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New York Times, Friday, September 12, 2014

Author:
Michael Wiesenberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
54/6/20133/19/20181
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0100031
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1.56000
Michael Wiesenberg

This puzzle:

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

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 ... read more

[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.

Jim Horne 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
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
Down
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: 6 unique to this puzzle, 4 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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