New York Times, Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Author: Lynn Lempel
Editor: Will Shortz
Lynn Lempel
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7612/9/19798/16/20161
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1.610712
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QVZ} This is puzzle # 68 for Ms. Lempel. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Lynn Lempel notes: The initial idea for this theme hit me with the phrase 'peters out.' But finding some teammates for Peter, along with their ... more
Lynn Lempel notes: The initial idea for this theme hit me with the phrase "peters out." But finding some teammates for Peter, along with their baseball actions, took a really long time.

A list of possibilities sat around in my hugely bulky and totally unorganized "ideas" folder for at least a couple years, which is not at all unusual. (And which does have its disadvantages. I can't count the number of times that a percolating theme has shown up in print with someone else's byline.)

Anyway, the lengthy incubation was largely because my various permutations kept coming up short in two ways. First, I really wanted to use WOLF'S DOWN, for Wolf Blitzer, but could never get it to work. And second, I didn't want to have just one woman in the group, which is the way things kept ending up. Finally, I just got tired of seeing this, decided on the current set, and waved it goodbye in November of 2012. But now I see that the whole male-female balancing act was unnecessary because Will changed PAT from Benatar to Sajak, thereby leaving Carrie as the lone female. I never really liked using "Benatar" anyway, so I'm not real surprised at the change.

The clues! I was amazed to go through them. Other than PAT's gender transformation, my clues remained mostly intact, with only a handful of substantive changes. The one that stands out was for STATUTES at 22D. Will's is fun and mine was boring. Thanks, Will!

Will Shortz notes: Lynn Lempel is always a joy to edit because a) her grids are so clean and b) her clues are so good. I rewrote only eight clues in her entire puzzle.
Jeff Chen notes: Wonderful puzzle today. How Lynn found five normal phrases to fit this theme is beyond me. JACKS UP, for example, is such a great ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Wonderful puzzle today. How Lynn found five normal phrases to fit this theme is beyond me. JACKS UP, for example, is such a great base phrase (as in a store jacking up prices), plus it can be read as "Jack's up!" Beautiful idea with five solid themers.

It's also a perfect example of adding pizzazz into a puzzle without having to resort to a lot of long fill. Sure, there's the nice SORE LOSER and BOTTLE FED and BUGABOOS, but what really impresses me is Lynn's careful eye for the shorter stuff. ODD JOB. BREW PUB. JAKARTA. ALADDIN. Putting together a crossword is hard enough that sometimes it feels like a small miracle just to get a grid filled using regular words you can gloss over like… well, like GLOSS. I love it when a constructor grabs hold of each step of the filling process, carefully sorting through many options before landing on opulent words… like… like MAGI.

I like to eyeball a grid even before I start solving, and it's almost always a good sign to see white space apportioned out like this. There's nothing too big (making for a challenging fill) or too small (sectioned off areas can make for a choppy solving experience). Just right. At 78 words it hits the maximum allowed number of answers, but that matters not one bit to me. Using 76 or even 74 words can often allow for some really nice long fill, but Lynn shows that you can give a quality solving experience in 78 words too. It just takes more care, which she clearly put in here.

Finally, look how smooth the short fill is. So little to even point out. OLEO is an outdated product, but you do still see the word on some dairy aisle boxes. And NEHI may be a brand gone by the wayside, but I have fond memories of Radar O'Reilly drinking Grape Nehis on M*A*S*H. Outstanding work; bravo.

1
C
2
O
3
B
4
S
5
H
6
O
7
S
8
T
9
M
10
A
11
R
12
S
13
H
14
A
L
O
E
15
A
B
L
E
16
A
L
O
H
A
17
P
E
T
E
18
R
S
O
U
T
19
C
A
M
R
Y
20
N
O
T
S
O
21
E
R
R
22
S
23
D
E
E
D
24
L
A
M
25
B
26
P
A
T
27
S
D
O
W
N
28
B
29
R
E
W
P
U
30
B
31
A
L
I
32
O
A
F
S
33
G
I
34
S
35
T
I
N
36
S
37
E
38
L
39
N
N
E
40
J
A
C
K
41
S
U
P
42
O
X
O
43
O
D
D
44
J
O
B
45
Y
E
T
46
O
R
E
O
47
A
G
O
48
T
E
49
M
P
E
S
T
50
M
51
A
52
R
K
S
O
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F
54
F
55
S
A
U
L
56
I
D
E
A
57
S
A
L
58
T
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G
L
O
60
S
61
S
62
L
I
A
R
63
S
64
C
A
R
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R
I
E
S
O
N
66
N
O
R
T
H
67
E
R
I
E
68
N
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E
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S
A
Y
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T
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,646
Across Down
1. Corn throwaways : COBS
5. Emcee : HOST
9. Swampy tract : MARSH
14. Common sunscreen additive : ALOE
15. Sufficiently skilled : ABLE
16. ___ State (Hawaii) : ALOHA
17. "That makes three strikes for O'Toole!" : PETERSOUT
19. Japanese model : CAMRY
20. "That's plain wrong!" : NOTSO
21. Miscalculates : ERRS
23. Monopoly acquisition : DEED
24. Shish kebab meat : LAMB
26. "Uh-oh, Sajak has fallen in the field!" : PATSDOWN
28. Spot for some local suds : BREWPUB
31. Ring king, once : ALI
32. Lummoxes : OAFS
33. Basic training grads : GIS
35. Christmas glitter : TINSEL
39. Cincinnati-to-Detroit dir. : NNE
40. "Now we have Nicklaus at bat" : JACKSUP
42. Good Grips kitchen brand : OXO
43. Handyman's assignment : ODDJOB
45. Thus far : YET
46. Chocolaty nibble : OREO
47. In the past : AGO
48. Shakespearean storm : TEMPEST
50. "There goes Zuckerberg, trying for a steal!" : MARKSOFF
55. Bellow in a bookstore : SAUL
56. Inkling : IDEA
57. Margarita option : SALT
59. Luster for the lips : GLOSS
62. Dishonest types : LIARS
64. "Fisher made it to first base!" : CARRIESON
66. Word with Sea or Star : NORTH
67. Lake in an old railroad name : ERIE
68. Classic soda brand : NEHI
69. College applicant's composition : ESSAY
70. Office sub, perhaps : TEMP
71. Non-Derby pace : TROT
1. Title for Horatio Magellan Crunch, on cereal boxes : CAPN
2. Promise product : OLEO
3. Like some motherless calves and foals : BOTTLEFED
4. Vacillates : SEESAWS
5. Contains : HAS
6. Double-reed woodwind : OBOE
7. Eat noisily : SLURP
8. Neon ___ : TETRA
9. Bub : MAC
10. Magic lamp rubber of lore : ALADDIN
11. The "thou" in "Wherefore art thou?" : ROMEO
12. Headstrong woman, as in Shakespeare : SHREW
13. Joseph who wrote the "Surprise" Symphony : HAYDN
18. Cavort : ROMP
22. Things passed on the way to the White House? : STATUTES
25. Persistent problems : BUGABOOS
27. Freudian mistake : SLIP
28. Knighted U2 singer : BONO
29. Name on many a road map : RAND
30. Pen name? : BIC
34. Wild blue yonder : SKY
36. One moaning and groaning after a defeat : SORELOSER
37. Custody sharers, often : EXES
38. Plunder : LOOT
40. Goes once or twice around the track, maybe : JOGS
41. Encyclopedia from A to Z, e.g. : SET
44. Indonesia's capital : JAKARTA
46. Splendidly luxurious : OPULENT
49. New Testament gift bearers : MAGI
50. "Now We Are Six" writer : MILNE
51. "Hasta mañana" : ADIOS
52. Brings up : REARS
53. Aspect : FACET
54. Signal light : FLARE
58. Cut back a bit : TRIM
60. Gallery-filled Manhattan neighborhood : SOHO
61. State of vexation : SNIT
63. Like a shrinking violet : SHY
65. One of 435 in D.C. : REP

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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