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New York Times, Thursday, January 29, 2015

Author: John Farmer
Editor: Will Shortz
John Farmer
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Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 37 Missing: {JQVZ} This is puzzle # 33 for Mr. Farmer. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Farmer notes: Unlike some themes, which take plenty of fiddling with before coming into focus, the idea for this one came at once. I remember ... more
John Farmer notes:

Unlike some themes, which take plenty of fiddling with before coming into focus, the idea for this one came at once. I remember precisely where I was at the time — in the middle of our living room moving furniture — the very spot where I abandoned an armoire for several hours while I went to pick theme answers and fill the grid. (Question: What's the most valuable resource a crossword constructor can have? Answer: An understanding wife.)

I wanted to avoid words like MANIACS that leave non-words (IACS) after MAN was removed. I like that the threesome making the final "cut" included RAIN, ICE, and AGUA. That was a bonus — or you might say, as Walsh tells Gittes in Chinatown, "The guy's got water on the brain."

The biggest challenge was getting the Downs to play nice, with six of them crossing three theme answers and two of them crossing four. Though there were other grid possibilities, they had issues too. For the most part, I think it worked out all right.

Regarding clues: If you have a beef with the one for AXE, please take it up with Unilever. If you don't like the ones for ANT or ERA, you can blame me. (I do think it's fun to come up with new clues for short answers.) But if, like me, you find "Chapter seven?" for ETA to be so utterly diabolical that it takes longer than you want to admit to make sense of it, please send your letters to Mr. Will Shortz at The New York Times. (That's really a gem.)

As we used to say when honeymooning years ago in Fiji, "Bula!"

Jeff Chen notes: Sometimes I miss the cleverness a puzzle brings. Today, I wondered why AGUA was a Latin American capital – perhaps it was a ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Sometimes I miss the cleverness a puzzle brings. Today, I wondered why AGUA was a Latin American capital – perhaps it was a currency unit of Guatemala or Nicaragua? And the theme didn't really make sense to me. I saw the sets of two MAN entries "spread out" from where they were supposed to be, but that seemed like it didn't really jive with CUT OUT THE / MIDDLEMAN. So I shrugged and went on with my day.

One of the many great things about providing daily commentary about puzzles is that it forces me to go back and revisit them. Not only does it help my own construction skill development, but I uncover elements I missed the first time around. So to finally grok that AGUA was actually (MAN)AGUA, with the middle of three MAN entries cut out … yes! A great a-ha moment.

I was SO sure there was an Oscar-winner called "Rain" ...

The same goes for RAIN(MAN)'s middle MAN cut out, and THE ICE(MAN) COMETH as well. I particularly liked that central one, the cut out MAN sitting in the middle of HIT(MAN) and (MAN)ANA.

I'll explain Will's and then John's cryptic clue for ETA, since I still didn't get it after John hinted above at its awesomeness. (I had to ask John about it, FYI.) Apparently when fraternities and sororities launch new chapters at different schools, they label them with Greek letters, i.e. the first chapter is the Alpha Chapter, the second is the Beta Chapter, etc. So although it requires a deep understanding of an esoteric subject, but the repurposing of the bankruptcy term "Chapter 7" is really neat.

I might have liked all the MAN entries to be more hidden as in MANDY and MANAGUA, but overall, a beautiful, clean execution on a great idea. I know it's not currently possible, but how awesome would it be to open up your newspaper and find three chunks physically cut out of your crossword, like so?

1
E
2
S
3
A
4
S
5
H
6
A
7
I
8
G
9
M
10
A
11
C
12
A
13
W
14
S
A
C
K
15
L
U
N
C
H
16
A
L
O
H
A
17
C
U
T
O
U
T
T
H
E
18
R
O
M
A
N
19
A
D
O
R
N
S
20
R
21
A
I
N
22
P
I
N
T
A
23
P
24
E
K
I
N
G
25
M
26
A
27
N
28
E
S
E
29
T
30
E
A
T
I
M
E
31
A
L
A
32
H
I
T
M
A
N
33
G
T
O
S
34
T
35
H
36
E
I
C
E
37
C
38
O
M
E
T
H
39
H
E
L
P
40
M
41
A
42
N
A
N
A
43
E
R
A
44
A
45
L
A
B
A
M
A
46
A
47
S
48
S
49
M
A
N
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F
R
I
D
A
Y
51
R
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A
N
C
H
53
A
G
U
A
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M
O
D
E
L
A
55
M
56
A
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N
D
Y
58
M
59
I
60
D
D
L
E
M
A
N
61
E
X
C
E
L
62
E
M
A
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T
63
G
E
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D
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64
S
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65
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Y
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0129 ( 23,823 )
Across Down
1. María's "those" : ESAS
5. General who became a secretary of state : HAIG
9. Bird that's the lead character in "Rio" : MACAW
14. It might contain a sandwich and an apple : SACKLUNCH
16. Bula : Fiji :: ___ : Hawaii : ALOHA
17. With 58-Across, buy or sell direct ... or what to do in this puzzle three times? : CUTOUTTHE
18. Upright type : ROMAN
19. Trims : ADORNS
20. Best Picture between "The Last Emperor" and "Driving Miss Daisy" : RAINMAN
22. Part of a historic trio : PINTA
23. Archaeological discovery of the 1920s whose fossils have been missing since 1941 : PEKINGMAN
28. Suffix with official : ESE
29. Service break at Wimbledon? : TEATIME
31. Like : ALA
32. Offer? : HITMAN
33. Onetime Road Runner rivals : GTOS
34. With 37-Across, drama set in New York's Last Chance Saloon : THEICEMAN
37. See 34-Across : COMETH
39. Butler, e.g. : HELP
40. Procrastinator's time : MANANA
43. Span of attention? : ERA
44. Where Forrest Gump attended college : ALABAMA
46. Twit : ASS
49. Faithful servant : MANFRIDAY
51. Certain dressing : RANCH
53. Central American capital : MANAGUA
54. Vintage Ford : MODELA
55. "Homeland" actor Patinkin : MANDY
58. See 17-Across : MIDDLEMAN
61. Stand out : EXCEL
62. Aid for a club secretary nowadays : EMAILLIST
63. Piece in a rockhound's collection : GEODE
64. Certain dress : SARI
65. "___ now" : EASY
1. Caribbean vacation, e.g. : ESCAPE
2. Gulf War ally : SAUDIS
3. 2014 Broadway play based on Moss Hart's autobiography : ACTONE
4. Women's hybrid attire : SKORT
5. "Survivor" quarters : HUTS
6. Queen's pawn? : ANT
7. "___ liebe dich" : ICH
8. Vlasic classic : GHERKIN
9. ___ One (president's helicopter) : MARINE
10. "Move ___" : ALONG
11. End of many addresses : COM
12. "So it was you!" : AHA
13. Whitish : WAN
15. Nut : LUNATIC
21. Target : AIM
23. "Jackie Brown" actress Grier : PAM
24. Chapter seven? : ETA
25. Bud : MATE
26. Loads : ALOT
27. Longtime Crosby partner : NASH
30. Tour de France season : ETE
32. Like ripped jeans in the '90s : HIP
33. TV debut of 1975, briefly : GMA
34. Us competitor : THEM
35. Goddess who competed for the apple of discord : HERA
36. Dash : ELAN
37. Skyping device : CAM
38. Hot : ONAROLL
40. Butterfly and others : MADAMES
41. Judicial ratings grp. : ABA
42. "Permission denied" : NAY
44. Common pattern for golf attire : ARGYLE
45. Brooklyn-based sch. : LIU
46. Iron supplements may treat it : ANEMIA
47. Mercedes-Benz luxury line : SCLASS
48. Makeshift dwelling : SHANTY
50. Nearly forgotten : FADED
52. Grammy winner for "21" : ADELE
54. Year Columbus began his last voyage : MDII
55. Memory unit, informally : MEG
56. Grooming brand for "helping guys get the girl" : AXE
57. Sgt., e.g. : NCO
59. "Well, ___ monkey's uncle!" : IMA
60. ___ es Salaam : DAR

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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