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New York Times, Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Author:
Patrick Blindauer
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
667/21/20054/15/201922
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
14661317118
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59262
Patrick Blindauer

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {Q} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 50 for Mr. Blindauer. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Patrick Blindauer notes:
I made this one while I was writing 'Scratch & Solve Word Ladders', and I remember consulting with Acme on the theme and ... read more

I made this one while I was writing "Scratch & Solve Word Ladders", and I remember consulting with Acme on the theme and discussing the option of UMBILICAL CORD versus EXTENSION CORD for some time. There were two J's in this grid when originally submitted, but one of them was changed since it created a too-tricky vortex of literature and music. I was happy to see that many of my clues made the cut, and if I had it to do over I would probably change IPODS to IPADS... though in my defense: they didn't exist at the time!

Will Shortz notes:
This puzzle has been in my files for a long time, because I have a lot of puzzles with word-ladder themes, and I try to space them ... read more

This puzzle has been in my files for a long time, because I have a lot of puzzles with word-ladder themes, and I try to space them out. The two long non-theme entries at 3D and 34D are especially nice.

Jeff Chen notes:
I had to stop myself from squealing when I first met superstar constructor Patrick Blindauer at the American Crossword Puzzle ... read more

I had to stop myself from squealing when I first met superstar constructor Patrick Blindauer at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament two years ago. We had a funny exchange of glances when his Puzzle 5 (usually the hardest of the tourney) was announced and people groaned, anticipating the combination of pleasure and pain. He's known for his devilishly hard masterpieces.

Patrick brings us a word ladder puzzle with a twist. Nice to see the progression go from a logical start to conclusion, WARM BLOODED to COLD HEARTED. Also nice that he found five snazzy phrases in which to incorporate the ladder. Slight deduction for CARD being a part of another word when WARM, WARD, CORD, and COLD are separate, because it's more elegant if all the theme entries work exactly the same. Consistency is one of the criteria many people use in judging a set of theme answers.

Look at the very high theme density: 11/13/15/13/11. It's hard enough to incorporate five shorter theme answers, and Patrick raises the difficulty level by choosing long entries. Note how he chose a 15-letter entry across the middle. Although it might seem like a central 9 or 11 would be easier, that would actually make the construction more difficult because the center row would need to have black squares at its ends. That arrangement breaks up the grid in a way which is hard to deal with in terms of overall black square placement. Try it if you're curious.

The high theme density requires there to be many vertical answers which cross two themers. The result is that virtually every subsection is constrained multiple times, making the filling process challenging. Most everywhere the fill is pretty good, although Robb NEN feels like an ORT (leftover bit). All in all a nice job considering the tough constraints.

1
J
2
A
3
F
4
A
5
R
6
U
7
N
8
I
9
T
10
E
11
L
12
S
13
A
M
O
R
E
14
S
C
O
R
E
15
L
A
P
16
W
A
R
M
B
17
L
O
O
D
E
D
18
I
K
E
19
S
S
T
20
I
A
N
21
D
22
O
Z
E
N
23
M
24
A
25
T
E
R
N
26
I
27
T
Y
W
A
R
D
28
P
29
E
Y
T
O
N
30
P
A
S
S
31
A
T
E
A
M
32
P
33
O
O
L
34
G
35
P
36
S
37
C
A
R
D
B
38
O
A
R
D
C
39
U
40
T
O
U
T
41
E
S
S
42
A
R
T
S
43
P
I
E
T
Y
44
L
45
E
T
T
46
A
D
E
S
T
E
47
E
48
X
49
T
E
N
S
I
50
O
51
N
C
O
R
D
52
A
R
O
M
A
53
N
E
N
54
U
55
F
56
O
57
S
A
Y
58
C
59
O
60
L
D
H
E
61
A
62
R
T
E
D
63
E
Y
E
64
T
R
E
V
I
65
X
A
C
T
O
66
L
S
D
67
S
E
E
D
68
E
T
H
E
R
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0911 ( 23,318 )

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Across
1
"Aladdin" villain : JAFAR
6
Newton, e.g. : UNIT
10
Ernie known as "The Big Easy" : ELS
13
"That's ___" : AMORE
14
Make a point, perhaps : SCORE
15
Word before dog or dance : LAP
16
Endothermic : WARMBLOODED
18
Mike and ___ (candy) : IKE
19
Former Brit. Airways vehicle : SST
20
Humorist Frazier frequently found in The New Yorker : IAN
21
Number of drummers drumming, in song : DOZEN
23
Birth place : MATERNITYWARD
28
"___ Place" : PEYTON
30
Free ticket : PASS
31
First-stringers : ATEAM
32
Rack-it game? : POOL
34
It may be attached to a windshield, in brief : GPS
37
Life-size likeness of Elvis, maybe : CARDBOARDCUTOUT
41
Start to sneeze? : ESS
42
Some are liberal : ARTS
43
Devoutness : PIETY
44
Resident of Riga : LETT
46
Carol kickoff : ADESTE
47
A fan might need one : EXTENSIONCORD
52
Fragrance : AROMA
53
Former Giant Robb ___ : NEN
54
"Independence Day" vehicle : UFO
57
Utter : SAY
58
Unaffected by emotion : COLDHEARTED
63
Feature atop the pyramid on the back of a dollar bill : EYE
64
Fontana di ___ : TREVI
65
Blade brand : XACTO
66
"The Joyous Cosmology" subj. : LSD
67
Pit : SEED
68
Dr. Larch's drug in "The Cider House Rules" : ETHER
Down
1
___ of Life : JAWS
2
Part of a Latin exercise : AMAS
3
Popular retirement spot : FORTMYERS
4
Weaponize : ARM
5
One serving under Gen. 60-Down, informally : REB
6
The Huskies of the N.C.A.A. : UCONN
7
Affirmative action : NOD
8
Pique condition? : IRE
9
Roosevelt and Kennedy : TEDDYS
10
'Enry's fair lady : ELIZA
11
Magic, e.g., once : LAKER
12
Eschew frugality : SPEND
14
Increase dramatically : SOAR
17
Legal encumbrance : LIEN
22
Punch lines? : OWS
24
Just slightly : ATAD
25
Final "Romeo and Juliet" setting : TOMB
26
Nanos, e.g. : IPODS
27
Baby powder ingredient : TALC
28
Clip : PACE
29
Touchdown data, for short : ETAS
32
Series opener : PARTI
33
Leftover bit : ORT
34
Splits the tab : GOESDUTCH
35
When repeated, miniature golf : PUTT
36
Ocular malady : STYE
38
Part of a stable diet : OATS
39
High hairstyle : UPDO
40
Level : TIER
44
The Eagle that landed, e.g. : LEM
45
Puts into law : ENACTS
46
Trouble spots? : ACNE
47
Sitting stand : EASEL
48
They can see right through you : XRAYS
49
Played (with) : TOYED
50
How many bootlegs are sold : ONDVD
51
Fanta alternative : NEHI
55
Grandly celebrate : FETE
56
Fragrance : ODOR
59
Stibnite, for one : ORE
60
See 5-Down : LEE
61
Swinger in the woods? : AXE
62
Cellar dweller : RAT

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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