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New York Times, Thursday, August 29, 2013

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5112/11/201111/28/20192
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74962302
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626140
Timothy Polin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQXZ} Spans: 2 There are unchecked squares This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: A certain three-letter word, appropriate to this puzzle's theme, goes in the unnumbered center square.
Timothy Polin notes:
The original (rejected) version had THE PERFECT STORM at 55a, crossing OF NEWT. Having found a way to thread two EYE extensions (of ... read more

The original (rejected) version had THE PERFECT STORM at 55a, crossing OF NEWT. Having found a way to thread two EYE extensions (of which there were precious few) through two theme answers apiece, I was sure no other suitable 15-letter entries existed and so stopped looking. I felt fortunate to have those entries and was convinced the puzzle's constraints all but precluded alternatives. There must have been 30 ways to fill the lower middle, none of which was more than marginally acceptable. Every attempt included at least two of the following: TMAC, NOTCHY, OEUF, EFOR, NTS, PUNTO. Discouraged, I began researching again.

As soon as BROOKLYN CYCLONE materialized I thought I might have hit the jackpot. The new entry filled the un-fillable section cleanly and improved half the grid. The rush of such an aha moment during construction, when a seemingly intractable grid or fill problem resolves itself, dwarfs all the happy epiphanies I've experienced while solving.

From a practical standpoint the hardest parts to fill were where entries ran in only one wrong direction and crossed three themers (the ROLE PLAYS/LEERING AT sections), and the transition areas where abutting entries ran in opposite directions. These sections required spacial gymnastics that are difficult to describe but involved rotations about axes and bizarre, walled-in grid patterns. (I'm hopeless at filling by hand). Strangely enough, finishing the NE corner was a simple matter of filling a modified SW corner and reverse-transposing the fill back to the NE.

Thank you for reading and solving!

Will Shortz notes:
A longtime solver told me recently that his all-time most-hated New York Times crossword was the one by Elizabeth Long on April 1, ... read more

A longtime solver told me recently that his all-time most-hated New York Times crossword was the one by Elizabeth Long on April 1, 2011, in which all the vertical answers on the right side of the grid ran upward. Of course, at the time he solved it, he didn't realize it was an April Fool's puzzle. I'm thinking he's going to hate this puzzle by Timothy Polin even more.

Jeff Chen notes:
A construction feat! These days many (most?) constructors use software, either Crossword Compiler or Crossfire, which helps automate ... read more

A construction feat! These days many (most?) constructors use software, either Crossword Compiler or Crossfire, which helps automate the process and eliminate symmetry errors. I personally use a word list I've built up, and the "auto-fill" feature helps me determine if the black square pattern I've arranged will be fillable or not (I don't use auto-fills though, since I think step-by-step filling gives me better results). But a construction like today's requires graph paper and pencil, specialty software written to handle the crazy constraints, or ways of tricking software to do what you want. Impressive what Tim's pulled off!

I enjoyed this puzzle, but even knowing many of the answers in advance (I had to fix up about half the grid answers for the xwordinfo database) it was still a bear to solve. Note that the puzzle is not totally symmetrical, in that the answers are reversed only above row 7 and right of column 9. It's a WITT of a puzzle (Wish I'd Thought of That), but that asymmetry felt inelegant. I likely would have given it the POW! (Puzzle of the Week) if exactly half the answers had been reversed.

I don't envy Will for the mail he's going to get on this one. Devious. =]

1
T
2
T
3
A
4
D
5
R
6
O
7
L
8
D
9
E
10
M
11
Y
12
H
13
R
14
Y
H
T
15
N
A
M
O
16
E
L
I
O
T
E
17
R
E
T
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R
A
C
E
N
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A
C
I
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H
20
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S
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E
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D
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L
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C
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A
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L
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S
T
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25
S
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T
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M
O
27
E
U
G
E
28
S
29
A
N
I
30
R
T
A
K
31
K
R
Y
P
T
32
O
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A
I
G
34
G
I
M
L
E
T
EYE
35
O
F
N
36
E
37
W
38
T
39
A
P
O
40
S
E
I
N
E
S
41
T
Y
P
H
42
O
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O
44
N
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B
R
I
D
E
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R
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E
U
S
E
48
I
P
U
49
T
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E
L
Y
51
A
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G
L
E
N
S
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E
W
E
54
S
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B
R
O
56
O
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K
L
Y
N
C
Y
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C
L
O
N
E
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B
O
R
N
E
O
60
E
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H
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C
H
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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0829 ( 23,305 )
Across
1
Fig. mentioned in Miranda warnings : ATT
4
Feudal V.I.P. : LORD
8
Made ends meet? : RHYMED
14
Your substitute? : THY
15
Arabian Peninsula land : OMAN
16
Lead dancer in a ballet company : ETOILE
17
Exonerated boxer who is the subject of a Bob Dylan song : HURRICANECARTER
20
Exceedingly : OHSO
21
Tennis's Agassi : ANDRE
22
Capt. : Navy :: ___ : Army : COL
23
Grazeland? : LEA
24
Young 'uns : TOTS
25
Drops : OMITS
27
Transition : SEGUE
29
___ and the Waves ("Walking on Sunshine" band) : KATRINA
31
Superman's dog : KRYPTO
33
2008 recipient of govt. largesse : AIG
34
Piercing gaze : GIMLETEYE
35
Ingredient in a witch's potion : EYEOFNEWT
39
Address for a G.I. : APO
40
Weighted fishing nets : SEINES
41
Walt Disney World's ___ Lagoon : TYPHOON
45
Name dropper, often? : BRIDE
46
Get extra value from : REUSE
48
"___ a Spell on You" (1956 hit) : IPUT
50
Nevada birthplace of Pat Nixon : ELY
51
Resident of an elaborate underground "city" : ANT
52
Hidden valleys : GLENS
53
Farm females : EWES
55
Minor-leaguer whose team is named after a Coney Island roller coaster : BROOKLYNCYCLONE
59
Orangutan locale : BORNEO
60
Land with a harp on its coat of arms : EIRE
61
___ lane : HOV
62
Measure of a man? : INSEAM
63
Falls into decay : ROTS
64
Revolutionary icon : CHE
Down
1
Tenderfoot : TYRO
2
Hustling is the same as cheating, according to these authorities : THESAURI
3
Where to work out : ATTHEGYM
4
Its code uses just G, T, A and C : DNA
5
Four of a decathlon's 10 events : RACES
6
Enforced silence : OMERTA
7
Giant Ferris wheel on the Thames : LONDONEYE
8
Easily passed : ACED
9
Terre in the eau zone? : ILE
10
Border : RIM
11
Name in old graffiti : KILROY
12
Be sassy, with "off' : MOUTH
13
Autumnal hue : OCHER
18
Uses sock puppets to talk to a therapist, say : ROLEPLAYS
19
Voting against : ANTI
25
Is suitable for : BEFITS
26
Ogling wolfishly : LEERINGAT
27
Med. readout : EKG
28
Vast treeless area : STEPPE
30
Go up, up, up : SOAR
32
"That being said," in textspeak : OTOH
36
Mess hall queue : CHOWLINE
37
Green, juicy fruit : HONEYDEW
38
Ending for a record-breaker : EST
41
Certain teachers : TUTORS
42
Unctuous : OILY
43
Enlightening experience : EYEOPENER
44
Ambassador from the Holy See : NUNCIO
46
Certain teacher : RABBI
47
Onetime sponsor of what is now Minute Maid Park : ENRON
49
Part of an affair to remember? : TRYST
52
Latch (onto) : GLOM
54
Portentous nights : EVES
56
Air Force ___ : ONE
57
It means "white" in Hawaiian : KEA
58
Instant : SEC

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?