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New York Times, Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Author:
Patrick Blindauer and Andrea Carla Michaels
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
657/21/200510/17/201821
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
14561317118
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59252
Patrick Blindauer
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
616/12/20008/6/201833
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
64292200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63217
Andrea Carla Michaels

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 42 Missing: {QZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 51 for Mr. Blindauer. This is puzzle # 40 for Ms. Michaels. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Andrea: Post-ACPT 2010, Patrick suggested M*C idea, knowing i like to do this kind of AEIOU puzzle. I came up with preliminary ... read more

Andrea:

Post-ACPT 2010, Patrick suggested M*C idea, knowing i like to do this kind of AEIOU puzzle. I came up with preliminary entries, most held to the end, though the MIC was MICROPHONESTAND. Really love MICKEYMOUSECLUB so much more, esp with EEK under MOUSE! (and I snuck in my Siamese cat KOKO)

We talked about adding MCC (MCCOURT) and /or MRC Mr Clean. Maybe MYC MYCENAE...maybe even a MDC snuck in there. PB did a version with SEVEN of them, but the MUC (MUCHADO) lacked the MAC, MEC, MIC, MOC sound. So we decided to scale back and just do a clear, solid, fun alphabet run. I made a new grid having just learned how to use Crossfire, that my other frequent collaborator Michael Blake insisted I learn. The peppy original cluing is all Patrick. Though not a pangram, two Xs and seven Ks (!) make up for no QZ.

Many of my puzzle partners are new folks I've mentored, but Patrick's role with me is that he always takes my ideas and bumps them up many notches. Always. :)

Patrick:

Flattery will get you everywhere. ;)

Working with Andrea is a lot of fun; her vivacious energy is quite infectious. Glad we scaled back our original theme ambitions on this one, though I do like the idea of adding some consonants to the usual "vowel run" theme. Maybe next time!

Will Shortz notes:
Some time ago one of the crossword bloggers (I won't say which one, but her initials are D.A.) declared that if she ever saw another ... read more

Some time ago one of the crossword bloggers (I won't say which one, but her initials are D.A.) declared that if she ever saw another vowel-progression theme again, she'd poke her eyes out. (Sorry, D.A.!) As these themes go, I think this one's pretty nice. And have heart: I try not to run this sort of thing too often.

Jeff Chen notes:
I've already gushed about the brilliance of PB, so allow me to tell a story about the awesome and funny ACM. Two years ago I finally ... read more

I've already gushed about the brilliance of PB, so allow me to tell a story about the awesome and funny ACM. Two years ago I finally worked up the courage to go to the ACPT, overcoming my nerves about going to a place where I hardly knew anyone. I got to the hotel and went down to the lobby, expecting to have to use my old trick of pretending I had important texts on my cell phone so I didn't look like that guy who can't even get the dog to play with him. But within minutes, ACM introduced herself and instantly, I had a friend to hang out with. I have so much fondness for the way she noticed the awkward guy in the corner and took steps to make him feel welcome. A lot of warmth in my heart for ACM.

Back to the puzzle, a fun Tuesday offering. I appreciate the fact that the theme is so consistent, a vowel progression of M?C, all with the same hard K sound. Consistency brings elegance, and I wouldn't expect anything less from these two professionals. I'm glad they decided to strip down their more dense version — constructors, take note of how thoughtfully they made their decision, trying out the more dense version but ultimately following the "less is more" philosophy (although five theme answers is still a lot!). Plus, doing so allowed them to incorporate some really nice fill including BASILISK, CAR SALES, JOSHUA, and a nice little CURTSY. More importantly, look how clean the fill is. When your worst piece of fill is IF AT, that's a clear win.

As Will mentioned, a lot of vowel progressions have been done before, so it's difficult to get acceptances unless there's some new twist included. I like the brainstorming that PB and ACM did, and although it didn't result in anything groundbreaking, maybe it will inspire someone else to do something completely new with a vowel progression.

Finally, I really appreciate ACM's comments about Scrabbly letters. Too often constructors get sucked in by the siren song of the pangram (including me, sad to say). Yes, it's kind of a cool feat because it's difficult to do cleanly, but it's mostly cool from the constructor's standpoint and not the solver's. Incorporating J,Q,X,Z's does spice up the puzzle (K's and V's to a lesser extent, IMO), but only if by doing so the puzzle fill doesn't suffer overall. Nice job of that today.

1
G
2
R
3
U
4
B
5
A
6
I
7
L
8
S
9
J
10
I
11
H
12
A
13
D
14
L
I
S
A
15
K
N
E
E
16
O
N
O
N
E
17
A
T
M
S
18
I
F
A
T
19
S
T
A
T
E
20
M
A
C
I
21
N
T
O
S
H
22
H
E
X
E
D
23
L
I
A
R
24
C
U
R
25
T
26
O
27
X
I
C
28
M
29
E
30
C
H
A
N
31
I
32
C
33
A
D
A
S
H
34
N
R
A
35
G
L
36
O
37
M
I
C
K
E
38
Y
39
M
O
U
S
40
E
41
C
L
U
B
42
P
U
T
43
E
E
K
44
N
A
O
M
I
45
M
O
46
C
47
C
A
S
I
48
N
49
T
R
O
P
E
50
H
U
H
51
U
52
S
E
S
53
S
54
E
55
D
E
R
56
M
57
U
C
K
R
A
58
K
59
E
60
R
61
E
V
I
C
T
62
E
L
L
E
63
L
O
V
E
64
G
E
E
K
S
65
A
N
E
W
66
E
K
E
D
67
A
N
T
S
Y
68
D
A
I
S
69
S
O
L
O
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1015 ( 23,352 )
Across
1. Cowboy chow : GRUB
5. Distresses : AILS
9. Word from the Arabic for "struggle" : JIHAD
14. Simpson who said "Beneath my goody two shoes lie some very dark socks" : LISA
15. See 16-Across : KNEE
16. With 15-Across, preparing to pop the question, say : ONONE
17. Cash dispensers, for short : ATMS
18. "___ first you don't succeed ..." : IFAT
19. What a star on a U.S. flag represents : STATE
20. Subject of the book "Revolution in the Valley" : MACINTOSH
22. Beset by a curse : HEXED
23. Pinocchio, periodically : LIAR
24. Snarling dog : CUR
25. Poisonous : TOXIC
28. Person who works with dipsticks : MECHANIC
33. Not much, in cookery : ADASH
34. Powerful org. with HQ in Fairfax, Va. : NRA
35. Shine, commercially : GLO
37. People in this may have big ears : MICKEYMOUSECLUB
42. Shot ___ : PUT
43. "Criminy!" : EEK
44. Actress Watts : NAOMI
45. Sioux shoe : MOCCASIN
49. Metaphor, e.g. : TROPE
50. "Whazzat?" : HUH
51. Employs : USES
53. Meal with Elijah's cup : SEDER
56. Journalist of the Progressive Era : MUCKRAKER
61. Kick out : EVICT
62. Vogue alternative : ELLE
63. Starting score in tennis : LOVE
64. Techie sorts : GEEKS
65. From the top : ANEW
66. Managed, with "out" : EKED
67. Unable to hold still : ANTSY
68. Speaker's place : DAIS
69. Like Lindbergh's historic trans-Atlantic flight : SOLO
Down
1. Glitz : GLAM
2. Meter maid of song : RITA
3. Gomer Pyle's org. : USMC
4. Legendary lizard with a fatal gaze : BASILISK
5. Japanese dog breed : AKITA
6. Notify : INFORM
7. Pastures : LEAS
8. Brother of Cain and Abel : SETH
9. Book after Deuteronomy : JOSHUA
10. Person getting on-the-job training : INTERN
11. Snopes.com subject : HOAX
12. Upfront stake : ANTE
13. Monopoly card : DEED
21. Specialty : NICHE
24. Cartoonist Addams : CHAS
25. Pack down : TAMP
26. Detestation : ODIUM
27. ___ knife : XACTO
29. Japanese mushroom : ENOKI
30. Grand ___ (wine of the highest rank) : CRU
31. Eskimo home : IGLOO
32. Stick together : CLUMP
36. Theater award since 1956 : OBIE
38. Word repeatedly sung after "She loves you ..." : YEAH
39. "___ amis" : MES
40. Opposite of exit : ENTER
41. Deals at a dealership : CARSALES
46. Partner of balances : CHECKS
47. Girl's show of respect : CURTSY
48. Cell centers : NUCLEI
52. Twists, as facts : SKEWS
53. Gaming giant : SEGA
54. Smooth : EVEN
55. Lighten up? : DIET
56. Quaff for Beowulf : MEAD
57. Bone next to the radius : ULNA
58. Gorilla pioneering in sign language : KOKO
59. Knievel of motorcycle stunts : EVEL
60. Make over : REDO

Answer summary: 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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