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New York Times, Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Author:
Kurt Krauss
Editor:
Will Shortz
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43/23/20104/28/20160
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0030100
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1.53000
Kurt Krauss

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQWXY} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Krauss. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kurt Krauss notes:
I'm a retired business executive who was lucky enough to retire very young. I still serve on several Boards of Directors, but I spend ... read more

I'm a retired business executive who was lucky enough to retire very young. I still serve on several Boards of Directors, but I spend the bulk of my time reading, traveling with my wife, enjoying my grandchildren and constructing crosswords. Since I took it up five years ago, I've had two puzzles published in the NYT and eleven published in the LAT. This is my third puzzle to be published in the NYT.

I think that the "travels" of this puzzle are a bit unusual. I first submitted it to Will on September 21, 2012 — over three years ago. Will had a pretty speedy turnaround and accepted it on December 2, 2012. Then we waited … and waited … and waited. I checked in with Will several times over the years to be sure that Mr. Puzzle was still alive and kicking. Each time, he reported that Mr. Puzzle was in very good spirits, but that he (Will) had a backlog of early-week puzzles of a similar genre and that he needed time to space them out. If it had occurred to him, Will would likely have said "Patience." And he would have added "Remember the theme: AGES. This puzzle is aging quite nicely."

Eureka! Today's the day!

Jeff Chen notes:
Five AGES packed into the grid: STONE age, ICE age, IRON age, etc. This Seattleite was pleased as punch to see the SPACE NEEDLE as a ... read more

Five AGES packed into the grid: STONE age, ICE age, IRON age, etc. This Seattleite was pleased as punch to see the SPACE NEEDLE as a feature entry! (Although just between you and me, it looks ridiculously tiny in real life. More like the Not-Even-to-the-Clouds Needle.)

I find it hard to believe that Zoe doesn't freak kids out

I liked the themers Kurt chose. STONEHENGE is a magnificent structure full of mystical meaning, the IRON HORSE is not just the nickname for the railroad engine but one of the greatest sports nicknames of all time. Lou Gehrig's consecutive game streak stood for so many decades before Cal Ripken, Jr. broke it.

I really wanted a chronological progression, though. As I was solving, I enjoyed seeing the puzzle move through the STONE age to the ICE age* to the IRON age to the SPACE age … back to the BRONZE age? It seemed haphazard to me. Again, it's not an absolute essential, but I found the random order to be inelegant. It would be one thing if there were very little flexibility in themer choices, but that's not the case here.

It's amazing how much harder a puzzle is to fill when there's a middle themer sort of splitting the puzzle in two. In this case, IRON HORSE creates big chunks of white space in all four corners. As if that weren't hard enough, there's a revealer to deal with — Kurt does pretty well in that tough lower right corner, the gluey bits just a MES, NUEVO, and ONE A. They're all minor, in my book.

It's too bad though, that there's enough glue spread around in the form of ENNE, ANON, OSS, SOO, etc. that it registered on my radar. Not ideal. I wouldn't have minded CASHIER and ASSORTS broken in two with black squares — would have made for more three-letter words, but those two corners could have been cleaned up for a better overall effect.

Curious to find out that ZOE is a Muppet! I thought I knew them all. Fun clue.

*You might think any college-educated solver would realize the ICE age came before the STONE age, but you'd be wrong.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0929 ( 24,066 )
Across
1. Surrender : CEDE
5. Farmland units : ACRES
10. Working hard : ATIT
14. Like most adages, for short : ANON
15. Lamp cover : SHADE
16. Apple's apple, e.g. : LOGO
17. *English rock group? : STONEHENGE
19. River through Florence : ARNO
20. One adding staff : HIRER
21. About 90 mg. of vitamin C a day, e.g. : RDA
22. Boston Bruins legend, to his teammates : ESPO
23. Simpson judge Lance : ITO
24. *Many party games : ICEBREAKERS
28. Cause of aberrant weather : ELNINO
30. ___ Joe's (supermarket chain) : TRADER
31. Good area for snorkeling : REEF
32. Reduce : LESSEN
36. C.I.A. predecessor : OSS
37. *Railroad engine, in old lingo : IRONHORSE
40. Letters before an alias : AKA
43. Encourage : URGEON
44. Top draft status : ONEA
48. Minnesota range known for its mining of metal : MESABI
50. Historical records : ANNALS
52. *Seattle tourist attraction : SPACENEEDLE
56. Month, in Madrid : MES
57. Very, in Versailles : TRES
58. Prefix with center or genetics : EPI
59. ___ Mundo (what Cristóbal Colón explored) : NUEVO
61. Mope : POUT
62. *Medal for bravery, maybe : BRONZESTAR
64. 60-Down mascot : MULE
65. YouTube offering : VIDEO
66. Dillon or Damon : MATT
67. British submachine gun : STEN
68. "Nothing runs like a ___" (ad slogan) : DEERE
69. A very long time ... or a hint to the starts of the answers to the five starred clues : AGES
Down
1. One checking you out : CASHIER
2. Dub : ENTITLE
3. "Let's Make a Deal" choice : DOORONE
4. Feminine suffix : ENNE
5. Prickly ___ : ASH
6. Dear, as une amie : CHERE
7. Genre of the old Stax record label : RANDB
8. Poet ___ Lee Masters : EDGAR
9. Fifth word of "The Star-Spangled Banner" : SEE
10. Denali's home : ALASKA
11. Ship sinker : TORPEDO
12. Pays no attention to : IGNORES
13. "___ bad!" : TOO
18. The Auld Sod : ERIN
22. Is worthy of : EARNS
25. Fill with a Crayola, say : COLORIN
26. Like some truths and flames : ETERNAL
27. Makers of some H.S. homecoming floats : SRS
29. "What ___ told you ...?" : IFI
33. Part of E.S.L.: Abbr. : ENG
34. Car, affectionately : SHE
35. ___ Canals : SOO
38. Hayseeds : RUBES
39. Very long time : EON
40. Mornings, for short : AMS
41. Excluded : KEPTOUT
42. Generally speaking : ASARULE
45. Written introduction? : NAMETAG
46. Take to a higher level : ELEVATE
47. Categorizes : ASSORTS
49. Sure winner in blackjack : ACETEN
51. Hawaiian goose : NENE
53. Like the musical intro to "The Twilight Zone" : EERIE
54. Lyric poem : EPODE
55. Establishment with booths : DINER
60. West Point inst. : USMA
61. Evenings, for short : PMS
62. Underwear initials : BVD
63. Orange "Sesame Street" Muppet : ZOE

Answer summary: 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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