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New York Times, Friday, September 18, 2015

Author:
Gareth Bain and Brad Wilber
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
144/6/20119/18/20152
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0334112
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58210
Gareth Bain
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
512/19/200510/21/201725
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
001201434
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60001
Brad Wilber

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 31 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Bain. This is puzzle # 46 for Mr. Wilber. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
GARETH: I can't remember how Brad and I started putting together some themeless grids. I know we made a ton of stacks, and from those ... read more

GARETH: I can't remember how Brad and I started putting together some themeless grids. I know we made a ton of stacks, and from those made several different themeless puzzles, of which this one has made the cut.

I don't remember that many specifics about this puzzle. I remember CABOTCOVE was something I included in a stack in a different grid, that Brad built his own stack around. I think most stacks were fairly collaborative in the end, but it's probably about 70% Brad that you're looking at in the final product.

Why? That's what I really came to say: It was an amazing and educating experience working with one of the masters of themeless construction! What really blew me away was the perfectionism — never leaving a bit of grid as "good enough". Brad is a tireless polisher! And a wonderful clue writer! It was a great privilege to be able to work with you, Brad! If this sounds fawning then so be it!

BRAD: When you're constructing a puzzle with a partner, "perfectionist" can come across as "control freak," so I'm exceedingly glad if Gareth had fun. Rather than be content partnering Doug Peterson, Byron Walden, and Kevin Christian and coping with a three-hour time difference, I went big: the time difference between Gareth and me is SIX hours.

I recall 1A and 15A being Gareth's starter stack (yes, possibly recycled from something we abandoned), and I was able to slip 17A in there. We actually added a white square to our original design to get the two 10-letter entries, and my favorite part of the finished product was Gareth's eventual crossing of 33D and 50A. His cluing aesthetic is mischievous but well-refined — it's on display in entries like 1D and 30D, not verbatim from the manuscript, but close.

Themeless construction DOES mean polishing to me; sometimes just one entry can sink you, and I don't like to put myself in the position of hoping something will skate through. Gareth brought lots of savvy and open-mindedness to the discussions we had on that score. I think you probably will be hearing from us again!

Jeff Chen notes:
CORY Booker finally gets his due in the NYT crossword! Stanford undergrad, Rhodes scholar, Yale law, mayor of Newark, and now New ... read more

CORY Booker finally gets his due in the NYT crossword! Stanford undergrad, Rhodes scholar, Yale law, mayor of Newark, and now New Jersey senator. Not to mention his saving a woman from a fire back in 2012. Sure takes a lot to supplant the "Boy Meets World" CORY that's usually used!

CABOT COVE ... filmed in Mendocino, CA

Some nice entries today, DANCE CRAZE such a fun one. SPREAD EM is also catchy, although it reminds me a little too much of when I got harassed by a cop a few years ago. Sometimes I wonder if a white guy would have been asked to step out of his car and then shoved against the door, only to realize that he indeed wasn't drunk or even tipsy, as he protested. Anyhoo, hopefully SPREAD EM doesn't induce similar reactions for other solvers.

The top left triple-stack is pretty nice. I wasn't familiar with CABOT COVE, but apparently it's famous from "Murder, She Wrote." These proper nouns are tricky — I'm sure MSW fans will squee in delight over this one. Others will need every cross to piece it together. Divisive.

I wasn't as big a fan of the opposite stack, as it reminded me of Rich Norris' advice to me a few years back: single-word entries can be tough to make snazzy. ELECTIVES has some potential for a clever clue to make it sing. OBSOLESCE feels slightly off to me, as "goes obsolete" is much more common to my ear. MARTINETS is pretty good, but even as the best of the three entries in my opinion, it's not an entry that makes me want to incorporate it into one of my puzzles.

I much prefer entries like MAKE NICE, HOT MIC, and even DNA LAB. All are colorful, and it's fun for me as a solver to have to figure out where a space should go.

I appreciated the low number of gluey bits. With just a few (minor) entries like ADAR and RECTO, which will be perfectly fine to many, it made for a smooth if not pizzazz-filled solve.

1
S
2
C
3
A
4
R
5
F
6
A
7
C
8
E
9
D
10
A
11
R
12
M
13
O
14
R
15
C
A
B
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T
C
O
V
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16
G
O
A
P
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17
U
S
A
N
D
T
H
E
M
18
A
S
K
E
D
19
B
A
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20
I
O
N
O
21
S
P
H
E
R
E
22
A
B
E
23
K
I
R
S
T
I
E
24
N
A
Y
25
A
D
26
A
R
27
T
O
E
S
28
S
I
T
E
29
M
O
30
H
S
31
S
T
32
U
C
C
O
S
33
S
34
T
E
N
O
35
E
T
H
E
R
36
S
P
I
N
E
T
37
S
38
G
R
I
M
39
A
R
T
S
40
M
A
41
D
E
42
L
O
43
W
44
E
45
R
E
A
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D
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N
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R
S
48
A
T
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P
50
D
A
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C
E
C
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A
Z
E
52
M
I
C
A
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I
D
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O
M
54
E
L
E
C
55
T
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V
E
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56
N
E
U
R
O
57
M
A
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58
E
M
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59
O
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C
E
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0918 ( 24,055 )
Across
1
Like Blofeld in Ian Fleming's "You Only Live Twice" : SCARFACED
10
Some tiltyard paraphernalia : ARMOR
15
"Murder, She Wrote" setting : CABOTCOVE
16
Flip : GOAPE
17
Protest song on Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" : USANDTHEM
18
Sought, as a price : ASKED
19
Off one's rocker : BATS
20
Bouncer of radio signals : IONOSPHERE
22
Fiver : ABE
23
Alley of reality TV : KIRSTIE
24
Voice against a bill : NAY
25
29-day month : ADAR
27
Ballet supporters : TOES
28
Venue : SITE
29
Inventor of a mineral hardness scale : MOHS
31
Covers with a trowel, say : STUCCOS
33
One whose work hours may involve minutes : STENO
35
It's a knockout : ETHER
36
Small pianos : SPINETS
38
On the dark side : GRIM
39
Conservatory pursuits : ARTS
40
Took home : MADE
42
Brat Pack name : LOWE
45
Mens ___ (criminal intent) : REA
46
Night courses? : DINNERS
48
Court org. : ATP
50
Chicken or mashed potato : DANCECRAZE
52
It makes granite glint : MICA
53
Challenge for an E.S.L. student : IDIOM
54
They're never required : ELECTIVES
56
Brain study, informally : NEURO
57
Disciplinarians : MARTINETS
58
Show of shows, with "the" : EMMYS
59
Become 49-Down : OBSOLESCE
Down
1
Do a school visit, maybe? : SCUBA
2
Yellow-skinned fruit : CASABA
3
Quieted down : ABATED
4
Cey and Darling of baseball : RONS
5
Co. with budding prospects? : FTD
6
When Musetta's waltz is heard in "La Bohème" : ACTII
7
Associates : COHORTS
8
"All the same ..." : EVENSO
9
Sends back down the ladder : DEMOTES
10
Looking floored : AGAPE
11
Start of a holy day? : ROSH
12
Try to placate someone : MAKENICE
13
Wheeler-dealer : OPERATOR
14
They leave at night : REDEYES
21
Maid of honor, often : SISTER
23
Scandinavian coin with a hole in it : KRONE
26
Chorus of approval : AMENS
28
Dummy : SCHMO
30
Source of some political gaffes : HOTMIC
32
Monopoly pair: Abbr. : UTILS
33
Terse cop order : SPREADEM
34
Club metal : TITANIUM
36
Rush-hour subway rider, figuratively : SARDINE
37
Italian Riviera city : SANREMO
38
Grumpy old men : GEEZERS
41
"CSI" setting : DNALAB
43
Doesn't claim : WAIVES
44
"... and all that jazz" : ETCETC
46
They're not for sale : DEMOS
47
Odd-numbered page : RECTO
49
Not done anymore : PASSE
51
Sen. Booker of New Jersey : CORY
52
Toddler's assertion : MINE
55
To : TIL

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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