New York Times, Monday, December 2, 2013

Author: Adam G. Perl
Editor: Will Shortz
Adam G. Perl
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This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 21 for Mr. Perl. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Adam G. Perl notes: Making a Monday puzzle is harder than it seems. It must be interesting enough to pass the increasingly high standards of the NY ... more
Adam G. Perl notes: Making a Monday puzzle is harder than it seems. It must be interesting enough to pass the increasingly high standards of the NY Times, but simple enough that a beginning solver can still master it. As a lifelong resident of Ithaca, NY and a graduate of Cornell University, aka "Big Red," I also attended our local high school which is known as "Little Red" and so have long held a certain affection for the "Caped Crusader" of fable. The idea of using a book, song or movie title and breaking it up into pieces is one I have used often. I fact when I am going through a dry period, I can usually count on this technique to generate another puzzle and keep the creative juices flowing. The theme is not terribly original, but the four themed phrases seemed to flow pretty naturally. Throw in a big bad wolf and, well, you're practically out of the woods!

Bio: Adam Perl is a graduate of Cornell University with a BA in music. He has been the owner of Pastimes Antiques in Ithaca NY for 35 years and has constructed well over a thousand crossword puzzles. In addition to making puzzles for the NY Times and various other publications, he loves to make custom crossword puzzles for friends, family or for hire. Last year he created three different difficulty-levels of crosswords for the first ever Finger Lakes Crossword Puzzle Tournament which raised money for the Tompkins Learning Partners, which tutors children and adults in reading and math.

Will Shortz notes: A simple,straightforward theme for the start of the week. Apparently, Adam thought this was geared for a Wednesday or Thursday, as ... more
Will Shortz notes: A simple,straightforward theme for the start of the week. Apparently, Adam thought this was geared for a Wednesday or Thursday, as he wrote fairly challenging clues. As a result, most of the clues here are mine, to make them Monday-friendly. Adam owns an antique store called Pastimes in Ithaca, N.Y., which I'm looking forward to visiting sometime.
Jeff Chen notes: Hiding a four-word phrase with a revealer is a tried and true theme type, and what makes or breaks it is 1.) the quality of the ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Hiding a four-word phrase with a revealer is a tried and true theme type, and what makes or breaks it is 1.) the quality of the themers and 2.) the interest level / a-ha factor of the hidden phrase. On both counts I think Adam does pretty well. Four very nice long theme entries today, all answers I'd be glad to use as fill in any of my own puzzles. I especially liked HOOD ORNAMENT and RED HERRINGS, fun and snazzy answers.

Curious to put the revealer at 1-across though. I think if I had encountered WOLF at the very end, LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD would have been a fun hidden phrase. As it was though, having WOLF at the beginning sort of deflated my balloon. It is interesting to break conventional patterns once in a while, but for me, this didn't quite work.

I loved seeing INERTIA as long fill, a great use of a seven-letter space. Even better that it got a real physics clue! ON A TEAR is a nice one too. But with only a few places for long fill, it feels like a waste to use a slot on ERELONG. I suppose it could be a favorite entry for some people, but it felt like an ERE, but LONGer. (That sounded a lot more brilliant in my head.) How's this: it felt like filler stretched out on a medieval rack.

Finally, I do like a bit of bonus theme content every once in a while, but having BIG / BAD felt haphazard to me. It's not symmetrical with anything else, and it forces some fill compromises in the East section, the IDEES/GARDE/SSE/COE pileup. Call me conventional, but I would have preferred for the final theme answer to be BIG BAD WOLF. That would have necessitated five theme answers though, which of course is much harder to execute on than a puzzle with only four themers, so who knows how something like that would have turned out.

Trying something new is important to advance the state of the art. Who knows, perhaps I'll look back on this day as the dawn of a brave new era. And if not, I'll just appreciate the four minutes of puzzly diversion plus some very nice long entries.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,400
Across Down
1. Villain in the tale named by the starts of 20-, 32-, 41- and 52-Across : WOLF
5. Chicago air hub : OHARE
10. Letterman of late-night : DAVE
14. Cleveland's lake : ERIE
15. Forty-___ (California Gold Rush participant) : NINER
16. Grandson of Eve : ENOS
17. Sound signaling the start and end of class : BELL
18. Flared dress type : ALINE
19. Pants fillers : LEGS
20. "The Bad News Bears" activity : LITTLELEAGUE
23. Includes in an emailing : CCS
26. ___ Moines, Iowa : DES
27. Scuba tank content : OXYGEN
28. Colored part of the iris : AREOLA
30. Judges levy them : FINES
32. Supposed hints that mislead : REDHERRINGS
34. With 61-Down, description of the 1-Across : BIG
37. Eve's mate : ADAM
38. Number before dos and tres : UNO
39. Musical ending : CODA
40. Elephant's weight unit : TON
41. Lawn tractor : RIDINGMOWER
45. Orange traffic markers : CONES
46. Staggered : REELED
47. Disco light : STROBE
50. Caribbean ___ : SEA
51. NNW's opposite : SSE
52. Jaguar on the front of a Jaguar, e.g. : HOODORNAMENT
56. Slightly : ATAD
57. Part of a carpenter's joint : TENON
58. Spirited horse : ARAB
62. Malden or Marx : KARL
63. Steaming mad : IRATE
64. "Come to ___" : PAPA
65. In other ways : ELSE
66. Following : AFTER
67. Took a gander at : EYED
1. What a spider spins : WEB
2. Valuable rock : ORE
3. "___ Abner" : LIL
4. Cut down, as a tree : FELL
5. Running wild : ONATEAR
6. Sword handles : HILTS
7. Indigo dye : ANIL
8. Actress Russo : RENE
9. Soon, old-style : ERELONG
10. Airport woes, as due to bad weather : DELAYS
11. Lay ___ (bomb) : ANEGG
12. Style : VOGUE
13. City on the Ruhr : ESSEN
21. Nothing doing? : IDLE
22. Former spouses : EXES
23. Diamond unit : CARAT
24. The Golden rule is a good one : CREDO
25. Alternative to a station wagon : SEDAN
29. Georg with a physics law : OHM
30. The end : FINIS
31. Hip to : INON
33. Like talking during a movie, e.g. : RUDE
34. Soup holders : BOWLS
35. Notions: Fr. : IDEES
36. En ___ (fencer's cry) : GARDE
39. College in Iowa : COE
41. Movie lead-in to Cop : ROBO
42. Subject of Newton's first law of motion : INERTIA
43. Like the grass on the other side, in a saying : GREENER
44. Be defined as : MEAN
45. Treat like a baby : CODDLE
47. Drink that may be ordered with a burger : SHAKE
48. Completely wreck : TOTAL
49. Sounds heard at the start of MGM movies : ROARS
50. Struck down, biblically : SMOTE
53. Soft ball material : NERF
54. Med. school subj. : ANAT
55. Adhesive : TAPE
59. Sunbeam : RAY
60. Copy : APE
61. See 34-Across : BAD

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

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