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New York Times, Friday, September 12, 2014

Author: Michael Wiesenberg
Editor: Will Shortz
Michael Wiesenberg
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44/6/20133/18/20160
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0000031
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1.54000

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 26 Missing: {JZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Wiesenberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Michael Wiesenberg notes: I constructed this puzzle in March of 2013 and it was accepted in June. Fifteen months later it was published. My first NYT ... more
Michael Wiesenberg notes: I constructed this puzzle in March of 2013 and it was accepted in June. Fifteen months later it was published. My first NYT puzzle took 20 months from acceptance to publication.

I've been told that my puzzle has 13 unique entries. Whenever I see or think of an expression I like that might not have appeared in a published puzzle I add it to my word list, scored such that it floats to the top in Crossword Compiler when I'm constructing.

Jeff Chen notes: [Out of gear?] is one of my favorite clues in quite a while, repurposing a familiar phrase to a completely different use. NAKED = out ... more
Jeff Chen notes: [Out of gear?] is one of my favorite clues in quite a while, repurposing a familiar phrase to a completely different use. NAKED = out of "gear" indeed!

Michael uses a standard-ish layout today, focusing on four triple-stacks in the four corners. I appreciate how wide-open it is, each region flowing smoothly into the next, with few choke points. It's also admirable that he connected the regions with some long words. Check out the NE region for example. Using YTTRIA, GO FIRST, BE NICE TO / CRAYONED, KEPT FIT to join those regions is pretty neat. I'm not entirely convinced that CRAYONED is in regular usage, but in any case, that quintet of long answers is an elegant way to connect up two subsections.

Those triple-stacks of 11-letter entries are so hard. There are usually going to be a few hiccups due to all the constraints, and it's best if those glue bits can be spread out across different categories. I love the triple of STADIUM ROCK / IM OUTTA HERE / TAKES THE RAP — all just beautiful entries — but I'm less a fan of a triplet of esoteric names in the same region. AOKI and MAHRE are perhaps famous-enough people, but I wouldn't expect the general public to have as much familiarity with them as WOODS and MAIER, say. And as much as I loved Michael CERA in Arrested Development and Juno, having him round out the triplet of AOKI / MAHRE / CERA is perhaps less than ideal.

Clean work on the opposite corner, with just RWE sticking out. Even DVD / VCRS turned from neutral to a plus in my book with the elegant crossing. The long answers aren't as nice as in the NW though, with INTERSPERSE being slightly above neutral to me, and DRIVE TO WORK feeling arbitrary. DRIVE TO WORK is a fine clue for COMMUTE, but as an answer it opens up DRIVE A CAR or WALK TO WORK or DRIVE TO THE PARK as equally arbitrary answers.

A lot of strong long fill today, HOW ON EARTH and ITS COOL being exemplary. Even short stuff like EUROPOP and KEPT FIT added to the overall effect. Some glue required to hold everything together (MTS/EHS DIR/ADM, nice try hiding in those corners!) but it made for a flowing Friday solve. Themelesses like this, with few choke points, often make for great Fridays, as they give the solver so many opportunities to break into each region.

JimH notes: Mr. Wiesenberg's first two NYT puzzles have an identical grid shape.
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0912 ( 23,684 )
Across Down
1. Queen's music : STADIUMROCK
12. Film developer?: Abbr. : DIR
15. "Hasta la vista!" : IMOUTTAHERE
16. Musician with the 2012 album "Lux" : ENO
17. Allows someone to walk, say : TAKESTHERAP
18. Big gun on a ship: Abbr. : ADM
19. Oxford, e.g., to its students : UNI
20. Michael of "Juno" : CERA
21. Oxide used in picture tubes : YTTRIA
23. "A person who talks when you wish him to listen," per Ambrose Bierce : BORE
24. Lead : GOFIRST
25. Shots : PHOTOS
28. Coddle, e.g. : BENICETO
29. Shack : HOVEL
30. Artistic friend of Zola : MANET
31. Sharpshooter's skill : AIM
32. Poet Wilfred ___ : OWEN
33. Out of gear? : NAKED
34. Buchanan in a bookstore : EDNA
35. Word of logic : NOR
36. Moving day multitude : BOXES
37. Governor or senator follower : ELECT
38. Caught in a web : ENSNARED
40. Certain book, sizewise : QUARTO
41. Makes out : DETECTS
42. Secure neatly, as an umbrella : FURL
43. Pioneer in the Nevada gaming industry : HARRAH
44. One of its categories is Agency of the Year : CLIO
45. With 46-Down, two-in-one movie players : DVD
48. It's often an oxide : ORE
49. Something avoided in a factory outlet : RETAILPRICE
52. Washington and McKinley: Abbr. : MTS
53. Commute, in a way : DRIVETOWORK
54. Replies of confusion : EHS
55. Stick here and there : INTERSPERSE
1. Archaeologists often find what they're looking for in this : SITU
2. Counterfeiter fighter, informally : TMAN
3. Isao of golf : AOKI
4. At full term : DUE
5. "No worries" : ITSCOOL
6. Comes out with : UTTERS
7. Skiing twins' surname : MAHRE
8. Sister of Phoebe, in myth : RHEA
9. "Or softly lightens ___ her face": Byron : OER
10. Like many kids' self-made greeting cards : CRAYONED
11. Didn't let oneself go, say : KEPTFIT
12. Lead-in to some written advice : DEARREADER
13. Blurred : INDISTINCT
14. Option for a marinara base : ROMATOMATO
22. Not too big a jerk : TIC
23. Old bomber : BTEN
24. A lot of what makes you you : GENES
25. Checked in with loved ones, say : PHONEDHOME
26. Exclamation that might be punctuated "??!?" : HOWONEARTH
27. Put too much weight on : OVERSTRESS
28. Like some potato chips : BAKED
30. Ceilings : MAXES
33. From the Union : NORTHERN
34. Hebrew for "to the skies" : ELAL
36. Rival of Captain Morgan : BACARDI
37. Abba's music : EUROPOP
39. ___ Tamid (ever-burning synagogue lamp) : NER
40. Thick spreads : QUILTS
42. Ace on a base : FLIER
44. Give up : CAVE
45. One of its fragrances is Poison : DIOR
46. See 45-Across : VCRS
47. Rink fooler : DEKE
50. Small warbler : TIT
51. Inits. of Thoreau's mentor : RWE

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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