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# New York Times, Thursday, April 14, 2016

 Author: Jason Flinn Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1210/9/201312/3/20160
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ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53030

## This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 42 Missing: {FJQXZ} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Flinn. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Jason Flinn notes: Nice timing for this puzzle to appear with summer just around the corner! I always debate: shaded squares, yes or no? Such hints ... more
Jason Flinn notes:

Nice timing for this puzzle to appear with summer just around the corner!

I always debate: shaded squares, yes or no? Such hints can substantially change the difficulty level of the puzzle by giving the game away too early. However, I think the shaded squares work well in this particular puzzle because RUN, the first "water slide" is so non-specific. It should take a little more than one theme answer for the solver to realize that each set of shaded squares represents a type of water course that flows downhill.

I enjoy constructing Thursday puzzles like this one because of the additional challenge of finding a workable grid pattern. There are a lot more constraints here than meet the eye since the theme answers cannot be placed symmetrically. Each answer also injects an extra pair of black squares, where the "water slide" starts. The insight that LAMESTREAM and WATERSLIDES can cross is actually the crux on which a workable gird pattern depends in this puzzle.

Another aspect of constructing that I enjoy is the serendipity that arises when you are building the grid. Often, there can be multiple entries that can be used as fill, but choosing among the various subtle combinations can be fun. For example, in this puzzle:

• Pairing EPHEMERA with HAIR LOSS (sigh)
• Having the BROOK in DONNYBROOK run down into a BAYOU
• Seeing ANN ARBOR (the city where I live) appear in the grid

I wouldn't go out of my way to have any of these occur, but it's fun to integrate them when the possibility arises.

Jeff Chen notes: Jason builds three WATERSLIDES today, neat river-esque images flowing diagonally. I especially like how he disguised each of the ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Jason builds three WATERSLIDES today, neat river-esque images flowing diagonally. I especially like how he disguised each of the three bodies of water — a river RUN, a STREAM, and a BROOK — within phrases that hide their meanings.

Impressive execution, especially considering how tough it is to fill a grid around diagonal entries. The center section is masterful — with three long diagonal entries, Jason needed to cross one of them through WATERSLIDES, making that region incredibly constrained. What finesse in there, with nary a drop of glue. And working in BERRA, RITE AID, DREIDEL, along with the end of EPHEMERA and the start of ELON MUSK? Incredibly smooth along with quite a bit of color.

There is a slight price to pay, as the black squares nearly separate the puzzle into distinct chunks. But Jason did leave enough interconnect so that the semi-choked grid flow didn't bother me too much.

Speaking of connection, look at that awesome word MRYUK, which connects two chunks. It's rare to debut a five-letter word, since most all of them have been used ad infinitum, and I often cringe when there is a debut, since it's often a partial or really esoteric. But even though MR YUK wasn't familiar to me, it can be pieced together with some thought. Great a-ha when I finally got it.

I commiserated with Jason on our similar HAIR LOSS, but what a great clue: [It usually reveals more than you want].

Overall, the quality of execution earns Jason the POW! A very tough construction, and Jason pulled it off with just a touch of what some people might grumble at as esoteric: ANOMIE, AEOLUS, ENNEAD, OMOO. It would have been nice to get at least some symmetry in the theme answers, but there is something to be said about the beauty of water's randomness cutting through land that's reflected in today's grid.

 1L 2A 3C 4E 5D 6O 7S 8E 9S 10C 11H 12E 13W 14I M U P 15O P E R A 16O A T H 17N A S H 18L A T I N 19N I C O 20E R T E 21C H I C K 22E N R 23A N O M 24I E 25A E O L 26U 27S 28L A M E S 29B 30B 31C 32G R O A N 33R I 34T E A I 35D 36S E L 37W A T E R S L I 38D 39E S 40C 41I A 42D R E I D E L 43A P N 44E 45A 46A D A 47B O 48O 49S 50T 51D O N N Y 52B 53M I N N O W 54A N N A 55R 56B 57O R 58M E R E 59V 60I B E 61R O O M Y 62U S E R 63I D E A 64B A Y O U 65S I L K 66E S T D 67S N O O K 68K E Y S
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 24,264