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New York Times, Friday, September 2, 2016

Author:
David Liben-Nowell
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
113/25/20049/15/20183
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0012341
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57111
David Liben-Nowell

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
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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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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F
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0902 ( 24,405 )
Across
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
Down
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: 6 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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