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New York Times, Thursday, January 18, 2018

Author:
Ryan McCarty and Alan Southworth
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
106/17/20174/5/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000127
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58000
Ryan McCarty
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
21/18/201811/6/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0010100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56000
Alan Southworth

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 31 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. McCarty. This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Southworth. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
RYAN: Alan and I met in college where we sang in several groups together, notably in our a cappella group the Princeton Nassoons. He ... read more

RYAN: Alan and I met in college where we sang in several groups together, notably in our a cappella group the Princeton Nassoons. He was actually the person who first got me interested in crossword puzzles! After graduating we decided it would be fun to collaborate and create a puzzle together.

Alan came up with the theme idea for this one, and we worked together to manually fill the grid and create clues. Based on the theme, we had clued this around Tuesday/Wednesday difficulty, though the NYT team accepted it for a Thursday and many of the clues were adjusted to be more challenging.

Looking back it would have been nice to get a couple juicier longer down answers in the NE and SW, and perhaps some better short fill, although I liked how they used some atypical clues for a few (ONO, ERE, ANO). Nevertheless, the puzzle was fun to make together, and I hope you enjoy it!

ALAN: Very excited to be my making my NYT Crossword debut today! A bit about me: I'm a 25-year-old energy market consultant/singer-songwriter/marathoner living in New York City. I found my way into the crossword community through a lifelong love of word games and puzzles (I grew up playing Scrabble and Boggle with my mom and solving Sudoku and Ken Ken before bed) but didn't really get into crosswords until college, where I met my collaborator, Ryan McCarty. Ryan and I were members of the Princeton University Glee Club and the Princeton Nassoons, the university's oldest a cappella group, before beginning our crossword collaboration.

For today's puzzle, I started writing down crossword theme ideas in the "Notes" app on my phone during my commutes to work in 2015. Many of the early concepts I came up with revolved around phrases that lent themselves to literal interpretations involving a letter addition or removal ("DROP THE F" BOMB luckily never came to fruition…).

But then NO WAY came to me and I realized dropping an entire word might result in some fresher "wacky" phrases. RUN A TRAIN was the first potential theme answer that I thought of, and with Ryan's expert grid construction skills and some more theme answer brainstorming, I knew we were on the right track, so to speak.

Side note: as a runner, I was excited to use "Marathon leader?" as the clue for ULTRA, but I wasn't sure if the Ultramarathon reference was too obscure for the general public. After a quick Google search eased my initial worries, I noticed the following blurb in the Wikipedia article for Ultramarathon:

Since 1997, runners have been competing in the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, which is billed as the longest official footrace in the world. They run 100 laps a day for up to 50 days around a single block in Queens, NY, for a total distance of 3,100 miles (5,000 km)

This absurd race has been the topic of many conversations since finding out about it during my crossword research. Just thinking about the fact that Suprabha Beckjord ran the race 14 times (i.e., she spent over two years of her life running around a high school in Queens) makes my legs hurt...

Jeff Chen notes:
NO WAY = remove 'way' from phrases for kooky results. The theme confused me a bit since RUN A TRAIN is something I see in some of my ... read more

NO WAY = remove "way" from phrases for kooky results. The theme confused me a bit since RUN A TRAIN is something I see in some of my kids' books. It's a bit kooky … but a bit real, too. And SUBSTATIONS is a real word, isn't it? (Yup.)

Thankfully, HIGH ROBBERY clarified the theme (more or less) for me. There's no such thing as HIGH ROBBERY! And I like me some heist movies like "Tower Heist," especially when they happen up on rooves. So that worked for me.

ONE STREET … not kooky enough for me.

But I did love some of the fill. RIGHT-O! The GEM STATE shone. (*rimshot*) A LONDONER next to a STOCKADE painted a funny 17th-century picture. And CEMENT MIXER was fantastic!

Er, CEMENT MASON. Hmm. I so badly wanted it to be CEMENT MIXER. Such a great clue, riffing on "concrete plans." Let's just pretend it was the much more awesome CEMENT MIXER, shall we?

Overall, mixed results, especially given my high expectations for creativity on my Thursday puzzles. What other, more surprising WAY removals are there? WAYNE NEWTON to NE (Nebraska) NEWTON? PROJECT RUNWAY to PROJECT RUN? It turns out to be a tough trigram to work with. Huh.

I did appreciate much of the gridwork, not bad at all to finish up with just some ignorable stuff in a debut puzzle. Let's just try not to eke (ha) out so much similar ETE, ERE, ENE stuff next time.

1
C
2
A
3
R
4
O
5
M
6
B
7
R
8
E
9
T
10
T
11
G
12
A
13
P
14
O
N
I
C
E
15
O
U
T
E
R
16
E
N
E
17
H
I
G
H
R
18
O
B
B
E
R
Y
19
M
T
A
20
I
M
H
O
21
N
B
A
22
M
O
23
S
S
E
S
24
B
A
T
25
C
O
E
D
26
S
27
U
L
T
R
A
28
A
L
O
29
N
E
30
R
U
N
31
A
T
R
A
I
N
32
E
M
33
U
34
B
O
S
C
35
T
O
T
36
S
37
L
38
O
W
E
S
39
T
40
W
H
A
41
L
E
R
S
42
T
O
V
43
N
E
E
44
D
45
E
M
O
46
O
N
E
47
S
T
R
E
E
48
T
49
P
O
50
R
51
E
52
S
53
C
D
R
O
M
54
N
E
O
55
N
S
56
E
V
E
57
K
O
D
I
A
58
K
59
P
O
R
60
S
V
E
N
61
A
N
O
62
S
U
63
B
S
T
A
64
T
I
O
N
S
65
D
E
N
66
O
B
O
E
S
67
U
N
T
I
E
68
E
R
E
69
N
O
W
A
Y
70
B
E
E
F
S
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0118 ( 24,908 )

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Across
1
Rebound : CAROM
6
Lady ___ Ashley, Jake Barnes's love in "The Sun Also Rises" : BRETT
11
Interregnum : GAP
14
Chilling : ONICE
15
Like the planets beyond the asteroid belt : OUTER
16
Chemical suffix : ENE
17
Rooftop heist? : HIGHROBBERY
19
Travel org. with an eTix app : MTA
20
"If you ask me," to texters : IMHO
21
Org. that discourages traveling : NBA
22
Flowerless plants : MOSSES
24
Diamond club : BAT
25
Some roles in the Jack Benny film "College Holiday" : COEDS
27
Marathon leader? : ULTRA
28
Dateless, say : ALONE
30
Handle engineer duties? : RUNATRAIN
32
Bird that has one long talon on each foot for fighting : EMU
34
Pear variety : BOSC
35
Preschooler : TOT
36
Last at Daytona, say : SLOWEST
40
N.H.L. team that became the Hurricanes in 1997 : WHALERS
42
"Mazel ___!" : TOV
43
"No ___" ("I'm fine") : NEED
45
My Chemical Romance genre : EMO
46
Della or Picabo? : ONESTREET
49
Openings at a day spa? : PORES
53
Jewel case insert : CDROM
54
Bright lights : NEONS
56
Response to "Madam, I'm Adam" that is itself a palindrome : EVE
57
Alaskan bear : KODIAK
59
___ favor : POR
60
Reindeer in "Frozen" : SVEN
61
"Wheel of Fortune" buy : ANO
62
Sandwich shops? : SUBSTATIONS
65
Study : DEN
66
Orchestra tuners : OBOES
67
Pull some strings? : UNTIE
68
"Listen ___!" (Cockney cry) : ERE
69
"Forget it!" ... or a hint to 17-, 30-, 46- and 62-Across : NOWAY
70
Gripes : BEEFS
Down
1
Premium Cuban cigar : COHIBA
2
Category in a guessing game : ANIMAL
3
"You betcha!" : RIGHTO
4
Number above "Operador" on un teléfono : OCHO
5
La Méditerranée, e.g. : MER
6
Tackle box item : BOBBER
7
Start of a children's rhyme : RUBADUB
8
It lasts trois mois : ETE
9
Contract period : TERM
10
Events for prospective pro athletes : TRYOUTCAMPS
11
Idaho, with "the" : GEMSTATE
12
Toward the front, anatomically : ANTERIOR
13
Group rallied by Mao Zedong : PEASANTS
18
Fish at a Hawaiian barbecue : ONO
23
Nikon product, for short : SLR
25
One who has concrete plans for the day? : CEMENTMASON
26
___ globe : SNOW
29
Fresh out of the box : NEW
31
Queens stadium name : ASHE
33
___ interface : USER
36
Defense fence : STOCKADE
37
Cockney, e.g. : LONDONER
38
Trite : OVERDONE
39
Typical college freshman : TEEN
41
John : LOO
44
Home of lanternfish and giant squids : DEEPSEA
47
"___ gather" : SOI
48
Foot, baby-style : TOOTSY
50
Election do-over : REVOTE
51
No matter whether : EVENIF
52
Has an inkling : SENSES
55
Major group HQ'd in Fairfax, Va. : NRA
58
2016 animated film "___ and the Two Strings" : KUBO
60
Wave to a math teacher? : SINE
63
Opposite of stern : BOW
64
Moonshiner's vessel : TUB

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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