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New York Times, Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Author: David Steinberg
Editor: Will Shortz
David Steinberg
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
606/16/20112/17/20179
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4556717151
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.652113

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {Q} Scrabble average: 2.02 This is puzzle # 23 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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David Steinberg notes: Wow — I constructed this puzzle a really long time ago! I don't remember when I started working on it, though I know I ... more
David Steinberg notes: Wow — I constructed this puzzle a really long time ago! I don't remember when I started working on it, though I know I submitted the first version to Will just a few weeks after I turned 15. My original puzzle included Season 13 "Dancing With the Stars" winner J.R. MARTINEZ, which Will felt was a little too obscure. So I took my idea back to the drawing board and came up with J.R.R. TOLKIEN, which Will noted was inconsistent, since the name has three initials. Finally, after a lot of digging, I found the last 10-letter entry I would need to rebuild the puzzle: J.B. FLETCHER. Will liked that including J.B. FLETCHER would give the puzzle a more even balance of real and fictional people, so I set to work on producing the final fill.

Filling around eight theme entries containing a J, some of which were stacked, was very challenging. I was and still am pretty happy with how the puzzle turned out, though I'd probably try to use a bit less crosswordese nowadays. I particularly like how crazy the upper left looks with all the O's. I hope you enjoy solving my puzzle, JCTS and all!

Will Shortz notes: (Will is taking a break from contributing Notes so he can focus on preparing for the upcoming American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.)
Jeff Chen notes: Ten years ago, three long theme answers was the norm. If you had three grid-spanners (15 letters long) it was kind of magical! Then ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Ten years ago, three long theme answers was the norm. If you had three grid-spanners (15 letters long) it was kind of magical! Then came the era of four themers. Harder to construct, and it forced constructors to up their game. No so bad with the widespread adoption of computer-assistance. And these days, five is more typical than not, with the really gung-ho folks packing in six.

And then there's DStein. EIGHT theme answers jammed into one crossword? What's the emoticon for (slapping hands to face like in Home Alone), because whoa!

Interesting theme today, people commonly known by their J_ initials. Extremely tough for a Tuesday. With any name-based puzzle, opinions are going to vary widely, especially with names drawn from the deep corners of specific knowledge areas. I live in Seattle and am a Mariners fan (whenever they're not playing the Giants or A's), but it took me a while to pull out JJ PUTZ (whoops! no pun intended)*. The rest of them thankfully were easy enough, except for JB FLETCHER, which I feel like should know. Point is, this might be a love-it/hate-it puzzle depending on the solver's background.

Many experienced constructors can cleanly pull off a puzzle with five themers. Some can even handle six without an ANOA or an ULU. Since I've never tried to incorporate eight before, I can't say how truly hard or easy it is. But judging by the fact that David has some chops and there are some rough edges to this construction, I don't think I'll be attempting it in the near future.

I do like the experimentation, the pushing the boundaries to see what's possible — nothing worse than complacency, sticking with tried and true with nothing new. But the stacking of themers in the SE produces some unsightly crosses — JCTS next to random Roman numeral MMDII with ESTE nearby, oof.

And the NE and SW corners felt like they should be easier to fill, but upon closer inspection, I changed my mind. The preponderance of J's up in the NE makes it extremely difficult (what else could go where JOJO is besides JUJU?), and once you fix JOJO into place, hotchee-motchee do things get tough. Easier in the SW (no J's to worry about), so I found it an odd choice to cross two very tough names together in BROZ and JJ PUTZ. I would have much preferred something like DR OZ in there, which isn't bad to fill around and feels to me much more gettable to a bigger population of solvers. Budding constructors, try replacing BROZ with DR OZ and see what you can come up with. There are a lot of ways to do that while also putting something better in for the arbitrary ONE LB.

All in all, an interesting experiment in pushing the boundaries, and glad I learned a little about JB FLETCHER.

*He's lying

JimH notes: Compare with this 2009 grid by Randall "J" Hartman.
1
H
2
O
3
D
4
S
5
B
6
A
7
S
8
K
9
J
10
O
11
J
12
O
13
A
N
O
N
14
I
L
I
E
15
S
O
D
O
16
I
17
J
K
R
O
18
W
L
I
N
G
19
B
O
S
O
M
20
J
P
M
O
R
G
A
N
21
M
A
H
A
L
O
22
Z
O
E
S
23
S
E
C
24
L
A
N
25
E
26
X
27
J
E
T
28
L
A
H
29
T
I
30
A
R
B
31
E
32
A
33
T
34
S
I
N
35
E
N
36
V
37
Y
38
R
A
F
39
T
40
C
R
O
C
I
41
A
G
E
E
42
L
Y
L
E
43
H
A
N
K
E
44
R
45
E
R
S
46
E
N
47
J
O
Y
48
A
49
B
R
A
M
50
P
51
O
T
52
J
O
S
53
M
54
O
N
A
55
I
N
C
56
A
P
S
57
J
M
B
A
R
58
R
59
I
60
E
61
N
E
H
R
U
62
J
C
D
I
T
H
E
R
S
63
E
L
E
C
T
64
A
T
I
T
65
O
M
I
T
66
B
R
O
Z
67
I
S
I
S
68
P
O
S
E
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,464
Across Down
1. Coal carriers : HODS
5. Take pleasure, as in one's glory : BASK
9. One-named singer with the 2006 hit "Too Little Too Late" : JOJO
13. Soon, quaintly : ANON
14. Tennis's Nastase : ILIE
15. "Same with me" : SODOI
17. Author of the best-selling book series in history : JKROWLING
19. ___ buddy : BOSOM
20. Founder of U.S. Steel : JPMORGAN
21. "Thank you," in Hawaii : MAHALO
22. Actress Caldwell and others : ZOES
23. Instant : SEC
24. Office PC hookup : LAN
25. Joe Namath or Mark Gastineau : EXJET
28. Actress Christine of "Funny About Love" : LAHTI
30. Wall St. operator : ARB
31. Eschews takeout, say : EATSIN
35. A deadly sin : ENVY
38. Means of a castaway's escape, maybe : RAFT
40. Early bloomers : CROCI
41. "Inside the Company: C.I.A. Diary" author Philip : AGEE
42. Vocalist Lovett : LYLE
43. Itch (for) : HANKER
45. R.N. workplaces : ERS
46. Take pleasure in : ENJOY
48. The "A" of James A. Garfield : ABRAM
50. Stew holder : POT
52. "___ Boys" (Louisa May Alcott novel) : JOS
53. "___ Lisa" : MONA
55. HOW THIS CLUE IS WRITTEN : INCAPS
57. "Peter Pan" author : JMBARRIE
61. Kind of jacket : NEHRU
62. Dagwood Bumstead's boss : JCDITHERS
63. Campaign sign directive : ELECT
64. On task : ATIT
65. Exclude : OMIT
66. Josip ___ Tito, Yugoslav statesman : BROZ
67. Egyptian goddess whose headdress was shaped like a throne : ISIS
68. A model strikes one : POSE
1. Muslim's trek : HAJJ
2. Cleaning a mess, maybe : ONKP
3. Quad quarters : DORM
4. Alarm clock button : SNOOZE
5. Baloney : BILGE
6. Name after "a.k.a." : ALIAS
7. ___ Féin (Irish political party) : SINN
8. "Animal House" party fixture : KEG
9. "The Well-Tempered Clavier" composer : JSBACH
10. "I'm intrigued!" : OOOH
11. Reclusive best-selling novelist : JDSALINGER
12. Alley Oop's girl : OOOLA
16. "That was my cue" : IMON
18. Composed, as an email : WROTE
21. Villain : MEANIE
23. Like pomaded hair : SLICK
25. Viscount's superior : EARL
26. Word with tube or vision : XRAY
27. Pen name for Angela Lansbury's character on "Murder, She Wrote" : JBFLETCHER
29. Boston Harbor jetsam : TEA
32. They often elicit blessings : ACHOOS
33. Photocopier parts : TRAYS
34. Holy Trinity member : SON
36. Stylish Wang : VERA
37. Polite rural affirmative : YESM
39. Real hottie : TEN
44. Charged, as in battle : RANAT
47. Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher who was a 2007 All-Star with Seattle : JJPUTZ
49. Drink a little here, drink a little there ... : BARHOP
50. Woodsy odor : PINE
51. Candy bag wt., maybe : ONELB
53. 2,502, to ancient Romans : MMDII
54. Newspaper part with mini-bios : OBITS
56. With a bow, on a score : ARCO
57. Hwy. crossings : JCTS
58. San ___, Italy : REMO
59. Showy bloom : IRIS
60. Villa d'___ : ESTE
62. ___ alai : JAI

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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