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New York Times, Saturday, August 6, 2016

Author: David Phillips
Editor: Will Shortz
David Phillips
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207/24/20148/5/20171
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1021277
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1.57000
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 31 Missing: {QWX} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Phillips. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Phillips notes: This puzzle started as an earnest attempt to integrate central 14s (which, based on feedback, seemed to go over well in my ... more
David Phillips notes:

This puzzle started as an earnest attempt to integrate central 14s (which, based on feedback, seemed to go over well in my themeless debut) and some corner stacks. Having gained the wisdom granted by a two-year publication lag, I still like the plural JEDI MIND TRICKS over the singular and UNIVERSAL DONOR with its only slightly edited clue. (Will/Joel added the "always.")

However, I now think a few of the corners creak a tad too much, especially the SE and NE. FLASH MOB (which surprisingly has not yet debuted in the Times), (full name) ELIHU YALE, I LOST IT, the scrabbly LL COOL J, NEO-DADA, STREAKING, THE HULK, BUM A RIDE and the "Hey-I've-seen-that-thing-before-but-couldn't-tell-you-what-it's-called" BALDRIC still strike me as interesting long entries, but the remaining seem too "so what?"/neutral. Plus, having to rely on DYER (blech!), ETAT, OEIL, DAHS, and CRUE to hold the puzzle together isn't ideal in a themeless. Oh well! Live, learn, and improve.

  • Favorite (practically unedited) clues: [Coin collectors?] for SOFAS and [Auto-reply message?] for ECHO.
  • Favorite Will/Joel clues: [1,000 or 1,000,000] for CUBE, [Soaring expense?] for AIRFARE, [One who's green after seeing red] for THE HULK, and [Feeling toward a supervillain] for ODIUM.
  • Clues I'm most bummed to see edited out: [Planned engagement party?] for FLASH MOB and [Force-ful persuasion?] for JEDI MIND TRICKS.

Also, for those interested in my non-crossword persona, I successfully passed my second actuarial exam on June 17th and am currently searching for an entry-level actuary position or internship. If there is anybody out there willing to help a young'un jumpstart his career, I would be greatly appreciative and definitely buy you some cake... if I could somehow devise a way to deliver cake via email. Find a way, technology!

Or, if you're more interested in my crossword persona, feel free to email. Assuming my schedule is not too overloaded, I welcome anyone willing to put up...er, I mean...collaborate with me.

Jeff Chen notes: Sometimes you're right on a constructor's wavelength, and I think I mind melded with David today. From start to finish, such an ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Sometimes you're right on a constructor's wavelength, and I think I mind melded with David today. From start to finish, such an enjoyable solve, featuring a high count of stellar entries along with just a modicum of crossword glue. Beautiful work.

I thought it would be a breeze when I filled in FLASH MOB without a crossing (a more clever clue would have been great for a Saturday puzzle). But I struggled to finish that corner, with a big smile on my face after uncovering LL COOL J. That terminal J is so odd looking! And then to race ahead with JEDI MIND TRICKS = awesome for this Star Wars lover.

As an aside, many — MANY — people ask me to reduce the rapper references in my crosswords. I don't actually care for much rap these days, but it's hard to argue that LL COOL J isn't a megastar that most every NYT solver really ought to know. He's excelled in both music and acting, so I don't buy the "why do I have to know all these rap stars" grumbling. Sorry, buddy, expand your horizons.

David does something interesting with his grid layout, compressing JEDI MIND TRICKS and UNIVERSAL DONOR (I just gave blood donation #124, so I loved this entry) together. It's tough to feature 14-letter answers in a themeless, as they fix so much into place, cutting down your flexibility. I love David's push to not just use these difficult lengths, but also to run a bunch entries through the middle of them — including the long and strong entries BUM A RIDE and USA TODAY.

(What a shame USA TODAY wasn't clued to #gridgate. Lost opportunity; so awesome that a plagiarist got what was coming to him.)

I wasn't as big a fan of the lower right as the rest of the puzzle — YEARS AGO and DIAPER PIN feel a bit … well, YEARS AGO. But STREAKING is a nice single-word answer, and to get some GRINGO / OLYMPIA makes up for some of the lost potential. (I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan, so GIMLI was a gimme for me. Your results may vary.)

Overall though, such good use of most every portion of his grid, UPSILON, NEODADA, I LOST IT converting those 7-letter slots into nice assets — not to mention BLITZEN and THE HULK!

Not a SINLESS puzzle what with a bit of ESE, ETAT, OEIL (it is an admirable attempt to save those latter two by linking them together in [Coup d'___]), but what a snazzy and clean solving experience, right up my alley. I really liked that I gelled so well today with someone from two generations behind me.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0806 ( 24,378 )
Across Down
1. Spontaneous public gathering : FLASHMOB
9. Balance sheet data : DEBTS
14. For whom the Collegiate School was renamed in 1718 : ELIHUYALE
16. Sushi bar brew : ASAHI
17. Like Cirque du Soleil performers : ACROBATIC
18. Paris attraction? : HELEN
19. Coin collectors? : SOFAS
20. As follows : THUS
22. Co. with the slogan "We move the world" : DHL
23. Precisely : TOAT
24. Chuckleheads : BOZOS
26. "Red, White & ___" (2005 rock album) : CRUE
27. Canonflex or Leicaflex, for short : SLR
28. 1,000 or 1,000,000 : CUBE
29. Profits : AVAILS
31. Manipulative use of the Force : JEDIMINDTRICKS
34. Coup d'___ : ETAT
35. Like a young Jay Gatsby : POOR
36. Someone always good for a few pints? : UNIVERSALDONOR
42. Boehner's successor as House minority leader : PELOSI
43. The Japanese captured it in 1941 : GUAM
44. Flight component : LEG
46. Procrastinator's favorite word : SOON
47. Jay Gatsby's beloved : DAISY
49. New brunette, say : DYER
50. Terminal requests : IDS
51. Coup d'___ : OEIL
52. Dwarf warrior in "The Lord of the Rings" : GIMLI
53. Part of many a diary : LATCH
55. Sticker in a nursery : DIAPERPIN
58. Feeling toward a supervillain : ODIUM
59. Activity for when there's nothing going on? : STREAKING
60. Dapper : NATTY
61. Back in the day : YEARSAGO
1. Saturnalia events : FEASTS
2. 2012-16 host of the Grammys : LLCOOLJ
3. Soaring expense? : AIRFARE
4. Certain weanling : SHOAT
5. Nerve centers : HUBS
6. "Lady Marmalade" Grammy winner of 2001 : MYA
7. ___ bread : OAT
8. Member of a holiday team : BLITZEN
9. Morse "Toto," totally : DAHS
10. Telegraph extension? : ESE
11. Shoulder-to-hip belt : BALDRIC
12. One who's green after seeing red : THEHULK
13. Stain-free : SINLESS
15. Auto-reply message? : ECHO
21. Media giant since 1982 : USATODAY
24. Get some help with transportation : BUMARIDE
25. 21-Down runs them : OBITS
26. Shaggy Scottish dog : CAIRN
28. Gives credit : CITES
30. Sound of power : VROOM
32. Red English cattle : DEVON
33. Figure in the high 60s : DPLUS
36. Y lookalike : UPSILON
37. Genre of some of Yoko Ono's art : NEODADA
38. "My anger got the best of me" : ILOSTIT
39. Nimbleness : AGILITY
40. Scandalous Manet painting of 1863 : OLYMPIA
41. Knocked for a loop : REELING
45. Yank, in Yucatán : GRINGO
48. Facilitates : AIDS
49. Relatives of stilettos : DIRKS
51. Cry of surprise : OHMY
52. Ski boots and such : GEAR
54. Like bodybuilders' bodies : CUT
56. Is for a group? : ARE
57. Word with soup or salad : PEA

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?