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New York Times, Thursday, August 25, 2016

Author:
Andrew Zhou
Editor:
Will Shortz
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1.64241
Andrew Zhou

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQWXZ} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Zhou. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Andrew Zhou notes:
This puzzle, like sushi, claims a very brief shelf life: it was accepted four weeks prior to publication, and was submitted probably ... read more

This puzzle, like sushi, claims a very brief shelf life: it was accepted four weeks prior to publication, and was submitted probably only a week or two before then. "Visualizing" this proverb in a puzzle had been in the back of my head for much longer, though—I originally thought I might pair it with some counterbalancing expression related to "heaven."

You know how scuttlebutt has it how diagonal themers are exponentially more difficult to execute? All true. I think cruciverbalogy would tell me that otherwise ideal vowel-consonant patterns, once on a diagonal, are shifted over, forcing a potential concatenation of weird letter strings. This happens at the crossing of MEDDLES/EENIE, which was by far the hardest region to build.

Two important things about the theme execution: since the aphorism "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" is only obliquely referenced, it was important to make sure all the key words--namely ROAD and PAVED--be included (see my last bullet point for all sorts of variants). It was also important that PAVED ROAD be a real thing (i.e. something you'd like to find in bonus fill or a themeless). This way there was no ambiguity about the intended expression.

Some points:

  • Spent New Year's 2015 in OSAKA, the mecca for takoyaki (octopus balls). Of course, they have their own museum about it too.
  • I am imagining a dinner party in which ENESCU and RAPDUOS flank DRNO. George Enescu (aka Georges Enesco) was also a brilliant violinist, teacher to the great Yehudi Menuhin, and a national figure in Romania. For classical musicians, his later, more conservative works are better represented on stage, but I am much fonder of his more innovative compositions from a younger age. (Hip-hop trio Run–D.M.C., by the way, hails from HOLLIS.)
  • This St. Bernard (b. 1091, not the same saint who lent his name to the canine breed) recorded a quite different aphorism from the one you see in this puzzle: "L'enfer est plein de bonnes volontés ou désirs" ("Hell is full of good wishes or desires"). For some beach reading, you can peruse the at times grotesque transformations of this saying in Cassell's Book of Quotations, which spares neither children nor scholars.
Jeff Chen notes:
'The road to hell is paved with good intentions' interpreted literally. How cool that GOOD INTENTIONS is 14 letters long — the ... read more

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions" interpreted literally. How cool that GOOD INTENTIONS is 14 letters long — the perfect length to have it run diagonally down the puzzle … leading to a HELL rebus square!

Strong gridwork. It's always a challenge to incorporate diagonal theme answers, so one going down an entire main diagonal of the grid is tough. It's even more difficult when you challenge yourself with 6x5 corners, as with the NW and SE. I was absolutely sure there would be compromises in one or the other, or they'd be filled with bizarre answers. It's just so hard to escape a corner that's so big AND constrained by a diagonal answer without any compromises.

I should have remembered how solid Andrew's gridwork is — NO FEAR indeed! Getting some RAISING HELL / SEASHELL + BOSNIA and COLOSSI in the SE is fantastic work. ANODIC isn't fantastic in the other corner, but everything else is so smooth. Tough not to love MAISIE Williams in her strong-girl-kick-butt GoT role.

The other corners are well-done, too. Love getting some stacked answers in a themed puzzle! Andrew could have easily put PAVED ROAD / ST BERNARD in row 3 / column 3, and then broken up some answers to make a 76 or even 78 word puzzle, so I love his drive to give us so much long fill. ROB REINER, OPEN RANGE, GREEN PEAS all added to the quality of my solve.

The only hesitation I had with the puzzle is that it felt kind of thin, theme-wise. The three themers are spaced out well, covering most of the grid, but with only a 15 / 9 / 9, that's much less than we usually see. So it felt half-themed, half-themeless to me; sort of trying to find its identity. Sure would have been great to get a SATAN around HELL or some other little bonus to flesh out the concept.

Overall though, a whimsical interpretation of the quote and a neat visual, with really strong grid execution.

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HELL
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0825 ( 24,397 )
Across
1. Grind : GNASH
6. What the shaded squares in this puzzle symbolize : PAVEDROAD
15. Brand with a trademark on the phrase "Set it and forget it" : RONCO
16. Area to roam : OPENRANGE
17. In a state of entanglement : AFOUL
18. Goya or Del Monte product : GREENPEAS
19. Sticks one's nose in : MEDDLES
21. Soccer coverage? : SOD
22. Actress Williams of "Game of Thrones" : MAISIE
23. "Better Call Saul" airer : AMC
25. Ones working at home? : UMPS
29. Move like the sun in the sky : ARC
30. "Focus!" : SNAPOUTOFIT
33. "___ never work!" : ITLL
34. Japanese city known as "the nation's kitchen" : OSAKA
35. Combat setting for an air cav, once : NAM
38. Announcement after a deep breath : HEREIGO
40. In a comfortable position : SET
41. One of the ABC islands : ARUBA
43. Years in old Rome : ANNI
44. Dish offering : SATELLITETV
47. Where many drafts are produced : BAR
50. Collude with : ABET
51. Choice word : ANY
52. Brunch beverage : MIMOSA
54. Rural allergen : HAY
56. Larger-than-life statues : COLOSSI
57. Something pulled out before turning in : SLEEPSOFA
62. Dialogue, e.g. : LINES
63. "Misery" director : ROBREINER
64. Turn up : ARISE
65. French abbot thought to have originated the saying depicted symbolically in this puzzle : STBERNARD
66. Beach souvenir : SEASHELL
Down
1. Nana : GRAMMA
2. What the gutsy display : NOFEAR
3. Like one end of a battery : ANODIC
4. Cold War missiles on mobile launchers : SCUDS
5. Queens neighborhood next to Jamaica : HOLLIS
6. 1990s fad : POGS
7. Fig. in car ads : APR
8. Village leader? : VEE
9. Romanian composer George : ENESCU
10. Villainous resident of Crab Key island : DRNO
11. OutKast and Mobb Deep : RAPDUOS
12. ___ World Trade Center : ONE
13. Ottoman official : AGA
14. Some, in Somme : DES
20. Choice word? : EENIE
23. Galore : APLENTY
24. Illinois city where John Deere is headquartered : MOLINE
26. Juilliard degs. : MFAS
27. Gymnastics position : PIKE
28. FiveThirtyEight datum : STAT
31. Way to Sugar Hill, in song : ATRAIN
32. ___ far gone : TOO
35. "For the benefit of all" org. : NASA
36. ___ Spring : ARAB
37. Remote control button : MUTE
38. ___ Steinbrenner, principal owner of the Yankees : HAL
39. U.S. base in Cuba, for short : GITMO
42. "Show up ... or else!" : BETHERE
45. Stores for future use : LAYSIN
46. Patrician estates : VILLAS
47. 1990s war locale : BOSNIA
48. Charge : ASSESS
49. Cause a commotion : RAISEHELL
53. Rippled and lustrous : MOIRE
55. Copier : APER
56. Check the birth date of, say : CARD
57. Medicare beneficiaries: Abbr. : SRS
58. Park place? : LOT
59. Retreat : EBB
60. Keats's "___ Dream" : ONA
61. Slangy suffix with two or three : FER

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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