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New York Times, Saturday, September 6, 2014

Author:
James Mulhern
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2411/16/20096/23/20176
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
012001011
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60000
James Mulhern

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 30 Missing: {JZ} This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Mulhern. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
James Mulhern notes:
CHICK-FIL-A was all over the news at the time I made this puzzle back in early 2013, and it felt culturally relevant enough to deserve ... read more

CHICK-FIL-A was all over the news at the time I made this puzzle back in early 2013, and it felt culturally relevant enough to deserve a place in the Times crossword. I also hear it's delicious.

There's nothing like the freedom of the first corner in a themeless, where black squares can be deployed in all the optimal spots for your seed entries, creating a kind of custom-made skeleton filled with all the juicy words you can manage. As a (bad) chess player, it reminds me of the beginning of a chess game, when the possibilities are endless and it's on you to create something beautiful, memorable in the space in front of you. I started this grid in the top-left, and although I don't think that corner is perfect by any means (lookin' at you, YEH), I'm proud of it, in large part because the initial crafting phase promotes a deep sense of ownership. It makes it personal.

Something I'm learning as time goes on: 70-word grids are awesome. They seem to strike a balance between having enough spots for long entries, and being fill-able enough that mortals can work with them without needing to make too many compromises along the way. PINKY SWEAR and ROAD RUNNER probably would've been chopped in half in a 72-worder, and that would be sad.

As always, a huge thanks to Will (and Joel?) for his (their?) help with the clues. The PINKY SWEAR clue in particular is a stunner. I also love the clue for PUTS ASIDE. I originally submitted just [Shelves] — the genius [Tables or shelves] is exponentially cooler.

I hope you enjoy the solve!

Jeff Chen notes:
Wow, what a workout today! At the 20 minute mark (where I usually finish), I had filled in maybe half the grid. James uses an unusual ... read more

Wow, what a workout today! At the 20 minute mark (where I usually finish), I had filled in maybe half the grid. James uses an unusual pattern today, giving us two large L-bends and two big 6x5 open sections, and each of the quadrants was tough to break into.

Why was it so difficult, I wondered? Part of it was that certain entries, while nice, are difficult to clue in a fun or clever way. Take CELERY SEED for example. Either you know what this is or you don't (the latter camp for me), and with a vague clue, it took nearly every cross to figure it out. Same goes for RADIO EDIT, which gets a similar definitional clue.

Even the great entries (both snazzy and allow for a clever clue) get beautiful but extremely difficult clues. PINKY SWEAR is such a fantastic entry, and [Use a two-digit confirmation code?] made it shine even further. So tough, though! I thought about security codes on a smartphone, perhaps some sort of binary code reference, etc. And it didn't help that there was a trap laid at ["Ish"]. S is such a prevalent letter that I plunked in SORTA, and let it sit there for way too long.

Turning those big L-corners is a construction nightmare. James does well to integrate really lively long fill in both of them. CROAKED and STAINED are more neutral entries, but there rest of the entries stand out, especially HANGOVER and SQUIRT GUN for me. So tricky to get all the crossings to work, though. In the SE we see ORI and A RAP, pretty darn good. But the NW gives us a dreaded KON? / ?EH crossing. All it takes is one weird crossing to give solvers fits. Not knowing KONY 2012, I debated between MEH, YEH, and NEH, which all seemed reasonable given the ambiguous ["Uh-huh"]. KONM looked too weird, so I narrowed it to KONY and KONN. I chose poorly.

Aside from that, I enjoyed the workout. Some wicked hard clues for great entries — the clues for PUREES and PUTS ASIDE and ROAD RUNNER were pure gold. That last one was my favorite — "Beep beep" indeed!

1
C
2
H
3
I
4
C
5
K
6
F
7
I
8
L
9
A
10
M
11
Y
12
O
13
P
14
E
15
R
A
D
I
O
E
D
I
T
16
A
E
R
I
E
17
O
N
E
A
N
D
A
L
L
18
G
A
S
S
Y
19
A
G
E
20
Y
E
H
21
E
N
R
I
C
O
22
K
O
F
23
I
24
R
O
25
A
26
D
R
U
N
N
E
R
27
E
V
I
N
28
C
E
29
L
O
O
M
30
O
S
E
31
D
E
X
T
E
R
32
A
S
S
O
33
C
34
R
E
E
L
35
G
M
T
36
P
I
37
N
38
G
39
R
E
40
T
R
O
41
P
U
R
E
E
42
S
43
O
44
T
45
O
46
R
E
E
D
47
E
S
C
O
R
T
48
P
I
N
49
K
Y
S
W
E
50
A
R
51
A
L
T
A
52
E
N
L
I
S
T
53
B
S
54
A
55
O
R
I
56
R
H
I
N
E
57
S
58
Q
U
I
R
59
T
G
U
N
60
A
A
N
D
E
61
P
U
T
S
A
S
I
D
E
62
S
T
E
A
D
63
F
A
S
T
P
A
C
E
D
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0906 ( 23,678 )
Across
1
Big chain closed on Sundays : CHICKFILA
10
Person lacking foresight? : MYOPE
15
Version of a song that's shorter or cleaner than the original : RADIOEDIT
16
Point of origin for some flights : AERIE
17
Nobody's opposite : ONEANDALL
18
Overly talkative : GASSY
19
Cause of many unwelcome lines : AGE
20
"Uh-huh" : YEH
21
Ratso's given name : ENRICO
22
First name at the U.N., once : KOFI
24
Predigital beeper? : ROADRUNNER
27
Display : EVINCE
29
Seem forthcoming : LOOM
30
Malt finisher? : OSE
31
Hit Showtime show : DEXTER
32
Nasdaq member?: Abbr. : ASSOC
34
An early Disney cartoon had one : REEL
35
BBC World Service std. : GMT
36
Contact briefly electronically : PING
39
Like throwbacks : RETRO
41
You might strain to produce them : PUREES
43
Chief Chono Ca Pe, e.g. : OTO
46
Harmonica piece : REED
47
Part of a funeral procession : ESCORT
48
Use a two-digit confirmation code? : PINKYSWEAR
51
Neighbor resort of Snowbird : ALTA
52
Undergo induction : ENLIST
53
Silver Buffalo Award org. : BSA
55
"___ shall live your epitaph to make": Shak. : ORI
56
Type of white wine : RHINE
57
One may soak a competitor : SQUIRTGUN
60
"Panic 911" airer : AANDE
61
Tables or shelves : PUTSASIDE
62
Position : STEAD
63
Zippy : FASTPACED
Down
1
Was hoarse : CROAKED
2
It can be a headache : HANGOVER
3
Preoccupation : IDEEFIXE
4
"Profiles in Leadership" publisher, briefly : CIA
5
"___ 2012" (viral video) : KONY
6
Completer of a career Grand Slam in 2009 : FEDERER
7
Snake River Plain locale : IDAHO
8
Much-used epithet in hip-hop : LIL
9
P.R. setting : ATL
10
Prime piece : MAGNUMOPUS
11
Jones : YEARN
12
Duke of Illyria, in Shakespeare : ORSINO
13
Final sign : PISCES
14
Kid-lit character with a long face, in more ways than one : EEYORE
21
Libido : EROS
23
National leader? : INTER
25
Stylish : ALAMODE
26
"___ not thou fear God ...": Luke 23:4 : DOST
28
Ingredient in many salad dressings : CELERYSEED
33
Near : CIRCA
35
Opposite of contracted : GREW
37
Linguistically adventurous : NEOLOGIC
38
"Most seeming-virtuous queen," in Shakespeare : GERTRUDE
40
Try : TEST
41
Go on : PERSIST
42
Like some teeth and glass : STAINED
43
Leitmotif settings : OPERAS
44
Stereotypical wear for the paranoid : TINHAT
45
Connected : ONLINE
49
"Ish" : KINDA
50
Meets : ABUTS
54
Give ___ (have any interest) : ARAP
57
Burn prevention stat : SPF
58
As : QUA
59
Grp. with rules about carrying on? : TSA

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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