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New York Times, Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Author:
Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
224/17/201411/15/201811
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
31142641
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61330
Mary Lou Guizzo
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
917/5/201011/15/201853
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2467172188
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.635192
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 6 for Ms. Guizzo. This is puzzle # 44 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
MARY LOU: I happened on this Publilius Syrus adage while researching online. I find it very apropos today not only for what we say but ... read more

MARY LOU: I happened on this Publilius Syrus adage while researching online. I find it very apropos today not only for what we say but especially for what we write online. I saw that it broke nicely into an 8/13/13/8 split and had the potential for a word ladder leading from FOOL to SAGE.

My original submission in December 2013 had a seven step word ladder. I heard from Anna Shechtman in April 2014 that Will liked the theme "which combines a quote and word ladder in a novel way. With that much theme material, though, it may not be possible to get completely clean fill." My additional attempts met with a reluctant no from Will, who added that if I could rework the grid with cleaner fill I could resubmit only my one favorite version. I contacted grid guru, Jeff Chen, at this point. Within a day's time he saw the possibility of adding an extra rung to the word ladder and came up with two versions he sent me, noting that the asymmetry of the original submission bugged him.

We both liked the same version. Jeff was a little hesitant to use the entry GRU but I convinced him that GRU along with ZAMBONI were the way to go. We received an acceptance from Will in May 2014. He noted that "GRU was new to me, but I think I'll go with it. It's more interesting than the best alternative I could see, GOA."

My thanks to Will, Anna and Joel for accepting and editing this puzzle. I hope you enjoyed solving it.

Jeff Chen notes:
ML brought me in on this one late in the game. After I declined to work on it (I've sworn off word ladders for the most part), she ... read more

ML brought me in on this one late in the game. After I declined to work on it (I've sworn off word ladders for the most part), she showed me Will's message to her (see above). She knows me too well — there's nothing I like more than trying to pull off something that might not be possible.

Felonious GRU from "Despicable Me"

So off I went, trying out skeleton arrangement after arrangement. Working with four long themers plus another six short words proved to be quite a challenge, but I just hate giving up.

I finally came up with something I liked, something that looked like the word ladder "flowed" from FOOL to SAGE. I wasn't a fan of the "jump" from the right to the left side, but I did like how TALL and TALE naturally served to link the two halves. I sent the rough skeleton back to ML, and she filled it in with a lot of nice stuff.

It's important to me to include at least a little bonus fill in every puzzle I work on, so I'm glad MONOLITH (huge "2001: A Space Odyssey" fan), SO SUE ME, and SEX SELLS made their way in. Even though I've become a bit snobby about candy these days, I do like me a Mr. GOODBAR every once in a while.

Both of us are big "Despicable Me" fans, so I'm glad ML pushed for GRU to get his 15 minutes, despite my hesitations.

As always, a pleasure working with ML!

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1021 ( 24,088 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1. Flexible, electrically speaking : ACDC
5. "Calculating" device : GPS
8. Braininess : SMARTS
14. "Call on me! Call on me!" : OHOH
15. Alley-___ : OOP
16. Alaskan grizzly : KODIAK
17. Part 1 of a maxim by Publilius Syrus, hinted at by the series of circled letters : LETAFOOL
19. Sitting at a red light, say : INIDLE
20. Part 2 of the maxim : HOLDHISTONGUE
22. Bro, e.g. : SIB
23. Level, for one : TOOL
24. Ballpark fig. : EST
25. Sitter's handful : IMP
28. Looney Tunes "devil," informally : TAZ
30. Houlihan player on "M*A*S*H" : SWIT
32. See 47-Across : TALE
34. Prego competitor : RAGU
36. Damage inflicted : TOLL
39. Drawing contests? : DUELS
41. G.I. fare : MRE
42. Some military choppers : HUEYS
44. "BOGO" event : SALE
45. Gets free, as a smoke : BUMS
47. With 32-Across, whopper : TALL
48. Place for a pavilion : EXPO
50. Place for a stud : EAR
52. Cipher creator's need : KEY
53. R.V. stopover : KOA
56. All there : SANE
58. Carrere of "Wayne's World" : TIA
60. Part 3 of the maxim : ANDHEWILLPASS
64. Risks : PERILS
65. End of the maxim : FORASAGE
68. Saffron-flavored dish : PAELLA
69. Mamie's man : IKE
70. State firmly : AVOW
71. "Missed it by tha-a-at much!" : ALMOST
72. Beat by a hair : NIP
73. "That hurts!" : YEOW
Down
1. Owner of MapQuest and Moviefone : AOL
2. Physician-turned-revolutionary : CHE
3. "The lady ___ protest too much": Shak. : DOTH
4. Total confusion : CHAOS
5. Mr. ___ (Hershey's product) : GOODBAR
6. Bear of children's lit : POOH
7. Win one, lose one : SPLIT
8. Winter lift : SKITOW
9. Easter Island statue, e.g. : MONOLITH
10. Score after deuce : ADIN
11. Potato chip feature : RIDGE
12. Anklebone : TALUS
13. Sport utilizing a throwing machine : SKEET
18. Move like a moth : FLIT
21. Sarcastic "Sorry!" : SOSUEME
25. "___ be an honor!" : ITD
26. First graphic novel to win a Pulitzer (1992) : MAUS
27. Courtroom entry : PLEA
29. Between-periods equipment : ZAMBONI
31. Offerer of hot tips : TOUT
33. Palindromic magazine title : ELLE
35. "Despicable Me" supervillain : GRU
37. Release à la Edward Snowden : LEAK
38. Lovett of country : LYLE
40. Advertising truism : SEXSELLS
43. Like some grins : SLY
46. Extracurricular study for many a high school jr. : SATPREP
49. Handles clumsily : PAWSAT
51. Antipiracy org. : RIAA
53. Honor society letter : KAPPA
54. 10-year-old Oscar winner for "Paper Moon" : ONEAL
55. Pertinent, in law : ADREM
57. Like a pixie : ELFIN
59. Test, as ore : ASSAY
61. Port on the Big Island : HILO
62. Shape-shifting Norse god : LOKI
63. Command under "File" : SAVE
66. Icky stuff : GOO
67. "That's icky!" : EWW

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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