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New York Times, Thursday, October 22, 2015

Author:
Tracy Gray
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
289/8/201010/10/20196
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7445710
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61451
Tracy Gray

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 37 Missing: {JQVWXZ} This is puzzle # 14 for Ms. Gray. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tracy Gray notes:
Imagine for one moment that it's finally spring in your neck of the woods. The sun is shining and life is good. You're driving in your ... read more

Imagine for one moment that it's finally spring in your neck of the woods. The sun is shining and life is good. You're driving in your car, windows down, music blaring, when suddenly ... WHAM! You drive into an axle-busting, teeth-jarring pothole that snaps you out of your reverie and back to reality. Such was the inspiration this past spring for today's puzzle and my crossword interpretation of driving into a pothole — with C-A-R dropping down one block on the "A" (into an imagined pothole of sorts) and then coming back up to the row it was originally on.

Two options I considered while constructing the grid were to have C-A-R spelled as R-A-C, as though the car was traveling forward in the phrase from left to right, or to have the letters C-A-R span two words. However, I finally decided that the theme would be too difficult to suss out so I used two-word phrases that contained the word CAR in either the first or second word of the phrase.

Lastly, I found a fun tidbit of info while I was cluing. The inclusion of former New York Senator, Al D'Amato, at 16-Across was totally by coincidence, not knowing that his nickname was "Senator Pothole" while he was in office!

Jeff Chen notes:
CARs hidden within themers, falling into 'POTHOLES.' I totally missed Tracy's intention though. I thought the 'A' just disappeared ... read more

CARs hidden within themers, falling into "POTHOLES." I totally missed Tracy's intention though. I thought the "A" just disappeared into the black square in the middle of each phrase. Glad I read her note, understanding that the "A" actually dropped down a row! A bit confusing, but it can sort of work either way.

French APOTHECARY SHOP

Nice choice of themers. CRÈME CARAMEL is delicious, DALE CARNEGIE's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" has sold millions of copies, and OSCAR NOD is a jazzy phrase. The only one I wasn't sure of was APOTHECARY'S SHOP — Google gives a ton of hits without the ‘S, and very few with. APOTHECARY SHOP is only 14 letters, so it wouldn't serve as a perfect central revealer of a 15x puzzle, but to me, it's SO much better than APOTHECARY'S SHOP. Going to a 14x15 grid would have allowed it.

A crossword breaking symmetry conventions without good reason tends to irk me. Check out the location of POTHOLES and OSCAR NOD — not symmetrical! One thing that could have been done: placing POTHOLE in the center, and then A LA CARTE or BACCARAT opposite OSCAR NOD. Would have made for perfect symmetry.

Check out those upper right and lower left corners; big chunks of white space. I don't often leave 6x5 open spaces in my grids, because they're tricky to fill cleanly and snazzily. Tracy does a pretty good job with them, working in good stuff like EN BLOC and CHOO CHOOS, but the plural ARETHAS is still gluey to me even with the save in the "___ Best" clue. BETELS also feels a bit wonky — BETEL NUTS, not BETELS, yeah?

I love Japanese food, but UNADON didn't float into memory. TOTIE and SNELL not only give the puzzle an old-school feel, but those crossings with UNADON will be a killer for some solvers.

I prefer the original way I thought of the black squares as the potholes — the visual of the "A" dropping down one row didn't work nearly as well for me; not really evoking the image of a POTHOLE. Still, a fun solve, albeit a few bumps in the road.

1
L
2
O
3
L
4
A
5
S
6
T
7
I
8
L
9
I
10
M
11
I
12
T
13
S
14
O
S
C
R
N
O
D
16
U
N
A
D
O
N
17
A
L
D
18
A
M
A
T
O
19
S
E
M
I
T
E
20
N
O
S
C
O
R
E
21
A
T
A
B
O
I
L
22
C
R
E
M
23
E
C
R
A
M
E
L
25
S
26
L
27
O
E
28
S
T
29
A
N
S
30
N
O
T
P
31
C
32
O
C
O
M
E
33
C
34
F
35
O
36
A
P
O
T
H
37
E
C
R
Y
S
39
S
H
O
P
40
G
E
E
41
O
R
C
42
A
S
43
T
A
I
N
T
44
B
O
S
U
N
45
F
A
D
S
46
D
47
A
48
L
E
C
R
N
50
E
51
G
52
I
E
53
A
R
E
T
H
54
A
S
55
T
O
M
C
56
A
57
T
58
S
59
M
E
T
E
O
R
60
P
O
T
H
O
L
E
S
61
E
N
B
L
O
C
62
U
N
T
O
63
T
A
N
64
S
A
Y
S
S
O
65
P
S
A
T
66
O
K
S
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1022 ( 24,089 )
Across
1
[I crack myself up] : LOL
4
Sparkling wine : ASTI
8
City ___ : LIMITS
14
Recognition from the Academy : OSCARNOD
16
Japanese dish whose name means, literally, "eel bowl" : UNADON
17
Predecessor of Chuck Schumer as New York senator : ALDAMATO
19
Many a Mideast native : SEMITE
20
0-0 : NOSCORE
21
Hot and bubbling : ATABOIL
22
Flan : CREMECARAMEL
25
Tart English jelly fruit : SLOE
28
Several Asian lands, informally : STANS
30
Like the terms "mailman" and "comedienne," say : NOTPC
32
Carol opener : OCOME
33
Budget overseer, for short : CFO
36
Place for pre-20th century medicines : APOTHECARYSSHOP
40
Word before "I dunno" : GEE
41
They hunt in pods : ORCAS
43
Adulterate : TAINT
44
Warrant officer : BOSUN
45
They're only in for a while : FADS
46
"How to Win Friends and Influence People" writer : DALECARNEGIE
53
"___ Best" (2001 greatest hits album) : ARETHAS
55
F-14 fighters : TOMCATS
59
Metaphor for a blazing success : METEOR
60
Road hazards ... four of which are illustrated literally in this puzzle : POTHOLES
61
As a group : ENBLOC
62
Golden rule word : UNTO
63
See 29-Down : TAN
64
States with authority : SAYSSO
65
Two-hour-and-10-min. exam : PSAT
66
Authorizes : OKS
Down
1
"Kitsch" or "kindergarten," from German : LOAN
2
Location for Munch's "The Scream" : OSLO
3
Some Samsung products, for short : LCDS
4
Over-knight mail? : ARMOR
5
Game stopper? : SNARE
6
Log carving : TOTEM
7
Swear words? : IDO
8
"Curiosity ... is a ___ of the mind": Hobbes : LUST
9
Sincerely : INEARNEST
10
Venomous African snakes : MAMBAS
11
"Dark horse" or "bring to light" : IDIOM
12
Funny Fields : TOTIE
13
Part of a fishing line to which the hook is attached : SNELL
18
Live with : ACCEPT
21
Pitt and Penn : ACTORS
23
Keyboard abbr. : ESC
25
Hitch : SNAG
26
Not a full-out run : LOPE
27
Platte tribesman : OTOE
29
With 63-Across, best-selling Chinese-American author : AMY
31
Tots' trains : CHOOCHOOS
32
Transpires : OCCURS
33
Mint family plant harvested for its seeds : CHIA
34
Like some farewells : FOND
35
Decides (to) : OPTS
37
Places to which people are always rushing, for short : ERS
39
Seattle's ___ Field : SAFECO
42
Curry or Taylor : ANN
44
They're nuts : BETELS
46
Women who are entitled : DAMES
47
Fan setting : ARENA
48
Allow to pass : LETBY
50
Jackets traditionally worn with bow ties : ETONS
51
The Black Eyed Peas' "I ___ Feeling" : GOTTA
52
Comment while fanning oneself : IMHOT
54
Gas giant since 1966 : ARCO
56
Alicia Keys or Adele, e.g. : ALTO
57
Water-resistant timber : TEAK
58
Phishing targets, for short : SSNS
60
Baby shark : PUP

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

Found bugs or have suggestions?