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New York Times, Thursday, September 25, 2014

Author: Alex Vratsanos
Editor: Will Shortz
Alex Vratsanos
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
146/13/20117/25/20173
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3132212
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60030

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 35 Missing: {QVX} This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Vratsanos. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Notepad: The human body is said to have 10 three-letter body parts. All 10 of these are hidden inside Across answers in this puzzle. Can you find them all?
Alex Vratsanos notes: I don't remember when and how I found out that there were ten three-letter body parts, but once it came to my attention, I knew ... more
Alex Vratsanos notes: I don't remember when and how I found out that there were ten three-letter body parts, but once it came to my attention, I knew that it could be a theme for a New York Times crossword.

Before starting to construct the puzzle, however, I noticed a Patrick Blindauer Wednesday from 2006 in which he hid all ten of them as diagonals, with a central revealer. Had that puzzle been more recent, I might have given up on the project, but then I realized that a different way to implement the concept would be to place the body parts symmetrically and circle them. I thus targeted this idea for a Monday, and received plenty of valuable input from George Barany and his team.

With only 30 squares absolutely locked in, I was able to keep the word count to 74 and include quite a few entries I liked, like SPOCK, ON KP, PEACE OUT, EZEKIEL, JA RULE, MOZART, MASHUP, ESPOSITO, BEIJING, and SPALKO. Only one letter in the fill ended up being changed, and that was the crossing of 5A and 8D, originally a P. Cluing to Monday difficulty proved harder for me, as I went through several iterations of them, but Will, by deciding to move this to Thursday by removing the circles, cut this Gordian Knot.

In terms of theme answers, I was very happy to have GUMP at 1-Across, as Forrest is my favorite fictional character, and Will's new clue for SACAJAWEA is just awesome. Among the many other new clues are those for 19A, 21A, 27A, 53A, 56A, 65A, 7D, 12D, 21D, 30D, 38D, and 56D. On the other hand, I am glad that Will kept my clues for 22A, 40A, 47A, 18D, 39D, and 42D. I lost my original clue for SEIZER, which played on it and "Caesar" sounding the same, but overall I hope that this "Three-Body Problem" is both stimulating and enjoyable to solvers.

Thank you, Will, for believing in me and mentoring my development as a constructor.

Jeff Chen notes: One of the new generation of young constructors, Alex has come a long way with his gridwork skills. Over the past few years, he's ... more
Jeff Chen notes: One of the new generation of young constructors, Alex has come a long way with his gridwork skills. Over the past few years, he's sent me some grids to evaluate, and they've improved immensely. It's great to see how little glue he uses today even in the face of ten quasi-themers, really only SEIZER, SSR, SEG, and UNA. It's nice work.

I hadn't heard this trivia question until very recently, in a Matt Gaffney Weekly Crossword Contest. I'm not wild about word searching after the puzzle is done (the satisfaction of completing every box is tarnished a bit when I realize I'm not actually done yet), but I can see how others might really enjoy figuring out where the ten body parts are. I've highlighted them in blue in case you missed any. It would have been really neat to hide the theme more sneakily, not so transparent with the overt note to start the puzzle, but I'm not sure how to do that unless it was in the vein of a contest like Matt's meta-puzzle or perhaps the NYT puzzle Alex referred to.

I like how Alex was able to fairly seamlessly incorporate the ten body parts into other words — I wouldn't even noticed a majority of them if the note hadn't been there. The little GUM hiding in GUMP took me forever to find, it was that well-hidden. The one exception I had was in SACAGAWEA. SACAJAWEA looks so odd to me, always reading about her with the G spelling. And not being totally familiar with JA RULE, I didn't think twice to even question GA RULE. Granted, I really should have at least recognized JA RULE as he's reasonably famous rapper, but I would have much preferred JAW to be hidden in something like NINJA WARRIOR or even JAWAHARLAL NEHRU (which is the magic 15 letter length!). Personal preference of course, as the "proper" spelling of SACAGAWEA is controversial.

A lot of nice fill today, PEACE OUT and MASHUP my favorites, along with a really cool clue for MOZART. Sometimes I get turned off by trivia clues, but to learn that Mozart supposedly identified the pitch of a pig's squeal was a real treat.

JimH notes: Body parts are symmetric in grid. cf. this 2006 puzzle by Patrick Blindauer.
1
G
2
U
3
M
4
P
5
S
6
T
7
E
8
T
9
O
10
T
11
O
12
E
13
S
14
I
N
R
E
15
O
O
Z
E
16
P
E
N
A
L
17
S
A
C
A
18
J
A
W
E
A
19
P
R
E
G
O
20
C
A
P
E
K
21
M
O
R
A
L
E
22
R
23
A
24
C
E
R
25
R
I
26
B
O
S
O
M
E
S
27
A
E
I
O
U
28
S
E
I
Z
E
R
29
M
O
G
U
L
30
S
31
L
G
A
32
A
33
P
34
P
35
O
N
A
T
E
A
36
R
37
A
R
38
M
39
E
N
I
A
40
S
S
R
41
D
U
42
B
43
T
A
S
T
E
R
44
A
45
R
I
S
E
46
S
47
S
P
O
C
K
48
S
49
P
50
A
C
E
S
H
I
P
51
H
O
N
E
S
52
T
A
L
C
U
M
53
J
A
54
N
U
S
55
A
R
L
E
S
56
F
I
L
I
P
I
57
N
58
O
59
S
60
R
E
A
D
E
61
O
N
K
P
62
T
I
D
E
63
K
E
Y
E
D
64
E
G
O
S
65
O
L
E
G
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0925 ( 23,697 )
Across Down
1. Oscar-winning Hanks role : GUMP
5. Reinstate, in a way : STET
9. Oklahoma tribe : OTOES
14. About : INRE
15. Exude : OOZE
16. Corrective : PENAL
17. Golden girl? : SACAJAWEA
19. Polite word in Palermo : PREGO
20. Czech playwright who coined the word "robot" : CAPEK
21. It may be raised in a company's new building : MORALE
22. Jockey, e.g. : RACER
25. Protein generators : RIBOSOMES
27. Series of watering troughs? : AEIOU
28. Usurper : SEIZER
29. Big guns : MOGULS
31. Delta hub, briefly : LGA
32. Many a modern game : APP
35. Rampaging : ONATEAR
37. Yerevan is its capital : ARMENIA
40. 37-Across was the smallest one: Abbr. : SSR
41. Nickname : DUB
43. Wine judge, e.g. : TASTER
44. Comes to light : ARISES
47. TV character who says "Captain, you almost make me believe in luck" : SPOCK
48. Enterprise, for one : SPACESHIP
51. Perfects : HONES
52. Soft rock : TALCUM
53. God on whose name Iago swears : JANUS
55. Setting for van Gogh's "The Yellow House" : ARLES
56. New Americans of 1898 : FILIPINOS
60. Walter ___ Theater (part of Lincoln Center) : READE
61. Like some punished 1-Down : ONKP
62. Lifeguard's concern : TIDE
63. Aware, with "in" : KEYED
64. They're big on Wall Street : EGOS
65. Gold-medal skater Vasiliev : OLEG
1. Ones on base? : GIS
2. Argentine article : UNA
3. Howard Cunningham, informally : MRC
4. "Later, bro!" : PEACEOUT
5. Dish contents : SOAP
6. Air traffic control sites : TOWERS
7. Book that describes the destruction of Gog and Magog : EZEKIEL
8. Hot spot? : TEA
9. Counter : OPPOSE
10. Imp : TERROR
11. Time to retire, maybe : ONEAM
12. Figure on Mexico's flag : EAGLE
13. Tart fruit : SLOES
18. Rapper who co-starred in 2002's "Half Past Dead" : JARULE
21. According to legend, at age 2 he identified a pig's squeal as G sharp : MOZART
22. "Parenthood" actress Sarah : RAMOS
23. Millions of millennia : AEONS
24. Thick smoke : CIGAR
26. Nickname for Angel Stadium, with "the" : BIGA
30. "Fifty Shades of Grey" topic : SADISM
32. Russian composer Arensky : ANTON
33. King or queen : PIECE
34. City department purview : PARKS
36. Overnight, maybe : RUSH
38. Mixed media? : MASHUP
39. First N.H.L. player to score 100 points in a season : ESPOSITO
42. Literally, "northern capital" : BEIJING
44. Acquiesce : ACCEDE
45. Not thrown away, say : REUSED
46. Villain in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" : SPALKO
48. Bare : STARK
49. Gay ___ : PAREE
50. Assuage : ALLAY
54. Cheese ___ (Nabisco product) : NIPS
56. Mothra or MUTO, to Godzilla : FOE
57. Zip : NIL
58. Sapphic work : ODE
59. Line div. : SEG

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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