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New York Times, Monday, January 27, 2014

Author:
James Tuttle
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
71/10/20115/12/20160
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0320200
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1.52020
James Tuttle

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQXYZ} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Tuttle. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
James Tuttle notes:
A few years ago I was watching TV and a commercial for timeshares came on. In this commercial the word TIMESHARE is shouted an absurd ... read more

A few years ago I was watching TV and a commercial for timeshares came on. In this commercial the word TIMESHARE is shouted an absurd number of times, as if its writers missed the day in grammar school when pronouns were introduced. And that was it. I wish I could say that today's puzzle has a more interesting, Eureka-esque story behind its inception, but alas, it doesn't. I'm hopeful that, in time, the puzzle will come to accept and embrace its humble beginnings.

So, my first thought after turning off the TV was to have TIME wedged in between its two associated two words, generating wacky phrases. As in AIRTIME + TIMETRAVEL = AIRTIMETRAVEL, e.g. Seemed like a good idea, but the concept never took flight, and I ended up depositing a half-filled grid with the rest of my misfit puzzles.

Months later, bored and looking through my files, guess which half-filled grid caught my eye? I realized (Eureka!) that the TIMESHARE thing could be done in the same way as all of those other two-words-that-have-one-word-in-common themes, but with a little twist. And there you have it.

Nothing stands out in my memory with respect to the actual construction. As a high school math teacher and number enthusiast, I was excited to be able to get FIBONACCI in the puzzle. Also, "Music for Airports" is almost always on in the background when I'm constructing, and so ENO, despite being crosswordese-ish, always elicits a smile.

Hope you enjoyed it.

Will Shortz notes:
While 'words that go with' sorts of themes have become quite common, this one is a cut above the rest, in my opinion, because the ... read more

While "words that go with" sorts of themes have become quite common, this one is a cut above the rest, in my opinion, because the shared word, TIME, connects with both halves of the other theme entries. That's elegant. Also, there are five theme examples, besides the "revealer," which is a lot. And the revealer itself is fun.

Jeff Chen notes:
Beautiful start to the week. Crosswords have evolved a lot over the past five years, so putting a new spin on this type of theme is ... read more

Beautiful start to the week. Crosswords have evolved a lot over the past five years, so putting a new spin on this type of theme is important. And TIMESHARE is a perfect way to do that, each of the theme answers "sharing" TIME, i.e. AIR TRAVEL goes to AIR TIME and TIME TRAVEL. Neat concept, perfect for a Monday. Comprehensible for many beginners, interesting for many experienced solvers.

And check out the theme density! Typically constructors shy away from six long theme entries, because it causes all sorts of crossing problems. Four of James's themers are shorter (eight or nine letters) which makes the construction easier than having all 10+ letter entries, but James also throws in something unusual for a six-themer: two long downs. CLEOPATRA and FIBONACCI are fantastic entries. And he also tosses in MAGNETO and BLEND IN. Awesome!

The two long themers are fantastic, but they do come at a price. EMEER is one of those words that makes me cringe, especially on a Monday. EMIR is the more common spelling, never having taken the dreaded "variant" tag in a NYT crossword clue. Out of curiosity, I tried to rework that east area on my own, but with CLEOPATRA running through that area, I couldn't come up with anything better. It would take replacing the ????P???A pattern with ACAPPELLA or WIKIPEDIA or something, which is a pretty major change.

I was curious to see if one of these other long down alternatives could get rid of EMEER (and OLEIC too, hopefully)... but not THAT curious. Anyway, James's grid also incorporates I DUNNO and HOLD EM in that region, so it seems like a favorable trade-off overall. Still, EMEER...

If it hadn't been for EMEER, OLEIC, and the lesser ugly ECOL, this might have been one of my favorite Mondays of all time. And even with them, I found it mighty enjoyable. Well done.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0127 ( 23,456 )
Across
1
Attack with a knife : STAB
5
"Oops-a-daisy" : UHOH
9
Hypermasculine : MACHO
14
See 2-Down : TRUE
15
Duet minus one : SOLO
16
Patriot Ethan of the Revolutionary War : ALLEN
17
*Flying : AIRTRAVEL
19
"Silly" birds : GEESE
20
Renter's document : LEASE
21
"No idea" : IDUNNO
23
Mormons, in brief : LDS
24
*One placed between warring parties : PEACEKEEPER
29
Ivy League school in Philly : PENN
30
Encountered : MET
31
Doc grp. : AMA
32
*Contestant's help on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" : LIFELINE
36
Like some cereals : OATEN
38
Colored part of the eye : IRIS
39
Softly, in music : DOLCE
42
Born and ___ : BRED
43
Serving on a skewer : KABOB
45
*King, queen or jack : FACECARD
47
Brian who composed "Music for Airports" : ENO
48
The "L" of L.A. : LOS
51
Squabbles : ROWS
52
*Piece of furniture that might be under a chandelier : DINNERTABLE
55
"There ___ is, Miss America" : SHE
58
Epic work by Virgil : AENEID
59
Quick : RAPID
61
Hybrid kind of battery : NICAD
63
Vacation lodging purchase ... or an arrangement between the two halves of the answer to each starred clue? : TIMESHARE
66
Desert flora : CACTI
67
Battery : CELL
68
Port of Yemen : ADEN
69
"America's Finest News Source," with "The" : ONION
70
Car parts that have caps : HUBS
71
Hotel and hospital features : BEDS
Down
1
Shower unit : STALL
2
___ and 14-Across (reliable) : TRIED
3
Surrounding glows : AURAS
4
Risks : BETS
5
It's between Can. and Mex. : USA
6
___ lane : HOV
7
Kind of acid in soapmaking : OLEIC
8
World Series of Poker game : HOLDEM
9
X-Men villain : MAGNETO
10
Coeur d'___, Idaho : ALENE
11
1963 Elizabeth Taylor role : CLEOPATRA
12
Guys : HES
13
First number dialed when calling long distance : ONE
18
Push back, as an attack : REPEL
22
Hawaiian strings, for short : UKE
25
"Idylls of the King" lady : ENID
26
___ Domini : ANNO
27
Mideast bigwig: Var. : EMEER
28
Early stage of industrial work, for short : RANDD
29
Mexican money : PESO
32
Had a crush on : LIKED
33
Resident of Tehran : IRANI
34
Eponym of a number series that begins 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, ... : FIBONACCI
35
Munchkin : ELF
37
Kindergarten basics : ABCS
40
Bit of pasta, for short : CARB
41
Green science: Abbr. : ECOL
44
Not be conspicuous : BLENDIN
46
Pitchers : EWERS
49
Mined metal : ORE
50
Hilarious person, in slang : STITCH
53
"Far out!" : NEATO
54
Fond farewell : ADIEU
55
Digging tool : SPADE
56
Put on the payroll : HIRED
57
Perfect places : EDENS
60
Ill-fated captain : AHAB
61
Sgt., e.g. : NCO
62
Suffix with Dickens : IAN
64
Cubs and White Sox org. : MLB
65
Windy City trains : ELS

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?