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New York Times, Saturday, January 28, 2017

Author: Damon Gulczynski
Editor: Will Shortz
Damon J. Gulczynski
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2911/8/200410/24/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1440677
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64320

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 34 Missing: {Q} This is puzzle # 20 for Mr. Gulczynski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Damon J. Gulczynski notes: I couldn't decide between FUZZY MATH and JAZZ HANDS for a seed answer at 19-Across, so I made two puzzles with similar ... more
Damon J. Gulczynski notes:

I couldn't decide between FUZZY MATH and JAZZ HANDS for a seed answer at 19-Across, so I made two puzzles with similar grids using one in each. The FUZZY MATH puzzle was rejected, and the JAZZ HANDS puzzle… was also rejected. But it was rejected encouragingly, so I reworked the offensive section (which wasn't actually offensive – just boring), resubmitted it, and here we are.

Looking over it with fresh eyes, it looks fine to me. It's got a handful of nice entries (my personal favorites are JOHN HENRY and BANG UP JOB), and hopefully just A FEW not-so-nice entries. Nothing earth-shattering; nothing awful. Overall, I'd say it's a solid Saturday offering.

One thing I've been interested in with my more recently published puzzles is the clues. When I first started constructing, my clues were all over the place and roughly 90% of them were changed substantially to better fit with the style of the New York Times puzzle. Over time, as I became more familiar with the databases at XWordInfo and Cruciverb, I drastically reduced that number by, in effect, mimicking clues appearing in previous NYT puzzles. So now the challenge is to write completely original clues that survive the editing process. It's not feasible to do this with every answer (the "new clue reservoir" for, say, ORE is pretty much tapped out at this point), so I just pick and choose several answers to try this on each puzzle.

Two of my clues I like that survived:

  • "One with many enemies" (SUPERHERO)
  • "Like some pigs" (SEXIST)

Two I like that didn't survive:

  • Useful items for people who have the shakes? (STRAWS)
  • Artist who can be seen by turning one around? (ENO)

Too clever by half? Not clever at all, just awkward? Either one is entirely possible.

For extended constructor notes visit http://scrabbledamon.blogspot.com/.

Jeff Chen notes: I enjoy rare letters in a themeless, and Damon incorporated the Js, X, Zs so well. I particularly liked how he worked in what rare ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I enjoy rare letters in a themeless, and Damon incorporated the Js, X, Zs so well. I particularly liked how he worked in what rare letters he could while prioritizing smooth and lively fill over a pangram (or another mostly-constructor-focused goal). As a solver, I appreciated that.

I had seen JAZZ HANDS a long time ago, but it still had a nice impact for me. And although JANE EYRE, ACHILLES, and JOHN HENRY are all proper names — generally I try to avoid proper names that either solvers will know (and love!) or not know (and probably hate, because it feels like they're being forced to learn!) — I feel like all educated NYT solvers ought to know these three. Yes, JOHN HENRY too!

Also appreciated Damon's care with his short fill. An AGRI here, an EDT there, that's solid and very smooth work.

So much good stuff made me think of this for the POW!, but I did have qualms. I had such a rough time with TRIOLET. Struggled with ELVER, and the FAUVES compounded the problem. Those might produce some probably-fair-but-unsatisfactory crossings for some solvers.

Then I remembered that I also struggled with PERONI. And HOTSPUR. Luckily, I love ancient mysteries, so the lost colony of ROANOKE came back without much prodding, but I could see that being lumped in as well.

Should I have known all of these entries? Maybe. The FAUVES turn out to be a very influential group in art. And I've used ELVER in one of my puzzles! So as a whole, maybe this handful shouldn't have bugged me.

I'm starting to rethink my construction philosophy, which has been to avoid gluey bits at nearly all costs, even if that means including more than just one "weird" answer. Enough crossword friends have shared with me the experience of a single crazy-looking answer drastically lowering their enjoyment of a puzzle. I don't think that's fair at all, but it's hard to tell people what they should feel.

Anyway, overall a very solid puzzle; loved those rare letters. Glad I learned some new things, albeit with some grumbling over the quantity of said things.

1
B
2
O
3
S
4
C
5
H
6
J
7
A
8
N
9
E
10
E
11
Y
12
R
13
E
14
A
C
U
R
A
15
O
P
E
N
D
O
O
R
16
S
17
D
E
B
A
R
18
H
E
G
O
T
G
A
M
E
19
J
A
Z
Z
H
20
A
N
D
S
21
U
N
I
X
22
O
N
E
E
A
C
H
23
P
24
E
R
O
N
I
25
K
I
R
26
R
H
E
27
A
28
L
A
T
K
E
S
29
E
C
O
30
I
N
C
31
H
E
S
32
E
S
T
33
A
L
R
E
A
D
Y
34
A
35
H
36
A
37
F
L
Y
I
N
G
38
B
39
T
40
W
41
S
O
I
42
S
E
E
43
T
G
I
44
F
45
O
R
E
46
S
T
R
A
W
S
47
I
N
A
48
S
N
I
T
49
E
S
P
N
50
B
51
A
N
G
U
P
J
O
B
52
S
P
I
D
53
E
54
R
E
G
G
55
V
I
O
L
A
56
S
U
P
E
R
H
E
R
O
57
E
L
V
E
R
58
R
E
D
R
O
B
I
N
59
S
L
I
T
S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0128 ( 24,553 )
Across Down
1. "The Haywain Triptych" painter : BOSCH
6. Classic novel written under the nom de plume Currer Bell : JANEEYRE
14. Its logo consists of a pair of calipers in an oval : ACURA
15. Present some opportunities : OPENDOORS
17. Officially prohibit : DEBAR
18. 1998 Spike Lee movie : HEGOTGAME
19. Gesture of razzle-dazzlement : JAZZHANDS
21. System developed by Bell Labs : UNIX
22. Strict limitation, of a sort : ONEEACH
23. Italian brewery since 1846 : PERONI
25. Wine aperitif : KIR
26. Sister and wife of Cronus : RHEA
28. Dish often served with applesauce : LATKES
29. Friendly introduction? : ECO
30. " : INCHES
32. 4.5 billion years, for the age of the earth: Abbr. : EST
33. "So soon?" : ALREADY
34. "Gotcha" : AHA
37. Opposite of slow : FLYING
38. Texter's "Oh, yeah ..." : BTW
41. "Gotcha" : SOISEE
43. A cry of relief : TGIF
45. It's searched for in a rush : ORE
46. Some dispenser items : STRAWS
47. Agitated : INASNIT
49. "Outside the Lines" airer : ESPN
50. Heck of an effort : BANGUPJOB
52. Web deposit? : SPIDEREGG
55. It may be used by a person who is bowing : VIOLA
56. One with many enemies : SUPERHERO
57. Young migratory fish : ELVER
58. Harbinger of spring : REDROBIN
59. Narrow apertures : SLITS
1. Something a bomber delivers? : BADJOKE
2. Vast : OCEANIC
3. C-c-c-cold : SUBZERO
4. Rage : CRAZE
5. Sarcastic response to a 1-Down : HARHAR
6. "Steel-driving man" of African-American lore : JOHNHENRY
7. Took off on : APED
8. Sources of prints, for short : NEGS
9. "Another Day on Earth" musical artist : ENO
10. Setting for Yankees home games: Abbr. : EDT
11. Dish eaten with a spoon : YOGURT
12. Lost Colony's island : ROANOKE
13. Royal wraps : ERMINES
16. Like some pigs : SEXIST
20. Victim of Paris : ACHILLES
23. Activity in a drive : PLEDGING
24. "Don't get all worked up!" : EASY
27. Nail the test : ACEIT
31. Not dead yet : HANGINGON
33. What tipplers may have : AFEW
34. Value : ASSESS
35. Impetuous person : HOTSPUR
36. Scuba gear component : AIRPIPE
38. "Blaze of Glory" band, 1990 : BONJOVI
39. Eight-line verse form : TRIOLET
40. Luxury home features : WETBARS
42. Like finished wood : SANDED
44. Matisse, Derain and fellow artists, with "les" : FAUVES
48. A biker may have a nasty one : SPILL
50. Recipient of a royal charter, with "the" : BEEB
51. Commercial lead-in to Bank, in many Midwest states : AGRI
53. Miss the mark : ERR
54. Chi-___ (religious symbol) : RHO

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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