New York Times, Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Author: Dan Schoenholz
Editor: Will Shortz
Dan Schoenholz
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215/5/20109/14/20160
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9244200
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1.63220

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Schoenholz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Dan Schoenholz notes: At some point I ran across a Times crossword by Tyler Hinman where he used a set of five homophones (OR/OAR/OER/ORE/ORR) as ... more
Dan Schoenholz notes: At some point I ran across a Times crossword by Tyler Hinman where he used a set of five homophones (OR/OAR/OER/ORE/ORR) as clues for fresh, longer phrases. That got me wondering if I could find a different set of five homophones that would lend themselves to fresh (and symmetrical) theme answers. This puzzle is the result.

Of my crosswords that have appeared in the Times so far, this one had the longest gap between acceptance and publication (almost three years).

Will Shortz notes: This puzzle had been languishing in my files for several years, because I'd run a couple of others with we/wee/Wii/etc. themes. But ... more
Will Shortz notes: This puzzle had been languishing in my files for several years, because I'd run a couple of others with we/wee/Wii/etc. themes. But I thought Dan's treatment was nice — and after a few years the whole idea feels fresh again.
Jeff Chen notes: A nice twist on the puzzle type where all the theme answers are definitions of a single word. Dan's additional element of using ... more
Jeff Chen notes: A nice twist on the puzzle type where all the theme answers are definitions of a single word. Dan's additional element of using homonyms of the single word (WII, OUI, etc.) helps keep the idea fresh. And I laughed when reaching "Whee!" A major goal of crosswords is to entertain, and seeing that brought a smile to my face.

This theme type isn't seen much these days, since the answers tend to sound like made-up phrases. PERSONAL PRONOUN and CRY OF DELIGHT are both snappy answers, in-the-language, but FRENCH FOR YES will cause some solvers to grumble, saying that it's not as satisfying to solve such an answer. All puzzle themes must evolve or die (the simple "word that follows the first half of X, Y, Z-across" is largely dead, for example) so I think in the future, this theme will need to include all in-the-language phrases as theme answers or have some other advancement in order to be successful.

In construction, it's generally best to spread out theme answers as much as possible, since this provides for flexibility in filling. Typically rows 3 and 13 contain the first and last theme answers for this reason. Ten and 11-letter answers in these positions often make for an easier to fill grid, while eight and nine-letter answers add a layer of difficulty. Today's is prime example of this: note how the 9-letter theme answers in rows 3 and 13 create wide-open 5x5 white spaces in the NE and SW corners. Anything 5x5 or bigger can be very difficult to fill cleanly, and having something like STERS is not an optimal result. There are ways around this, breaking up CAME ONTO and OLD FILES for example, but that takes out some good long fill. A difficult trade-off.

1
W
2
H
3
A
4
T
5
S
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R
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A
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C
9
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A
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14
L
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V
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X
B
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X
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F
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H
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F
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H
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M
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B
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P
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O
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P
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N
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L
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O
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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,310
Across Down
1. "Huh?" : WHAT
5. Mrs., in Majorca : SRA
8. ___ blanche : CARTE
13. Top of the line : AONE
14. Use a surgical beam on : LASE
16. Be of use to : AVAIL
17. Wii : XBOXRIVAL
19. Money makers : MINTS
20. Farther away, quaintly : YON
21. One-celled organism : AMEBA
22. Birdie beater : EAGLE
23. Oui : FRENCHFORYES
25. Chevy S.U.V.'s : TAHOES
28. All's partner : ANY
29. Very eager to see something : AGOG
30. Send in : REMIT
33. Org. for Wizards and Magic : NBA
36. We : PERSONALPRONOUN
40. Rep.'s counterpart : SEN
41. Onionlike vegetables : LEEKS
42. No. 2 : ASST
43. Start of a musical scale : CDE
44. Portfolio contents : ASSETS
46. "Whee!" : CRYOFDELIGHT
52. Téa of "Jurassic Park III" : LEONI
53. Actress Zellweger : RENEE
54. Abbr. after a series of equations, maybe : QED
57. Commonplace : USUAL
58. Wee : MINIATURE
60. Weird : EERIE
61. They aren't returned : ACES
62. Impudent : WISE
63. Suffix with road and hip : STERS
64. Works in a gallery : ART
65. Selects, with "for" : OPTS
1. Candlelike, say : WAXY
2. Rail rider : HOBO
3. Soon, quaintly : ANON
4. Stereotypical cowboy name : TEX
5. Attacks à la "Ghostbusters" : SLIMES
6. Baltimore footballer : RAVEN
7. Easy ___ : ASABC
8. Tried to seduce : CAMEONTO
9. Zoo feature : AVIARY
10. Long-limbed : RANGY
11. Championship : TITLE
12. Someone ___ (not mine) : ELSES
15. "In the Valley of ___" (2007 film) : ELAH
18. Not found in many stamp collections, say : RARE
23. Steams (up) : FOGS
24. Not bad : FAIR
25. Military base tune : TAPS
26. "A Death in the Family" novelist : AGEE
27. Instrument used to play 25-Down : HORN
30. Charlotte of "The Facts of Life" : RAE
31. Yellowstone grazer : ELK
32. AWOL chasers : MPS
33. Red feature of Ronald McDonald : NOSE
34. Total failure : BUST
35. Antenna users : ANTS
37. They're often archived : OLDFILES
38. Scholarship criterion : NEED
39. Thomas with a sharp pen : NAST
43. 1997 Nicolas Cage thriller : CONAIR
44. Like the philosophy "Out with the old, in with the new"? : AGEIST
45. Former home of the Mets : SHEA
46. Detectives' helpers : CLUES
47. Put back to the beginning : RESET
48. "___ the One That I Want" (song from "Grease") : YOURE
49. Funny Bombeck : ERMA
50. Classic German camera maker : LEICA
51. ___ circle : INNER
54. Bon mot : QUIP
55. While preceder : ERST
56. Barely passing grades : DEES
59. Team size in beach volleyball : TWO

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

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