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New York Times, Monday, January 14, 2019

Author:
Craig Stowe
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
11/14/20190
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0100000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57010
Craig Stowe

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QVXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Stowe. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Craig Stowe notes:
Crossword construction is a funny thing. I couldn't say why I do it; it's a peculiar hobby. I'm not one of those people who can pick a ... read more

Crossword construction is a funny thing. I couldn't say why I do it; it's a peculiar hobby. I'm not one of those people who can pick a theme out of thin air, if such people actually exist. For me, it's a lot of hard work and the closest I get to being disciplined.

One day I was down the rabbit hole of attempting to fill a themeless grid — my favorite kind of puzzle to do as both constructor and solver. I was at an impasse staring at the network, pondering my next move. I had MAGIC KINGDOM as a placeholder, and it wasn't working out very well. That's when I noticed ICK spanning the two words; I laughed to myself and thought how appropriate. The lightbulb lit up, and once I had SAY A FEW WORDS, the rest came together quickly.

I never did finish that themeless puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes:
BLECH! ICK! UGH! EWW = DISGUSTING! Takes a brave soul to plant those not-so-subtle messages in the minds of one's solvers. Will ... read more

BLECH! ICK! UGH! EWW = DISGUSTING! Takes a brave soul to plant those not-so-subtle messages in the minds of one's solvers.

Will gave me feedback recently that he's seen a lot of "hidden words" themes recently, so he's becoming pickier about what he accepts in this genre now.

So how does one get a yes on a "hidden words" puzzle? To stand out, you need great finds – long words, words with rare letters, etc. – within fantastic phrases. BLECH within DOUBLE CHEN (that's me and my identical twin brother) qualifies.

SAY A FEW WORDS also works well. EEW is only three letters, but the consecutive Ws makes the find more notable. Great phrase, too.

JUGHEAD didn't wow me as much. It's the only one that doesn't span two words, and UGH can be found in so many other words. Although, you sometimes have to say, good enough. Or tough luck!

(Doug Henning is giving Craig the stink-eye.)

A great bonus in BLIND DATES. I'm sure that evokes many images and funny stories for lots of solvers. We'll just skim over those where the other person turned out to be married. Or a deadly farter. Ahem.

I would have loved a stronger revealer than DISGUSTING. It works, but it didn't give much of a "hey, that's awesome!" moment. I spent an hour brainstorming and came up with ROTTEN TO THE CORE … which just happens to be the magic 15 letters in length. Missed opportunity!

Another round of grid editing would have done wonders, especially since this is a Monday puzzle. I would have sent it back for the crossing of ORFEO / ULEE alone. Toss in ORTO ESTA SETA ESS, and we're no longer in elegant, newb-friendly territory.

I'd have been perfectly happy without JUGHEAD, which would have made the construction a ton easier.

But overall, an entertaining concept with sounds that are amusing to say. Nice debut.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0114 ( 25,269 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
Become narrower : TAPER
6
"Come to ___" : PAPA
10
Kindergarten fundamentals : ABCS
14
"Well, isn't that something!" : ILLBE
15
Genesis garden : EDEN
16
Opening for a coin : SLOT
17
Facial feature that can be eliminated by cosmetic surgery : DOUBLECHIN
19
Trigonometric ratio : SINE
20
"For sure!" : YES
21
"___ put it another way ..." : ORTO
22
Rather, informally : KINDA
23
Disney World attraction : MAGICKINGDOM
26
Walk over : TREADON
29
Continuously : NOEND
30
Easy win : ROMP
31
___ good example : SETA
32
Weaponize : ARM
35
Increase, with "up" : AMP
36
Friend of Archie and Betty in the comics : JUGHEAD
39
"Little piggy" : TOE
40
Chum : PAL
41
Fashion monthly founded in France : ELLE
42
Congers and others : EELS
43
"___ ed Euridice" (Gluck opera) : ORFEO
45
The 20 in 20 Questions : GUESSES
48
Speak briefly : SAYAFEWWORDS
51
Where the belly button is : TUMMY
52
German auto import : AUDI
53
Try to win through romance : WOO
56
Metropolitan ___ : AREA
57
"Gross" title for this puzzle : DISGUSTING
60
Hit the tarmac, e.g. : LAND
61
Skin problem : ACNE
62
Titleholder : OWNER
63
This, in Tijuana : ESTA
64
Wagers : BETS
65
Hangman's loop : NOOSE
Down
1
Having everything in its place : TIDY
2
Natural salve : ALOE
3
Asset : PLUS
4
Flow out, as the tide : EBB
5
Insert a new cartridge : RELOAD
6
Marmalade ingredient : PECTIN
7
For one purpose only : ADHOC
8
Architect I. M. ___ : PEI
9
Actress Miller or Blyth : ANN
10
Transfer (to) : ASSIGN
11
Romantic setups : BLINDDATES
12
Weeklong vacation rental, maybe : CONDO
13
Prepare, as mussels : STEAM
18
Therefore : ERGO
22
Work, as dough : KNEAD
23
It helps to know where you're going : MAP
24
Joint between the hip and ankle : KNEE
25
Letter after theta : IOTA
26
Snare : TRAP
27
Capital of Italia : ROMA
28
Professional work : EMPLOYMENT
31
"Steady as ___ goes" : SHE
33
Part in a movie : ROLE
34
Filthy state : MESS
36
"The Family Circus" boy : JEFFY
37
Peter Fonda title character : ULEE
38
Give off light, as a firefly : GLOW
42
Suffix with lion or shepherd : ESS
44
Marriott rival : RAMADA
45
Seriously overcharges : GOUGES
46
Pakistani language : URDU
47
Incandescent lamp inventor : EDISON
48
Old, as bread : STALE
49
Surrounding lights : AURAS
50
"There ___ a dry eye in the house" : WASNT
53
Tippler's favorite radio station? : WINO
54
Bills exchanged for a five : ONES
55
Menacing fairy tale figure : OGRE
57
Tiny amount to apply : DAB
58
Rink surface : ICE
59
A couple : TWO

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

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