New York Times, Monday, October 28, 2013

Author: Ed Sessa
Editor: Will Shortz
Edward Sessa
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319/10/20073/10/20160
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1.64241

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {BJQZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 20 for Mr. Sessa. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Edward Sessa notes: I've done more than my share of puzzles (not all published) that reference nursery rhymes and songs but I guess that comes from ... more
Edward Sessa notes: I've done more than my share of puzzles (not all published) that reference nursery rhymes and songs but I guess that comes from working with kids for many years. I realize that dog-themed puzzles like this have probably been done quite a lot before, but when a child's song broke perfectly into two 15s, I saw the chance to use those two lines to border (as a kennel) four little dogs, each at the end of a "leash."
Will Shortz notes: Ed packed his grid with a lot of theme material, and the 17A/62A combo is inspired. The construction is pretty solid, too, especially considering all the constraints.
Jeff Chen notes: I've been lucky enough to have this gig for ten weeks now, and what a ride it's been. Having the opportunity to write about the NYT ... more
Jeff Chen notes: I've been lucky enough to have this gig for ten weeks now, and what a ride it's been. Having the opportunity to write about the NYT crossword every day, incorporating feedback from both the constructors and Will Shortz himself, has been a dream come true. I'm almost always able to find something I like and admire about a puzzle, and locating that nugget(s) of goodness brings a smile to my face.

So when there are weeks like this one, with all seven puzzles being solid to incredibly awesome, I can't believe my luck. It's like I'm a kid in a crossword blog. This here, folks, is a great week to be doing the NYT crossword.

On to today's puzzle. It's not often that a Monday puzzle surprises me, since Monday themes usually must be easy-breezy, appropriate for beginner level solvers. But I didn't cotton to today's theme until the very end and got a great a-ha moment when I realized four common dog names were hidden in plain sight at the end of four snappy phrases. Fantastic. The fact that my muddled brain led me to believe it was WHERE OH WHERE HAS MY LITTLE LAMB FLOWN elevated the a-ha moment when DOG appeared.

Not totally sure why I thought lambs could fly. I blame my shaky grasp of reality.

Beautiful layout today, which I appreciated even more after my e-mail exchange with Ed. I hadn't seen the grid-spanning theme answers as fences of a kennel, but now it's plain as day. And to have each of the four dogs at the end of a "leash" (tagged onto another word), that's pretty darn cool.

It might seem like the theme answers are basically equivalent to four grid-spanners, but the fact that the four middle themers are offset by one row makes it more that much more difficult to fill the grid (in general, the more spacing between theme answers the better). The trickiest places of a grid arrangement like this are usually the west and east sections because of the pile-up of parallel down constraints, and there are some compromises today: PLENA is a very tough word for a Monday, and the ETE/OREM/REATA pileup isn't ideal.

Additionally, EL AL and ALERO aren't very well known in the general American public (EL AL is an Israeli airline and the ALERO was discontinued in 2004). I'd love to see less use of these in Monday grids.

Overall, a really nice piece of work from Ed to start the week. Strong construction work and a great theme, opaque to me until the last lamb had flown.

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H
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G
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P
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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,365
Across Down
1. Concealed : HID
4. It's wide in a May-December romance : AGEGAP
10. Quaint words of worry : OHME
14. "I love," to Ovid : AMO
15. Elaborate architectural style : ROCOCO
16. Mineral in thin sheets : MICA
17. With 62-Across, question in a children's song : WHEREOHWHEREHAS
20. Seoul's land : KOREA
21. Yoko who loved John : ONO
22. Hellish suffering : AGONY
23. Yukon S.U.V. maker : GMC
25. Justice Sotomayor : SONIA
27. Entertain in a festive manner : REGALE
30. *It's a happening place : INSPOT
34. *Sophocles tragedy : OEDIPUSREX
37. Ram's mate : EWE
38. Rants : RAGES
39. Action before crying "You're it!" : TAG
40. Full political assemblies : PLENA
42. Summer: Fr. : ETE
43. *British luxury S.U.V. : RANGEROVER
45. *Star-making title role for Mel Gibson : MADMAX
48. Oozed : SEEPED
49. ___ the Cow (Borden symbol) : ELSIE
52. TV forensic series : CSI
53. Old Olds model : ALERO
56. TiVo, for one : DVR
58. Words often after the lowest-priced in a series of items : ANDUP
62. See 17-Across : MYLITTLEDOGGONE
65. Sorority's counterpart, for short : FRAT
66. Infuse with oxygen : AERATE
67. Extra periods of play, in brief : OTS
68. 1970s-'80s sitcom diner : MELS
69. Secret get-togethers : TRYSTS
70. Oink : pig :: ___ : cow : MOO
1. Dove's opposite : HAWK
2. "If you ask me," in chat rooms : IMHO
3. Thinker's counterpart : DOER
4. Localized charts : AREAMAPS
5. Liquidy gunk : GOO
6. Verbal feedback? : ECHO
7. Fancy dresses : GOWNS
8. Sneezer's sound : ACHOO
9. "The Raven" writer : POE
10. Pricey watches : OMEGAS
11. Song syllables before "It's off to work we go" : HIHO
12. Thom ___ shoes : MCAN
13. "Duck soup" : EASY
18. Jackson a k a Mr. October : REGGIE
19. Reason for a game delay : RAIN
24. Gulager of "The Last Picture Show" : CLU
26. Veto : NIX
27. Rodeo rope : REATA
28. Sidled (along) : EDGED
29. "Cómo ___ usted?" : ESTA
31. "Pet" annoyance : PEEVE
32. Possessed : OWNED
33. Tiny bit of crying : TEAR
34. City near Provo : OREM
35. Managed : RAN
36. Messy Halloween missiles : EGGS
40. Forewarns : PRESAGES
41. Cantering : LOPING
43. Doc's written orders : RXS
44. Common Market inits. : EEC
46. Scouts earn them : MERITS
47. Tons : ALOT
50. Aesop's grasshopper, for one : IDLER
51. The "E" in EGBDF : EVERY
53. Having two bands, as most radios : AMFM
54. Apollo plucked it : LYRE
55. Airline to Israel : ELAL
57. Food label figs. : RDAS
59. "Indiana Jones and the Temple of ___" : DOOM
60. "Do ___ others as ..." : UNTO
61. Cuban money : PESO
63. Tit for ___ : TAT
64. Giant among baseball's Giants : OTT

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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