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BIG NAMES IN E-TAIL

New York Times, Sunday, October 18, 2015

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

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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
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
Down
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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