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New York Times, Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Author:
Christina Iverson and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
37/30/20191/1/20202
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1011000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54110
Christina Iverson
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1087/5/20102/11/202067
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2779202898
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.638252
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 3 for Ms. Iverson. This is puzzle # 106 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
CHRISTINA: I'm very excited that this will be the first puzzle of the new decade. May this be a year and decade with many more female ... read more

CHRISTINA: I'm very excited that this will be the first puzzle of the new decade. May this be a year and decade with many more female constructors!

I had the idea for a Y2K puzzle but had no idea how to get started with finding a theme set. Staring at every word in the dictionary that has a Y didn't seem very promising. When I pitched the idea to Jeff, he immediately ran some code and sent back a list of every word/phrase that became another word when the Y changed to a K. Then we pored over the list and picked the words we thought had the most potential to be funny phrases. STORY to STORK had seemingly endless possibilities. BOY to BOK, not so much.

The initial puzzle we submitted came back as a no, with an invitation to resubmit a new theme set over e-mail. The editing team liked the idea, but only one of our theme entries — KELP REVIEW. We pored over the list again and came up with two whole new theme sets, which they also rejected. But, they suggested "FINDING DORK" which we liked, so then we just had to come up with two more. It was definitely worth all the work, and they finally accepted our theme with the set you see here.

My favorite rejected entries:

  • A LIKELY STORK [Result of unprotected sex?]
  • LAKER CAKE [What Magic Johnson might jump out of?]
  • KALE LAW SCHOOL [Where one goes to learn the ins and outs of leafy greens?]
  • ITS A LONG STORK [Description of a shoebill?]

JEFF: I realized a long time ago that my sense of humor and Will Shortz's don't mesh well. Kooky themers that make me giggle tend to elicit a "the theme didn't excite me" critique. Humor is subjective, no doubt. So it was a huge surprise that Will and I both liked KELP REVIEW, especially when said in a snarky, "It's too GREEN and SLIIIIIMY."

Not such a surprise that BIRDS OF PRE-K [Feathered friends starting school?] and LIKELY STORK didn't make the cut.

Admit it, Will, the unprotected sex joke made you laugh a little.

ADMIT IT!

And expect to hear from LeBron James and/or Anthony Davis, whose high-flying acrobatics make them OZONE LAKERs.

Jeff Chen notes:
I enjoyed going back and forth with Christina on grid filling once Will approved the current set. She pointed out that it'd be elegant ... read more

I enjoyed going back and forth with Christina on grid filling once Will approved the current set. She pointed out that it'd be elegant to not have any other Ys in the grid, so I wrote some quick code to eliminate any entries containing Y.

But it wasn't working. It should work! I told the computer to do everything right! Why the frick would Crossword Compiler tell me that I asked it to accomplish an impossible task?

Ah. The Y in Y2K was already fixed in place. I instructed my computer to use anything that fit a ?Y??? pattern (at 31-D) … using a word list containing no Ys.

It's a good thing I don't work in computer science.

This was the third or fourth puzzle Christina and I developed together, and her speed up the learning curve was amazing. Usually, by this point, I'm still leading the gridding efforts with a newer constructor, but it was Christina's suggestion to insert CALVINBALL, with the surrounding areas tested to make sure they were fillable. So much of the color in the grid is all her.

1
O
2
H
3
F
4
U
5
N
6
A
7
R
8
T
9
C
10
L
11
I
12
P
13
L
E
A
F
S
14
R
A
M
15
A
16
A
O
N
E
17
M
A
K
O
C
18
L
I
N
I
C
19
L
O
L
A
20
O
D
E
S
21
E
A
U
22
C
23
A
V
I
A
R
24
S
S
N
25
K
E
L
P
26
R
E
V
I
E
W
S
27
P
A
28
R
I
S
29
E
D
E
N
30
J
A
M
A
L
31
T
32
H
E
E
33
B
34
L
35
O
36
W
37
I
C
E
I
T
38
Y
2
K
39
W
A
I
V
E
40
F
E
S
S
41
D
I
O
S
42
E
L
V
E
S
43
E
44
V
E
N
45
P
A
L
E
R
46
F
47
I
48
N
D
I
N
G
49
D
50
O
R
K
51
A
L
52
P
53
A
L
O
H
A
S
54
A
D
O
55
S
L
O
E
56
M
U
L
E
57
E
58
N
D
O
F
59
S
T
O
R
K
60
E
V
I
L
61
R
E
A
R
62
R
A
N
D
O
63
D
U
E
L
64
A
S
S
65
O
B
E
S
E
© 2020, The New York TimesNo. 0101 ( 25,621 )
Across
1
"Sounds exciting," sarcastically : OHFUN
6
First verb in the Lord's Prayer : ART
9
Trim : CLIP
13
Pages (through) : LEAFS
14
Commercial follower of "-o-" : RAMA
16
Super-duper : AONE
17
Employer of nurse sharks? : MAKOCLINIC
19
Name spelled out in a Kinks hit : LOLA
20
Laudatory lines : ODES
21
___ Claire, Wis. : EAU
22
Delicacy in a tiny spoon : CAVIAR
24
Fig. in the form XXX-XX-XXXX : SSN
25
"It's green and slimy" and "It tastes like the ocean"? : KELPREVIEWS
27
Climate agreement city : PARIS
29
Site of the fall of man : EDEN
30
Late Saudi journalist Khashoggi : JAMAL
31
"With this ring, I ___ wed" : THEE
33
Crushing setback : BLOW
37
Seal the deal : ICEIT
38
Big scare of a couple of decades ago ... or a phonetic hint to this puzzle's theme : Y2K
39
Sign away : WAIVE
40
Own (up) : FESS
41
"___ mío!" (Spanish cry) : DIOS
42
Storied toymakers : ELVES
43
Deadlocked : EVEN
45
Less colorful : PALER
46
Nerd's goal on a dating app? : FINDINGDORK
51
Yodeler's peak : ALP
53
Ciaos at luaus : ALOHAS
54
Brouhaha : ADO
55
Fruit in some gin : SLOE
56
Animal relative of a hinny : MULE
57
Pointy bill or tail feathers? : ENDOFSTORK
60
Dr. ___, film enemy of Austin Powers : EVIL
61
Bring up ... or something that might be brought up : REAR
62
Unidentified person, in slang : RANDO
63
Climax in "Hamilton" : DUEL
64
Dunderhead : ASS
65
Having a body mass index over 30, medically : OBESE
Down
1
Actor Edward James ___ : OLMOS
2
State of mind : HEADSPACE
3
Jokey parts of prank calls, often : FAKENAMES
4
Sci-fi travelers, for short : UFOS
5
Presidential advisory grp. : NSC
6
Times New Roman alternative : ARIAL
7
Accumulated, as expenses : RANUP
8
"Jeez, I did NOT need to know that!" : TMI
9
Fictional sport whose rules are invented during play : CALVINBALL
10
Sarge's superior : LOOIE
11
Something a bride or groom might acquire : INLAW
12
Fruit from an orchard : PEARS
15
Give in (to) : ACCEDE
18
Levi's alternatives : LEES
23
One of 17 Monopoly properties: Abbr. : AVE
25
Traditional wedding wear, for some : KILT
26
Really needs a bath, say : REEKS
28
Complained angrily and loudly : RAISEDHELL
30
What "choosy moms choose," in ads : JIF
31
Knot-___ (scout's skill) : TYING
32
Necessity for life, chemically speaking : H2O
34
Be a hermit, say : LIVEALONE
35
Supreme leaders : OVERLORDS
36
Five-time Pro Bowl receiver Welker : WES
39
Diluted : WEAK
41
Not as bright : DENSER
44
Itinerary word : VIA
45
T.A.'s overseer : PROF
46
Having renown : FAMED
47
Message on a candy heart : ILUVU
48
"Cross my heart!" : NOLIE
49
Pops, to tots : DADAS
50
Things that might make one cry "Foul!"? : ODORS
52
Black tea variety : PEKOE
55
Knife : STAB
58
Promoter of Teacher Appreciation Week: Abbr. : NEA
59
Sellout show inits. : SRO

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle.

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