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

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 ... read more

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
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
Down
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.

Found bugs or have suggestions?