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New York Times, Thursday, January 24, 2019

Author:
Stu Ockman
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
122/2/20121/24/20190
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0003603
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57210
Stu Ockman

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQWZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Ockman. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Stu Ockman notes:
I was thrilled a year ago to receive Will's acceptance of the goo goo eyes puzzle; especially, since Joel was kind enough to add in ... read more

I was thrilled a year ago to receive Will's acceptance of the goo goo eyes puzzle; especially, since Joel was kind enough to add in the email:

"We're happy to say yes on your GOO GOO EYES 15x, which has a cute concept and lively theme examples. You've done a nice job with keeping the fill clean and interesting as well, which will add to the overall fun of the puzzle. This one should be popular with our solvers."

When I received the link to the final manuscript from Jeff, I was surprised to find that 33 words had been changed prior to publication. I was curious as to what led to the decision to revise 40 percent of the ‘clean and interesting' fill, so I asked Will (Jeff: response below).

To the right are the two grids (my original is on the left).

I'm, of course, always happy to have a puzzle appear in the New York Times. Hope you were happy solving it.

Will Shortz notes:
Hi Stu, Thanks for your nice note. Usually when we'd like extensive changes in a grid, we return it to the constructor to make ... read more

Hi Stu,

Thanks for your nice note.

Usually when we'd like extensive changes in a grid, we return it to the constructor to make them.

In this case, though, your puzzle had already been on file for a year. We selected it to edit the clues. In looking over the grid, we thought it could be improved. Entries that felt overly crosswordy or subpar included REVE, ENATE, OMS, ILONA, DAREST, ALOP, LENYA, and SCAG. At this point we didn't want to return the puzzle, which would have delayed its appearance even longer. So Joel made the changes himself.

One important thing to keep in mind is that the standards for fill keep rising. Puzzles that we accepted in the past might not make the grade today. And your puzzle, whose fill we thought was not bad at the time of acceptance, we thought by today's standards could benefit from a brush-up.

I hope this explains a little further — and that you're happy with how the puzzle turned out.

Jeff Chen notes:
OO! OO! I know what this theme is! Sorry, I couldn't help myself. GOO GOO EYES is a hilarious term. At first, I wasn't sure if ... read more

OO! OO! I know what this theme is!

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

GOO GOO EYES is a hilarious term. At first, I wasn't sure if it described the theme well enough, though. Doesn't OO look more like "surprise" more than "puppy-dog adoration"? And why two pairs of eyes in each themer?

But sometimes you have to just go with it. Sure, why not.

I liked Stu's themer choices, all strong phrases in their own right. Especially nice to get the extra-long TOO RICH FOR MY BLOOD. It's not every day that you see a 17-letter phrase in a weekday crossword.

In that vein, it would have been nice to get more of them – perhaps CUTTING ROOM FLOOR (16), HOOCHIE COOCHIE MAN (17), SHOOTS FOR THE MOON (16), etc.? Maybe go even bigger with CHATTANOOGA CHOO CHOO 19 – with three pairs of goo goo eyes!

That speaks to a lack of tightness issue. In my quick search, I turned up hundreds of words / phrases with double-double-Os. It would have been nice to narrow the options down somehow, with an extra layer of cleverness. One example might be to use DOUBLE O SEVEN as a revealer, and pick phrases with OOs … related to spies!

But overall, a solid rebus offering. I liked that Stu even had a few good crossing OOs, like BASSOON and OO LA LA! All too easy to rely on shorties like OONA and DROOP to make things work.

Also impressive that there was relatively little crossword glue, given the high theme density (I like the as-published grid much better than Stu's original). I'd have preferred one fewer themer in exchange for less AREAR IFI OCTO IDEE, but I can understand why others might like the fifth themer, at the price of a little inelegance in execution.

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R
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OO
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0124 ( 25,279 )
Across
1
First U.S. color TVs : RCAS
5
Shooter's need : AIM
8
Believers in oneness : BAHAIS
14
"Spamalot" lyricist : ERICIDLE
16
Post-flood locale : ARARAT
17
One stuck abroad? : VOODOODOLL
18
Frame of reference : SCHEMA
19
Professor to Harry Potter : SNAPE
20
Follower of "My country" : TIS
22
Raiding grp. : ATF
23
It can make an impression in correspondence : SEAL
26
Risk-free : FOOLPROOF
29
Lacking a mate : ODD
32
Fit for a queen : REGINAL
34
Key : CRITICAL
37
British record label : DECCA
41
"I'm out" : TOORICHFORMYBLOOD
44
Unlikely source of a Top 40 song : OPERA
45
Popular Greek dish : MOUSSAKA
46
Surrounds : ENCASES
49
On the blue side, for short : DEM
50
Ottoman : FOOTSTOOL
53
___ beetle : STAG
56
Clay, after conversion : ALI
57
Call to reserve? : LET
59
Calrissian of "Star Wars" : LANDO
63
Traffic enforcement device : CAMERA
66
Adoring looks seen 10 times in this puzzle's grid : GOOGOOEYES
69
Curfew, maybe : ELEVEN
70
Lickety-split : INAFLASH
71
Revenue-raising measure : TAXACT
72
"Neato!" : FAB
73
Branch of Islam : SHIA
Down
1
Guns : REVS
2
Sing sentimentally : CROON
3
Work whose title character is buried alive : AIDA
4
Equipment in an ice cream shop : SCOOPS
5
Rabblement : ADO
6
In a bad way : ILL
7
Annual spring occurrence : MELT
8
Instrument that opens Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" : BASSOON
9
Homer's path : ARC
10
"I bet!" : HAH
11
To the stern : AREAR
12
"Same here!" : IAMTOO
13
Several lines of music? : STAFF
15
"Bonne ___!" : IDEE
21
"___ ever ..." : IFI
24
Playfully roguish : ARCH
25
Where photosynthesis occurs : LEAF
27
___-slipper (flower) : LADYS
28
Commoners : PLEBS
29
Eight: Prefix : OCTO
30
Wilt : DROOP
31
Superserious : DIRE
33
Grabs (onto) : GLOMS
35
Ones pumped up for a race? : TIRES
36
"That's beyond me" : ICANT
38
Dressed : CLAD
39
Sam of R&B : COOKE
40
Not know from ___ (be clueless about) : ADAM
42
Some deer : ROES
43
Closet-y smell : MUST
47
Freon, for one : COOLANT
48
Sierra Nevada product : ALE
50
Side : FACET
51
"C'est magnifique!" : OOLALA
52
Competitor of Citizen : TIMEX
54
Standoffish : ALOOF
55
Iona College athletes : GAELS
58
Cry after a hectic week : TGIF
60
When doubled, a taunt : NYAH
61
South Asian living abroad : DESI
62
Org. for some inspectors : OSHA
64
___ Air, carrier to Taiwan : EVA
65
Supporting letter, informally : REC
67
A Chaplin : OONA
68
Gossip : GAB

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?