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BIG NAMES IN E-TAIL

New York Times, Sunday, October 18, 2015

Author: Dan Schoenholz
Editor: Will Shortz
Dan Schoenholz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
235/5/201012/7/20170
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10244300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64220

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 70 Missing: {Q} Scrabble average: 1.71 This is puzzle # 17 for Mr. Schoenholz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Dan Schoenholz notes: After a week of mind-benders by several of the most noted crossword-makers around, hopefully NYT solvers are in the mood for something more conventional, as this puzzle has a pretty straightforward theme. ... more
Dan Schoenholz notes:

After a week of mind-benders by several of the most noted crossword-makers around, hopefully NYT solvers are in the mood for something more conventional, as this puzzle has a pretty straightforward theme.

When I construct a Sunday puzzle, I always look for opportunities to interlock theme entries, which allows me to pack in more theme material while retaining enough space between the horizontal entries to avoid a lot of difficult constraints. When the available theme answers are limited, it's hard to pull off, but for this puzzle, I had many options, so finding symmetrical intersecting entries was relatively straightforward. As a result, I was able to include nine themers without having to make too many painful compromises with the fill. This made it a fun puzzle to construct—hopefully solvers enjoy it, too.

Jeff Chen notes: Perfect title, BIG NAMES IN E-TAIL referring to people whose names only differ from a normal word by a final E. BUNS OF STEEL into BUNS OF (Remington) STEELE was my favorite, and LAY IT ON THICKE was fun too. All ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Perfect title, BIG NAMES IN E-TAIL referring to people whose names only differ from a normal word by a final E. BUNS OF STEEL into BUNS OF (Remington) STEELE was my favorite, and LAY IT ON THICKE was fun too. All of them gave me at least a small smile, which is unusual for this type of theme. Well done, Dan!

What really impressed me was how well Dan used his mid-length fill. Usually the 6- or 7-letter entries are hard to make sing. It's so much easier to rely on 8+ letter lengths for colorful fill, since longer fill means more possibility for multi-word phrases, and more variety in general. I kept a running list of very strong mid-length fill, and I couldn't believe how much I kept adding:

  • BOWTIES
  • STYMIE
  • OAXACAN
  • SENATOR
  • ROSE TEA
  • STEINS
  • MGM LION
  • SCALIA (including a great clue with him referencing fortune cookies!)
  • SHOVE IT
  • I WAS HAD
  • IF AT ALL
  • ELECTRA

Remington STEELE

I see a lot of constructors using prepositions in their mid-length fill — adding ON, TO, IN, UP, etc. — which I find perfectly fine but not colorful. Instead of spicing up a grid, these types of entries just act as filler, IMO. We could all take a lesson from Dan's careful selection of mid-length stuff today.

Good job with longer entries too. NUTCASES, MEMORIALS, CHEFS HAT all added to the quality of my solve. NICE PEOPLE felt a bit made-up, but perhaps that's a more regional term.

I uncovered SHOPPING MALLE first and got LONE WOLFE and JOKERS WILDE after that. Having all authors in an E-TAIL puzzle seemed perfect (I'm a big user of Amazon.com for books). So it was a disappointment to get an assortment of others afterward — a hockey player, singer, actor, etc. I enjoyed the puzzle as is, but I would have loved another layer of elegance and specificity by having all authors. That might not have been possible, so perhaps just one instance of each profession would have been my second choice.

The NYT audience is so broad that I think it's smart to have a range of simpler to extremely complex Sunday puzzles. This is a great example of a "starter" Sunday puzzle, one I'd give friends that are still intimidated by the NYT crossword. Simple idea and very well executed.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1018 ( 24,085 )
Across Down
1. Supreme Court justice who once compared the majority's reasoning to "the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie" : SCALIA
7. Low part : BASSO
12. Classify : ASSORT
18. A dozen for Hercules : LABORS
19. Silk case : COCOON
20. Words of defiance : SHOVEIT
22. Admission of a lack of familiarity with Mr. Hockey? : IDONTKNOWHOWE
24. Business feature? : SILENTI
25. Ancient Persian : MEDE
26. Like sailors' talk : SALTY
27. Celebrity cook Paula : DEEN
29. Curse (out) : REAM
30. Fusses : STEWS
32. Kyoto concurrence : HAI
33. Less serious works by the author of "Brighton Rock"? : LIGHTGREENE
36. Take responsibility for : OWN
38. Makes fast : SECURES
40. Roman law : LEX
41. One making a roaring start? : MGMLION
45. Only one person can do it : SOLO
46. Fits comfortably : NESTLES
50. Toque : CHEFSHAT
52. Reason for Brosnan fans to watch 1980s TV? : BUNSOFSTEELE
55. "Home, ___" : JAMES
56. Beach fronts? : BRAS
58. A title might be presented in it: Abbr. : ITAL
59. Being dragged along : INTOW
60. John Lennon's middle name : ONO
61. Brand name whose middle two letters are linked in its logo : KOOL
62. Cameo stone : ONYX
63. Some briefs : BVDS
64. Round house? : BAR
65. Trying to sell one's "Au Revoir les Enfants" video? : SHOPPINGMALLE
68. Where safety goggles may be worn : LAB
71. Don Juan's mother : INEZ
73. Plowmen's cries : HAWS
74. "Rhyme Pays" rapper : ICET
75. "Catch-22" pilot : ORR
76. Deplete : DRAIN
78. Flaky stuff : MICA
79. Foam : HEAD
80. Challenge for a virologist : EBOLA
82. Explosive side of a former tennis great? : VOLCANICASHE
85. Fruitcakes : NUTCASES
87. Libation with a floral bouquet : ROSETEA
88. Noted second-place finisher : HARE
90. Make sense of : PROCESS
91. "Smack!" : POW
92. Maybe not even that : IFATALL
95. Rockies game : ELK
96. Comic's copy of "The Importance of Being Earnest"? : JOKERSWILDE
100. "Oh no!" : EEK
102. Home of Future World : EPCOT
106. Soil: Prefix : AGRO
107. Upbeat : ROSY
108. Rocky debris : SCREE
110. Brazilian berry : ACAI
111. Applaud : CLAPFOR
113. Assign blame to the singer of "Blurred Lines"? : LAYITONTHICKE
117. "Lake Wobegon Days" writer : KEILLOR
118. Writing award won multiple times by Alice Munro : OHENRY
119. Where Quiznos and Mapquest are headquartered : DENVER
120. Erotic : STEAMY
121. "All I ___ Do" (Sheryl Crow hit) : WANNA
122. Tavern vessels : STEINS
1. Slenderizes : SLIMS
2. Midshipman's counterpart : CADET
3. Residence : ABODE
4. Single copy of "The Bonfire of the Vanities"? : LONEWOLFE
5. N.Y.C. line : IRT
6. Questions : ASKS
7. Farfalle shapes : BOWTIES
8. Sore : ACHY
9. Great Lakes' ___ Canals : SOO
10. Disperse : SOW
11. Fidgety : ONEDGE
12. Net worth component : ASSET
13. Topsiders? : SHINGLES
14. Spain's Costa del ___ : SOL
15. Go too far : OVEREXTEND
16. Actress O'Connor of "Xena: Warrior Princess" : RENEE
17. Saturn's largest moon : TITAN
19. Rum mixers : COLAS
21. "What we want most, but what, alas! we use worst," per William Penn : TIME
23. "Uh-uh" : NAH
28. Questioning interjections : EHS
31. Like Vatican guards : SWISS
33. Ripsnorter : LULU
34. Pressing work : IRONING
35. Fidgety : RESTIVE
37. Japanese drama : NOH
39. Some Thanksgiving decorations : COBS
41. Dead-end position : MCJOB
42. Modern-day home of the ancient Ashanti empire : GHANA
43. Some sites on the National Mall : MEMORIALS
44. Home of Jar Jar Binks in "Star Wars" films : NABOO
46. TV's ___ Network (sports presenter) : NFL
47. Relaxes and has some fun : LETSLOOSE
48. Chess's ___ ratings : ELO
49. Singers do this : SEW
51. Nutrition-related : TROPHIC
53. Confound : STYMIE
54. Resident of southern Mexico : OAXACAN
57. Llama's kin : ALPACA
61. Radio freq. : KHZ
62. Come-___ : ONS
63. Nonkosher lunch order : BLT
65. Onetime title for Obama and Clinton : SENATOR
66. "They got me!" : IWASHAD
67. Preceded, with "to" : LEDUP
69. Former kingdom of Provence : ARLES
70. Military muckety-mucks : BRASS
72. Midwesterners, stereotypically : NICEPEOPLE
76. Modern TV feature : DVR
77. Hundred Acre Wood resident : ROO
78. Farrow or Hamm : MIA
79. Mother of Ares : HERA
80. France's ___ Polytechnique : ECOLE
81. Buy into "Common Sense"? : BACKPAINE
83. Post office? : NEWSROOM
84. Hardly fancy : HATE
86. "L'Amore dei ___ Re" (Montemezzi opera) : TRE
89. Sophocles tragedy : ELECTRA
92. Sue Grafton's "___ for Innocent" : IIS
93. Come in under the radar, say : FLYLOW
94. Artist Neiman : LEROY
96. Raise, with "up" : JACK
97. Eyes : OGLES
98. Poisonous snake : KRAIT
99. Producer of wrinkles, it's said : WORRY
101. Comprehension : KEN
103. First year in Constantine's reign : CCCVI
104. Like some port vessels : OAKEN
105. Levels : TIERS
108. ___ Fein : SINN
109. LAX figs. : ETDS
112. Jupiter's locale: Abbr. : FLA
114. "Got it!" : AHA
115. Hankering : YEN
116. Riled (up) : HET

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle.

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