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# New York Times, Monday, August 4, 2014

 Author: Joel Fagliano Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5310/22/20093/16/20173
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
12810610223
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65351

## This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FJQ} This is puzzle # 29 for Mr. Fagliano. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joel Fagliano notes: I came up with this simple theme on a plane ride, of course. It felt pretty average as themes go, so I decided to make it ... more
Joel Fagliano notes: I came up with this simple theme on a plane ride, of course. It felt pretty average as themes go, so I decided to make it distinctive by really lowering the word count. I'm pretty sure I've never seen a Monday puzzle with only 70 words, but it seemed like a fun construction challenge to make a puzzle with this much open space still have all easy vocabulary. I'm really happy with how clean it came out in the end (AWNS was OWNS and BRAGS was BLOGS for a while until I noticed the OWN A GUN/OWNS dupe), and that I was able to work some lively fill in. I'm not sure whether Monday solvers will find the chunky corners too difficult, so I'm interested in reading the response to this one.
Jeff Chen notes: Joel's done some great work in his nearly 30 puzzles for the NYT. But I can't remember ever thinking 'how the heck did he do that?' ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Joel's done some great work in his nearly 30 puzzles for the NYT. But I can't remember ever thinking "how the heck did he do that?" until today. I was wondering why my solve went so slow. It wasn't a lack of smoothness — there's only one piece of glue I can point out (AWNS), and all the crossings are fair. It wasn't that the cluing was extraordinarily hard. So why did it take me roughly 50% longer?

I realized there's a bit of magic involved. This is a 70-word puzzle... without looking at all like one. If you eye the empty grid, you wouldn't think it was a themeless, would you? Doesn't have the wide-open four corners most exhibit. Yet its 70 words puts it WAY below average for a Monday. It's a real testament to the quality of work that it took me so long to figure this out.

I've put together 72 word-count themed puzzles before and found them extremely difficult. Most of the time I can't fill them cleanly enough so they could run as an early-week puzzle — crossword glue in Mondays and Tuesdays risks alienating beginning solvers. So to see the smoothness of this 70-word creation is amazing. Unbelievable how he left so much white space between themers (note where SNEERS sits sandwiched between WINDOW and AISLE, for example) and managed to keep things silky.

Life is all about expectations, isn't it? I experienced a bit of disconnect. A straightforward theme (WINDOW MIDDLE AISLE) with a themeless-esque grid was a bit like eating a cheeseburger while watching an art film. I still really enjoyed both, but I wonder if I would have preferred them separately? Might just be human nature — my resistance to change.

And a minor nit, it would have been great if all three themers had the same verb structure (CRACK, MEET, GO, e.g.). But overall, a really nice change of pace for a Monday. It's so hard to make a low word-count grid this smooth. I'll be interested to see if we get more of them, considering how challenging they are to create. I'll be dissecting this one further on my own.

 1R 2A 3C 4E 5B 6R 7A 8G 9S 10S 11H 12E 13S 14I R A N 15I O W A N 16T A N K 17M I L O 18G O N Z O 19O N C E 20C R 21A C K S A W 22I N D O W 23A 24L U M N A 25S N E E R S 26M E T I N T 27H 28E 29M I D D L E 30M A T T 31S A X O N Y 32O K A Y 33D I N 34E 35M 36M 37A 38B 39O O S T 40S 41V I A L 42G 43O 44D O W N T H E 45A I S L E 46T U N E I N 47V A L U E S 48A I R P L A 49N 50E 51S E A T S 52S L I T 53G O L A N 54W A 55R 56M 57E T C H 58U P L I T 59I G O R 60D Y E S 61N E E D Y 62N E W S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,645
 Across Down 1. Marathon or sprint : RACE5. Toots one's own horn : BRAGS10. "___ out of your league, man!" : SHES14. Shah's land : IRAN15. Des Moines native : IOWAN16. Vehicle with a hatch on top : TANK17. Venus de ___ : MILO18. Muppet with a long bluish nose : GONZO19. ___ in a blue moon : ONCE20. Lets some air in, say : CRACKSAWINDOW23. Any graduate from a women's college : ALUMNA25. Becomes an Elvis impersonator? : SNEERS26. Compromised, as two parties : METINTHEMIDDLE30. Actor Damon : MATT31. German state whose capital is Dresden : SAXONY32. "Sounds good!" : OKAY33. Cacophony : DIN34. Jane Austen classic : EMMA38. Hypes : BOOSTS41. Lab container : VIAL42. Get hitched : GODOWNTHEAISLE46. Start watching a TV show, say : TUNEIN47. Parts of a moral code : VALUES48. What the ends of the answers to 20-, 26- and 42-Across are : AIRPLANESEATS52. Narrow opening : SLIT53. Mideast's ___ Heights : GOLAN54. Close, in a guessing game : WARM57. Make an engraving : ETCH58. Illuminated from below : UPLIT59. Horror film assistant with a Russian name : IGOR60. Salon tints : DYES61. Down-and-out : NEEDY62. Word that's only coincidentally made up of the four main compass points : NEWS 1. Wheel's edge : RIM2. "Exodus" hero : ARI3. India's capital before New Delhi : CALCUTTA4. Sheer awfulness : ENORMITY5. Lions and tigers, but not bears : BIGCATS6. Corner chess piece : ROOK7. Plant bristles : AWNS8. Mideast's ___ Strip : GAZA9. Strands at a chalet, say : SNOWSIN10. High as a kite : STONED11. "Messiah" composer : HANDEL12. Shout after the band leaves the stage : ENCORE13. Distorts, as data : SKEWS21. ___ Taylor, women's clothing chain : ANN22. ___ 500 : INDY23. BBs and bullets : AMMO24. Plumbing problem : LEAK27. Wore : HADON28. Be : EXIST29. Calendar page : MONTH34. Facetious fall guy for one's wrongdoings, maybe : EVILTWIN35. Malapropism : MISUSAGE36. Like guys : MALE37. Pub orders : ALES38. Be hot, hot, hot : BOIL39. Exercise one's right under the Second Amendment : OWNAGUN40. Common highway speed limit : SEVENTY42. Opposite of innocent : GUILTY43. How chop suey is often served : ONRICE44. Ocean bottoms : DEPTHS45. Baseball designation one step below Major League : AAA46. Zapped, as during an arrest : TASED49. Slangy dissent : NOPE50. Woman's name that sounds like a letter : ELLE51. Uttered : SAID55. Pull an oar : ROW56. ___ Fields cookies : MRS

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle.

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