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New York Times, Monday, September 21, 2015

Author: Bruce Haight
Editor: Will Shortz
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Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FJQY} This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Bruce Haight notes: I can't think of much to say about this interlocking SS puzzle, so I'll relate a Short Story. When I started constructing puzzles ... more
Bruce Haight notes:

I can't think of much to say about this interlocking SS puzzle, so I'll relate a Short Story. When I started constructing puzzles in early 2012 I was quite inspired by Will Shortz and the crossword community and I went a bit overboard. Every spare minute of my day was spent working on puzzles and I cut back from sleeping eight hours a night to only six. I was submitting two puzzles a week, most of them horrible, and often I forgot to eat !

My wife Liz noticed I had lost a few pounds and thought I had cancer. She made me get an MRI in July 2012 which indeed showed a tiny cancer on my kidney. It was a bad cell type that would have killed me in a few years, but way too small to cause weight loss — the doctors said eating and sleeping less must have been the reason I lost the weight.

The tumor was removed easily and there is no sign of it three years later, so I don't think it's too much of a stretch to credit Will Shortz and the entire crossword community (and my wife of course!) with helping to save my life. Thank you!

Jeff Chen notes: Too bad the NYT doesn't use titles for its crosswords. At CrosSynergy, I find choosing the perfect title — either punny or ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Too bad the NYT doesn't use titles for its crosswords. At CrosSynergy, I find choosing the perfect title — either punny or obliquely hinting at the theme — one of the most fun aspects of brainstorming. Today, Bruce might have chosen "S'wonderful"? Or "Snaky Sounds"? We get an astounding 12 themers with a huge amount of interlocking. I thought there were only 10 at first, so I highlighted them below to make them stand out.

Nearly broke my spine!

There are a ton of S* S* phrases to choose from, which I'm sure made Bruce's task easier. Might have even been the reason he picked the S* S* pattern. Most of the themers he chose were pretty decent. Others that I thought might have snazzed up the grid a bit: SOLAR SYSTEM, SHINTO SHRINE, SOUTH SUDAN, SPACE SHUTTLE ... there are so many options. But still, it's no mean feat to shove 12 themers into a 15x15 grid.

What really impressed me was the care Bruce took in filling out the grid. With such high density, I would expect to see many more gluey bits than just ENOW and PCT. In Bruce's recent puzzles, especially his "stunt" ones, I haven't cared for the trade-offs of more glue enabling more "stunt," so it was a pleasure to see how clean this one was. I especially appreciate that out of a Monday puzzle.

I totally understand the need to use variety in cluing, but I would have liked a double-dose of classical in RAVEL and LISZT. To get a tangly [Get tangled up] clue for RAVEL made it feel to me like a perfectly good entry got gluified. But I loved the clue for LOLA. Hearing "I'm not the world's most physical guy, / But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine" makes it difficult not to want to rock out.

Not the most mind-blowing theme, but the ultra-high theme density executed pretty cleanly was nice to see.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0921 ( 24,058 )
Across Down
1. 1969 and 1986 World Series champs : METS
5. Web address starter : HTTP
9. Overhead tennis shot : SMASH
14. Troop group : UNIT
15. Little injury, to a toddler : OWIE
16. Phi Beta ___ : KAPPA
17. Touchy subjects : SORESPOTS
19. Homeric epic : ILIAD
20. 4-0 World Series win, e.g. : SWEEP
21. Beginning that doesn't go smoothly : SLOWSTART
23. %: Abbr. : PCT
25. Twin of Jacob and in-law of 30-Down : ESAU
26. Prefix with realism : NEO
27. Leave port : SETSAIL
31. PX patrons : GIS
33. Like classic hospital thermometers : ORAL
34. Lighten one's portfolio, say : SELLSTOCKS
40. Texas home of Baylor University : WACO
41. Towing co. name near the start of the Yellow Pages : AAA
42. "Here comes trouble!" : UHOH
43. Comes to rest too soon : STOPSSHORT
47. The "she" in the lyric "I'm not the world's most physical guy, / But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine" : LOLA
48. "Yikes!" : EEK
49. Something to take and "make it better," in the Beatles' "Hey Jude" : SADSONG
51. Boob tubes : TVS
54. Is under the weather : AILS
57. 12 on a grandfather clock : XII
58. Quits fidgeting : SITSSTILL
61. "Hardball" airer : MSNBC
65. Nasal stimulus : AROMA
66. Reels from a haymaker : SEESSTARS
68. Get tangled up : RAVEL
69. Greek philosopher known for paradoxes : ZENO
70. Actor Morales : ESAI
71. Icy precipitation : SLEET
72. Some boxing results, for short : TKOS
73. "Darn it!" : RATS
1. "No ___, no fuss" : MUSS
2. Sufficient, to a bard : ENOW
3. Uniroyal product : TIRE
4. What a nearly vertical hill has : STEEPSLOPE
5. Bunny's movement : HOP
6. Noah's Ark groupings : TWOS
7. Her Royal Highness, e.g. : TITLE
8. Mexican moolah : PESOS
9. Winter attire in Vail : SKISUIT
10. Ice cream drink : MALT
11. Beelike : APIAN
12. Knockdown of all the pins in two bowls : SPARE
13. Couldn't say no : HADTO
18. Protector of stray cats and dogs, for short : SPCA
22. Goes back and forth, as a tail : WAGS
24. "___ the season ..." : TIS
27. Scatters, as seeds : SOWS
28. The "E" of Q.E.D. : ERAT
29. Tex-Mex serving : TACO
30. Wife of Jacob and in-law of 25-Across : LEAH
32. Best black female friend : SOULSISTER
35. Philosopher ___-tzu : LAO
36. Swedish version of Lawrence : LARS
37. When doubled, a child's train : CHOO
38. City on the Rhine, to locals : KOLN
39. Layered hairdo : SHAG
44. It's left when ocean water evaporates : SEASALT
45. Variety show segment : SKIT
46. I.R.S. money : TAX
50. Loses brightness : DIMS
51. Old Russian autocrats : TSARS
52. Go ___ (spread online) : VIRAL
53. Kitchen range : STOVE
55. "Hungarian Rhapsodies" composer : LISZT
56. Streamlined : SLEEK
59. "Peter Pan" buccaneer : SMEE
60. Jay formerly of late-night : LENO
62. Apollo org. : NASA
63. Young miscreant : BRAT
64. Some CBS forensic spinoffs : CSIS
67. Signal from a marooned sailor : SOS

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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