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New York Times, Monday, October 14, 2013

Author: Zhouqin Burnikel and D. Scott Nichols
Editor: Will Shortz
Zhouqin Burnikel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3611/13/201211/14/201615
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
51395310
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56261
D. Scott Nichols
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
210/14/20137/27/20152
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0200000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.43000

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQVWXZ} This is puzzle # 5 for Ms. Burnikel. This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Nichols NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Constructor notes: C.C.: This theme came to me while reading an article on Sergio Garcia's temper tantrums at the 2002 U.S. Open (Bethpage Black). ... more
Constructor notes:

C.C.: This theme came to me while reading an article on Sergio Garcia's temper tantrums at the 2002 U.S. Open (Bethpage Black). Scott, who blogs for our L.A. Times Crossword Corner on Mondays and Tuesdays, is an avid golf fan, so this was a great project for us to collaborate. Since the theme entries are all rather short, we decided to overlap the top and bottom entries, which gave us the best fill.

SCOTT: How did I get into constructing puzzles? C.C., she won't take no for an answer...and I'm glad she didn't. I am glad I could help. If I had known how the course at Ardmore would tame the PGA Tour this year, I would have strived to place Merion in the puzzle somewhere. It would have been a unique word.

Will Shortz notes: Zhouqin is one of surprisingly many Times crossword constructors from the Minneapolis area (what is it about Minneapolis?). I like ... more
Will Shortz notes: Zhouqin is one of surprisingly many Times crossword constructors from the Minneapolis area (what is it about Minneapolis?). I like this puzzle because the repeated element (US-) at the starts of the theme entries is so unexpected, and because the "explainer" at 43D is so good. PIANO BARS, MALL RAT, NOT FAIR, and TALK RADIO are great nontheme entries, too. BTW, when I was in Minneapolis a few weeks ago, Zhouqin answered a question I'd been wondering about: how the heck is her first name pronounced? It's something close to "SHOW-tsin." Now you know.
Jeff Chen notes: The constructor community is amazing. When I was just getting started with crosswords, I read C.C.'s blog religiously, making sure I ... more
Jeff Chen notes: The constructor community is amazing. When I was just getting started with crosswords, I read C.C.'s blog religiously, making sure I gleaned as much information as possible out of each puzzle. Both C.C. and Scott (Argyle, as he's known over there) were so supportive, always saying kind things about my puzzles, being gentle in their thoughtful critique. The entire commenting community was so nice, too, which made me look forward to checking in as much as I could. I even wrote one puzzle after getting inspiration from C.C.'s name. Blessed to be a part of this community.

Nice opener to the week, theme answers which all start with US, using the revealer US OPENS. Clever idea! The theme is nice, with five long entries, but a more notable aspect is what's becoming C.C.'s signature: inclusion of lots of good long downs. PIANO BARS, NOT FAIR, TALK RADIO, OIL RIGS, MALL RAT. That's a ton of good fill for a single 15x puzzle.

I also appreciate how C.C. and Scott use cheater squares to improve the fill. The four corners are relatively big white spaces, so without the two pairs of cheaters, they would have been harder to fill cleanly. As it is, the NALA/LOIRE crossing may give some beginners a problem, and the inclusion of two French rivers could cause some grousing. People probably ought to know LOIRE (or learn something about it because it is France's longest river), but I could understand if ISERE causes grumbles.

Another issue I notice: the placement of the theme revealer feels slightly inelegant. The revealer itself is very nice, but its off-center placement in the lower corner gives the puzzle an asymmetrical feel. It would have been very nice if it were in the last across theme spot, in the middle of the middle row, or in the middle of the middle column. That's more difficult to do, though — almost every puzzle construction calls for trade-offs.

Finally, a challenge to C.C., who's rapidly becoming one of the most published constructors (counting the NYT and the LAT): I always look forward to those beautiful long downs, but I'd love to less entries like ESAI, YEE, EDINA, IRAE, ULEE, and the aforementioned NALA, LOIRE and ISERE in Monday puzzles. These are all acceptable crossword answers, but I would love to see C.C. join me in my quest to make more Monday puzzles that true beginners can tackle. What better than a silky-smooth Monday solve to kickstart a lifetime love of crosswords?

The ability to make Monday puzzles with an interesting theme and filled clean as a whistle might be the rarest talent in all of construction.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,351
Across Down
1. Scotch ___ : TAPE
5. Stare dumbfoundedly : GAPE
9. Simba's best friend in "The Lion King" : NALA
13. Nyet : Russian :: ___ : German : NEIN
14. More than some : ALOT
15. Engine : MOTOR
16. Jamaican sprinter nicknamed "The Fastest Man on Earth" : USAINBOLT
18. Story for storage : ATTIC
19. Polynesian kingdom : TONGA
20. Nothing daring in terms of offerings : USUALFARE
22. Ostentatious displays : POMPS
24. Sounded like a horn : BLARED
25. Washtub : BASIN
27. Indian dress : SARI
28. Mediterranean and Caribbean : SEAS
30. Winter pear : BOSC
32. Having painterish pretensions : ARTSY
36. Golf course target : PAR
37. PC outlet : USBPORT
39. Had supper : ATE
40. Firebug's crime : ARSON
42. Lovett of country music : LYLE
43. Title beekeeper in a 1997 film : ULEE
44. "Dies ___" (hymn) : IRAE
46. Brand of dinnerware with a Scandinavian design : DANSK
48. Bandleader Glenn : MILLER
51. Roger who played 007 : MOORE
53. Service charges : USERSFEES
57. Apple tablets : IPADS
59. "Dig?" : GETIT
60. Heralded, as a new era : USHEREDIN
62. Rum drinks for British sailors : GROGS
63. Subway support : RAIL
64. Companion of the Pinta and Santa Maria : NINA
65. Cravings : YENS
66. Pig's grunt : OINK
67. "General Hospital," e.g. : SOAP
1. Letter-shaped fastener : TNUT
2. Fable writer : AESOP
3. Nightspots for cocktails and easy listening : PIANOBARS
4. Mysteries : ENIGMAS
5. Yak : GAB
6. Baseball's Matty or Jesus : ALOU
7. D.C. types : POLS
8. "___, Brute?" : ETTU
9. Sore loser's cry : NOTFAIR
10. Fragrance of roses : ATTAR
11. France's longest river : LOIRE
12. Shaped like a rainbow : ARCED
15. Teen hanging out among shoppers : MALLRAT
17. Dozes : NAPS
21. "The ___ Daba Honeymoon" : ABA
23. Brothers and sisters, for short : SIBS
26. Aristocratic : NOBLE
27. Bawl out : SCOLD
28. Place that might offer mud baths : SPA
29. Pointy part of Mr. Spock : EAR
31. 007, for one : SPY
33. Rush Limbaugh medium : TALKRADIO
34. Sault ___ Marie, Mich. : STE
35. "___-haw!" : YEE
37. Turmoils : UNRESTS
38. 500 sheets : REAM
41. Structures in the Gulf of Mexico : OILRIGS
43. Annual tournaments ... or a description of the starts of 16-, 20-, 37-, 53- and 60-Across? : USOPENS
45. Terrier's sound : ARF
47. Roulette bet that's not rouge : NOIR
48. Hot and humid : MUGGY
49. River of Grenoble, France : ISERE
50. Divulge : LETON
52. Minneapolis suburb : EDINA
54. It replaced the franc and mark : EURO
55. Actor Morales : ESAI
56. Body part that's often bumped : SHIN
58. Partner of Crackle and Pop : SNAP
61. "Benevolent" club member : ELK

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

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