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New York Times, Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Author:
Joel Fagliano
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6510/22/20096/16/20196
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
16911910325
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64351
Joel Fagliano

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JKQXZ} This is puzzle # 35 for Mr. Fagliano. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joel Fagliano notes:
One of my constructing idols is Patrick Merrell. When I was first solving and making crosswords, I admired how he was able to bend and ... read more

One of my constructing idols is Patrick Merrell. When I was first solving and making crosswords, I admired how he was able to bend and stretch the conventions of crosswords while still making it entertaining for the solver. So when I come up with a simple theme like today's, I always try to think of an extra wrinkle that'll make the puzzle unique or different in some way.

For this puzzle, I had the idea for the DNA strand in the middle, but obviously needed to use other black squares. The problem was that the other black squares sort of ruined the visual element. I brainstormed some other ways to make it pop, and ended up with what you see in the print edition. If nothing else, it'll be a different solving experience, and in my book, different is always good!

Jeff Chen notes:
DNA! I often feel ambivalent about 'a single word hidden in phrases,' because once you've found one or two of them, the rest is ... read more

DNA! I often feel ambivalent about "a single word hidden in phrases," because once you've found one or two of them, the rest is repetitive. An exception is when I can't see it coming. I don't know if it was the graceful black square curves, or the themers running vertically, but I was pleasantly surprised to have to go back and look for the DNAs. Well done.

What a smooth execution, especially considering the huge constraints. Once you fix those curves into place, you don't leave yourself much room for themer placement. Joel wisely squeaks a 7-letter one right in the middle, and then has to tackle the high overlap on the left and right.

Normally, a few letters of overlap is pretty easy, if the letter combinations are friendly. Here though, there are seven places, running from the BA of AT BAR to the AL of REALTOR. Seven places means seven potential pitfalls where you might be forced to deal with a strange UO or a LW combination. Luckily, there are a good number of *D NA* phrases to choose from; plus, the puzzle symmetry allows you to swap BRAND NAMES and GOOD NATURE or TOOTH AND NAIL and ISLAND NATION.

With all those constraints, to finish with just an ENROL is impressive work. I imagine it took Joel several iterations to find themers and placements that allowed friendly letter combinations.

Visual of a DNA molecule

I wish the visual had done a little something more for me. As much as I like the oddity of removing the side black squares in the print version – I almost always like something weird and new – as a whole, it doesn't look a lot like DNA to me. Those black curves are very pretty, yes, and they sort of twist around. DNA-like? Hmm. And as with Liz's previous DNA puzzle (see Jim's note), I would have LOVED to see A-T and C-G base pairs somehow. Ripe for crossword goodness, people!

Love, love, loved the clue for GRAPH. It doesn't have the plural of "axe," but it does have the plural of "axis." And to get a brilliant clue right on a themer – someone give poor Eisenhower a baseball glove or vacuum BRAND NAME already – added so much to my solving pleasure.

Jim Horne notes:

Back in 2002, Elizabeth Gorski had a different twist on the famous double helix.

1
B
2
O
3
T
4
T
5
L
6
E
7
A
8
M
9
P
10
S
11
G
12
Y
13
M
14
O
H
I
O
A
N
15
M
E
A
T
16
O
O
O
17
O
N
T
O
U
R
18
Y
O
G
A
19
O
W
N
20
P
O
S
T
D
O
21
C
22
W
E
D
23
I
D
I
T
24
H
E
L
L
25
O
26
D
I
S
N
E
Y
27
A
28
T
29
B
A
R
30
A
L
31
P
32
A
L
A
33
B
A
R
N
34
A
R
D
O
35
R
36
A
T
37
A
38
D
39
I
P
A
D
40
M
I
N
T
Y
41
N
U
D
E
42
T
E
N
N
43
S
C
A
L
E
44
D
R
A
W
45
D
A
46
B
47
E
V
E
48
E
N
E
M
Y
49
G
50
E
N
I
U
51
S
52
Y
A
53
L
T
A
54
R
E
A
L
T
O
55
R
56
F
E
R
T
57
I
58
L
59
E
60
A
R
M
61
T
R
O
62
D
63
G
A
I
N
O
N
64
P
I
E
65
E
T
O
N
66
I
D
O
T
O
O
67
H
E
S
68
D
A
T
A
69
T
E
N
O
N
S
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0106 ( 23,800 )
Across
1
Wine store purchase : BOTTLE
7
Sound investments? : AMPS
11
Business with monthly memberships : GYM
14
Neighbor of a Hoosier : OHIOAN
15
Ham or lamb : MEAT
16
Winning tic-tac-toe row : OOO
17
Traveling, as a band : ONTOUR
18
Exercise with a cobra pose : YOGA
19
Possess : OWN
20
Lab research assistant, maybe : POSTDOC
22
"Hooray for us!" : WEDIDIT
24
Word on a red-and-white name tag : HELLO
26
"Frozen" studio : DISNEY
27
Like a case before the court : ATBAR
30
Mont Blanc, e.g. : ALP
32
___ mode : ALA
33
Place for a hoedown : BARN
34
Passion : ARDOR
36
Somewhat : ATAD
39
Modern cash register device : IPAD
40
Like many mouthwashes : MINTY
41
Beige shade : NUDE
42
Where Graceland is: Abbr. : TENN
43
1-10, e.g. : SCALE
44
Result of a king vs. king endgame : DRAW
45
Pat : DAB
47
Biblical partner of 37-Down : EVE
48
"The best is the ___ of the good": Voltaire : ENEMY
49
Einstein : GENIUS
52
1945 conference site : YALTA
54
House tour giver : REALTOR
56
Like loamy soil : FERTILE
60
Spot for a shot : ARM
61
Walked : TROD
63
Start to catch up to : GAINON
64
Thanksgiving dessert : PIE
65
School attended by Lord Grantham on "Downton Abbey" : ETON
66
"Same here" : IDOTOO
67
"___ Your Dog, Charlie Brown" (1968 TV special) : HES
68
Spreadsheet contents : DATA
69
Mortise inserts : TENONS
Down
1
Betty who appeared in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" : BOOP
2
"It's all gone wrong!" : OHNO
3
Small songbirds : TITS
4
Fierce way to fight : TOOTHANDNAIL
5
Estée of fragrances : LAUDER
6
Sign up, to Brits : ENROL
7
"Little Women" woman : AMY
8
Speak Persian? : MEOW
9
Contacted via beeper : PAGED
10
Sporting arenas : STADIA
11
Cheerful disposition : GOODNATURE
12
"Ouch!" : YOWIE
13
Hall of fame : MONTY
21
___ Starling, "The Silence of the Lambs" protagonist : CLARICE
23
Comoros or Barbados : ISLANDNATION
25
Gap subsidiary : OLDNAVY
27
Somewhat : ABIT
28
"Roll the ___" : TAPE
29
Wilson and Hoover, but not Eisenhower : BRANDNAMES
31
Image often accompanying the phrase "Legalize it" : POTLEAF
34
Pro-___ : AMS
35
Deli loaf : RYE
37
Biblical partner of 47-Across : ADAM
38
Like morning grass : DEWY
46
Rammed like a ram : BUTTED
48
Charles Schwab competitor : ETRADE
49
It has axes : GRAPH
50
Spine-tingling : EERIE
51
Somewhat, informally : SORTA
53
O.K. : LEGIT
55
What fans do : ROOT
57
Really liking : INTO
58
Nut job : LOON
59
Grandson of 47-Across and 37-Down : ENOS
62
Molecule hidden in 4-, 11-, 23-, 25- and 29-Down : DNA

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?