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New York Times, Monday, August 11, 2014

Author: David Steinberg and Bernice Gordon
Editor: Will Shortz
David Steinberg
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
586/16/201112/24/20168
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
3556716151
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.652103
Bernice Gordon
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1472/19/19538/11/20142
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
927223627215
ScrabRebusCirclePangrampre-WS
1.50101126
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 32 Missing: {GQVXZ} This is puzzle # 30 for Mr. Steinberg. This is puzzle # 147 for Ms. Gordon. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: DAVID: Bernice sent me the idea for a H?LL vowel progression using the theme entries HALL OF FAME, HELLO DOLLY, HILLTOP, ... more
Constructor notes:

DAVID: Bernice sent me the idea for a H?LL vowel progression using the theme entries HALL OF FAME, HELLO DOLLY, HILLTOP, HOLLYHOCKS, and HULLABALOO as a possible Orange County Register submission in early March. I thought she was on to something, especially since a quick check through several puzzle databases didn't turn up any similar puzzles, but I felt the puzzle could be even better if all the theme entries were single words and if the one tougher entry, HOLLYHOCKS, were replaced with something more instantly recognizable, like HOLLANDAISE.

I came up with the current theme set and suggested turning this puzzle into a collaboration New York Times submission, which Bernice was enthused about. Bernice took first crack at the grid and fill but wasn't very happy with what she produced. As she put it, "The words are out of Google, and there are too many abbreviations which are my pet hate . . . It has words like El Nasi which of course nobody would know. Do you? How about the ballplayer Yao? Isn't that wild?" One of the things I love about working with Bernice is that we have such different knowledge bases — to me, YAO Ming is instantly recognizable, but I had to look up Jed Clampett (in the HILLBILLY clue), since he's from way before my time!

Anyway, since both of us had concerns about entries in her original grid, I went ahead and redesigned the puzzle from scratch; after many hours of tweaking the wide-open corners to make them as Mondayish as possible, I came up with the current fill. Bernice was much happier with the new version, though she sagely pointed out that having ATE IT and I MADE IT was slightly problematic.

We ultimately let this slide in the interest of keeping the fill as clean as possible, though, and Bernice went forward with writing a first draft of the clues. I edited some of the clues to make them slightly easier and/or more modern, though I left the Jed Clampett one alone. We submitted the puzzle a few months later, and the rest is history. It's always a pleasure to work with my "adopted grandmother" — I hope you enjoy solving our puzzle as much as we enjoyed constructing it!

Jeff Chen notes: Beautiful puzzle today, almost exactly what I hope for on a Monday. The theme is pretty straightforward — a 'H?LL' vowel ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Beautiful puzzle today, almost exactly what I hope for on a Monday. The theme is pretty straightforward — a "H?LL" vowel progression — but it's executed in an elegant way. As David noted, I appreciated the consistency of having each of the themers be a single word. Additionally, so many of them are snappy, words that I wouldn't hesitate to use as fill. HALLELUJAH and HULLABALOO in particular are fun.

Sometimes I wonder what might be considered offensive to certain populations. I had a slight hitch when I saw HILLBILLY — I use the term myself, but it'll be interesting to see if Will gets complaints from people in rural areas. It's been used in other papers before, but this will be the first instance in the NYT. I've had similar thoughts about COMMIE as well. Interesting to think about the seemingly harmless words that carry potentially derogatory meanings.

The grid is near flawless. I worried at first that there wouldn't be as much zing as I usually like to see, because there aren't many long spaces for fill. But David and Bernice take good advantage of the 7's, spreading CATCH ON, I MADE IT, OLD CHAP, and TEE SHOT into the four corners. I love that they didn't try to shoehorn too much into any one corner, because that's often why glue-y fill becomes necessary. This grid is so incredibly smooth. Perhaps the only entry that people might point to is... ELL? But even though I don't hear ELL in everyday usage, it's a real word, so I don't think that's a fair criticism.

It tickles me to see David and Bernice's photos together. So neat to see the different generations work together.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,652
Across Down
1. Give for free, as a ticket : COMP
5. Quite a ways off : AFAR
9. Off-the-cuff remark : ADLIB
14. French girlfriend : AMIE
15. "Buy two, get one free" event : SALE
16. Bowling score component : FRAME
17. Top scores in Olympic diving : TENS
18. "Thank God Almighty!" : HALLELUJAH
20. Dress : CLOTHE
22. With ice cream : ALAMODE
23. Of an ancient Greek period : HELLENISTIC
26. Meadow : LEA
27. Mammal with webbed paws : OTTER
28. Scheduled to arrive : DUE
29. Skidded : SLID
30. Phone-tapping org. : NSA
31. Gas in advertising lights : NEON
33. Food fight sounds : SPLATS
35. Jed Clampett, e.g. : HILLBILLY
37. Difficult experience : ORDEAL
40. Cajun cooking pod : OKRA
41. Cambridge sch. from which I. M. Pei graduated : MIT
44. Apt rhyme of "crude" : LEWD
45. Feeling of reverence : AWE
46. Nonsensical : INANE
48. Dr. ___, Eminem mentor : DRE
49. Sauce made with butter, egg yolks and lemon juice : HOLLANDAISE
52. Comedy Central's "The ___ Report" : COLBERT
54. Stage whispers : ASIDES
55. Uproar : HULLABALOO
58. Polish hero Walesa : LECH
59. Swallowed a loss : ATEIT
60. 500 sheets of paper : REAM
61. "Do ___ others as ..." : UNTO
62. Mug shot subjects, informally : PERPS
63. iPhone assistant who says that "42" is the meaning of life : SIRI
64. Test cheater's sound : PSST
1. Grow in popularity : CATCHON
2. Folded breakfast dishes : OMELETS
3. Longtime Nikon competitor : MINOLTA
4. Mortar's partner : PESTLE
5. Pale-faced : ASHEN
6. Air traffic watchdog, for short : FAA
7. The whole shebang : ALL
8. Give an account of : RELATE
9. Insurance company with a "spokesduck" : AFLAC
10. Snare or tom-tom : DRUM
11. Home of U.C. San Diego : LAJOLLA
12. Cry after reaching the summit : IMADEIT
13. Guillotines : BEHEADS
19. Wallach of "The Magnificent Seven" : ELI
21. Result of overstrain, maybe : HERNIA
24. Fox's "American ___" : IDOL
25. Annual El Paso football event : SUNBOWL
29. Cagey : SLY
32. Building addition : ELL
33. Camera letters : SLR
34. Patterns used for kilts : PLAIDS
35. "___ give you the shirt off his back" : HED
36. Company said to use about 1% of the world's wood supply : IKEA
37. British buddy : OLDCHAP
38. Change the direction of, as traffic : REROUTE
39. Inhabitant : DWELLER
41. Cinderella and Rapunzel : MAIDENS
42. Bees and butterflies : INSECTS
43. Start of a hole : TEESHOT
45. Places to say "I do" : ALTARS
47. Seal, as a shipping crate : NAILUP
49. Sticks in the oven : HEATS
50. Space ball : ORB
51. Supermodel Campbell : NAOMI
53. Radar screen point : BLIP
56. Hawaiian gift : LEI
57. Regatta implement : OAR

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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