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New York Times, Friday, August 8, 2014

Author:
Bruce Haight
Editor:
Will Shortz
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1.59043
Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQVXZ} Spans: 2 Grid is asymmetric. This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Bruce Haight notes:
First off, if you didn't see the 'grid art' in this puzzle, the picture below will give you a hint. It also gives you a good idea ... read more

First off, if you didn't see the "grid art" in this puzzle, the picture below will give you a hint. It also gives you a good idea where I got this puzzle idea, since I am a cheddarhead from Wisconsin and these are my favorite crackers.

This project started out as a themed puzzle with corner entries like MERMAID and REELSIN — that puzzle was not reeled in. Then I tried a Thursday version where you had to complete the seven letter corner entries with the word FISH — my favorite was STANDOF(FISH) clued as "Shy". Will was standoffish (my puzzle came up shy) and felt the theme entries were interfering with solid fill. He recommended a mini-themed Friday version and that managed to get accepted. I seeded the upper left with GANGNAM because it had just passed Justin Bieber as the all-time most popular YouTube video. Thankfully, with AMERICA's help, it worked out.

In case you enjoy grid art, here's another fish-related puzzle I sent Will. He felt most solvers would not figure out the image, but try to guess what it depicts and what the 17 letter middle theme entry might be. (Here's a clue and the answer.)

Hope you enjoyed the fishing expedition!

Will Shortz notes:
In the first version of this puzzle, which I sent to test-solvers, the clues for 17A and 58A did not reference the three swimming ... read more

In the first version of this puzzle, which I sent to test-solvers, the clues for 17A and 58A did not reference the three swimming "fish" symbolized by black squares in the middle of the grid. However, after only one of the four testers noticed the fish, I added bracketed remarks so that solvers could appreciate the extra layer to the mini-theme.

Jeff Chen notes:
What a cool visual! Bruce has a real knack for using black squares to create art I haven't seen before. I was really impressed by one ... read more

What a cool visual! Bruce has a real knack for using black squares to create art I haven't seen before. I was really impressed by one of his last ones, and when I saw the three goldfish swimming upstream today, I couldn't believe no one's done it before. Bravo!

I really like mini-themes buried inside a themeless grid. Like with triple-stacks, or ultra-low word count, or other non-standard themeless grids, I wouldn't want to see them every weekend, but it's such a nice treat to get a bonus as you solve, often making for a memorable puzzle. Reminds me of Matt Ginsberg's amusing comments about trying to hide an "Easter Egg" in a puzzle. There's something so exhilarating about discovering a treat you never expected.

For me, SOMETHING'S FISHY hit the bulls-eye. A perfect phrase for this visual, I found it clever and amusing. ON THE WATERFRONT fell flat for me, perhaps because SOMETHING'S FISHY was so perfect. It's tough to make a mini-theme sing — most of the time you only have space for two long entries, so they both have to really sing in order to make it work.

And as with every construction, there will be compromises. In order to get the three goldfish and the two long entries, Bruce had to section his grid up a bit, the SW and NE corners feeling pretty separate. And big corners like that are naturally hard to fill. I enjoyed seeing OIL RICH, A LA MODE and DOORMAT, all quality answers, but there wasn't as much sparkle as I like to see in a themeless. Combined with EIS, NO I, and AT AN, the overall effect wasn't as strong as I would have liked.

All in all, a very neat visual, with a little price to pay as a trade-off. P.S. Although it looks symmetric across the NW/SE diagonal, it's not! Take another look.

Jim Horne notes:
Martin Ashwood-Smith took issue with calling this grid asymmetric. He sees it as a new kind of symmetry that superimposes diagonal ... read more

Martin Ashwood-Smith took issue with calling this grid asymmetric. He sees it as a new kind of symmetry that superimposes diagonal symmetry on the normal rotational kind. The suggested name for this: Goldfish Symmetry.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0808 ( 23,649 )
Across
1
"___ Style," first video with a billion YouTube views : GANGNAM
8
Goes for enthusiastically : LEAPSAT
15
Home to "alabaster cities" : AMERICA
16
Like Saudi Arabia : OILRICH
17
"Hmmmmm ..." [as hinted at by the three groups of black squares in the middle of the grid] : SOMETHINGSFISHY
19
It may contain mercury : ORE
20
One of its flavors is Mud Pie : EDYS
21
Starwort, e.g. : ASTER
22
Sounds from some mall temps : HOS
23
Those south of the border? : ESOS
25
___ soup : MISO
26
Medical suffix : OSIS
28
Bests : ONEUPS
30
"___ am your father" (classic "Star Wars" line) : NOI
31
Things that ties never have : LOSERS
33
Last part : TAILEND
35
Mythical predator : ROC
36
Vietnam's ___ Dinh Diem : NGO
37
Excellent, in slang : ALLTHAT
41
Quintet comprising "Ode to the West Wind" : SONNETS
45
See 51-Across : LEE
46
"It was you," operatically : ERITU
48
Dictator's beginning : INRE
49
___ angle : ATAN
51
With 45-Across, Thor's co-creator : STAN
52
Many a base player : CAD
53
Like 19-Across : MINED
55
No sophisticate : RUBE
57
Ovid's others : ALIA
58
Best Picture of 1954 [see 17-Across] : ONTHEWATERFRONT
61
Hardly the assertive type : DOORMAT
62
Gander : LOOKSEE
63
As part of a series : ENSUITE
64
A wild card is unlikely to beat one : TOPSEED
Down
1
Hybrid on the road? : GASOHOL
2
Lovingly, on a music score : AMOROSO
3
Greek goddess of vengeance : NEMESIS
4
170 is its max score : GRE
5
Minute beef : NIT
6
Really long? : ACHE
7
First : MAIDEN
8
Closes a session : LOGSOUT
9
Rostock bar stock : EIS
10
"Bravo" preceder : ALFA
11
Optical separator : PRISM
12
Like some famous frescoes : SISTINE
13
Secretary of state before Dulles : ACHESON
14
Neighbor of the Adam's apple : THYROID
18
Where Sotheby's is BID : NYSE
24
"NCIS" actor Joe : SPANO
27
Spanish muralist : SERT
28
They're clutched during some speeches : OSCARS
29
Sharp or flat : SIGN
32
Mies van der ___ : ROHE
34
Anderson of "Nurses" : LONI
37
Dessert preference : ALAMODE
38
Told, as a secret : LETINON
39
Rough housing : LEANTOS
40
Test the strength of, in a way : TITRATE
41
Where snowbirds flock : SUNBELT
42
Corral : ENCLOSE
43
Cadet, e.g. : TRAINEE
44
Under : SEDATED
47
Like a guitar string : TAUT
50
Indian chief, once : NEHRU
54
Prefix with john : DEMI
56
Suffix with switch : EROO
57
Refuges : ARKS
59
Southeast Asian temple : WAT
60
Metrosexual sort : FOP

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

Found bugs or have suggestions?

See NYT Crosswords for info.