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New York Times, Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Author: Joel Fagliano
Editor: Will Shortz
Joel Fagliano
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5310/22/20093/16/20173
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
12810610223
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65351

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 46 Missing: {JPQXZ} Grid has mirror symmetry There are unchecked squares This is puzzle # 42 for Mr. Fagliano. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: We asked some favorite Times crossword contributors, "What would you like to do in a daily Times crossword that has never been done before?" This week's puzzles, Monday to Saturday, are the result.
Joel Fagliano notes: So thrilled to be a part of this great week of puzzles! This theme actually came out of another special week idea Will and I were ... more
Joel Fagliano notes:

So thrilled to be a part of this great week of puzzles! This theme actually came out of another special week idea Will and I were considering where every theme would be centered around a different game. Given the unusual nature of the seven unchecked letters, we figured we could repurpose it for this week instead.

The theme was tricky to create because I wanted each of the questions to take a different form. It wouldn't have been much fun if they had all been IS THERE A (blank). Coming up with five idiomatic ways to take a guess in Hangman required some verbal gymnastics, but I'm really happy with how it turned out. It also took some thought as to how to clue these – I think the response-as-clue gimmick I settled on sort of piques the solver's interest, like "What the heck could that mean?"

Overall, I hope everyone's enjoying "Do Something Crazy Week," as it's being called internally. There are some excellent puzzles to come.

Jeff Chen notes: HANGMAN! Neat to see the seven-letter word cordoned off at the bottom of the grid. There have been very few puzzles where a single ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

HANGMAN! Neat to see the seven-letter word cordoned off at the bottom of the grid. There have been very few puzzles where a single word is isolated — I can only recall one off the top — so I liked getting another. And the hangman-style guessing, along with the apt HANGMAN revealer, made the puzzle fun and unique.

The gallows

I understand why Joel put so much variety in his "questions," and I'm glad he did. But some of them are more successful than others. DOES IT HAVE AN N is plausible. I GUESS M not as good. How about HOW ABOUT H ... not so much.

Very tough construction. All odd-numbered themer lengths (13/9/7/9/5) makes it perfect for mirror symmetry, but trying to get it all to work out is a nightmare. Themers of length 9, 11, or 13 force black squares at their ends, and that causes layout problems. Joel gets around it nicely by stacking some pairs, notably the DOES IT HAVE AN N and IS THERE A G. Trying to thread long downs through that stack plus I GUESS M is sure rough, though. HEALTHFUL and WELFARISM are legitimate terms, but I find these more neutral than assets.

I liked some of the mid-length fill much better, FRY COOK and ON THE DL especially. Even some of the MCENROE DAKOTA SWERVE was nice. And as with all of Joel's puzzles, I appreciate so much the smoothness of his short fill. So nice to keep it limited to a minor ANO, ESS, FRI.

I liked the concept a lot, but it was a bit strange to have the "face" made of black squares look like it was smiling instead of frowning. I also felt weird not to have the stereotypical hangman's gallows used when playing the game. That would have called for an asymmetrical grid, but that could have been an incredibly cool rule-breaker for this (very cool!) theme week.

1
C
2
A
3
S
4
A
5
C
6
H
7
E
8
W
9
S
10
C
11
L
12
O
13
T
14
O
M
E
N
15
R
E
N
E
W
16
H
E
R
A
17
M
E
T
A
18
E
A
G
L
E
19
I
M
I
N
20
O
N
T
H
21
E
D
L
22
F
R
23
Y
C
O
O
K
24
D
O
E
S
I
T
25
H
A
V
E
A
N
N
26
I
S
T
H
E
R
E
A
G
27
B
28
A
29
L
M
30
F
R
I
31
O
32
C
33
H
34
O
35
E
R
A
36
I
37
G
U
E
S
38
S
39
M
40
A
O
L
41
A
E
R
42
O
S
O
L
43
M
C
E
44
N
R
O
E
45
D
A
K
O
T
A
46
H
A
I
R
D
O
47
H
O
W
48
A
49
B
50
O
U
T
H
51
N
52
I
53
K
E
54
A
N
Y
A
S
55
I
56
M
57
D
58
B
59
S
K
I
D
60
Y
O
U
R
S
61
L
A
D
Y
62
F
E
N
63
C
A
T
64
W
A
G
65
H
A
N
G
M
A
N
66
E
Y
E
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 24,081
Across Down
1. Home for José : CASA
5. Bawls (out) : CHEWS
10. Target of a blood thinner : CLOT
14. Full moon or dark clouds, maybe : OMEN
15. Not let lapse : RENEW
16. Goddess involved in Hercules' labors : HERA
17. Like a movie about people making a movie : META
18. The Muppet Sam, e.g. : EAGLE
19. "Sign me up!" : IMIN
20. Hush-hush : ONTHEDL
22. Diner employee : FRYCOOK
24. Q: ___ / A: There are two, in the third and seventh squares below : DOESITHAVEANN
26. Q: ___ / A: Indeed, in the fourth square : ISTHEREAG
27. Sunburn remedy : BALM
30. It can be casual: Abbr. : FRI
31. Cuatro y cuatro : OCHO
35. What a shutout lowers, for short : ERA
36. Q: ___ / A: There's one in the fifth square : IGUESSM
40. Alternative to Gmail : AOL
41. Option for a graffiti artist : AEROSOL
43. Sporting great with the book "You Cannot Be Serious!" : MCENROE
45. Word seen twice on a U.S. map : DAKOTA
46. Bun, e.g. : HAIRDO
47. Q: ___ / A: Correct! In the first square : HOWABOUTH
51. Company endorsed by LeBron James : NIKE
54. Q: ___ / A: Yes, two, in the second and sixth squares : ANYAS
55. Website for film buffs : IMDB
59. It may leave marks : SKID
60. Letter sign-off : YOURS
61. "Downton Abbey" title : LADY
62. Bog : FEN
63. Pet that's often aloof : CAT
64. Jokester : WAG
65. - : HANGMAN
66. Survey : EYE
1. "___ te llamas?" : COMO
2. Put a rider on, say : AMEND
3. Blowup : SETTO
4. Disneyland's locale : ANAHEIM
5. Checkout option : CREDIT
6. Salubrious : HEALTHFUL
7. An official U.N. language: Abbr. : ENG
8. Policy of widespread government social programs : WELFARISM
9. Avoid a pothole, maybe : SWERVE
10. Best Picture of 2002 : CHICAGO
11. It makes a whiskey sour sour : LEMON
12. Hunter at night : ORION
13. Fail miserably : TANK
21. Important Scrabble tile : ESS
23. Floor support? : YEA
25. "Take this" : HERE
27. Bit of sweat : BEAD
28. Science or humanities, in college requirements : AREA
29. Merry adventure : LARK
32. Novelist Caleb : CARR
33. Place with homies : HOOD
34. Spread on bread : OLEO
36. Analogy phrase : ISTO
37. "Shoo!" : GOAWAY
38. Go downhill fast : SCHUSS
39. Gist : MEAT
42. Gasped in delight : OOHED
44. Nothing, in Latin : NIHIL
48. 2015, por ejemplo : ANO
49. Mitt Romney's alma mater, for short : BYU
50. Something to dip in water : OAR
51. Tag for inappropriate online photos : NSFW
52. Furniture giant : IKEA
53. Cowboy, in poker slang : KING
56. Medieval weapon : MACE
57. Make-or-break date : DDAY
58. 10100110, e.g. : BYTE

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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