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New York Times, Monday, September 2, 2013

Author: Jim Peredo
Editor: Will Shortz
Jim Peredo
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
71/7/201311/16/20160
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1203100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60120

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 35 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Peredo. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jim Peredo notes: This is my second published puzzle in the NYT and represents a return to basics. My cutesy theme ideas had been falling flat, so I ... more
Jim Peredo notes: This is my second published puzzle in the NYT and represents a return to basics. My cutesy theme ideas had been falling flat, so I went back to a simple theme and tried to make it as clean as possible. I'm not sure how I picked "AYS" as the syllable, but I was spoiled for choice. There were some great names/phrases I could have used (WOODY/GABBY/HELEN HAYES, HOLLANDAISE, LYONNAISE, PURPLE HAZE, WILLIE MAYS, POPINJAYS).

For this type of rhyming theme, each entry should have a different spelling for the syllable in question, but I put a couple other constraints on myself.

1) No plurals (aside from OAKLAND A'S which would be unusual in the singular) and HAPPY DAYS (which is a title). This ruled out some interesting words with different spelling (LEIS, CLICHES, DOSSIERS, CHEVROLETS, PARFAITS, BOUQUETS, MATINEES, as well as the afore-mentioned POPINJAYS).

2) The same three-syllable cadence for each entry. If you say one after the other, you should get a nice, even rhythm. Unless you slather your sandwich with "MAN-AZE" of course! =P

In the end, it came down to the most interesting choices with the right letter counts and which allowed a clean fill. A friend of my wife's says she loves the Monday puzzles because they make her feel smart. Here's to all the smart Monday puzzlers out there!

Jeff Chen notes: Excellent Monday puzzle from Jim, who amazingly has only been constructing for about a year. Incredible progress from when he started ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Excellent Monday puzzle from Jim, who amazingly has only been constructing for about a year. Incredible progress from when he started (we collaborated on a LAT puzzle). Solid theme, fill accessible to a wide range of solvers, interesting cluing. Monday puzzles are so difficult to make, because it's nearly impossible to satisfy the experienced solver (who's likely to be bored) as well as the novice (who could be stumped by anything remotely esoteric or crosswordese-flavored). A very nice balance today.

Note the NW and SE corners. A 5x5 section of white space is usually difficult to fill cleanly, and Jim does an admirable job. It's not ideal to have a partial at 1-across because it doesn't make a very good first impression, but it's certainly acceptable. Typically a maximum of two partials are allowed in a puzzle, because partials (as well as abbreviations, pluralized names, etc.) aren't usually as elegant as real words. Aside from that small hiccup, Jim's fill is clean, even incorporating a V in the SE without making it feel forced.

A comment about "cheater squares", black squares which do not affect a puzzle's word count. Will doesn't like cheaters since their inclusion is a mark of inelegance, and I generally agree. But I think a pair of cheaters in the very NW and SE (making APAIN into PAIN, ALIST into LIST, EDENS into EDEN and TRESS into TRES) would be a net gain. Your mileage may vary.

Finally, I didn't notice that OAKLAND AS and HAPPY DAYS are part of the theme until Jim sent me his write-up. I was all set to make this my POW! until I realized I had completely missed two theme answers (I had originally written that they provided very nice long fill). It's certainly a construction feat to interlock theme answers (HAPPY DAYS intersecting MAYONNAISE, e.g.) but I would have liked all the theme answers to "pop" more strongly, perhaps by starring their clues or by running them all horizontally. Even having five themers (all oriented horizontally) instead of six could be a good solution, since I liked this puzzle very well even when I thought it only had four themers.

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A
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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,309
Across Down
1. "What ___ in the 5-Down!" : APAIN
6. Poetic black : EBON
10. Head of an office : BOSS
14. Run out, as a subscription : LAPSE
15. Record for later viewing : TAPE
16. Leaf gatherer : RAKE
17. "Theme From Shaft" composer, 1971 : ISAACHAYES
19. Comparable (to) : AKIN
20. One of three for an out : STRIKE
21. "For here ___ go?" : ORTO
23. "___ Misérables" : LES
24. "Toodles!" : TATA
25. Part of a project just before the end : FINALPHASE
28. Therefore : HENCE
30. Feeder school for Oxford and Cambridge : ETON
31. "Blech!" : UGH
34. Intersects : MEETS
36. Cheese in a red wheel : EDAM
39. Degree of importance : STATURE
41. Throb : PULSATE
44. 10th grader, informally : SOPH
45. Hogs : SWINE
47. 6-3, e.g., in tennis : SET
48. Cancún coin : PESO
51. Blacksmith's block : ANVIL
53. Condiment that can remove crayon marks : MAYONNAISE
56. Women's magazine with a palindromic name : ELLE
60. Aged : OLD
61. "___ we forget" : LEST
62. Goner's declaration : IMDEAD
64. Ark builder : NOAH
66. Intense look : STEELYGAZE
68. New Age singer from Ireland : ENYA
69. Makes a misstep : ERRS
70. Complement of Disney dwarfs : SEVEN
71. Midterm, for one : TEST
72. Price to pay : COST
73. Lock of hair : TRESS
1. Group of preferred party attendees : ALIST
2. Spaghetti or ziti : PASTA
3. In pieces : APART
4. Old Testament prophet : ISAIAH
5. Locale for an Adam's apple : NECK
6. When a plane is due, for short : ETA
7. Rifle attachment : BAYONET
8. "Der Rosenkavalier," for one : OPERA
9. Crunch maker : NESTLE
10. So-called "mansiere," essentially, in a "Seinfeld" episode : BRA
11. Team in "Moneyball" : OAKLANDAS
12. "Nothin' but blue ___" : SKIES
13. Have a feeling : SENSE
18. Playboy founder Hugh : HEFNER
22. Choose : OPT
26. Alternatives to Slurpees : ICEES
27. Tilling tools : HOES
29. Down Under bird : EMU
31. Letters at the start of a destroyer's name : USS
32. Old Pontiac muscle car : GTO
33. The Fonz's sitcom : HAPPYDAYS
35. Whirls : SPINS
37. Had supper : ATE
38. N.Y.C. presenter of 8-Down, with "the" : MET
40. "The Cosby Show" son : THEO
42. Reveal : UNVEIL
43. Wreath in Waikiki : LEI
46. They're good at taking orders : WAITERS
49. NBC weekend fixture, for short : SNL
50. "Hang on ..." : ONESEC
52. Accountant's book : LEDGER
53. Impressionist Claude : MONET
54. Solo : ALONE
55. Houston ballplayer : ASTRO
57. Depart : LEAVE
58. Lolls (around) : LAZES
59. Idyllic places : EDENS
63. Classic computer game set on an island : MYST
65. Sombrero, e.g. : HAT
67. Ballpark fig. : EST

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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