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New York Times, Thursday, October 22, 2015

Author: Tracy Gray
Editor: Will Shortz
Tracy Gray
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
239/8/201010/22/20174
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6235610
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59431

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 37 Missing: {JQVWXZ} This is puzzle # 14 for Ms. Gray. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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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 ... more
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 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 ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

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 Down
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
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?