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New York Times, Friday, October 31, 2014

Author: Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen
Editor: Will Shortz
Mary Lou Guizzo
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
194/17/20149/30/20179
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
21131641
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61120
Jeff Chen
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
777/5/201011/26/201745
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2267111768
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.633162

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 34 Missing: {QZ} This is puzzle # 4 for Ms. Guizzo. This is puzzle # 33 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: MARY LOU: I am constantly on the lookout for interesting and/or new/fresh words to incorporate into puzzles. COGNOSCENTI(E) fit ... more
Constructor notes:

MARY LOU:

I am constantly on the lookout for interesting and/or new/fresh words to incorporate into puzzles. COGNOSCENTI(E) fit the bill. It and BOOGALOO (which turned into BOOB TUBE) were our seed entries.

I discovered this Alex Boisvert grid at xwordinfo.com and liked the mini-theme. I'd tried my hand at filling a themeless grid but was just not sure about the result. I ran my completed grid by Jeff, who was kind enough to give me his analysis. As a result, we decided to work on a new grid together.

The Cask of Amontillado, illustration by Harry Clarke

I'd mentioned to Jeff that Alex's originally published version of this grid had a mini-theme which I had not incorporated into mine. That led to the inclusion of a macabre mystery mini-theme we thought appropriate for the holiday. In our submission we clued COGNOSCENTE as either "Fortunato vis-à-vis Amontillado" or "Connoisseur/Aficionado", realizing that first clue might be a bit of a stretch if you were not familiar with the Edgar Allan Poe short story "The Cask of Amontillado".

I'd like to congratulate Jill Denny and Jeff on the birth of their bundle of joy, Tess, who has Jeff climbing the walls these days (even more than he usually does!).

I'd also like to thank Hayley Gold for an autographed copy of her "Raining Man" comic commemorating my first puzzle accepted by the New York Times. You can view this up-and-coming artist's creative cartoons at her blog, Across and Down.

As always, many thanks to Will Shortz for accepting and editing this puzzle. I'm becoming more COGNizant of just how daunting/challenging a task editing puzzles might be at times! I hope you had an enjoyable solving experience and have a Happy Halloween!

Will Shortz notes: In Mary Lou's and Jeff's manuscript for today's puzzle, they clued COGNOSCENTE (29A) as 'Fortunato vis-à-vis Amontillado, e.g.' I ... more
Will Shortz notes: In Mary Lou's and Jeff's manuscript for today's puzzle, they clued COGNOSCENTE (29A) as "Fortunato vis-à-vis Amontillado, e.g." I almost kept this so the clues to all three central Across answers, including 32A and 33A, would relate to Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado." That would have been neat. But in the end I felt their clue sounded too strained. I went with something more general instead. (Sorry, guys!)
Jeff Chen notes: ML pointed out how the word COGNOSCENTI (or its singular COGNOSCENTE) was both interesting and appropriate to crossword people, and ... more
Jeff Chen notes: ML pointed out how the word COGNOSCENTI (or its singular COGNOSCENTE) was both interesting and appropriate to crossword people, and as usual, we were off to the races. After much iteration, we were able to come up with a center triple-stack all (loosely) related to "The Cask of Amontillado," one of my favorite Poe short stories. (Fortunato is a snooty COGNOSCENTE of Amontillado, and Montresor exploits that hubris in his plan for revenge.) When we realized Halloween would be on a Friday this year — ripe for an appropriate mini-theme — it felt like kismet. Alternate grid with more words

We actually finished a first version with more blocks and more words (see left), which surprisingly turned out to be a little harder to fill well. Unusual for that to happen, but sometimes the letter patterns do tricky things. I was a little skeptical of SATE SAUCE, but a quick check with some of my Malaysian friends came back with the result that SATAY SAUCE in fact was the "incorrect" one (along with some appropriately snarky comments about how they wouldn't eat our Americanized Asian foods if they had been BURIED ALIVE and it was the only option). I was all ready to settle for the alternate grid, with its more choked-off grid (the NW flows into the rest of the puzzle so nicely in the original, and feels comparatively sectioned off in the alternate), so it was a pleasant surprise to be able to go with the more wide-open grid.

Sanford and Son

As an aside, Sanford and Son is one of my favorite shows of all time. If I had my druthers, that theme song would be playing in the background 24/7, and all grids would be filled with AUNT ESTHER swinging her purse at FRED SANFORD's face while spouting off her Bible verses, GRADY WILSON shuffling along with his wisecracks, and LAMONT's buddy ROLLO taking the brunt of Fred's ridiculous one-liners. Heck, even the horribly stereotypical AH CHEW makes me laugh. The entire show is so politically incorrect, it gives me an appreciation for how far things have come in 40 years.

I'm usually one for uplifting entries, grids and clues that make the solver finish with a sense of happiness, but sometimes exceptions keep things interesting. (Full disclosure, I had to sleep with the lights on after finishing "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.") Now, who's up for a nice glass of Amontillado? Just follow me downstairs...

JimH notes: Shameless plug for the free radio play I Might Be Edgar Allan Poe.
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1031 ( 23,733 )
Across Down
1. Boston and Chicago, but not Seattle : ROCKBANDS
10. Diddly-squat : JACK
14. Inuit's transport : WHALEBOAT
15. Oscar nominee for "Fiddler on the Roof" : TOPOL
16. Recommended : ADVISABLE
17. Photoshop effect : SEPIA
18. Bright lights : NEONS
19. What naturals have : RAWTALENT
21. With 24-Across, witchcraft, e.g. : DARK
22. Up : RAISE
23. Sea-___ : TAC
24. See 21-Across : ART
25. Ring of islands? : LEI
26. Barely clear, in a way : AWEIGH
29. Expert : COGNOSCENTE
32. Like Fortunato, in Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" : BURIEDALIVE
33. "The Cask of Amontillado," e.g. : HORRORSTORY
34. Ease : LOOSEN
35. Predators in the "Predator" films, for short : ETS
36. Some I.R.A.'s : CDS
39. "Be on the lookout" signal, in brief : APB
40. ___ country (rustic locale) : AMISH
43. Gallows ___ : TREE
44. Anthrax cousin : METALLICA
47. Prey for a dingo : KOALA
48. Helpful : OFUSE
49. Get ready to click, maybe : MOUSEOVER
51. Ora pro ___ : NOBIS
52. Having human form : INCARNATE
53. ___ chic : TRES
54. Didn't kill each other : COEXISTED
1. Where primatologist Dian Fossey worked : RWANDA
2. "We're in trouble now!" : OHDEAR
3. Gambol : CAVORT
4. TV colonel : KLINK
5. 20th-century first lady : BESS
6. Grp. with suits and cases : ABA
7. Easy decision : NOBRAINER
8. Start of an Eastern title : DALAI
9. Fusses : STEWS
10. Book after Hosea : JOEL
11. Desire : APPETITE
12. Introduction to English? : COINAGE
13. Social gathering : KLATCH
15. Grp. with a lot of baggage : TSA
20. British kitchen accessory : TEACLOTH
22. Like the words "hoagie" and "kitty-corner" : REGIONAL
25. Actor with the line "Rick! Rick, help me!" : LORRE
27. Small dams : WEIRS
28. "___, like lightning, seeks the highest places": Livy : ENVY
29. Base men? : CURS
30. Some E.R. cases : ODS
31. Topping for skewered meat : SATESAUCE
32. Idiot box : BOOBTUBE
33. Desire : HOPEFOR
34. The son on "Sanford and Son" : LAMONT
36. Adam's apple coverer : CRAVAT
37. X : DELETE
38. Blackened : SEARED
41. Parrot : MIMIC
42. Prefix with -graphic : ICONO
43. Betty Boop and Bugs Bunny : TOONS
45. "The way things are ..." : ASIS
46. Tous ___ jours (daily: Fr.) : LES
47. Actress Russell of "Felicity" : KERI
50. Adolphe with an instrument named after him : SAX

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle.

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