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New York Times, Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Author:
Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
244/17/20143/6/201913
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
31153641
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61440
Mary Lou Guizzo
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1027/5/20108/29/201961
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2678182698
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.637222
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 )
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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