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Puzzle of the Week

New York Times, Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Author: Jay Kaskel and Daniel Kantor
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
104/9/200810/30/20175
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0243010
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58030
Jay Kaskel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
118/7/20079/27/20185
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0036110
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60030
Daniel Kantor

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QVZ} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Kaskel. This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Kantor. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Constructor notes: One way to understand what goes into constructing a NYT-worthy puzzle is to follow this email thread (which has been considerably ... more
Constructor notes:

One way to understand what goes into constructing a NYT-worthy puzzle is to follow this email thread (which has been considerably edited and shortened.)

Hi Jay,

Joel Fagliano, writing on behalf of Will.

Thanks for showing us your FOOD COURT 15x. Will worries about running a puzzle with BATTERED CHICKEN, as a pun on domestic abuse isn't likely to amuse many people.

Hi Will,

What If we rebuilt the puzzle using GRILLED PORK CHOP instead?

Hi Jay,

GRILLED PORK CHOP feels inconsistent, because the other entries all have to do with the offense committed (corruption, divorce, etc), whereas this only refers to what happens once the PORK CHOP enters the courtroom (what a weird sentence to write!). Anyway, we still like the core idea here.

Hi Will and Joel,

We worked hard to come up with a replacement to GRILLED PORK CHOP. Below are 3 options.

17-A Rolled tortillas prosecuted for being high? BAKED ENCHILADAS

17-A Fungi involved in a wrongful termination suit? CANNED MUSHROOMS

17-A Game fish suing for slander? BLACKENED SALMON

Hi guys,

Thanks for the reworked theme proposal.

None of your proposed new theme entries sounded terribly familiar. What if, instead, the theme consisted of the following:

BAKED BEANS (10)

CANNED CORN (10)

Hi Will,

We rebuilt FOODCOURT using the theme entries you proposed.

Hi Jay,

Thanks for the new version. While the grid doesn't have anything that's actually bad, it also doesn't have anything actually good — and overall it feels awfully crosswordy. Would you be willing to try this again with a little more oomph?

Hi Will,

Thanks for hanging in there with us. Have a look at this next draft.

Hi Jay,

Yes, much better! Clue this up for a Wednesday, and we'll be all set.

Thanks a lot.

--Will

Jeff Chen notes: What a fun idea, riffing on FOOD COURT to describe edible offenders. Hilarious to think about grains of rice making payoffs to ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

What a fun idea, riffing on FOOD COURT to describe edible offenders. Hilarious to think about grains of rice making payoffs to politicians. And I laughed at uncovering the BAKED BEANS (baked = high on pot). All four of the "defendants" were right on. Very well done!

For the love of God, AMADEUS!

Because the FOOD COURT in the center sort of splits the puzzle into a top and bottom half, there's not much opportunity for long fill. It's so important to make the mid-length stuff count. I think Jay and Daniel did a nice job there with WIRETAP, SNIPERS, PSYCHIC.

And what a great clue for AMADEUS: [Famous middle name that means "love of God"] Not only is it gettable for Wolfgang AMADEUS Mozart fans, but people who don't know him can work it out from the etymology trivia.

The clue for GENERAL worked well for me too: [Word in the names of two of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies]. General Electric came easily, but I had to think to get General Motors Company.

The clue for WIRETAP — [Invasive bug] — is so innocuous. Some sort of boll weevil, right? Really strong cluing in the mid-length material today.

The shorter fill did drag me down. Even with a tough arrangement of themers like today's, all I want to do is appreciate how fun the theme is without getting bogged down in gluey bits. It started in the north, with UNC and SNO together. I applaud innovating with a tin monoxide reference to SNO, but it felt like putting lipstick on a pig. There was enough ATRAS, OUSE, OPE, ENERO, MINOT, SRS stuff — all minor, but not in aggregate — that it distracted me from the neat theme.

I wish more cheater squares had been deployed, maybe where the R of RUSTS and L of LOYAL are, to smooth out the north and south. I dug the theme and mid-length fill so much that I wanted this to be a perfect puzzle.

A few years of working with Jim has evolved my thinking. Yes, the short fill bugged me, but the big question for me these days: was I delighted by the puzzle? A resounding yes for this one.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1028 ( 24,095 )
Across Down
1. "The ___ is up!" : JIG
4. Corrodes : RUSTS
9. What tiny fish and eyes do : DART
13. Hunky-dory : ACES
15. What might lead you to say "Whatever" : ENNUI
16. Spy Aldrich : AMES
17. 34-Across case involving ... wrongful termination? : CANNEDCORN
19. Like stallions : MALE
20. Prepares to tie one's shoes, say : KNEELS
21. Put a strain on : TAX
23. Multiplication sign, in math class : DOT
24. Some razors : ATRAS
25. ... divorce proceedings? : SPLITPEAS
28. Washing machine cycle : SOAK
29. Political group unlikely to be swayed : BASE
30. Give the slip : ELUDE
31. Fa follower : SOL
32. Far from fat : BONY
33. Peeved : CROSS
34. Legal setting for 17-, 25-, 45- and 53-Across? : FOODCOURT
36. Big gulps : SWIGS
38. Hip dance : HULA
39. Hip : MOD
42. Ouzo flavoring : ANISE
43. Main point : GIST
44. Subject of much Dave Chappelle humor : RACE
45. ... political corruption? : DIRTYRICE
47. North Dakota city : MINOT
48. Unlock, in verse : OPE
49. Fixed : SET
50. Common antiseptic : IODINE
51. Catches : NETS
53. ... marijuana possession? : BAKEDBEANS
56. Asia's ___ Sea : ARAL
57. Summer month in South America : ENERO
58. ___-free : SCOT
59. Kids' road trip game : ISPY
60. True-blue : LOYAL
61. AARP members: Abbr. : SRS
1. Onetime MTV reality stunt show : JACKASS
2. Confident counterclaim : ICANTOO
3. Word in the names of two of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies : GENERAL
4. Jazzberry Jam and Razzmatazz in a Crayola box : REDS
5. Ma's his sis : UNC
6. Chemical formula for tin monoxide : SNO
7. Slowpoke : TURTLE
8. 1950s Mideast hot spot : SINAI
9. Stop for water : DAM
10. Famous middle name that means "love of God" : AMADEUS
11. Prepares for another round of shots : RELOADS
12. Flying transmitter : TSETSE
14. Tiptoer, e.g. : SNEAK
18. What can take people for a loop? : ELS
22. Nissan S.U.V. : XTERRA
25. Contents of some banks : SAND
26. Pro with a deck of cards, maybe : PSYCHIC
27. Cook up a conspiracy : PLOT
29. Chorus that's not nice to hear : BOOS
32. Unidentified hostile aircraft : BOGEYS
33. ___ of personality : CULT
34. Punch ingredient? : FIST
35. "Great" river of England : OUSE
36. Ones taking potshots : SNIPERS
37. Invasive bug : WIRETAP
39. Crazies : MANIACS
40. Alito succeeded her on the bench : OCONNOR
41. Cannot stand : DETESTS
42. Hebrew name for God : ADONAI
43. Big name in 1980s jeans : GITANO
44. Tilt-a-Whirl and Ferris wheel : RIDES
46. Insurgent : REBEL
47. Underworld group : MOB
50. "American ___" : IDOL
52. Like a 14-Down : SLY
54. "The Star-Spangled Banner" writer : KEY
55. Measure opposed by Phyllis Schlafly, for short : ERA

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle.

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