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New York Times, Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Author: Joel Fagliano
Editor: Will Shortz
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6010/22/20099/16/20184
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14811710325
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1.65351
Joel Fagliano

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 32 Missing: {KQX} This is puzzle # 25 for Mr. Fagliano. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes: As with most of Joel's puzzles, this one has a super-tight theme and a very clean construction. Almost all the clues are his, too.
Jeff Chen notes: Fun pre-Halloween puzzle today. Joel's constructions are always so nice, the time and care he takes in his work so readily apparent. ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Fun pre-Halloween puzzle today. Joel's constructions are always so nice, the time and care he takes in his work so readily apparent. There's so much good fill packed into the grid today, from the awesome-looking CARLS JR (if only it tasted as good as it looks) to G STRING with its funny clue to a little Salt-N-Pepa PUSH IT. Even HAIRDOS, typically a fine but not snazzy answer, gets spiced up with a clue which seems to hint at an ugly pluralized name (BARKERS? UECKERS?). Excellent stuff.

Joel utilizes a 74-word grid, which typically allows for such nice fill. But it's not for the faint of heart constructor. Aiming for just four less words than the max 78 makes a construction a ton more difficult. This particular arrangement requires stacks of 7's in the four corners, each one a minefield of possible ugly fill. The NE and SW are the biggest hazards, since they aren't nearly as segmented-off as the NW and SE. Beautiful in the corners, ON AN the only blemish in an area packed with BORODIN of Polovtsian Dances fame.

I enjoyed the theme especially since it reminded me that I'll get to "borrow" candy out of my nephew and niece's stash in a few days. But I would have loved to see all five entries either be generic types of candy (JELLY BEANS and CANDY CORN matched perhaps with GUMDROPS, CHOCOLATE BARS, etc.) or all name brand (TOOTSIE ROLL and SWEDISH FISH grouped with you name it). Additionally, TOOTSIE ROLL being singular while the other four themers being plural felt inconsistent. Finally, REESES at the SW corner made me wonder if I had missed other theme answers? But these are minor nits to pick.

The work of a strong constructor today. I'd love to see every constructor take as much time and care in their work as Joel consistently demonstrates, eschewing each tiny bit of ugly fill in order to give the solver the smoothest experience possible.

ADDED NOTE: I completely missed that each theme phrase ends with an actual food that might be eaten at dinner. Ignore my previous inane suggestion two paragraphs above. Wow! Consider me even more impressed.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1030 ( 23,367 )
Across Down
1. What quoth the raven? : CAW
4. Moving well for one's age : SPRY
8. 1988 Salt-N-Pepa hit : PUSHIT
14. Washington in D.C., e.g. : AVE
15. Idiot : YOYO
16. Country on el Mediterráneo : ESPANA
17. Coastal inlet : RIA
18. Part of a Halloween dinner? : SWEDISHFISH
20. Girl in tartan : LASS
22. Moisten, in a way : BASTE
23. Upstate N.Y. college : RPI
24. Soft-shell clam : STEAMER
27. "Prince Igor" composer : BORODIN
29. Part of a Halloween dinner? : JELLYBEANS
31. "Me neither" : NORI
32. Ways to go: Abbr. : RDS
33. Breathtaking creatures? : BOAS
34. Checks out : CASES
35. Part of a Halloween dinner? : CANDYCORN
38. Pricey violin : STRAD
41. Icicle site : EAVE
42. ___ salad : EGG
45. Bed size : TWIN
46. Part of a Halloween dinner? : HOTTAMALES
49. One pushing the envelope? : POSTMAN
51. Something found on a chemist's table : ELEMENT
52. Certain Halloween costumes, for short : ETS
53. "Battling Bella" of '70s politics : ABZUG
55. State : AVER
56. Part of a Halloween dinner? : TOOTSIEROLL
60. Man's name that's another man's name backward : ARI
61. Recruit : ENLIST
62. Stagehand : GRIP
63. Part of the alloy britannium : TIN
64. ___ Peanut Butter Cups : REESES
65. What a colon represents in an emoticon : EYES
66. Heart chart: Abbr. : ECG
1. Fast-food chain with a smiling star in its logo : CARLSJR
2. Flew : AVIATED
3. Deceitful sorts : WEASELS
4. Part of GPS: Abbr. : SYS
5. Punch line? : POW
6. Deli loaf : RYEBREAD
7. Jedi Council leader : YODA
8. Basil-based sauces : PESTOS
9. Walk down the aisle : USHER
10. Lotion inits. : SPF
11. Bob and others : HAIRDOS
12. Give rise to : INSPIRE
13. Pastes used in Middle Eastern cuisine : TAHINIS
19. Publisher's ID : ISBN
21. Pizzeria owner in "Do the Right Thing" : SAL
25. "Whoops" : MYBAD
26. Jet : EBON
28. ___ impulse : ONAN
30. Heretofore : ASYET
34. Thick, sweet liqueur : CREME
35. Tilt : CANT
36. "Jeopardy!" column : CATEGORY
37. 42-Across shape : OVAL
38. First pope : STPETER
39. Black and blue, say : TWOTONE
40. Savory deep-fried pastry : RISSOLE
42. Lift : ELEVATE
43. Not brand-name : GENERIC
44. Spare wear : GSTRING
46. Nuns' wear : HABITS
47. Dix + 1 : ONZE
48. Org. with a snake in its logo : AMA
50. Billiards trick shot : MASSE
54. Impulse : URGE
57. "___ So Sweet to Trust in Jesus" : TIS
58. Say "I do" when you don't? : LIE
59. Groovy music? : LPS

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?