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New York Times, Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Author:
Samuel A. Donaldson
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3310/2/20088/21/20199
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7257516
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63130
Samuel A. Donaldson

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Donaldson. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Samuel A. Donaldson notes:
I brainstormed phrases that could work as revealing entries for add-a-letter and drop-a-letter themes. THROW IN THE TOWEL stood out, ... read more

I brainstormed phrases that could work as revealing entries for add-a-letter and drop-a-letter themes. THROW IN THE TOWEL stood out, not only because it allowed for the addition of HIS and HERS but also because it contained 15 letters. Crossword gold!

To class it up a little, I wanted theme entries where the HIS and HERS were appended to the front or the end, not jammed in the middle (e.g., PARIS FRANCHISE). And of course I needed four theme entries: two with HIS and two with HERS. Finally, I felt it important to have a HIS and HERS up top and another set at the bottom. Looking back, I don't know if all of these self-imposed constraints were essential, but I was happy with the symmetrical set of theme entries that emerged. HERSHEY BABY was my favorite.

The grid may not be the smoothest you'll ever see (LEONAS, NIDI, and ACHT, anyone?), but I like to think it was in service of the theme and some of the more interesting non-thematic fill. I spent a lot of time thinking whether it was something of a sin to have I CHOKED and I RAISE in the same line (much less the same grid), but ultimately I LIKED it.

Will Shortz notes:
Besides the theme, my favorite entries here are AL CAPP, OH MY, PT BOAT, PHREAK, and YOU ARE HERE. I also kind of like I CHOKED, ... read more

Besides the theme, my favorite entries here are AL CAPP, OH MY, PT BOAT, PHREAK, and YOU ARE HERE. I also kind of like I CHOKED, although I'm not 100% sure it's a stand-alone phrase, which lessens its desirableness.

Jeff Chen notes:
A few years ago, I was working on a construction at my local bagel shop, and a guy said, 'Excuse me, but is that Crossword Compiler?'. ... read more

A few years ago, I was working on a construction at my local bagel shop, and a guy said, "Excuse me, but is that Crossword Compiler?". My first reaction was to hide under the table and/or pretend I didn't speak English, but luckily my second reaction was to shake Sam Donaldson's hand. Little by little we started hanging out along with Jim Horne, and now Sam is one of my favorite people in all of crossword-land. Amazing how a chance meeting can turn into something so awesome.

Sam used to blog daily over at Crossword Fiend and managed to write entertaining pieces every day for about two years while reviewing the CrosSynergy puzzles. One of his best features was "Guess the Constructor", where he ranked three guesses, trying to match the puzzle's grid and cluing vibe to one of the CrosSynergy regulars. If I were to play that game with this week's seven puzzles, I think I could have picked out Sam's in a heartbeat. It's a puzzle chock-full of Donaldson personality, and for that I give it the POW.

Fun theme with a catchy revealer, working on a deeper level than usual "add-a-letter(s)" themes by adding HIS and HERS to each of two phrases. I appreciated Sam's effort to incorporate the HIS and HERS at the ends of the first two theme entries and at the beginnings of the last two. Thoughtfulness like that makes for an elegant execution.

More importantly, all aspects of the puzzle scream SAM DONALDSON! and I love it (yes, I'm biased, but what are you going to do). Sam and I have both been known to 1.) titter at juvenile jokes and 2.) enjoy greasy food, so the base phrases HEY BABY and BACON FAT made me reminisce of the good old days when Sam still lived in Seattle. You throw in I CHOKED, I RAISE right next to each other, the "No acting up!" clue for BE GOOD, "Jeez Louise!" for MAN, and "End of a lame pickup line" for OFTEN and you have yourself a Donaldson signature. BTW, it's a good thing Sam and I are both married because we'd be those two pathetic guys at the end of the bar poking each other, saying, "No, YOU go talk to her!" while giggling a la "Dumb and Dumber".

To be sure, this puzzle isn't without its flaws. I debated for a long time whether to disqualify the puzzle for POW contention solely based on the NIDI/HSIA area, but eventually all the great stuff won me over. And I do like the pairs of stacked 10's in the NE and SW corners, but the trade-off of having a lot of three-letter abbreviations (SYL sticking out) and acronyms made me wonder whether it would have been better to break up COHABITANT and YOU ARE HERE for cleaner fill, especially if it could mean improving the NIDI/HSIA region.

But overall, this puzzle gave me a tremendous smile. Full of personality and enjoyment. Can't wait to see Sam at the ACPT in 2014.

1
A
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L
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H
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N
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D
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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1016 ( 23,353 )
Across
1
Creator of Fearless Fosdick : ALCAPP
7
"This is bad" : OHMY
11
Word part: Abbr. : SYL
14
Kind of pork on a Chinese menu : MOOSHU
15
What's to eat : FARE
16
Cedar Rapids college : COE
17
Blow away singer Johnny? : FLOORMATHIS
19
National Dog Day mo. : AUG
20
Navigational aid : MAP
21
Name on some euros : EIRE
22
Mountain goat's perch : CRAG
23
Boars? : BACONFATHERS
27
"In the end the pressure got to me" : ICHOKED
30
Bluffer's words : IRAISE
31
What may precede one : NOON
32
"You wish!" : ASIF
33
Sounds of relief : AHS
35
Call it quits ... with a hint to 17-, 23-, 48- and 56-Across : THROWINTHETOWEL
40
Western treaty grp. : OAS
41
First Chinese dynasty : HSIA
42
Inspiration for a "Jackass" stunt, maybe : DARE
43
"No acting up!" : BEGOOD
45
Ticked off : ANNOYED
48
Sala? : HISPANICROOM
50
Salt Lake City athletes : UTES
51
Zwei cubed : ACHT
52
Bub : MAC
55
"Jeez Louise!" : MAN
56
Toddler raised on chocolate? : HERSHEYBABY
60
Slip-___ (some shoes) : ONS
61
Removal from harm's way, for short : EVAC
62
Hotelier Helmsley and others : LEONAS
63
Hwy. : RTE
64
Warrior princess of TV : XENA
65
J.F.K.'s W.W. II craft : PTBOAT
Down
1
Like most car radios : AMFM
2
Showgirl in the song "Copacabana" : LOLA
3
Many a city dwelling : COOP
4
Volcano on Kyushu : ASO
5
Telephone system hacker : PHREAK
6
Rock that may float : PUMICE
7
End of a lame pickup line : OFTEN
8
"You wish!" : HAH
9
Med. scan : MRI
10
Cry that may accompany fist-pumping : YES
11
Frightens off : SCARESAWAY
12
Words on a 20-Across at a mall : YOUAREHERE
13
Hosiery brand that sponsored women-only 10K races : LEGGS
18
Biogenesis scandal nickname : AROD
22
Hellenic X : CHI
23
U2's frontman : BONO
24
Shore dinner entree : FISH
25
Indy racer Luyendyk : ARIE
26
Ex-president who swore in President Hoover : TAFT
27
Digging, so to speak : INTO
28
One sharing living space : COHABITANT
29
Practical smarts : HORSESENSE
32
One-time link : ATA
34
Anchorage-to-Nome racer : SLED
36
"Hang on a sec!" : WHOA
37
Currently airs : ISON
38
Spiders' nests : NIDI
39
Lamar who married a Kardashian : ODOM
44
Navigational aid, for short : GPS
45
Angel or enemy preceder : ARCH
46
Totally useless : NOHELP
47
"Give me a sec" : NOTYET
48
Bookstore section : HUMOR
49
First to stab Caesar : CASCA
52
Ranchero's hand : MANO
53
Simple quatrain form : ABAA
54
Dermatologist's concern : CYST
56
Put the whammy on : HEX
57
Time to revel : EVE
58
Sought office : RAN
59
Go for apples : BOB

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

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