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New York Times, Saturday, January 28, 2017

Author:
Damon Gulczynski
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3511/8/20048/10/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
14507810
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65320
Damon J. Gulczynski

This puzzle:

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

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 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 ... read more

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 )

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Students & seniors
Across
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
Down
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.

Found bugs or have suggestions?