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New York Times, Thursday, October 10, 2013

Author:
Jeffrey Wechsler
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
187/17/19699/12/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0145710
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.581101
Jeffrey Wechsler

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {HJQX} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 7 for Mr. Wechsler. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
In addition to the rebus entry at 36A, Jeffrey's first version of this puzzle had DAY and WEEK rebuses at the top and bottom of the ... read more

In addition to the rebus entry at 36A, Jeffrey's first version of this puzzle had DAY and WEEK rebuses at the top and bottom of the grid. I thought these were unnecessary, and they constrained the construction in these areas too much besides. The revised version of the grid, which you see here today, is cleaner and nicer, I think. And the "aha" at 36A is really great.

Jeff Chen notes:
'All the time?' is a fantastic clue for the central theme answer (a set of rebus entries going from SUN to SAT). A central entry plus ... read more

"All the time?" is a fantastic clue for the central theme answer (a set of rebus entries going from SUN to SAT). A central entry plus two vertical grid-spanners may not seem like a lot of theme material, but incorporating vertical answers across the central entry adds to the density. Jeffrey could have made all seven of his crossing entries short stuff like LEMON and FRIDA, but he ups the ante by giving us the juicy SUN YAT SEN, ARE WE DONE, THUCYDIDES, and EASY VIRTUE. I hadn't heard of that last one, but pretty much anything from Noel Coward ought to be gridworthy. Beautiful work in the center of his grid, quite a feat. Well done!

One aspect of this construction that jumped out at me was the high number of 3-letter words. Will tries to keep them down to roughly 20(ish) or under, because too many of them become distracting to some solvers. Here, we have 30 three-letter words, and that's not counting LE(MON) or (FRI)DA. As a result, the solve felt a bit choppy to me. This sort of grid arrangement (lots of short entries, lots of long entries) does have the potential for long snazzy fill, but not a lot of the longer entries felt fresh and sparkly (to me, at least). I did like VARIATION and its science-related clue, but SIDE AISLE and UNDREAMED OF felt a touch off to my ear.

One aspect I appreciated here is the liberal use of cheater squares (black squares which don't affect the total word count). Jeffrey incorporates three pairs of them, and I'm sure this gave a better result than without. Yes, the extra black squares do cut down on the open feel of a puzzle, but I'd personally much rather take a cleaner fill with cheaters. In particular, note the black square at the end of SALIVATE and its match just before DEAD BODY (nice save with the clue for an otherwise creepy-ish entry, BTW). Those 9x3 stack sections are tough to fill cleanly, and placing just a single set of cheaters opens up the possibilities greatly, because the universe of 8-letter words is about 10% bigger than that of the 9-letter universe. I'd bet we would have had at least one other OSO or MEDE type entry without that particular pair of cheaters.

Rebus puzzles are getting tougher to innovate, given that there have been over 300 of them in the NYT now. I appreciate Jeffrey's fresh take on this one, all the rebi in a neat calendar row. Clever idea and a great clue for that entry.

1
S
2
A
3
D
4
P
5
A
6
E
7
A
8
N
9
B
10
A
11
C
12
K
13
A
B
E
14
E
R
A
T
O
15
R
E
P
R
O
16
L
O
S
17
D
U
S
T
S
18
W
E
E
P
E
R
19
I
R
K
20
A
M
Y
21
T
I
M
22
O
D
E
23
V
I
T
24
A
L
25
V
26
A
R
I
A
27
T
I
O
N
28
A
G
O
G
29
L
I
R
A
30
I
A
N
31
T
I
P
S
32
E
R
E
33
N
U
T
34
S
35
E
N
C
36
SUN
MON
TUE
WED
37
THU
38
FRI
SAT
39
M
I
40
D
41
E
A
42
Z
Y
43
O
C
D
44
M
E
D
E
45
L
E
A
46
E
N
Y
A
47
O
N
E
A
48
S
49
W
E
E
T
50
E
N
E
D
51
O
C
T
A
D
52
K
I
N
53
S
R
A
54
I
55
M
F
56
B
I
B
57
U
N
D
58
R
E
A
M
59
E
D
O
F
60
O
S
O
61
L
E
A
N
N
62
E
L
E
V
E
63
O
L
D
64
L
Y
R
A
65
L
O
S
E
R
66
K
E
Y
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1010 ( 23,347 )
Across
1. Full of tears, say : SAD
4. Thanksgiving song : PAEAN
9. Behind : BACK
13. Name that's one syllable in English, two syllables in Japanese : ABE
14. Sister of Melpomene : ERATO
15. Copy, briefly : REPRO
16. "Was ist ___?" : LOS
17. Custodial tool : DUSTSWEEPER
19. Put out : IRK
20. Literary March : AMY
21. Comic Meadows formerly of "S.N.L." : TIM
22. "___ to Apollo" : ODE
23. Needed : VITAL
25. Basic process of genetics : VARIATION
28. Keenly waiting : AGOG
29. Currency superseded by the euro : LIRA
30. Actor McShane : IAN
31. Some keep waiting for them : TIPS
32. "Listen, ___ the sound be fled": Longfellow : ERE
33. "Phooey!" : NUTS
35. Abbr. at the bottom of a letter : ENC
36. All the time?: Abbr. : SUNMONTUEWEDTHUFRISAT
39. Prefix with week : MID
41. Rapper ___-E : EAZY
43. Repetitive inits.? : OCD
44. Dweller in ancient Persepolis : MEDE
45. Clover locale : LEA
46. Self-titled platinum album of 1986 : ENYA
47. Eligible to be called up : ONEA
48. Like many breakfast cereals : SWEETENED
51. Oxygen's electrons, e.g. : OCTAD
52. Cousin : KIN
53. Relative of Mme. : SRA
54. Global economic org. : IMF
56. Tie one on at dinner, maybe : BIB
57. Inconceivable : UNDREAMEDOF
60. Spanish bear : OSO
61. Singer Rimes : LEANN
62. Lycée attendee : ELEVE
63. Traditional : OLD
64. Constellation next to Hercules : LYRA
65. The hare, notably : LOSER
66. G, e.g. : KEY
Down
1. Show eager anticipation : SALIVATE
2. Native : ABORIGINE
3. Common site for 36-Across : DESKTOPCALENDAR
4. Brake, e.g. : PEDAL
5. ___ lily : ARUM
6. Noël Coward play : EASYVIRTUE
7. Football stat. : ATT
8. Cosa ___ : NOSTRA
9. Nectar detector : BEE
10. Common site for 36-Across : APPOINTMENTBOOK
11. Inscription on stained glass, maybe : CREDO
12. "The New Yorker" cartoonist Ed : KOREN
15. Doesn't leave : REMAINSAT
18. Xbox competitor : WII
24. Some legal bigwigs: Abbr. : AGS
26. "Anything else that you require?" : AREWEDONE
27. Leader of ancient Troy? : TAU
29. It may leave a sour taste in your mouth : LEMON
34. Peripheral basilica feature : SIDEAISLE
36. Revered Chinese figure : SUNYATSEN
37. Athenian general who wrote "History of the Peloponnesian War" : THUCYDIDES
38. 2002 Salma Hayek film or its title role : FRIDA
40. Nonspeaking role on "CSI" : DEADBODY
42. Last of 26 : ZEE
44. Comfy footwear, briefly : MOC
46. Paint type : ENAMEL
48. Halloween prop : SKULL
49. Like some fancy sauces : WINEY
50. Procter & Gamble brand : ERA
51. Tender : OFFER
55. "Gangway!" : MOVE
58. Chain in biology : RNA
59. Band with the '79 album "Discovery" : ELO

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?