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New York Times, Friday, September 20, 2013

Author:
Mangesh Ghogre and Doug Peterson
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
39/20/201310/2/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0011010
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60100
Mangesh Ghogre
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
452/20/20069/26/201925
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
3273212142
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63300
Doug Peterson

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 25 Missing: {CQX} Spans: 4, (2 double stacks) This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Ghogre. This is puzzle # 34 for Mr. Peterson. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Mangesh: Frankly, I have grown up solving Doug's puzzles. So it was a privilege when he accepted to collaborate. This is my first ... read more

Mangesh:

Frankly, I have grown up solving Doug's puzzles. So it was a privilege when he accepted to collaborate. This is my first themeless. The best learning, when working on a themeless, is the stretch it gives to your imagination. Not just in filling the longest entries of 15, but others like DEAD ON (which Will appreciated in his "Yes" mail). I wanted to improve on BALINESE to something more exciting.

Doug and I divided (or rather halved) the cluing. He went for Across and I for Down. I prefer cluing over constructing. Again, imagination and creativity get a wide canvas. The thrill is multiplied when you can come up with a cute clue and it tickles Will enough to retain it in the published version.

Doug:

This is a grid pattern that I've found is good for themeless collaborations. One constructor fills the top (or bottom) and hands it off to the other constructor to complete. Sometimes it works, and sometimes you have to go back to square one (pun intended). If I remember correctly, I filled the top half and then sent it intercontinentally to Mangesh. It was a pleasure to finally meet him at the ACPT last year!

Will Shortz notes:
Mangesh Ghogre, of Mumbai, India, is making his debut with today's puzzle. How he and Doug divided up the construction job I don't ... read more

Mangesh Ghogre, of Mumbai, India, is making his debut with today's puzzle. How he and Doug divided up the construction job I don't know. The two pairs of stacked 15s are pretty nice, I think, although three of the four 15s have appeared in Times puzzles before (17A once, 48A twice, and 45A three times). But it's been awhile since they've appeared, and the clues for them are fresh, so I hope solvers will not remember them or at least not mind.

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut for Mangesh! If you haven't read his 2012 ACPT letter you're missing out. Great story about the power of crosswords not only to ... read more

Debut for Mangesh! If you haven't read his 2012 ACPT letter you're missing out. Great story about the power of crosswords not only to delight but to educate. I had the pleasure to meet him at that ACPT and enjoyed swapping stories.

And how can you go wrong working with the venerable Doug Peterson, an expert constructor and a hilarious guy? I'm envious of the fun times they must have had. Doug and Mangesh incorporate double-stacked 15's, using a black square to break up rows 1 and 15. That pair of squares may seem insignificant, but this arrangement is so much more flexible to fill than a triple-stack of 15's. The top stack is very nice, both phrases being in the language and catchy. There are a couple of blemishes in OBS, EDD, and TER but overall it's pretty good. PENNON was a bit of a head-scratcher, but I enjoyed looking that up and reminiscing about The Tudors and Game of Thrones.

One issue with stacks of 15's is that they don't leave much room for other feature entries in the grid. Note how aside from the 15's, there are slots for only six 8's. It's relatively hard to find fresh 7-letter (or less) answers, so there's not a lot of room aside from the 15's to incorporate more marquee answers. TO DIE FOR is, well, to die for, but there aren't many other flashy entries.

To Will's point about reuse of 15's in stacks, some of us constructors have a running joke about SCARLET TANAGERS and A LOT ON ONES PLATE, which have been used many times in themeless stacks. Anytime a crossword has a 15-letter answer with any sort of bird clue, I automatically fill in SCARLET TANAGERS. And if I don't want to do something, I'll say "Sorry, I have a lot on one's plate."

Finally, a highlight of the puzzle is the clue for NINJAS. What a fun piece of information! Watch as I activate my ninja powers and turn invisib

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0920 ( 23,327 )

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Across
1
Offer to host : ASKOVER
8
W.W. II vessels : PTBOATS
15
Expressed slight surprise : RAISEDANEYEBROW
17
"But really ..." : ALLKIDDINGASIDE
18
___ Empire : ROMAN
19
Deep-seated : INNER
20
What you might be overseas? : SIE
21
Part of A.M.A.: Abbr. : AMER
22
Principal : MAJOR
23
Leave in : STET
24
Rx specification : TER
25
Industry leader : TITAN
26
Part of a place setting : KNIFE
27
Swelters : BAKES
28
Absolutely correct : DEADON
29
Relatives of spoonbills : IBISES
31
Voyeur : PEEPER
32
Staggered : AMAZED
33
Many chains are found in them : MALLS
34
Ticked off : RILED
35
Works at a museum, say : BUSTS
36
One of the girls : SHE
39
Going ___ : ATIT
40
Gnats and mosquitoes : PESTS
41
Powerful engine : VTEN
42
Pipe holder? : PAN
43
Watch brand once worn by 007 : SEIKO
44
One of 24 : KARAT
45
1959 #5 hit with the B-side "I've Cried Before" : ATEENAGERINLOVE
48
What a board may be against : HOSTILETAKEOVER
49
Euripides tragedy : ORESTES
50
Satyrs, say : LEERERS
Down
1
Mountains of ___ (Genesis locale) : ARARAT
2
Strauss opera : SALOME
3
"Trees" poet : KILMER
4
Werner of "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" : OSKAR
5
"In that ___ ..." : VEIN
6
Hall-of-Fame outfielder Roush : EDD
7
Throws off : RADIATES
8
Flag carried on a knight's lance : PENNON
9
Blake's "burning bright" cat : TYGER
10
Pessimist : BEAR
11
Outmoded: Abbr. : OBS
12
Three-time Haitian president : ARISTIDE
13
Super-wonderful : TODIEFOR
14
Make more attractive : SWEETEN
16
Warriors with supposed powers of invisibility and shapeshifting : NINJAS
22
Ready for an on-air interview : MIKED
23
"Your mama wears army boots" and such : SNAPS
25
Put a charge into? : TASED
26
Leans precariously : KEELS
27
"L'Arlésienne" composer : BIZET
28
Workout targets, informally : DELTS
29
Copycat : IMITATOR
30
Long-haired cat breed : BALINESE
31
Simple and serene : PASTORAL
32
Fox relative : ARAPAHO
33
Old arm : MUSKET
35
Pale shades : BEIGES
36
Fought : STROVE
37
Shot-putter, e.g. : HEAVER
38
Puts in : ENTERS
40
"Positive thinking" pioneer : PEALE
41
Grounds for a medal : VALOR
43
Pet : SNIT
44
Place for a jerk? : KNEE
46
"Captain Video" figures, for short : ETS
47
'50s politico : IKE

Answer summary: 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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