# XW Info

Friday, October 18, 2013
by David Steinberg
 S T I L L D R E A L B A C O N E H E A D S M E A N A R C T A N G E N T O A T S R E L I S T S O R I E N T E F A U N A S T W I N B I L L A D D O N J E T P L A N E C O E N G A L I L E E E R S D E S E R E T L O B D E T O X E D J O N I S T E A R N E S T A M E S T H E O R E M S L I M B I C Y E S D E A R S A N T A N A P A S A L A B O R P A R T Y E T A T Z E N G A R D E N A H S O L E O N T Y N E
© 2013, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: Fun solve from the puzzle prodigy. A 62-word themeless puzzle poses a significant construction challenge, and David has given us a nice solve today. The areas which I thought would be the roughest, the NW and SE corners, turned out to be relatively smooth, especially given their wide-open nature. I would guess not many people like to see EDE in their crossword, but then again, there's a pretty big Dutch presence in America, right? Aside from this outlier, the NW corner came out great...with one interesting entry to debate: STILL DRE.

I had a nice exchange with David over e-mail regarding STILL DRE, as it left me scratching my head after I finished. For him, it was a nice enough entry to help seed his puzzle. At first that entry gave me a feeling of incompletion, like I had uncovered the answer, but wasn't really sure if it was the answer or not. But after hearing his rationale and looking up / listening to the song, I understood better that part of it is a generational divide issue (I'm 29 in hexadecimal, or 32 in base 13, whichever you prefer). Different strokes for different folks.

The SW to NE diagonal really illustrates the searching, questing nature of themeless construction. There's some great stuff in the middle of it, the SNOW TIRES / JET PLANE / TWIN BILL area especially. Note though, how constrained that area is once you lock in just a few entries. The result in the NE is pretty good, notwithstanding ORIENTE, but the SW has so many propers that will be unfamiliar to some. The DEODATO / PASA / STEARNES crossings were awfully difficult for me, and I doubt I'll be the only one. I did enjoy looking up DEODATO and reading more about his work around "2001" as well as STEARNES's amazing career in the Negro league, but I would have preferred to not have to look those up on the very same day.

Finally, kudos to David for doing something that most of America would take for granted but we constructors too often brush aside: spelling AMOEBAE with the "O". The brilliant Matt Gaffney started a crossword blog recently, mentioning that his most dreaded piece of fill was AMEBA. I'm guilty of this, having used it before, having seen it used so many times in so many crosswords that it felt like no big deal. But his post reminded me that before I started doing crosswords, I had never spelled it AMEBA and would have found it very odd to see it that way. Good reminder for us as constructors to be vigilant and keep our word usage standards high.

Fun Friday challenge, quite a workout.

Will Shortz notes: David Steinberg, who turns 17 next month, has turned out an eye-popping construction here — and I accepted the puzzle over a year ago, when he was still 15! My favorite entries in it are STILL DRE, CONEHEADS, TWIN BILL, JET PLANE, YES DEAR, LABOR PARTY, ZEN GARDEN, SCARFACE, SNOW TIRES, GET REAL, JASON MRAZ, BISCAYNE, and JAM TART. That's a lot of great stuff. I could have done without EDE (where I've been, BTW) and TESSAS...but overall, this is pretty fancy constructing.
 1 1999 rap hit featuring Snoop Dogg : STILLDRE 9 "Sin City" actress : ALBA 13 Classic TV family : CONEHEADS 15 Represent : MEAN 16 45 degrees, for 1 : ARCTANGENT 18 Wild things? : OATS 19 Puts on eBay again : RELISTS 20 Cuban province where Castro was born : ORIENTE 22 Zoological groups : FAUNAS 23 Diamond deal : TWINBILL 24 Software plug-in : ADDON 25 Mode of transportation in a 1969 #1 hit : JETPLANE 26 Filmdom family name : COEN 27 Israel's Sea of ___ : GALILEE 28 Silence fillers : ERS 29 Informal name of the 45th state : DESERET 30 Softball question : LOB 33 Clean, now : DETOXED 34 Songbird Mitchell : JONI 35 Turkey ___, baseball Hall-of-Famer from the Negro leagues : STEARNES 37 Breaks : TAMES 38 They get tested : THEOREMS 39 ___ system, part of the brain that regulates emotion, behavior and long-term memory : LIMBIC 40 2000s CBS sitcom : YESDEAR 41 Sextet at Woodstock : SANTANA 42 "El Condor ___" (1970 Simon & Garfunkel hit) : PASA 43 Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin led it : LABORPARTY 45 Division d'une carte : ETAT 46 Place of outdoor meditation : ZENGARDEN 47 Mock words of understanding : AHSO 48 Price of an opera? : LEONTYNE
 1 Gangster nickname : SCARFACE 2 "Carmen" figure : TOREADOR 3 Covers : INCLUDES 4 Share a secret with : LETINON 5 From the Forbidden City : LHASAN 6 Bad impressions? : DENTS 7 Poverty, metaphorically : RAGS 8 Dutch city ESE of Amsterdam : EDE 9 Shape shifters? : AMOEBAE 10 Try to hear better, maybe : LEANIN 11 Knock-down-drag-out : BATTLE 12 First name in shooting : ANSEL 14 Winter set : SNOWTIRES 17 Didn't make it home, say : TRIPLED 21 Arm : INLET 23 E-mail ancestors : TELEXES 25 "Wordplay" vocalist, 2005 : JASONMRAZ 27 "In your dreams!" : GETREAL 29 Mary ___ (doomed ship) : DEARE 30 Italian region that's home to Milan : LOMBARDY 31 Chances that a year ends with any particular digit : ONEINTEN 32 Florida's Key ___ : BISCAYNE 33 Musician who arranged the theme for "2001" : DEODATO 34 Fruit-filled pastry : JAMTART 35 Where to bury the hatchet? : SHEATH 36 Olympic ice dancing gold medalist Virtue and others : TESSAS 37 ___ Alley : TINPAN 38 Hypercompetitive : TYPEA 39 About 40-60 beats per minute : LARGO 41 Volume measure : SONE 44 Volume measure : BEL