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New York Times, Friday, August 7, 2015

Author: Peter Wentz
Editor: Will Shortz
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1.81005
Peter Wentz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 27 Missing: {QVX} This is puzzle # 19 for Mr. Wentz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter Wentz notes: I've been dipping my toe in the water of lower word counts and more wide open grids. It gets more and more difficult to keep a ... more
Peter Wentz notes:

I've been dipping my toe in the water of lower word counts and more wide open grids. It gets more and more difficult to keep a clean puzzle with a few zippy entries the farther one goes in that direction, yet I feel it's something of a badge of honor to fit a fun puzzle in an expansive grid. The repetitive TOs and OKs obviously aren't ideal. However, removing any of them would necessitate either an awkward bit of crosswordese or the elimination of entire sections of the puzzle. Given those alternatives, I'll take the entries as they are.

On a behind-the-scenes note, I'm pleased that a majority of the final clues were my own. While my grids' fill has improved, my cluing quality has lagged behind. Of course, solvers shouldn't notice much of a difference, as each puzzle is expertly edited before being released, but it's satisfying to have a greater sense of ownership over the final product.

Jeff Chen notes: Super solid offering from one of the best in the themeless game. Peter starts with an ambitious 16 long slots (entries of 8+ ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Super solid offering from one of the best in the themeless game. Peter starts with an ambitious 16 long slots (entries of 8+ letters), and what a start. When you're working with that many long entries, it's tough avoid some of them coming out flat, but I count 12 strong entries. My favorite is ZIPLINES, the next best thing to climbing if you're going to be in a harness. And AL JAZEERA has great Scrabbly letters.

Al Jazeera's logo — cool!

I appreciate how Peter's been working hard to transform his mid-length material into assets as well. WELL OK is a fun one, as is BIG TOP. RON PAUL is another good one, the politician cleverly staking a claim to the anagram. GULLET is not just an amusing and colorful word, but when paired with a clue as great as [Food channel], it's a plus for the puzzle. (Think of "down the gullet!" and channel = a passageway.) I love it when a clue so innocuously deceives.

Of the four longer entries that I thought were neutral, SNAPPED TO stuck out for me. I would usually count that as an asset, painting a vivid picture of a person jolting. But crossing OPTS TO made it feel a bit so-so, and the feeling of angst grew when I encountered TRIED TO and RAN TO. I don't mind these ___ TO, ___ OUT, ___ AT, etc. phrases in moderation — they're awfully handy to solidify a grid — but like Peter noted, four TOs in a 15x puzzle is maybe two too much for four me. Er, for me.

Some other great clues:

  • ESSAY is something written by Salon — did you get tripped up by the capital S of Salon cleverly disguised at the beginning of the clue?
  • Neat moment of realization, that a NOSY person indeed pays too much interest.
  • FRAT PARTY is not only a great entry but the clue made it even better. (Frats get "rushed" by initiates.)

If it were any other person, I might have picked this one for the POW. The four -TOs complaint might seem ticky-tacky, and really, it probably is. But my bar is set higher for Peter's themeless puzzles than for most every other mere mortal.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0807 ( 24,013 )
Across Down
1. Stretches of land : TRACTS
7. "The Yankee Years" co-author : JOETORRE
15. "All right, fine ..." : WELLOK
16. Mutineers' targets : ARSENALS
17. Runner's knee, for one : INJURY
18. Entertaining options on cable? : ZIPLINES
19. Get under control : STABILIZE
21. Mucho : LOTSA
22. Animated devil : TAZ
23. Poolside sight : CABANA
25. Paying too much interest : NOSY
26. Boatload : SLEW
28. Trapeze act venue : BIGTOP
30. It goes from shore to shore : OCEAN
32. Ones throwing light on academic studies? : DESKLAMPS
37. Best-selling 1970s poster subject, familiarly : FARRAH
39. Language in which the first six counting numbers are tasi, lua, tolu, fa, lima and ono : SAMOAN
40. Event that one might rush to attend? : FRATPARTY
44. Cookie brand : NILLA
45. Like Gordon Gekko in "Wall Street" : AMORAL
47. Way down : DEEP
48. Arthroscopy reminder : SCAR
52. Some public criticisms : SNIPES
54. Bound, slightly : HOP
55. Boxer's accessory : TOWEL
57. Raid, e.g. : PESTICIDE
59. Airtight : IRONCLAD
61. Wooden : STOLID
62. Had going the wrong way, say : FAKEDOUT
63. Food channel : GULLET
64. Acted alone : FLEWSOLO
65. Decides one will : OPTSTO
1. Unscrews : TWISTSOFF
2. Thrifty selection : RENTALCAR
3. Its English offshoot launched in 2006 : ALJAZEERA
4. Neanderthal accompanier, in cartoons : CLUB
5. Like bagels : TORIC
6. The orbital workshop was its largest component : SKYLAB
7. "The Sun Also Rises" setting : JAZZAGE
8. Points : ORIENTS
9. "The Dead Zone" ability, for short : ESP
10. Hold 'em giveaway : TELL
11. Natural insect repellent (true fact!) : ONION
12. Reached in a hurry : RANTO
13. Like inopportune months to eat oysters : RLESS
14. Salon offering : ESSAY
20. Reference notation : IBID
24. Breezy assents : AOKS
27. Freeze Away target : WART
29. One might be hatched : PLAN
31. Major region for viticulture : NAPA
33. At a time of : AMID
34. Problems that may get overblown : MOLEHILLS
35. Old/new food regimen : PALEODIET
36. Came out of it : SNAPPEDTO
38. They lack subtlety : HAMS
41. Name in the news that's an anagram of OUR PLAN : RONPAUL
42. Put in a solid effort : TRIEDTO
43. Rambles : YAPS
46. "C'mon!" : LETSGO
48. Not pay what's due : STIFF
49. A pastel : CORAL
50. Stirred : AWOKE
51. Green-light for another season : RENEW
53. Exercise bit : SITUP
56. Monitor things, briefly : LCDS
58. Texan's rival : COLT
60. Place to go in London : LOO

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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