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New York Times, Thursday, November 2, 2017

Author:
Peter Sagal and Mike Selinker
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
111/2/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65010
Peter Sagal
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
410/29/200011/2/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
10001002
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65010
Mike Selinker

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QXZ} Spans: 1 This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Sagal. This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Selinker. See all the celebrity crosswords. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: To mark the 75th anniversary of the New York Times crossword, which debuted in 1942, we are publishing a series of puzzles co-created by famous people who solve the Times crossword, working together with regular Times puzzle contributors.
This collaboration is by Peter Sagal, the host of NPR's "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!," working together with Mike Selinker, a game and puzzle designer in Renton, Wash. Their crossword is about something Peter is doing - and Mike says he's "definitely not capable of doing" - this very weekend.
The celebrity collaborations will continue periodically through the year.
More information about the making of today's puzzle appears in the Times's daily crossword column (nytimes.com/column/wordplay).
Constructor notes:
A couple years ago on the JoCo Cruise, I helped Peter Sagal out with the clues for a game show—I know, right?—and so it ... read more

A couple years ago on the JoCo Cruise, I helped Peter Sagal out with the clues for a game show—I know, right?—and so it seemed about time for him to return the favor. Peter was a more-than-willing collaborator, and we fleshed out a lot of ideas that didn't really go anywhere. Eventually I posed to Peter, who runs a lot of marathons, the obvious question "What about a marathon puzzle?" Peter wanted to run the New York Marathon this week, and so he came up with this insane and stellar idea of drawing a map of the entire marathon route. To which I said, "Uh, yeah, I *think* I can do that," and came up with this.

Actually, the first grid *also* had a 26-letter message—RUN AND RUN TILL THE RACE IS DONE—running from the second R in FERRY to the N and E at the start of NEW YORK MARATHON, with the black squares being the bridges between the boroughs. Which was great except Will went, "Okay, but why?" And he was—stop me if this sounds familiar—completely correct. I ripped that out and made a much better grid with Will and Peter's guidance.

Once that was done, Peter clued the first pass all by himself, and OMG he's like the best crossword cluer ever. That brain is crammed with so much trivia, he's probably had to delete the node that tells him how to use a fork. I had no freaking idea about half the stuff he crammed into there. For me though, the best clues of his are the ones that just roll off as effortless comments, like the ones for MOO, IMHO, and ROCK ON. It was a great three-way collaboration with me, Peter, and Will. I hope we get to do it again soon. Now Peter just has to teach me how to be a radio god and we're even.

Anyway, RIGHT NOW, go to Peter's crowdfunding page for his run on Sunday, because he's doing this awesome thing where his team guides a visually impaired runner.

Meanwhile, I'll also be doing a marathon of a different kind, playing Dungeons & Dragons all day to benefit children hospitals for Extra Life. Mine's just like his, but with less sweating and more orcs.

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun use of the NEW YORK MARATHON's course in this puzzle. It starts in Staten Island (Step 1), goes through Brooklyn (Step 2), etc., ... read more

Fun use of the NEW YORK MARATHON's course in this puzzle. It starts in Staten Island (Step 1), goes through Brooklyn (Step 2), etc., and each step along the way helps the puzzle to completion. The FERRY isn't the passenger ship since 1817 — it's the (Staten Island) FERRY. The old baseball team is not just the DODGERS, but the (Brooklyn) DODGERS.

My favorites were the ones where the clue/answer made zero sense until you got the gimmick. How could a show of contempt be a CHEER? Ah, when it's a Bronx CHEER!

Some didn't work as well — I didn't even realize that Queens was part of (Queens) ENGLISH, as this low-brow Yank thinks of any ENGLISH accent as upper-class.

We've added the implied BOROUGHs below in case you're still confused.

So fortuitous that the themers worked out to be symmetrical. There's not a lot of options for "Manhattan ___" or "Bronx ___," so Peter and Mike must have held their breath, hoping that the crossword gods would shine down on them. The puzzle might have worked okay with asymmetrical lengths, but it's so much more elegant to obey the rules of crossword symmetry.

Solid construction. Although the themers are mostly short, seven of them is wicked hard, especially when you're working with a central 15-letter entry. At first, I wondered why they left the NW and SE so wide open — a bit of ISLA / ISUP / AGA glue is almost always necessary to hold a big section like this together. Why not break them up a bit?

Ah. Mike and Peter had to deploy so many of their black squares in the middle of the grid that they ran out in the NW / SE. 15x15 crosswords can't go above 78 words, so if you break up a whole lot of entries into short words in the middle, you necessarily end up with some long ones around the perimeter.

Fun concept, made me want to get back out and train!

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1102 ( 24,831 )

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Across
1
Any of the Galápagos, e.g. : ISLA
5
Small cape : SPIT
9
Step 5: A show of contempt : BRONXCHEER
14
Freddie Mercury or Martin Sheen : STAGENAME
16
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s enemy, in Marvel comics : HYDRA
17
Little Dipper's place : URSAMINOR
18
Coming-out phrase : IMGAY
19
Epitome of easiness : PIE
20
Poppy products : OPIUMS
22
Noted government agent during Prohibition : NESS
23
Steps 4 and 6: A 1940s program : MANHATTANPROJECT
25
Car decal abbr. : AAA
27
Trump is often involved in these : BIDS
28
Step 3: An upper-class accent : QUEENSENGLISH
32
Site of arthroscopic surgery : KNEE
35
Profess : AVER
36
"Why, yes, I am, in fact, a cow" : MOO
37
Event held on the first Sunday in November, and whose path is recreated in this puzzle : NEWYORKMARATHON
42
Early metal? : ORE
43
Pizza maker John Schnatter's nickname : PAPA
44
Square for a white rook, in chess notation : AONE
45
What each step in this puzzle lacks, in proper order : BOROUGH
47
Actress Issa and others : RAES
50
Draw on : USE
51
Step 2: An old baseball team : BROOKLYNDODGERS
54
Trounces, slangily : OWNS
57
Thickset : STOCKY
59
Interstellar sitcom star : ALF
61
Pilfers : LOOTS
63
Many teachers disallow it in footnotes : WIKIPEDIA
65
Sprite in "The Tempest" : ARIEL
66
"Knock yourself out" : IDONTMIND
67
Step 1: A passenger ship since 1817 : STATENISLANDFERRY
68
Bunches : TONS
69
Attire, informally : TOGS
Down
1
Was just on deck : ISUP
2
Busy retail area : STRIP
3
___ beam : LASER
4
Istanbul commander : AGA
5
Made a petty verbal attack : SNIPED
6
Freaks out : PANICS
7
"That's it for me," in poker : IMOUT
8
Life, for one : TERM
9
Life force : CHI
10
Item on the back of a pew : HYMNAL
11
Lip : EDGE
12
Period pieces : ERAS
13
Sea creatures that are a homophone of 47-Across : RAYS
15
Face With Tears of Joy, e.g. : EMOJI
21
Less gonzo : SANER
24
Toe the line : OBEY
26
Where Mumtaz Mahal is entombed : AGRA
28
One of the Gabor sisters : EVA
29
It may mean "I'm about to tell you you're wrong" : IMHO
30
Any moment : SOON
31
Fine-tune : HONE
32
Pinch : salt :: ___ : butter : KNOB
33
He was emperor at 16, dead at 30 : NERO
34
Item by a basin : EWER
35
Org. with a noted weekly research journal : AMA
38
Work : OPUS
39
Storms : RAGES
40
European driver's concern: Abbr. : KPH
41
Electrically stun : TASE
46
Coup result : OUSTER
47
Comment with the pinkie and forefinger extended upward : ROCKON
48
Country singer Trace : ADKINS
49
Where Zagazig is : EGYPT
51
1982 Stevie Wonder title query : DOIDO
52
"Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" medium : RADIO
53
It might be supporting a cast : SLING
54
Count of children's literature : OLAF
55
Came out in : WORE
56
Café ___ : NOIR
58
Dunderhead : TWIT
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They're in : FADS
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Arch : SLY
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CPR provider : EMT

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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