New York Times, Monday, July 14, 2014

Author: MaryEllen Uthlaut
Editor: Will Shortz
MaryEllen Uthlaut
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29/7/20107/14/20140
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Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JKQVWXZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Ms. Uthlaut. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
MaryEllen Uthlaut notes: I am a novice at crossword puzzle constructing, and my debut at 'The New York Times' was September 7, 2010. This is my ... more
MaryEllen Uthlaut notes: I am a novice at crossword puzzle constructing, and my debut at "The New York Times" was September 7, 2010. This is my second puzzle to be published there, although I was honored to have another one selected as Puzzle #4 for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament this year. For the ACPT bio, I mentioned that I was introduced to crossword constructing through a mis-shelved book in our local library. Today's puzzle was inspired by my car, which appears in one of the theme answers. My original version of this puzzle was submitted in March 2012. After having made six revisions, for which Will kindly and patiently offered suggestions, I was pleased to have this version accepted.
Jeff Chen notes: A fun theme, a great reason for a 'word hidden within phrases' type puzzle. This theme type gets done often, so to have a fun ... more
Jeff Chen notes: A fun theme, a great reason for a "word hidden within phrases" type puzzle. This theme type gets done often, so to have a fun addition like these "eerie encounters" was really enjoyable. I would have LOVED to see the UFOs "land," but I personally found that nearly impossible to pull off (as I'll explain in the final paragraph).

A nice construction today, one with few glue entries. I really appreciate that on Mondays, where I feel it's so important to be friendly to a novice NYT crossword-solving audience. It's nice to get in good long fill like SCALENE, PAGE LAYOUT, FOGHORN, but even nicer to only have a few bits of A DIME, IS IN. Welcoming to a newer solver. It's clear that MaryEllen took care in filling her grid, and the extra effort is much appreciated.

I used to think MITRE and OCULI "aren't Monday words," but my philosophy has shifted over time. Being the crossword for an educated NYT audience, I believe it's acceptable to have semi-esoteric words if the crossings are all fair. And some would argue that the MITRE (the Pope's hat, for example) is something the NYT audience ought to know.

OCULI is tougher — if you don't know Mauna LOA, you might be in trouble. I think this is the one problematic spot of the puzzle. Note how OCULI crosses three themers? Nothing else can fit the O?U?I pattern. So I'd prefer to see the four themers spread out more, which would allow for more black squares separating them, and thus more flexibility in filling. It would likely mean that the long across fill (PAGE LAYOUT and CONFINED TO) would need to be broken up, but I don't mind that, since I found it to be inelegant for those answers to be almost as long as the themers.

Finally, I'm sure friends will ask me if it bothers me that I had a very similar theme in the LAT back in late 2011. (Answers at C.C.'s Crossword Corner site.) The answer is no. Two constructors come up with similar or even identical ideas all the time. The cruciverb.com database is great for checking to make sure your theme hasn't been done before in non-NYT outlets, but it usually lags a few months behind, so I bet MaryEllen wouldn't have found my themers in a search when she was constructing hers. Additionally, there is some overlap between NYT and LAT solvers, but they're largely different audiences.

The truth is out there!

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,624
Across Down
1. ___, crackle, pop : SNAP
5. Shapely shade trees : ELMS
9. Beer mug : STEIN
14. Mani-___ (nail job) : PEDI
15. Breakfast or lunch : MEAL
16. Drink often served with marshmallows : COCOA
17. Stairway safety feature : RAIL
18. Web designer's concern : PAGELAYOUT
20. "Relax, soldier!" : ATEASE
22. Milky gems : OPALS
23. Annoyed "Hel-LO!" : YOUFORGOTME
25. 65 on a hwy., maybe : MPH
28. Tit ___ tat : FOR
29. Complete : ENTIRE
31. Japanese compact S.U.V. : SUBARUFORESTER
36. In addition : ALSO
37. Disposable lighter : BIC
38. 2012 Ben Affleck film set in Iran : ARGO
39. Sandwich cookie with abundant filling : DOUBLESTUFOREO
44. Kind of fin : DORSAL
45. Mauna ___ : LOA
46. James Bond, for one : SPY
47. Eerie encounter ... or a hint to 23-, 31- and 39-Across : UFOSIGHTING
54. Stop on ___ : ADIME
55. "Yay, we did it!" : HURRAH
56. Locked up in : CONFINEDTO
60. Secretary, say : AIDE
61. Like some Peruvian ruins : INCAN
62. First, second or reverse : GEAR
63. "The check ___ the mail" : ISIN
64. Conductor Solti : GEORG
65. Elvis's middle name : ARON
66. "Don't give me ___!" : THAT
1. Hose setting : SPRAY
2. "Cool beans!" : NEATO
3. Mademoiselle's goodbye : ADIEU
4. Rice ___ (dish) : PILAF
5. Caesar or Charlemagne : EMPEROR
6. Meadow : LEA
7. Myopic Mr. ___ : MAGOO
8. Snoozed : SLEPT
9. Like a triangle with sides of different lengths : SCALENE
10. Yo-yo and Etch A Sketch : TOYS
11. Prefix with friendly : ECO
12. Note of indebtedness : IOU
13. Singer ___ King Cole : NAT
19. Less funny, as a joke : LAMER
21. Davenport : SOFA
24. Roots (around) : GRUBS
25. Anglican bishop's hat : MITRE
26. Pasta sauce brand : PREGO
27. Foot-long sandwich : HERO
30. Old Russian ruler : TSAR
31. Small sailboat : SLOOP
32. Exorbitant interest charge : USURY
33. Goes up and down, as a buoy : BOBS
34. Physically strong : FIT
35. Round windows : OCULI
36. Opposite of subtracts : ADDS
40. Singing the praises of : LAUDING
41. Fairylike : ELFIN
42. Blast from a lighthouse : FOGHORN
43. Honolulu's home : OAHU
48. What follows phi, chi, psi : OMEGA
49. Passover feast : SEDER
50. Hazel eyes or curly hair : TRAIT
51. Dubliners, e.g. : IRISH
52. Gold-medal gymnast Comaneci : NADIA
53. Treaty of ___, pact ending the War of 1812 : GHENT
54. From a distance : AFAR
56. Marlboro or Camel, informally : CIG
57. 21st word of the Pledge of Allegiance : ONE
58. Sgt., e.g. : NCO
59. "___ Te Ching" (old Chinese text) : TAO

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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