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New York Times, Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Author:
Joel Fagliano
Editor:
Will Shortz
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1.64351
Joel Fagliano

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 77, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FQXZ} Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 24 for Mr. Fagliano. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joel Fagliano notes:
I really liked the base idea of this puzzle (the V's representing a flock of geese), but I struggled with coming up with good ... read more

I really liked the base idea of this puzzle (the V's representing a flock of geese), but I struggled with coming up with good surrounding theme material. With the left/right symmetry and all the Vs locked in place in the top half of the grid, I didn't have much flexibility in the bottom to include more theme answers. With the current grid design, I worked for a while trying to get themers to work in those bottom 7 stacks, before eventually deciding that the fill was either undoable or the themers too strained. I'll be interested to see if solvers are annoyed by the lack of theme answers in the bottom half of the puzzle or if they appreciate the effort to keep the overall fill more clean and lively.

Will Shortz notes:
You don't see left/right symmetry often in American crosswords, but it's just as legitimate as the regular kind. This puzzle is light ... read more

You don't see left/right symmetry often in American crosswords, but it's just as legitimate as the regular kind. This puzzle is light on theme material, but I think it makes up for it with liveliness — especially LOVER'S LANE, LIVING WILL, UP TO YOU, and NICE JOB. Joel just started his senior year at Pomona College in California. He has been my intern for the past three summers and intends to return full-time after graduating. Virtually all the clues in this puzzle are his.

Winning time for this puzzle at the 17th Westchester Crossword Puzzle Tournament, held last Friday in Pleasantville, NY:

Jeffrey Schwartz, New York, NY, in 4:33.

Jeff Chen notes:
What a treat to get something different on a Tuesday! Joel Fagliano, a very well-rounded constructor, shows off his chops with a ... read more

What a treat to get something different on a Tuesday! Joel Fagliano, a very well-rounded constructor, shows off his chops with a (relatively) rare "mirror symmetry" puzzle, one which exhibits left-right symmetry. It might not be apparent why he chooses this option, but consider the pattern of V's that's central to this theme. If Joel had used normal (180 rotational) symmetry, the black squares might have visually overwhelmed everything else, a point Michael Sharp (aka Rex Parker) has noted many times in the past. As an added layer of elegance, there are no other V's in the puzzle.

It's a thing of beauty to imagine a flock of MIGRATING/GEESE flying straight overhead (I would have preferred MIGRATING/GEESE or MIGRATING/BIRDS over GEESE/MIGRATION, as the latter feels slightly stilted as a phrase). All crosswords are works of art in their own right, but this one I could imagine up on someone's wall.

Will and Joel's notes about the relative thinness of theme are well-taken, and I would have liked to see something else — not sure what though. V SIGN would be cool, but it would also throw a loose V into the puzzle (or require a "????V" theme answer to preserve mirror symmetry). So I like Joel's compromise of making the rest of the puzzle a quasi-themeless, giving us such great stuff as the long fill Will mentioned. I also appreciate the cluing, which felt Joel-ish (more modern than average). Neat when the constructor's cluing vibe comes through.

KISLEV...I scratched my head when I ran into it while solving. I polled a few Jewish friends afterward, and indeed KISLEV is important because of its relation to Hanukkah, so I'm glad to have learned it. But IYAR, ELUL, and SIVAN, you're on notice.

This puzzle gets my POW! but let me tell you, we have a couple of stonkers coming up. Gareth Bain assures me that "stonker" means "something good". It's possible he's pulling my leg, but I like the word too much not to use it. "Stonker of the Week", that's catchy.

1
V
2
O
3
L
4
S
5
C
6
O
7
P
8
T
9
O
10
S
11
L
12
A
13
V
14
A
V
O
W
15
I
N
L
A
W
16
H
I
V
E
17
N
A
V
I
18
G
E
E
S
E
19
A
V
E
S
20
E
L
E
V
21
E
22
A
B
E
23
E
V
I
C
T
24
R
E
V
25
E
L
26
R
27
A
V
E
N
28
K
29
I
S
L
E
V
30
V
I
R
G
31
I
32
N
33
O
W
L
34
R
E
35
V
36
I
37
V
A
L
38
W
H
O
39
L
O
A
40
D
41
N
I
V
E
N
42
L
I
O
N
43
A
N
N
E
44
S
C
A
N
T
45
A
L
P
O
46
S
T
E
E
47
L
48
A
N
E
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M
I
L
E
S
50
M
I
51
G
R
A
T
52
I
O
N
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S
54
P
55
A
56
M
O
I
57
I
N
N
58
B
59
A
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D
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T
O
R
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P
E
D
O
63
A
N
I
64
M
A
T
E
65
U
P
T
O
Y
O
U
66
N
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C
E
J
O
B
67
D
E
S
I
S
T
S
68
S
E
A
L
A
N
T
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1001 ( 23,338 )

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Across
1
Tennessee team, for short : VOLS
5
Acknowledge as true : COPTO
10
Pole or Czech : SLAV
14
Admit openly : AVOW
15
Often-maligned relative : INLAW
16
___ mind : HIVE
17
Blue-skinned race in "Avatar" : NAVI
18
With 50-Across, it's represented by 15 squares in an appropriate arrangement in this puzzle : GEESE
19
Some Monopoly purchases: Abbr. : AVES
20
French pupil : ELEVE
22
Grandpa on "The Simpsons" : ABE
23
Boot : EVICT
24
Live it up : REVEL
26
N.F.L. player with a black helmet : RAVEN
28
Hebrew month when Hanukkah starts : KISLEV
30
Richard Branson's airline company : VIRGIN
33
Hundred Acre Wood resident : OWL
34
Place to hear fire and brimstone : REVIVAL
38
Personal question? : WHO
39
Washing machine contents : LOAD
41
David of "The Pink Panther" : NIVEN
42
Rear half of a griffin : LION
43
Writer Katherine ___ Porter : ANNE
44
Barely adequate : SCANT
45
Iams competitor : ALPO
46
1943 penny material : STEEL
48
Suffix with meth- or prop- : ANE
49
What you might buy a flight with : MILES
50
See 18-Across : MIGRATION
53
Place with complimentary bathrobes : SPA
56
Pronoun for Miss Piggy : MOI
57
Rodeway ___ : INN
58
Past the expiration date : BAD
61
Ship sinker : TORPEDO
63
Pep up : ANIMATE
65
"Not my call" : UPTOYOU
66
Words of encouragement : NICEJOB
67
Calls it quits : DESISTS
68
Weatherproofing stuff : SEALANT
Down
1
Revolver with the letters N-E-W-S : VANE
2
Speed skater's path : OVAL
3
Make-out session spot : LOVERSLANE
4
Spin, as an office chair : SWIVEL
5
It might be bummed : CIG
6
Basketball player who starred in "Kazaam" : ONEAL
7
Commoner : PLEB
8
Police stun gun : TASER
9
"I ___ you one" : OWE
10
Barber, at times : SHAVER
11
Medical directive : LIVINGWILL
12
With, on le menu : AVEC
13
Item under a jacket, maybe : VEST
21
At any time : EVER
23
Nefarious : EVIL
25
Roulette bet : EVENS
27
___-garde : AVANT
28
Caffeine-laden nuts : KOLAS
29
"Not gonna happen" : IWONT
31
Comment made while crossing one's fingers : IHOPE
32
Pitchers' hitless games, in baseball slang : NONOS
35
Experienced through another : VICARIOUS
36
The first Mrs. Trump : IVANA
37
Shakespeare's Antonio and Bassanio, e.g. : VENETIANS
40
Judge : DEEM
42
Reclined : LAIN
47
British sailors : LIMEYS
49
One of the friends on "Friends" : MONICA
51
No-show in a Beckett play : GODOT
52
Certain belly button : INNIE
53
Tuxedo shirt button : STUD
54
St. Peter was the first : POPE
55
B.A. part : ARTS
58
Cabo's peninsula : BAJA
59
Lots : ATON
60
Thing often of interest? : DEBT
62
Hawaiian dish : POI
64
Blanc or Brooks : MEL

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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