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New York Times, Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Author:
Robert Cirillo
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
52/9/20109/27/20160
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0230000
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1.61000
Robert Cirillo

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Cirillo. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Robert Cirillo notes:
I enjoyed this type of theme when I was a newbie solver and always wanted to construct one. I know Will recently stated on this site ... read more

I enjoyed this type of theme when I was a newbie solver and always wanted to construct one. I know Will recently stated on this site that these types of themes are a bit old, but I think it's fun to see these kind of connections between words. Particularly, when there are so many "in the language" phrases that can be tied together by a common word.

I actually had two more themers that I squeezed into an earlier iteration of the puzzle, GUARD DOG and ROAD WORK, but the fill became too strained. Even with the current 6 theme answers and the revealer, it was a bit strained in places, most obviously at the crossing of ELFMAN and LDOPA. Hopefully, since the answers are from different disciplines, everyone will know at least one of them.

I liked the intersecting BIRTH and BERTH and IDIOT and DORK next to each other-reminds me of the movie Dumb and Dumber. I also liked FIRE and SMOKE next to each other. I think ASPERSE is a great word that you normally only hear in its noun form.

Mostly, I'd like to say I hope everyone has some fun solving it. That's what it's all about.

Will Shortz notes:
I have to give Robert Cirillo kudos. Sometime after I'd accepted and filed his HOUSE puzzle, he grew unsatisfied with the construction ... read more

I have to give Robert Cirillo kudos. Sometime after I'd accepted and filed his HOUSE puzzle, he grew unsatisfied with the construction and sent me a whole new version ... that was better. I admire that.

Jeff Chen notes:
Wow. I had to rub my eyes after solving this puzzle to make sure I saw it correctly. Six long (and snappy!) theme entries plus a ... read more

Wow. I had to rub my eyes after solving this puzzle to make sure I saw it correctly. Six long (and snappy!) theme entries plus a revealer, and good long fill to boot? I had to study the puzzle to make sure I wasn't seeing things. Excellent work.

A fine example of the "word which can follow both halves of the theme phrases" type. The usual knock on these is that the theme answers are often blah to tortured, because it's difficult to find two-word phrases which fit this criteria. But Rob scoffs at that, giving us six great theme answers, including my favorite of the bunch, WHITE SMOKE. True, there are many phrases that can end in HOUSE so he did have a big set to choose from, but the fact that he chose HOUSE and not, say, CABER or WEASEL, is to his credit.

If only there were such a thing as a CABER WEASEL. I'm not sure what it would be, but I want one.

Typically, with six+ theme answers, there isn't much flexibility for good long fill. It is true that Rob didn't use any 8+ long downs, but the sevens are really good: OPEN BAR, SET SHOT (which always makes me think of basketball players in the 60's dressed in those hilariously short shorts), and DREAM ON. Excellent work there, and the short fill is remarkably clean given all aforementioned constraints.

If there was one thing I could ask for, it would have been a snazzier revealer. This type of puzzle has been done enough now that having something like DOUBLEDAY is a welcome extra layer of elegance. Not sure what it would be for HOUSE though. Someone invent a DOUBLE HOUSE already (CABER WEASEL first though).

Finally, I love the fact that Rob sent Will another grid even after his puzzle was accepted. (I asked if he could send his previous grid for us to post, but he had already deleted it.) Five or ten extra hours in order to produce a snazzier and cleaner grid AFTER an acceptance? That's the striving for perfection that all of us constructors should strive for.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1029 ( 23,366 )

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Across
1
"Ad ___ per aspera" (Kansas' motto) : ASTRA
6
Fine pillow stuffing : EIDER
11
Car with a checkered past? : CAB
14
Turkish money : LIRAS
15
Parkinson's treatment : LDOPA
16
Egg: Prefix : OVI
17
Audibly shocked : AGASP
18
Military muscle : FIREPOWER
20
Sign of change at the Vatican : WHITESMOKE
22
Prell rival : PERT
23
Ogle : STAREAT
24
Ship slip : BERTH
25
RR stop : STN
26
Chief Norse god : ODIN
28
Saffron and ginger : SPICES
32
Functional lawn adornment : BIRDBATH
36
Per person : EACH
37
Word that can follow both halves of 18-, 20-, 32-, 40-, 54- and 57-Across : HOUSE
39
Plus : ALSO
40
Take every last cent of : CLEANOUT
42
Inflatable safety device : AIRBAG
44
Curt denial : NOTI
45
10 Downing St. residents : PMS
46
Scoring 100 on : ACING
49
One who keeps plugging along : TROOPER
53
Fade : WANE
54
"Go" signal : GREENLIGHT
57
Using all of a gym, as in basketball : FULLCOURT
59
Eagle's home : AERIE
60
Network that aired "Monk" : USA
61
007, for one : AGENT
62
News that may be illustrated by a graph : TREND
63
Fictional detective ___ Archer : LEW
64
Like the north side of some rocks : MOSSY
65
___ Park, Colo. : ESTES
Down
1
"There oughta be ___!" : ALAW
2
"Alas" and "ah" : SIGHS
3
Curly hair or hazel eyes : TRAIT
4
Haile Selassie disciple : RASTA
5
Bad-mouth : ASPERSE
6
Actress Jenna of "Dharma & Greg" : ELFMAN
7
Moron : IDIOT
8
Almost any character on "The Big Bang Theory" : DORK
9
Fencing blade : EPEE
10
Radio format : RAP
11
Shrink in fear : COWER
12
Deflect : AVERT
13
Word with canal or control : BIRTH
19
Place to get free screwdrivers, say : OPENBAR
21
Free throw, e.g. : SETSHOT
24
Said, as "adieu" : BID
26
"___ for octopus" : OIS
27
"Yeah, like you have a chance!" : DREAMON
28
Regulatory inits. since 1934 : SEC
29
___ around with : PAL
30
Winter driving hazard : ICE
31
Wide strait : CHANNEL
32
Word of qualification : BUT
33
Priest's garment : ALB
34
Org. with a prohibited-items list : TSA
35
Sharer's opposite : HOG
38
Parisian assent : OUI
41
Yule libation : NOG
43
Quarantine : ISOLATE
45
With 46-Down, quite bad : PRETTY
46
See 45-Down : AWFUL
47
Effect's partner : CAUSE
48
Something acquired by marriage? : INLAW
49
Shore fliers : TERNS
50
Shore fixtures : PIERS
51
"Snowy" wader : EGRET
52
___ Valley, German wine region : RHINE
54
___ girl : GOGO
55
Regrets : RUES
56
Senators Cruz and Kennedy : TEDS
58
Machine part : CAM

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle.

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