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New York Times, Saturday, September 24, 2016

Author:
Mary Lou Guizzo
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
244/17/20143/6/201913
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31153641
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1.61440
Mary Lou Guizzo

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 23 Missing: {JQVX} Spans: 4 This is puzzle # 13 for Ms. Guizzo. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mary Lou Guizzo notes:
I was pleased to work MALALA YOUSAFZAI's name into this puzzle. She is such an inspiring young person giving hope to many through her ... read more

I was pleased to work MALALA YOUSAFZAI's name into this puzzle. She is such an inspiring young person giving hope to many through her human rights advocacy and example. As she has noted "One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world."

If you had trouble spelling YOUSAFZAI, you're in good company. I wrote the Nobel Peace Prize committee to alert them. Their response was "Thank you for spotting the spelling typo. It has been changed on two pages but not in the press releases from the Norwegian Nobel Committee (NNC). NNC does not want us to change in their official material."

I noticed my initial puzzle submission had a dupe in it after I mailed it off and worked to eliminate it. In a grid with so few black blocks it wasn't a simple fix, but the resulting puzzle was much improved and more to Will and Joel's liking. My thanks to them for accepting and editing this puzzle. I'm thrilled to have my first Saturday NYT puzzle published.

Thanks to David Steinberg whose October 10, 2014 blog post on The Preshortzian Puzzle Project piqued my interest. I decided to try my hand at filling such a grid.

I hope you've enjoyed your solving experience.

Jeff Chen notes:
I really like it when a puzzle forces me to rethink my criteria. For themelesses, I often begin by counting the liabilities: the ... read more

I really like it when a puzzle forces me to rethink my criteria. For themelesses, I often begin by counting the liabilities: the inelegant bits required to hold a puzzle's long answers together (ONT, for example). If that's more than about four, it feels inelegant, like seeing duct tape or rusty nails holding a piece of fine art together.

For my second criterion, I start by tallying up the assets: vivid, colorful entries (GOSH DARN, e.g.). I add a few points if there's an impressive feature (grid-spanning entries, huge white spaces, etc.), and then subtract the number of liabilities. I've found that if that final result is more than about 10, I love the puzzle. Less than 10 and I don't feel sated, more like eating low-sodium bread than a big fat everything pizza.

Today's puzzle doesn't have that many long entries — just eight of 8+ letters — and some of them I'd consider neutral. PINED FOR feels fine but not something I'd tweet about, and the SOLOMONS would have been better if it had gotten an interesting piece of trivia. There are a few nice seven-letter entries like STARMAP and CODE RED, but even then, the quantity of what I'd call assets isn't very high.

There is something pretty cool about having four grid-spanners intersecting each other — and it makes the construction way harder — so I'd add maybe two points for that.

Given those intersecting long entries, it's not a surprise to see gluey bits like ESAS, LTS, RRS, OLD AS, RETIN, CALS (usually just "cal"), LEM, etc. They are all minor, but there sure are a lot.

So my calculations should predict that my stomach would still be grumbling after low-sodium bread. But I couldn't stop looking at MALALA YOUSAFZAI / PIZZA MARGHERITA / ALL KIDDING ASIDE / LAID IT ON THE LINE. They're all great answers, and I've been wondering when we'd see MALALA's crossword-friendly name. (The bestseller I AM MALALA, too!) To get her full name, with its mind-bending -FZAI ending is such a treat. There's so much to like in that one answer alone.

I'm still trying to figure out why I enjoyed this puzzle so much. Love it when the unexpected happens.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0924 ( 24,427 )
Across
1
Collection of high lights? : STARMAP
8
Something a dog might fetch : SLIPPER
15
Capital of the French department of Loiret : ORLEANS
16
Smokeless explosive : CORDITE
17
Youngest-ever Nobel Prize recipient : MALALAYOUSAFZAI
19
Pennsylvania county named for an animal : ELK
20
Delights : TICKLES
21
Cab alternative : ZIN
22
Cold shower? : HAIL
24
Missouri and Arizona : SHIPS
25
Fast-food menu information: Abbr. : CALS
26
___ dirt : OLDAS
28
Mich. neighbor : ONT
29
"Love Is Strange" actress : TOMEI
30
In a ball : WADDED
32
Frickin' : GOSHDARN
34
Things discussed at une académie : IDEES
36
Like safeties vis-à-vis field goals : RARER
37
Missed a lot : PINEDFOR
40
Got rid of : PURGED
43
Hot : ANGRY
44
Science fiction author Stanislaw : LEM
46
Indian-born maestro : MEHTA
47
Spanish pronoun : ESAS
48
Head of an Indian tribe : TOTEM
50
Hold : DEEM
51
Mil. figures : LTS
52
Colloquy : SEMINAR
54
Pennsylvania and others: Abbr. : RRS
55
Was brutally honest : LAIDITONTHELINE
58
Firedog : ANDIRON
59
Electron's area around an atom : ORBITAL
60
Easy shoes to put on : STEPINS
61
Makes secret again, as court documents : RESEALS
Down
1
"I wasn't expecting it, but ..." : SOMEHOW
2
Skipping sounds : TRALALA
3
"Seriously ..." : ALLKIDDINGASIDE
4
New Deal power agcy. : REA
5
Colt 45, e.g., informally : MALT
6
Writer Nin : ANAIS
7
Classic film whose soundtrack is famously composed entirely of strings : PSYCHO
8
One going around the block? : SCULPTOR
9
Shakes : LOSES
10
Portfolio parts, for short : IRAS
11
Many an email attachment : PDF
12
Italian food named after a queen : PIZZAMARGHERITA
13
Amazon, e.g. : ETAILER
14
Curbs : REINSIN
18
Clearing : OKING
23
Things corporations and fire trucks both have : LADDERS
25
[Emergency!] : CODERED
27
Like kiwi fruits : SEEDY
29
Engine sound : THRUM
31
Cool, in slang : DEF
33
Drain : SAP
35
Pacific Island group : SOLOMONS
37
Dishes sometimes served with Riojas : PAELLAS
38
Blink of an eye : INSTANT
39
___-A : RETIN
41
Like the Olympic flame : ETERNAL
42
Fairy tale figures : DAMSELS
45
"Someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself," per Oprah : MENTOR
48
Dakota dialect : TETON
49
Olympic skier Phil or Steve : MAHRE
52
Modern know-it-all : SIRI
53
Bull Run victors : REBS
56
Double ___ : DIP
57
"I already have other plans," often : LIE

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?