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New York Times, Thursday, October 12, 2017

Author: Alex Eaton-Salners
Editor: Will Shortz
Alex Eaton-Salners
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
52/2/201710/31/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0011300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56100

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 42 Missing: {FJQ} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Eaton-Salners. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Notepad: The one-word Across clues all have an unusual relationship with their answers.
Alex Eaton-Salners notes: Unlike many puzzles, I clearly recall the genesis of this one. While working on another grid, which will be appearing in a ... more
Alex Eaton-Salners notes:

Unlike many puzzles, I clearly recall the genesis of this one. While working on another grid, which will be appearing in a different venue next year, I came up with the clue "Mustered" for one of the entries. I found the similarity in sound between mustered and mustard amusing and contemplated using the clue "Mustard, say?" as a playful reinterpretation of the ", say" crossword cluing convention. I ultimately decided to just go with "Mustered," but I thought it would be fun to create a puzzle using that gimmick.

In my original manuscript, the across clues were all in the form "XXXX, say?," and I avoided using that cluing convention in the down direction. I hoped there would be a fun aha moment discovering that in this case "say" literally means to say the clue out loud, and I was a little disappointed that Will et al. decided to scrap that idea in favor of a note to the solver. Perhaps it would have been too frustrating as I originally designed it.

As you might guess, creating this puzzle was a very time-consuming (and manual) process. Perhaps I'm a glutton for punishment – all but one of my published NYT puzzles to date have required unusually labor-intensive construction techniques.

I started by locking in some of the longer across entries and then gradually building out the grid from there. Due to the homophonic cluing constraint, I repeatedly had to redo completed areas when I couldn't get them to work with the rest of the grid. Notably, there are only four three-letter words in the across direction. Somewhat surprisingly, these three-letter slots were the hardest to fill. It turns out that, relatively speaking, slots of length four or more are much more amenable to homophonic shenanigans.

Jeff Chen notes: Loved this idea, cluing all the across answers using a homophone of a real clue. My favorite was MOBILIZED … how could that ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Loved this idea, cluing all the across answers using a homophone of a real clue. My favorite was MOBILIZED … how could that mean [Mustard]? Ah, it meant [Mustered]! Clever.

[Instants] for CASE also gave me a nice a-ha moment. I hadn't cottoned to the trick, so I entered in a terminal S because of the plural clue. Got me! It's [Instance], singular. Perfect.

So, so, so tough to pull this off so that every single across answer is cluable in this manner. That means no partials, no proper names, no trivia, etc. Have to stick to all regular words and limit yourself to ones that might somehow be cluable to a single word that had a homophone. I can only imagine how many times Alex had to reboot. If just a single across entry didn't work ... yikes!

Although Alex did an amazing job of making most of them solid, enough jarred me that overall, I felt like I couldn't give this the POW! The biggest offenders were the ones that broke crossword conventions, like [Flour] for PEONY. Yes, a PEONY is a type of flower, but the clue would always be [Type of flower] or something to that effect. I struggled so much because that convention is in the very marrow of crosswords, and breaking it without explanation doesn't seem fair. Same with HAM = [Meet] = [Meat], RYES = [Lickers] = [Liquors].

Also odd to get [Re] as a clue. What is "Re" in real life? I can't imagine a normal clue looking like that — maybe [Re, e.g.] for "musical note." [Dun] also would be a weird clue in a normal crossword, as would [Missal].

And LANES doesn't quite equal [Rhodes] ("roads"). Too much of stretch for my taste.

Perhaps it would have been better if the one-word constraint had been lifted, replaced by "a homophone anywhere in the clue"? If even half of those awkward clues had been fixed to seem normal, I would have given this the POW! I admire Alex's big thinking.

1
C
2
A
3
R
4
E
5
I
6
D
7
E
8
A
9
S
10
E
11
N
12
D
13
A
T
A
D
14
S
O
W
N
15
A
C
M
E
S
16
M
O
B
I
17
L
I
Z
E
D
18
C
O
M
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C
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P
E
T
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T
E
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R
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T
U
A
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H
A
M
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D
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P
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T
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C
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A
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B
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R
E
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A
R
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A
R
O
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M
31
A
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A
T
L
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A
S
34
R
Y
35
E
S
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A
I
M
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S
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S
E
A
L
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P
A
R
T
S
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T
R
A
P
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H
U
R
L
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A
L
O
T
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P
H
O
N
E
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P
E
O
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N
Y
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T
U
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B
E
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S
A
D
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T
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E
S
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I
N
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K
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G
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L
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P
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L
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60
D
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E
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Y
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A
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G
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O
V
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D
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C
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N
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1012 ( 24,810 )
Across Down
1. Mined : CARE
5. Cents : IDEA
9. Male : SEND
13. Sum : ATAD
14. Ceded : SOWN
15. Peeks : ACMES
16. Mustard : MOBILIZED
18. Whit : COMIC
19. We : PETITE
20. Writes : RITUALS
22. Meet : HAM
23. Bass : DEPOT
24. Handsome : CAB
27. Tale : REAR
29. Knows : AROMA
32. Missal : ATLAS
34. Lickers : RYES
36. Sites : AIMS
38. Clothes : SEAL
39. Rolls : PARTS
40. Bate : TRAP
41. Throe : HURL
42. Lodes : ALOT
43. Wring : PHONE
44. Flour : PEONY
46. Hoes : TUBE
48. Blew : SAD
49. Hews : TONES
51. Sine : INK
53. Re : GLIMMER
56. Flea : ESCAPE
59. Rhodes : LANES
60. Slight : DEXTERITY
63. Inn : AMONG
64. Dun : OVER
65. Steak : ANTE
66. Chute : DART
67. Instants : CASE
68. Bye : NEAR
1. Heisman winner Newton : CAM
2. On : ATOP
3. Broccoli ___ : RABE
4. English poet Sitwell : EDITH
5. Introspective query : ISITME
6. Not pay attention during a lecture, say : DOZE
7. She's sheared : EWE
8. ___ the Giant, first inductee in the W.W.E. Hall of Fame : ANDRE
9. It starts "On my honor, I will do my best ..." : SCOUTOATH
10. Watson or Thompson of 2017's "Beauty and the Beast" : EMMA
11. Diamond with 21 platinum albums : NEIL
12. Army awards just below Medals of Honor: Abbr. : DSCS
15. One for whom work is play? : ACTOR
17. Ones spinning webs? : LIARS
21. Comment during bidding : IPASS
23. Troubles with timber : DRYROTS
24. Bills that one doesn't mind piling up : CASH
25. Believed with no questions asked : ATEUP
26. Megaphone noise : BLARE
28. ___ Sea, body greatly diminished by Russian irrigation projects : ARAL
30. Some works at MoMA and the Art Institute of Chicago : MIROS
31. Big name in household appliances : AMANA
33. 160 acres per farmer, in the Homestead Act of 1862 : ALLOTMENT
35. Classical rebuke : ETTU
37. Fast-forwarded, with "up" : SPED
39. Max ___, popular video game series of the 2000s : PAYNE
43. Vice president after Biden : PENCE
45. Declaration on a Chinese menu : NOMSG
47. Grayish to yellowish brown : BISTRE
50. One who may order an operation, informally : ERDOC
52. Designer Donna : KARAN
53. Pleased : GLAD
54. Priest from on high? : LAMA
55. "Are you ___ out?" : INOR
56. Kramer and Kramer, in "Kramer vs. Kramer" : EXES
57. Material for a mountain cabin : PINE
58. ___ James, 2008 Beyoncé role : ETTA
61. One of the Gabors of old Hollywood : EVA
62. Suffix with saw : YER

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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