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New York Times, Friday, September 22, 2017

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
966/16/20118/18/201918
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
76681132242
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645173
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 31 Missing: {FJQX} This is puzzle # 68 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
Going to keep this short, because I honestly don't remember much about this puzzle. I see from my files that it dates back to May ... read more

Going to keep this short, because I honestly don't remember much about this puzzle. I see from my files that it dates back to May 2015, a month before my high school graduation. That whole time period is a blur for me: My last AP tests, throwing my cap in the air, saying goodbye to old friends, feeling anxious about starting college, etc. Apparently I was making themelesses as well—not a huge surprise :).

Looking at the puzzle now, I'm pleased with how it turned out. I must've been trying to mix things up by doing triple stacks of 14s, and I like my choices of long entries (especially the wacky-looking MI CASA ES SU CASA at 1-Across). I also appreciate how relatively smooth and trivia-free the rest of the grid is. Might've gone for a little more zing were I building this puzzle today, but at the same time, the relative lack of crosswordese allows for a lot of nice cluing opportunities.

Speaking of which, big ups to Will, Joel, and Sam for improving so many of the clues! Didn't remember the originals, but looking back on them now, I feel their replacements are definitely better.

Hope you enjoy—maybe it's time for me to start solving my old puzzles!

Jeff Chen notes:
Fourteen-letter entries are rare in themelesses, and for good reason — they're so annoying to work around. Each one forces a ... read more

Fourteen-letter entries are rare in themelesses, and for good reason — they're so annoying to work around. Each one forces a black square placement right off the bat, and that's no bueno for constructors needing maximum flexibility.

So it's neat to get six (!) 14-letter entries today … triple-stacked, nonetheless! Most of them feel so fresh, a reflection of how most themeless constructors avoid 14s like the plague. MI CASA ES SU CASA is awesome, as is ICING ON THE CAKE.

Visually, I don't care for most black squares in the corners of themelesses — Rich Norris over at the LAT has discouraged their use — but those chunks in the NE / SW felt like reasonable prices to pay to get those colorful stacks.

Clean stacks, too. Well, mostly. It's inevitable to get some minor crossword glue like CTR and ESA holding a triple-stack together. I was less enthused about INHERES … ["The door is open!" cries?]. It is in the dictionary, but it's such an odd word, not something I hear every day. Or year. Or decade.

And UDALL and SIGURD felt like fair game to me, but even this Norse myth buff had a tough time piecing together SIGURD. So although I appreciated the lack of ugly short fill, the mid-length stuff did feel somewhat offbeat.

Love the MACE clue, a literal "old ball and chain." Ha!

But there were some clues I had to look up to figure out:

  • TIME INC is a [Life preserver?]? I think they bought … Life magazine? Hard to tell from the Wikipedia article.
  • DOCTOR is one who's gotten the third degree? But don't most physicians get a bachelor's and then an MD? Ah, must be referring to Ph.D.s. But some go straight from bachelor's to Ph.D. programs. Huh.
  • [Current director] attempted to misdirect from electrical current to "contemporary film director," perhaps? But it fell flat on this engineer, as that's an awkward way to describe a DIODE.

Overall, the cluing felt like it was trying a little too hard.

There wasn't as much great fill as I like in a themeless — tough to include much else when the triple-stacks take up so much real estate — but wow, were most of those 14s fantastic.

1
M
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A
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0922 ( 24,790 )

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Across
1
Welcoming words : MICASAESSUCASA
15
"You're misquoting me" : INEVERSAIDTHAT
16
Roomy storage space : THREECARGARAGE
17
Gross : EARN
18
Like some finishes : DULL
19
Man's name meaning "my God" : ELI
21
One side of a classic college football rivalry : ARMY
22
Cinnabon feature : SWIRL
24
Attenuated : THIN
25
Gift often given with a kiss : LEI
26
It's taken in court : STAND
27
Impudence : CHEEK
28
Wild adventure : ESCAPADE
30
"The Ransom of Red Chief" writer, 1910 : OHENRY
31
Concern : CARE
32
Show disrespect, in a way : SPIT
33
Routine : SHTICK
36
What Pérez Prado was "King of" : THEMAMBO
40
One really aiming to please : TOADY
41
Current director : DIODE
42
Actor Somerhalder of "The Vampire Diaries" : IAN
43
Units in Ohm's law : AMPS
44
Humiliating defeats : ROMPS
45
Setting for a rat race? : MAZE
46
It might have a tent sale : REI
47
Old ball and chain? : MACE
48
Model on display : DEMO
49
Wordsworth, Coleridge and Byron wrote in it : ROMANTICPERIOD
54
An additional plus : ICINGONTHECAKE
55
One who can't turn right? : CAREERCRIMINAL
Down
1
Home of many Physics Nobelists, for short : MIT
2
Exists naturally : INHERES
3
Kind of tile : CERAMIC
4
Label producer : AVERY
5
Not overlooked : SEEN
6
Part of a cardioid figure : ARC
7
Conductor ___-Pekka Salonen : ESA
8
Fish typically preserved in olive oil : SARDINE
9
Brynhild's beloved, in Norse legend : SIGURD
10
Mo ___, longtime Arizona politician : UDALL
11
PC key : CTRL
12
"Got it!" : AHA
13
Western grouse : SAGEHEN
14
Workshop : ATELIER
20
Extremely dark : INKY
21
Yard contents : ALE
22
Like some contrasts : STARK
23
Go in just a little way, say : WADE
24
Symbol for a plane angle, in geometry : THETA
26
Unfocused : SPACY
27
Add a comment, with "in" : CHIME
29
One end of the pH scale : ACIDS
30
View pieces : OPEDS
32
Chamber of commerce? : SHOP
33
Critic's assignment : STAR
34
Grand : HOMERIC
35
Thickening agent : TAPIOCA
36
Life preserver? : TIMEINC
37
Resident of the so-called "Capital of Latin America" : MIAMIAN
38
Big gun : BAZOOKA
39
Small square : ONE
41
One who's gotten the third degree? : DOCTOR
44
Span : RANGE
45
Nice thanks : MERCI
47
Thick locks : MANE
48
Adjudge : DEEM
50
It went around for 15 years : MIR
51
N.F.L. position: Abbr. : CTR
52
Beta preceder : PHI
53
PC key : DEL

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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