New York Times, Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Author: Paula Gamache
Editor: Will Shortz
Paula Gamache
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1055/21/20028/2/20163
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
81218141217618
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58431

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 89 for Ms. Gamache. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes: One thing I like about Paula's puzzles is that she can make them at any difficulty level, from an easy Monday to a brain-cracking ... more
Will Shortz notes: One thing I like about Paula's puzzles is that she can make them at any difficulty level, from an easy Monday to a brain-cracking Saturday. This one falls happily in-between. She's a good clue-writer, too. Most of the clues here are hers.

Winning time for today's puzzle, at the 17th Westchester Crossword Puzzle Tournament, held last Friday in Pleasantville, NY:

Bob Mackey, Eatontown, NJ, in 4:25.

Jeff Chen notes: Nice mid-week offering from Paula, one of the most prolific authors during the Shortz era. She's one of the top 20 most published and ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Nice mid-week offering from Paula, one of the most prolific authors during the Shortz era. She's one of the top 20 most published and has hit for the cycle and amazing SIX times over. Talk about a well-rounded constructor!

It took me a while to appreciate the theme. Originally I thought it was simply homonym switches, which seemed a little dull, then I realized it was a subtle sound change, and it finally hit me that it was a consistent sound change, using a soft CE to harder TS substitution. Not only that, she stuck with words where the change didn't affect the length of the word. Impressive. The theme answers are largely successful, the image of being startled by monks giving me a giggle. LOSING PATIENTS seemed awfully depressing, but luckily PRESENTS OF MIND and PRINTS OF THIEVES evoked fun images.

Paula uses a 15-14-14-15 arrangement, which is often tricky. Because each themer is a grid-spanner or a near-grid spanner, there will be many down answers which intersect two themers. This often produces challenges, specifically at the west and east (SUMP and SEXY) areas, which are constrained by the beginnings and ends of the middle two themers. Paula is largely successful in these areas today, helped by the fact that she's smartly placed her 14's in the middle, taking away one set of constraints where the "cheater" squares are. OBE is not ideal, but certainly acceptable for a Wednesday, given that the crossings are fair.

The grid-spanner constraints cause a small blip in the NW region, where Paula has chosen to give us the snazzy FANTASIA. I'm not totally agin leaving AGIN in a grid, but if it allows for FANTASIA, maybe it's okay. Difficult trade-offs when there are tough constraints to work with.

Enjoyable Wednesday; I'm curious to see how Dan's time (and that of the other speedsters) looks compared to Bob Mackey's. ADDED NOTE: holy !*@$% Dan finished in 2:48 (on paper). It took me longer than that to type this added note.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,339
Across Down
1. Long part of a lance : SHAFT
6. Radar screen dot : BLIP
10. ___-à-porter : PRET
14. Actor Quinn : AIDAN
15. Charlie Chaplin's last wife : OONA
16. Singsong syllables : LALA
17. What Ali Baba found on the treasure in the cave? : PRINTSOFTHIEVES
20. In the mail : SENT
21. Heart of the matter : PITH
22. Simple : NAIVE
23. Not supportin' : AGIN
25. Down Under runners : EMUS
27. Sign of a failed practice? : LOSINGPATIENTS
33. Baseball exec Bud : SELIG
34. ___ trap : LINT
35. Honour bestowed by Queen Elizabeth: Abbr. : OBE
36. Sch. near Beverly Hills : UCLA
37. Letter closing : YOURS
39. Bar from Mars : TWIX
40. Avril follower : MAI
41. Grammy-winning blues guitarist Jonny : LANG
42. In need of some manscaping, say : HAIRY
43. Puzzles as gifts? : PRESENTSOFMIND
47. Web site that users themselves may revise : WIKI
48. Many a Rolling Stone cover subject : IDOL
49. You'll need to take steps to get to it : ATTIC
52. ___ sci : POLI
54. Lerner/Loewe musical set in Paris : GIGI
58. Be startled by singing monks? : JUMPATTHECHANTS
61. Suit to ___ : ATEE
62. ___ dire (court examination) : VOIR
63. Seat for a stand-up : STOOL
64. Coloratura's practice : RUNS
65. 1990s compacts : GEOS
66. What a verb ending may indicate : TENSE
1. Suckers : SAPS
2. Employ : HIRE
3. Deuce follower : ADIN
4. 1940 Disney film : FANTASIA
5. Big bang letters : TNT
6. Sound of disgust : BOOING
7. Digs in an old warehouse, maybe : LOFT
8. Prevalent, as a rumor : INTHEAIR
9. Sound of disgust : PAH
10. When repeated several times, child's entreaty : PLEASE
11. Sitar master Shankar : RAVI
12. Stat for 26-Down: Abbr. : ELEV
13. Stun with a charge : TASE
18. Option on "Wheel of Fortune" : SPIN
19. Arctic language : INUIT
24. Booking : GIG
26. Cascades, e.g.: Abbr. : MTNS
27. Old Renault : LECAR
28. Stan's film partner : OLLIE
29. Toupee alternative : PLUGS
30. Lose-lose : NOWIN
31. Car mentioned in the Beach Boys' "Fun, Fun, Fun" : TBIRD
32. Hot, like a hunk : SEXY
33. Cesspool : SUMP
37. American, in England : YANK
38. Moving stealthily : ONTIPTOE
39. Party in the parking lot : TAILGATE
41. Classic shooter : LEICA
42. Doc bloc : HMO
44. Acquires with sticky fingers : SWIPES
45. Crude fleet : OILERS
46. Guarantor of financial accts. : FDIC
49. Open a crack : AJAR
50. Hippo's wear in 4-Down : TUTU
51. Eliot Ness and others : TMEN
53. Home of Miami University : OHIO
55. Wise to : INON
56. Classic muscle cars : GTOS
57. Archipelago part : ISLE
59. "The whole family can watch" program rating : TVG
60. 33rd president's monogram : HST

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

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