
T
H
R
O
48
A
T
49
A
R
T
50
Y
51
C
A
T
E
52
T
R
A
P
53
P
H
Y
L
A
54
A
M
I
G
55
A
56
R
A
57
G
A
58
F
U
N
59
R
U
N
60
B
61
L
62
I
S
T
E
R
63
P
A
C
K
64
D
S
T
65
L
A
K
E
O
N
T
A
R
I
O
66
S
A
O
67
E
Z
E
R
W
E
I
Z
M
A
N
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0822 ( 23,663 )
Across Down
1. Something that goes from a pit to your stomach? : BBQSANDWICH
12. Snarky sound : HEH
15. It has billions of barrels : SAUDIARABIA
16. Queen of Thebes, in myth : INO
17. One may tell a conductor to slow down : TRAINSIGNAL
18. Sound of a slug : BAM
19. Sashimi selection : AHI
20. Buckled : GAVE
21. Dos little words? : TEAMO
23. Esther of "Good Times" : ROLLE
25. Large part of some herds : EWES
28. Brand of bait pellets : DCON
29. Fix : SPAY
30. Walt Disney Concert Hall designer : FRANKGEHRY
32. Cop : STEAL
34. Monarchial support : ROYALISM
35. G squared? : MIL
37. Spotmatic, e.g., briefly : SLR
38. Unhelpful reply to "How did you do that?" : ITSMAGIC
43. Screen entertainers with many gigs? : IPADS
47. "All the President's Men" figure : DEEPTHROAT
49. Like many hipsters : ARTY
51. Actress Blanchett : CATE
52. Pie hole : TRAP
53. Parts of kingdoms : PHYLA
54. Juan's sweetheart : AMIGA
56. ___ rock (some George Harrison music) : RAGA
58. With 59-Across, race that's not very competitive : FUN
59. See 58-Across : RUN
60. Pill holder : BLISTERPACK
64. Occasion to do a late shift?: Abbr. : DST
65. Member of a "great" quintet : LAKEONTARIO
66. ___ Gonçalo, Rio de Janeiro : SAO
67. Mideast president who wrote "The Battle for Peace," 1981 : EZERWEIZMAN
1. Regulus A and Bellatrix : BSTARS
2. Gets rounds around town? : BARHOPS
3. Show fear of : QUAILAT
4. Govt. project whose logo depicted a shield in space : SDI
5. Danny of the Celtics : AINGE
6. Curiosity producer : NASA
7. First course selection : DRIVER
8. Do battle : WAGEWAR
9. Counterpart of "abu" : IBN
10. "Burn Notice" grp. : CIA
11. Freeze : HALT
12. Literally, "fire bowl" : HIBACHI
13. Doesn't just attract : ENAMORS
14. Cache for cash, say : HOMONYM
22. 1963 Pulitzer winner Leon : EDEL
24. It's KOH, chemically : LYE
26. "The Killing" star Mireille ___ : ENOS
27. Like some lobbies : SKYLIT
30. Trip up? : FLIGHT
31. T. S. of literature : GARP
33. Member of a Latin trio : AMAT
36. Line to Jamaica in N.Y.C. : LIRR
38. Bar necessities : IDCARDS
39. "Dream" group in Barcelona in 1992 : TEAMUSA
40. Mounted below the surface of : SETINTO
41. QuickTime or RealPlayer format option : MPEG
42. Like boors vis-à-vis gentlemen : COARSER
44. Masseur gratifier : AAH
45. Raise crops on the Plains, maybe : DRYFARM
46. So-called "Helen of the West Indies" : STLUCIA
48. Director of the 2012 comedy "This Is 40" : APATOW
50. Try to pull off, say : YANKON
53. Epic start : PARTI
55. Cutting it : ABLE
57. Replicator, e.g. : GENE
61. ___-Boy : LAZ
62. Old White House nickname : IKE
63. Guerra's opposite : PAZ

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?