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New York Times, Saturday, September 24, 2016

Author: Mary Lou Guizzo
Editor: Will Shortz
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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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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 Down
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
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.

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