New York Times, Monday, January 6, 2014

Author: Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Will Shortz
Zhouqin Burnikel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3311/13/20129/19/201614
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
41295210
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56151

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQWZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 7 for Ms. Burnikel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Zhouqin Burnikel notes: I normally can handle 60 theme squares, but this one was a bit challenging. Probably because the limited supply of M * & V * ... more
Zhouqin Burnikel notes: I normally can handle 60 theme squares, but this one was a bit challenging. Probably because the limited supply of M * & V * candidates & the exact MMXIV order the theme demands. I just could not come up with a cleaner lower right corner.

Happy New Year!

Will Shortz notes: I debated for a long time whether or not to 'explain' the significance of the puzzle's Roman numerals (M-M-X-I-V) in the clue for ... more
Will Shortz notes: I debated for a long time whether or not to "explain" the significance of the puzzle's Roman numerals (M-M-X-I-V) in the clue for 67A ... and decided against. For one thing I couldn't think of a smooth way to do it. Also, most Times solvers are smart enough to get the point of the puzzle without a sledgehammer from me (right?).
Jeff Chen notes: Really nice to have a Monday with an additional layer of complexity. During my solve I couldn't tell what was going on, and even ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Really nice to have a Monday with an additional layer of complexity. During my solve I couldn't tell what was going on, and even after I filled in ROMAN, still wasn't sure. WARNING: SLEDGEHAMMER ALERT A pretty cool moment to realize MMXIV was a little shout-out to the new year, 2014. Nice concept!

As always, C.C. does a nice job of choosing her theme answers. They're all strong phrases, and I appreciated the nod to Sue Grafton and her very useful "_ IS FOR _" series, which has been either a godsend or a bane, depending on how you see the A IS, B IS partials. I personally consider them more evil than tofurky sausage (don't ask), but I can see how some solvers would appreciate having a gimme to start them off, especially with harder puzzles.

I like C.C.'s layout too. She allows for four long downs, all nice entries, although I could see how people might react negatively to KIRK GIBSON (if you aren't into baseball, or if you're a diehard A's fan STUPID KIRK GIBSON AND THE SLEDGEHAMMER WAYS YOU RUIN PEOPLE'S DREAMS). Ahem. YOGA MATS and THE ALAMO are very nice.

I considered this puzzle for the POW! because it's innovative and well-constructed, but my personal preference for ultra-smooth Mondays made me hesitate. ELOI is on my personal Do Not Call list (although it's gotten me out of jams in the past), and the smattering of ANIM (awkward abbr), our old xw friend ISAO Aoki, along with a SCH EER ONCLE felt like a touch too much. I love GOKART as an entry, but ONCLE and TNUT feel like a high price to pay on a Monday.

Starting the daily constructor comments has been an incredible privilege, and seeing the human side to puzzles has made me appreciate puzzles even more. Hearing about C.C.'s troubles with the SE made me want to investigate further. And sure enough, once you lock in the last theme answer and THE ALAMO and decide you're not going to use cheater squares, that little chunk becomes tough to fill cleanly.

I realize I'm extremely picky about smoothness on Mondays, and many constructors/solvers don't share my values, so I'll stop there. Overall, I really enjoyed today's offering EXCEPT CURSE YOU KIRK GIBSON.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,435
Across Down
1. Follows orders : OBEYS
6. Be a passenger : RIDE
10. Hop, ___ and a jump : SKIP
14. Mass destruction : HAVOC
15. Ruler of Dubai : EMIR
16. Small plateau : MESA
17. *"The Sixth Sense" director : MNIGHTSHYAMALAN
20. Actress Ward of "CSI: NY" : SELA
21. Recent: Prefix : NEO
22. Apportion : ALLOT
23. *1988 Best Play Tony winner inspired by Puccini : MBUTTERFLY
27. Kiddie racer : GOKART
30. Gift upon arriving in Honolulu : LEI
31. Bit of cheesecake : GAM
34. California's Santa ___ racetrack : ANITA
35. Girl in Byron's "Don Juan" : LEILA
37. Upstate N.Y. campus : RPI
38. TV hookups : VCRS
39. *Craft knife brand : XACTO
40. Duck or one of its colors : TEAL
41. Antlered animal : ELK
42. Two-lanes-into-one highway sign : MERGE
43. "Voilà!" : THERE
44. Chicken drumstick : LEG
45. ___ nutshell : INA
46. More than enough : PLENTY
47. *2007 Stephen Colbert satirical book : IAMAMERICA
51. Mosey along : AMBLE
53. Holder of sale goods : BIN
54. Praise : LAUD
58. *22nd in a Sue Grafton series : VISFORVENGEANCE
62. "The Time Machine" people : ELOI
63. Puts on TV : AIRS
64. Actor Hirsch of "Into the Wild" : EMILE
65. Philosopher Descartes : RENE
66. Information on a boarding pass or stadium ticket : GATE
67. ___ numerals (what the initial letters of the answers to the five starred clues all are) : ROMAN
1. ___ law (electricity principle) : OHMS
2. Source of misery : BANE
3. Diabolical : EVIL
4. They may be unrolled before meditation : YOGAMATS
5. Acad. or univ. : SCH
6. Button putting everything back to zero : RESET
7. Declaration while perspiring : IMHOT
8. Handyman's inits. : DIY
9. Gay Nineties, e.g. : ERA
10. Wee : SMALL
11. Good color for St. Patrick's Day : KELLYGREEN
12. Golfer Aoki : ISAO
13. Huff and puff : PANT
18. Letter-shaped bolt fastener : TNUT
19. "The Sopranos" subject : MAFIA
24. Garment under a blouse : BRA
25. Best of the best : ELITE
26. Move, to a real estate agent : RELO
27. It helps call a meeting to order : GAVEL
28. "Mon ___" (Jacques Tati film) : ONCLE
29. Dodgers slugger who was the 1988 N.L. M.V.P. : KIRKGIBSON
32. In pieces : APART
33. "Wrecking Ball" singer Cyrus : MILEY
35. Former West Coast N.F.L.'er : LARAM
36. Heart chart: Abbr. : ECG
39. TV's "warrior princess" : XENA
40. Something to remember in San Antonio? : THEALAMO
42. Old copy machine : MIMEO
43. "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" channel : TLC
46. ___-Pong : PING
48. "What's it all about, ___?" : ALFIE
49. Late critic Roger : EBERT
50. Light wash : RINSE
51. State forcefully : AVER
52. 1/500 of the Indianapolis 500 : MILE
55. Lively, on scores: Abbr. : ANIM
56. Its fight song is "The Mighty Bruins" : UCLA
57. TV chef Paula : DEEN
59. Cleaning cloth : RAG
60. By way of : VIA
61. Always, in odes : EER

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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