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New York Times, Thursday, November 28, 2013

Author: Loren Muse Smith and Jeff Chen
Editor: Will Shortz
Loren Muse Smith
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
211/28/201311/2/20152
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.73000
Jeff Chen
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
677/5/20103/26/201740
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2054111665
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.633132

This puzzle:

Rows: 16, Columns: 14 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FQZ} Spans: 2 Scrabble average: 1.85 This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Smith This is puzzle # 20 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Constructor notes: LOREN: First I have to say that Jeff Chen is the nicest, most generous person in Crossworld. And I am so enjoying ... more
Constructor notes: LOREN: First I have to say that Jeff Chen is the nicest, most generous person in Crossworld. And I am so enjoying reading his very funny comments on the puzzles. Over a year ago, Jeff had a collaboration with someone. On the day it ran, he went to Rex Parker, gave his email address and invited new constructors to contact him as he likes working with neophytes. Boy, I took him up on that and peppered him constantly with theme ideas that he patiently discussed with me.

Jeff and I remember today's puzzle's inception differently. I had been kicking around the idea of hiding ASP in a grid, first with things like BANANA SPLIT and CAST A SPELL. I'm pretty sure it was Jeff who suggested this way of doing it. He did the heavy lifting — he built the grid and placed the ASPs over the PLANES — I don't think I could have pulled that off! We both worked on the fill, and I did a lot of the clues. If it's a so-so alliterative clue, it's probably mine; alliteration is my go-to trick to perk up a meh clue. I had "Flower feature" for CALYX, "Sendai suds" for SAPPORO, "sowed stuff" for STASH. Jeff definitely clued HANG-GLIDER, my favorite clue in the puzzle. Jeff is also to thank for the YO HO HO in the same grid as MATEY.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy the puzzle!

Will Shortz notes: This is Loren Muse Smith's first New York Times crossword, and what an auspicious debut. The theme is ingenious, and the ... more
Will Shortz notes: This is Loren Muse Smith's first New York Times crossword, and what an auspicious debut. The theme is ingenious, and the construction is handsome, too. Did you notice the unusual-sized 14x16-square grid? Loren is only the second West Virginia crossword constructor I've published in my 20 years at the Times. The other, Pamela Amick Klawitter, is also a woman with a three-word name. It's noticing little things like this that keep me amused.
Jeff Chen notes: Loren was so much fun to meet last year at the ACPT. Such a nice person, fun to hang out with, and a great sense of humor. ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Loren was so much fun to meet last year at the ACPT. Such a nice person, fun to hang out with, and a great sense of humor. But she's too humble — it was another puzzle she put together which led to this one. I thought it was extremely well constructed, but I also felt like it was lacking something, a certain je ne sais quoi or a fuller raison d'etre. When we tossed around SNAKES ON A PLANE, it felt like everything snapped into place. I love it when a plan comes together (cue The A-Team theme song).

I always look at the good and the "could have been improved" in a puzzle, and there's a lot I really like about this puzzle. But there's also no doubt that the heavy constraints forced some compromises. Neither Loren nor I were fans of all the short stuff at the top (ISPS, RIAA, IRR etc.), but at the time it seemed like a reasonable price to pay for including SIOUX WAR and SANDBAG (and the symmetrically placed KLAXONS and SEMINARY). We looked at possibly breaking up some of the long stuff to get better short fill, but the compromises still were there so we ran with this. Tough trade-offs.

And to those grousing about the BIKO/ORIBI crossing, I raise my hand on that one. Loren was keen to get something more friendly there, but I used the Jedi mind trick to convince her otherwise. So if you faltered at that spot, please look closely into my eyes and accept my apologies ... (waving hand hypnotically in front of your face) and go get me a scotch.

Looking forward to more from Loren! Oh, one point I forgot: happy 65th bday to Samuel L. Jackson! We hoped this would run next month on his actual 65th birthday (Dec. 21), but what are you gonna do.

ADDED NOTE: Time for another installment of Can I Beat Dan At My Own Puzzle? My solving time, just having looked at the answers = 3:27. Will Dan Feyer and the other speedsters beat me?* We'll add Loren's time here too as soon as the puzzle publishes.

*Dan's time: 2:17. I need ideas for a bigger handicap. Blindfolding him?

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,396
Across Down
1. Not for the Parti Québécois? : PAS
4. Comcast and CenturyLink, in brief : ISPS
8. Terminal info : ETAS
12. Words of praise : ODE
13. Org. that fought Napster : RIAA
14. Hook's place : CLASP
15. Joe Louis, to fans : THEBROWNBOMBER
18. Kind of bean : SOYA
19. Out, in a way : UNDER
20. For instance : SAY
21. Flower feature : CALYX
23. Anti-apartheid activist Steve : BIKO
25. Base of a certain pole, figuratively : LOWMAN
27. Grate : RASP
31. Some radios : AMS
34. One interested in current affairs? : HANGGLIDER
36. Host of the 1972 Winter Olympics : SAPPORO
38. ___ it all : ABOVE
39. Stowed stuff : STASH
40. Isn't content with the status quo, say : ASPIRES
42. Gang Green member : NEWYORKJET
45. Some TV drama settings, for short : ERS
46. ___ in progress (iPhone phrase) : SYNC
47. Cottonwoods : ALAMOS
49. Tennis's Mandlikova : HANA
51. Classic toothpaste name : IPANA
54. "Gross!" : EEW
57. Recipe instruction : MIXIN
59. Door fixture : HASP
61. Cult classic whose title is depicted four times in this puzzle : SNAKESONAPLANE
64. Beaker material : PYREX
65. Mrs. James Joyce : NORA
66. Toon's place : CEL
67. Positive principle : YANG
68. Mother of Nike, in Greek myth : STYX
69. Historic leader? : PRE
1. They may be cast-iron : POTS
2. For a specific purpose : ADHOC
3. "I'm outta here!" : SEEYA
4. Like some verbs: Abbr. : IRR
5. Little Bighorn conflict : SIOUXWAR
6. Future queen, maybe : PAWN
7. Balloon ballast : SANDBAG
8. Street shader : ELM
9. Keep ___ on : TABS
10. Lost : ASEA
11. Nimble : SPRY
14. Blarney Castle's county : CORK
16. Cinderella's soiree : BALL
17. Human ___ : BEING
22. Chant from a 32-Down, maybe : YOHOHO
24. Small antelope : ORIBI
26. 6 letters : MNO
28. Hold dear : ADORE
29. Cut : SEVER
30. Voice mail imperative : PRESS
31. Orgs. : ASSNS
32. See 22-Down : MATEY
33. Offspring : SPAWN
35. Object of scrutiny at airport security : LAPTOP
37. Outwit, in a way, with "out" : PSYCH
40. Horror film director Alexandre ___ : AJA
41. School at which students are collared? : SEMINARY
43. Some queens : RANIS
44. "Ah-OO-gah!" horns : KLAXONS
48. Canadian-born comedian once featured on the cover of Time : SAHL
50. Kind of card : AMEX
52. Antidiscrimination grp. : NAACP
53. Ed of "Up" : ASNER
54. Spot : ESPY
55. "A Day Without Rain" singer : ENYA
56. Tip off : WARN
58. Playing longer than expected, for short : INOT
60. One-named sports star who was once the highest-paid athlete in the world : PELE
62. Party congregation site, maybe : KEG
63. Bellum's opposite : PAX

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

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