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New York Times, Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Author: Jeff Chen
Editor: Will Shortz
Jeff Chen
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777/5/201011/26/201745
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2267111768
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1.633162

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQW} Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 58 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes: Will mentioned earlier this year that he was running low on easy, smooth Monday puzzles, so I thought I'd write one. LIKE synonyms ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Will mentioned earlier this year that he was running low on easy, smooth Monday puzzles, so I thought I'd write one. LIKE synonyms camouflaged in phrases felt like a simple enough idea ... and wouldn't LIKE MINDED make a great revealer!

Monday puzzles sometimes bore me, though, so I wanted to do something more interesting with this one. What if I added more elements — instead of four themers, how about five? Good, but the set I found meant that three synonyms would be at ends of phrases and two at beginnings. That felt inelegant.

Hey, how about using mirror symmetry to put all the key words in the middle of the puzzle? That fortuitously worked out, and then while I was building the grid, I thought it would be fun to make it a wide-open grid, with themeless-like corners. Some testing showed I could do it without resorting to much crossword glue, so I figured it could make for a more an interesting solve.

Sometimes I ought to listen to my own advice, though. As a constructor, I really enjoyed putting this grid together, what with entries like OR NURSE (nurse specializing in operating room work), DOORMEN, HOT DATE, FORGERS, IM COOL, GAL PAL, etc. And STIPPLE is such an interesting word.

But I presented Will a dilemma — with a Monday-like theme and a themeless-like grid, what day of the week should it run on? If a Monday, would a novice solver know what STIPPLE means (much less understand a clever clue for it)? And would someone who doesn't do that many crosswords appreciate the bizarre looking ORNURSE string of letters, or get completely confused?

So there you have it, my easy-breezy Monday puzzle … running on a Wednesday.

It really is a wonder that anyone ever listens to me.

Jeff Chen notes: Everything came together so nicely for this low word-count grid ... except for an unfortunate ??N?V pattern at the left side of the ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Everything came together so nicely for this low word-count grid ... except for an unfortunate ??N?V pattern at the left side of the grid. ANNIV came immediately to mind, but I didn't care at all for that abbreviation. I did some brainstorming and wondered if there had been a famous queen, Anne the Fifth (ANNE V)? Came as a complete surprise to me that there's a very popular model named ANNE V.

Should I have gone with ANNIV? I debated this one for days. ANNIV felt so ugly, and the more I read up on ANNE V, the more crossworthy she seemed, having risen to the highest levels of the modeling world. And it's kind of cool to have that bizarre ANNEV string, not knowing how to parse it. I had a feeling she would be a toughie for many, so I tried my best to make the crossings very easy, so she wouldn't hold up people's ability to achieve a correct solve.

Still hard to figure out if I made the right decision. I'm sure there will be some who disagree, but I'm equally sure that there would have been grumbling (probably more so) about ANNIV. I could have also gone with just four themers, but that seemed too thin. Given that it's a pretty straightforward theme type, I felt that having five themers would help give the puzzle a meatier feel.

Always the trade-offs!

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G
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A
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1012 ( 24,445 )
Across Down
1. Ladies' night attendee : GALPAL
7. "It's all good" : IMCOOL
13. Light-colored brew : PALEALE
14. Condo building employees : DOORMEN
16. Canada's first province alphabetically : ALBERTA
17. Prepare, as a musical score : ARRANGE
18. Lack of supply : DEARTH
19. Join : ENLIST
20. Possible response to "Can you pick up the kids from school?" : YESDEAR
24. Like Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 : INF
27. What an Ironman has to battle : FATIGUE
28. Place : LAY
31. Mazda roadster : MIATA
33. "___ out walkin' after midnight" (Patsy Cline lyric) : IGO
34. Boxer Ali : LAILA
36. Model in 10 straight Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions, familiarly : ANNEV
37. Summer setting in Seattle: Abbr. : PDT
38. Get tats : INKUP
39. Big name in precision cutting : XACTO
40. ___ capita : PER
41. Asparagus spears, e.g. : STEMS
42. "___ durn tootin'!" : YER
43. Luau souvenir : LEI
44. Bottom of bell bottoms : HEM
45. Like a zoot-suiter : HEP
47. A Marx brother : ZEPPO
49. Possessive often containing a mistaken apostrophe : ITS
52. Color of the Dodge Charger on "The Dukes of Hazzard" : ORANGE
55. Land created by C. S. Lewis : NARNIA
58. Surgical asst. : ORNURSE
60. Insects on a 17-year cycle : CICADAS
61. Exciting romantic prospect : HOTDATE
62. Ones defrauding museums : FORGERS
63. Weaponry storehouse : ARSENAL
64. Vitamin brand with an instructive name : ONEADAY
1. High wind : GALE
2. Actress Jessica : ALBA
3. Satyr's stare : LEER
4. Item in a swag bag : PARTYFAVOR
5. Gibson who was the first person of color to win a tennis Grand Slam event : ALTHEA
6. Bucolic locale : LEA
7. Journalist Wells : IDA
8. Title "Dr." in an H. G. Wells story : MOREAU
9. Southern side dish made with kernels off the cob : CORNRELISH
10. Spoken test : ORAL
11. Marriott competitor : OMNI
12. Last parts drawn in hangman : LEGS
13. Crib : PAD
15. Something cut down during March Madness : NET
21. Go completely dotty? : STIPPLE
22. Push oneself to the max : DIGDEEP
23. Bout of swellheadedness : EGOTRIP
24. Where to see pictures on the big screen? : IMAX
25. Ship of 1492 : NINA
26. Pretentiously high-class : FANCYPANTS
28. Thinking similarly : LIKEMINDED
29. Many a college applicant's interviewer, for short : ALUM
30. Flaps one's gums : YAPS
32. Spot for un chapeau : TETE
35. Pay to play : ANTE
45. Hullabaloo : HOOHA
46. Wild throw, e.g. : ERROR
47. Keebler saltine brand : ZESTA
48. Sometimes-caramelized food : ONION
50. Part of Wonder Woman's outfit : TIARA
51. Impertinent : SASSY
53. Like Venus in "The Birth of Venus" : NUDE
54. Nickname for Mom's mom : GRAN
56. A lot of land, maybe : ACRE
57. Bit of Bollywood music : RAGA
59. Jellied delicacy : EEL
60. Exec. money manager : CFO

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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