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New York Times, Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Author: Victor Fleming and Bonnie L. Gentry
Editor: Will Shortz
Victor Fleming
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
453/29/20059/12/201623
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
75106656
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55023
Bonnie L. Gentry
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
510/27/20059/25/20134
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1012100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53110

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 31 Missing: {FQZ} This is puzzle # 37 for Mr. Fleming. This is puzzle # 5 for Ms. Gentry. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: VIC: 'Do you remember this puzzle?' I asked Bonnie. BONNIE: Not so much. VIC: So Jeff sent us a copy. I solved it in under an ... more
Constructor notes:

VIC: "Do you remember this puzzle?" I asked Bonnie.

BONNIE: Not so much.

VIC: So Jeff sent us a copy. I solved it in under an hour. Bonnie and I concluded that some time back one of us said to the other, "We need to collaborate on another Times crossword." That's a statement each of us has made many times over the years. Since my name is listed first, we think it was I who then said, "I'm thinking of a theme with 2-unit ILSAs*, in which the first and last unit can be the first unit in 2-unit ILSAs with a common second unit." Or words to that effect.

*(An ILSA is an "in-the-language stand-alone." I hope no one coined this acronym before I did, about five years ago. Here's to its being admitted to the dictionary someday! But I digress.)

LINE being the second unit in many a two-unit ILSA, we made a list of those, then worked with the first units to find our theme answers. We wanted at least six, and we wanted two pairs to be crossing in the northwest and southeast corners. The puzzle was submitted in October 2010 and accepted in December that year. Perhaps not wanting to risk comments like "That's so 2010!," Will rewrote most of our clues, though a couple of dozen survived unscathed. As always, he made the puzzle better.

BONNIE: I approve this message.

Will Shortz notes: 'Word before' and 'word after' sorts of themes have become overdone, I think. This one, though, I think is particularly pretty ... more
Will Shortz notes: "Word before" and "word after" sorts of themes have become overdone, I think. This one, though, I think is particularly pretty because the key word combines with both halves of the other theme entries ... and there are six of them, not four. Very impressive.
Jeff Chen notes: Nice example of the 'both halves of the theme entries can follow a certain word' theme type. Judge Vic and Bonnie are seasoned ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Nice example of the "both halves of the theme entries can follow a certain word" theme type. Judge Vic and Bonnie are seasoned constructors and pull off this ambitious grid. Not only do they utilize six long theme answers but they intersect them. And then to top it off, they leave wide-open corners in the NW and SE when they could have broken them up (going from 76 words to 78 words). Bravo!

This is a difficult genre in which to construct, because it's often tough to find snappy two-word theme answers where both halves fit the "word that can follow X word" criteria. HOT WATER (hotline, water line) is fantastic, as is HARD TIME and AIR SUPPLY — three beautiful entries I would gladly put in one of my own puzzles. DATE BREAD and BOTTOM LAND seem to be "things", all right (at least according to the Google), but neither feels like a great answer to me. BUS SERVICE is certainly familiar, but not nearly as snazzy as the first three.

I appreciate how the theme entries stand out just due to puzzle layout, especially relevant because I felt yesterday's puzzle suffered a bit from this issue. I've highlighted the theme entries as a point of reference but note how it's not really necessary, as there are no answers longer than the themers.

Nice clean construction with very few ugly entries; the mark of pros at work. I had to search to find answers that I didn't like, which is always a great sign. RECOOK feels like a "roll-your-own" and TABOOED...at first I groaned a little, but after verifying that it actually can be used as a verb, I think I like it. Maybe if enough of us use it, we can make it "a thing", like eating a candy bar with a knife and fork. Or has that been tabooed?

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,332
Across Down
1. Coastal backflows : EBBTIDES
9. Strongly criticize : ASSAIL
15. Speed trap operators : TROOPERS
16. Staunton of Harry Potter movies : IMELDA
17. *Deep trouble, informally : HOTWATER
18. Prepare, as leftovers : RECOOK
19. Hobby farm creature : ANT
20. Girl in a ball gown : DEB
21. More often than not : ASARULE
22. M.Sgt. and others : NCOS
24. Burst, as a pipe : RUPTURE
26. Amiens's river : SOMME
28. Directive repeated in an aerobics class : STEP
29. Recipe amt. : TBSP
33. Work assignment : LOAD
35. Dines : SUPS
37. Luau instrument, informally : UKE
38. Hated to death, say? : ANAGRAM
41. Gets ready to use, an an appliance : PLUGSIN
43. Lion's place : DEN
44. Crash-probing agcy. : NTSB
46. Thumbs-ups : YEAS
47. Pop : SODA
49. Work on copy : EDIT
51. Wintry mix : SLEET
54. Made illicit : TABOOED
57. Puzzle inventor Rubik : ERNO
58. Kittens come in them : LITTERS
61. ___ alai : JAI
63. Dyer's vessel : VAT
64. Arriver's announcement : IMHERE
65. *Felon's sentence, maybe : HARDTIME
67. Aslan's home : NARNIA
68. School sound system : INTERCOM
69. Radiated, as charm : EXUDED
70. F.B.I. files : DOSSIERS
1. Frome and others : ETHANS
2. It's more useful when it's busted : BRONCO
3. *Low-lying acreage : BOTTOMLAND
4. Haul to an impound lot : TOW
5. Jobs announcement of 2010 : IPAD
6. Hold off : DETER
7. God of darkness : EREBUS
8. Pre-Yeltsin-era letters : SSR
9. *Deep-sea diver's concern : AIRSUPPLY
10. Campaigner's dirty trick : SMEAR
11. Under wraps : SECRET
12. Name of three Giants outfielders in 1963 : ALOU
13. Kelly Clarkson was the first "American" one : IDOL
14. The Caspian Sea, as often classified : LAKE
21. Thoroughly enjoyed : ATEUP
23. Urban haze : SMOG
25. Six for a TD : PTS
27. Yield as profit : EARN
30. *Campus transportation, maybe : BUSSERVICE
31. One of a biathlete's pair : SKI
32. Where to do 65-Across : PEN
34. *Fruity loaf : DATEBREAD
36. Seeks damages : SUES
38. Some are personal : ADS
39. Intro to conservatism? : NEO
40. Early I.B.M. PC standard : MSDOS
42. Sayers portrayed in "Brian's Song" : GALE
45. Life sketch : BIO
48. Not skip : ATTEND
50. Selena's music style : TEJANO
52. Captivate : ENAMOR
53. Tribal emblems : TOTEMS
55. Hawk's home : AERIE
56. Moves abruptly : DARTS
58. Word that can follow each part of the answers to the six starred clues : LINE
59. Immersive film format : IMAX
60. Drive-___ : THRU
62. Midmonth day : IDES
65. Camouflaged : HID
66. Prefix with centennial : TRI

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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