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New York Times, Friday, September 2, 2016

Author: David Liben-Nowell
Editor: Will Shortz
David Liben-Nowell
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
103/25/20049/2/20163
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0012340
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56111

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 32 Missing: {VXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Liben-Nowell. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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David Liben-Nowell notes: This puzzle's origin story is a little twisted, and it's probably mostly invisible in the published version. But here's the ... more
David Liben-Nowell notes:

This puzzle's origin story is a little twisted, and it's probably mostly invisible in the published version. But here's the story anyway ...

In April 2015, I heard a talk by Daniel Levin Becker at Carleton College, where I teach. His talk was about the Oulipo (OUvroir de LIttérature POtentielle, usually translated as something like "workshop for potential literature"), a group of mostly French writers who work under massively restrictive self-imposed structural constraints in their writing. Some of the most famous examples include Georges Perec's E-less novel "La Disparition" ("A Void") and his novel "Life A User's Manual" (based around a chapter-by-chapter knight's tour of an apartment building, among many other constraints).

A few tenuous mental connections later, I ended up with the constraint that I imposed on myself for this puzzle: a 15-letter central entry that was its own answer. (My original submission used this central entry as part of a logical paradox of a "this puzzle contains one error" form, but the paradox piece ended up disappearing from the published version — I think in part because the clues were just too long.) There aren't that many 9-letter numbers in roughly the right numerical range, so I was practically forced into THIRTYTWOACROSS and a grid like the one you see now — including those "cheater" squares in the corners to make the numbering work. And, as an ultimate player myself, I worked pretty hard to make FRISBEE work as 1-Across.

Incidentally, I read "Life A User's Manual" right after submitting this puzzle. It's exactly the kind of book I think I should love — and I pretty much *hated* it. I'll leave out the rant about the many reasons, but here's hoping that the puzzle it inspired doesn't trigger the same reaction in you!

Jeff Chen notes: Big corners like the NW and SE are so daunting! As a constructor, they remind me of my many (many many) failed attempts to fill such ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Big corners like the NW and SE are so daunting! As a constructor, they remind me of my many (many many) failed attempts to fill such wide-open spaces without resorting to ugly gluey bits or strange long entries. And as a solver, I shudder at the thought of how hard it is to break in; to get any sort of toehold. It's even harder when a corner is so isolated like these two are — just one entry apiece taping them to the middle of the puzzle.

Even tougher after I finished the middle, and realized that ?????WAY could be so many things … as could AIR????? ! This is a great tip for constructors working with sections like these, since retaining that type of flexibility is so important when trying to connect a giant corner to the rest of the puzzle.

In the middle section, I liked the KNEECAPS / CAR RADIO / PREREQ section a lot. THIRTY TWO ACROSS was a bit out of place to me, as it was the lone self-referential answer/clue — I felt like it could have made for a better themed puzzle entry, along with two or three other similarly done answers. Getting A DAY right over A PIPE seemed inelegant, but thankfully the rest of the middle was relatively smooth. (BE SORE, I'm still trying to figure out if I like you or not.)

So, So, SO tough to finish the corners (I didn't complete the lower one). I was really impressed with the upper left — it's so rare to get a giant corner like this filled with great assets like BROADWAY and BRAS TRAP. Er, BRA STRAP. For those of us who play Ultimate, we should probably let the clue get a pass — it's a technicality that a great majority of Ultimate players use Discraft brand discs, not Frisbees (which are weighted all funny).

The SE corner didn't do as much for me. As much as I loved RIOT GEAR, things like ASPIRANT and BORN INTO are the type of neutralish answers I'm more used to seeing in these chunky regions. Being held together with some OISE glue and the odd-sounding IS NEAR didn't do it any favors.

Even though my solve was frustrated by how separated the three parts of the puzzle were, as a constructor I have tremendous appreciation for that NW corner. Really beautiful work there.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0902 ( 24,405 )
Across Down
1. Ultimate necessity : FRISBEE
8. Needs grease, maybe : STICKS
14. Cup holder : BRASTRAP
15. School whose mascot is Riptide the Pelican : TULANE
16. Became untied : GOTLOOSE
17. Intro to Comp Sci, for Data Structures, e.g. : PREREQ
18. Push away : ALIENATE
19. Giant in sports entertainment : ANDRE
20. Made new? : MINTED
21. Something you might take a pass on : BUS
22. Valuable diamond : ACE
24. Hosp. readout : ECG
25. Bigwig : WHEEL
28. One ___ (multivitamin) : ADAY
29. Highly sought-after things : GRAILS
31. Foucault's "This Is Not ___" : APIPE
32. This : THIRTYTWOACROSS
36. Certain powerful engines, briefly : HEMIS
37. Warrants : MERITS
38. Newswoman Burnett : ERIN
39. Guiding light? : LASER
40. Writes to briefly? : IMS
43. Replies of understanding : OHS
44. Month with two natl. holidays : JAN
45. Auto name discontinued in 1986 : DATSUN
48. One is a prize for scoring : OSCAR
50. Endowed with from the start, as money : BORNINTO
52. Nobody special : ANYONE
53. Mace and shield, e.g. : RIOTGEAR
54. Took for a ride : ROOKED
55. Hopeful : ASPIRANT
56. Closely following : TRUETO
57. Order that's rarely followed? : DESSERT
1. Play : FROLIC
2. Fair, e.g. : RATING
3. Key : ISLET
4. Gem : STONE
5. Place for a long run, maybe : BROADWAY
6. Big ___ Conference : EAST
7. Summer Olympics event : EPEE
8. "A Prairie Home Companion" broadcast site : STPAUL
9. Becomes a traitor : TURNS
10. "Where Is the Life That Late ___?" ("Kiss Me, Kate" number) : ILED
11. One with connections to traveling speakers? : CARRADIO
12. Largest sesamoid bones : KNEECAPS
13. Et ___ (footnote abbr.) : SEQ
14. Not one's best effort, in coachspeak : BGAME
21. Ache : BESORE
23. They can turn red in a flash : EYES
26. Contract employee? : HITMAN
27. Actor with the title role in "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" : ELWES
28. Loan figs. : APRS
29. Beam : GRIN
30. Some linemen: Abbr. : RTS
31. Just do it : ACT
32. Baseball exec Epstein : THEO
33. What to call Judge Judy : HERHONOR
34. Words of longing : IMISSYOU
35. Some help from above : AIRDROPS
39. Southernmost city on I-35 : LAREDO
40. Looms : ISNEAR
41. Wolverine of Marvel Comics, e.g. : MUTANT
42. Derisive reaction : SNORT
44. Reno, for one : JANET
46. They're not pros : ANTIS
47. Animal in un parc zoologique : TIGRE
49. Old "Red, White & You" sloganeer : COKE
50. Small nail : BRAD
51. River to the Seine : OISE
52. "What you can get away with," according to Andy Warhol : ART

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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