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New York Times, Thursday, November 21, 2013

Author: Jules P. Markey
Editor: Will Shortz
Jules P. Markey
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
165/10/20121/17/20180
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0145600
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1.58351

This puzzle:

Rows: 16, Columns: 15 Words: 81, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JZ} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Markey. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Jules P. Markey notes: This is the second vertically themed puzzle of mine accepted by Will Shortz, and as I mentioned to him in my cover letter, I ... more
Jules P. Markey notes: This is the second vertically themed puzzle of mine accepted by Will Shortz, and as I mentioned to him in my cover letter, I was hoping vertical was the new horizontal. There are certain limitations to the format, namely that all of the theme entries as well as the reveal are encountered somewhat early in the solving process, but it would be unfortunate to waste all the possibilities that "downness" brings to self-referential themes because of that.

This puzzle was submitted last December, and was accepted in April with some provisos. A few changes had to be made to the fill, however there was one sticking point, the ten letter 3-Down themer didn't quite fit with the others. In subsequent submissions 3-Down went from: THISLLPASS; to YOUAREOKAY; to DONTGIVEUP; to LIFEGOESON, each of which was rightly met with Mr. Shortz's disapproval. I just couldn't find something that sounded right.

By then it was the end of August, my wife and I were spending two weeks at a lake cabin in Vermont. On our final evening, after one or two margaritas, (underage constructors please disregard this), the heavens opened up, and NOTTOWORRY was comfortingly whispered into my mind's ear. EUREKA!!!

Mr. Shortz concurred.

Will Shortz notes: This puzzle went through three versions until Jules finally got a set of four theme entries that were true and natural-sounding ... more
Will Shortz notes: This puzzle went through three versions until Jules finally got a set of four theme entries that were true and natural-sounding "comforters." The extra effort paid off, resulting in a nice Thursday challenge.
Jeff Chen notes: Fun, having DOWN COMFORTERS run down (vertically), as well as incorporating four theme 'comforters' (comforting statements) in the ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Fun, having DOWN COMFORTERS run down (vertically), as well as incorporating four theme "comforters" (comforting statements) in the down direction. Clever idea! It was tougher than usual for a Thursday (for me), but I liked the challenge. Not having clues for those four down answers largely made it like a quote puzzle, where you have to work for every crossing until you start to make out bits and pieces of words. It took a long time but felt very satisfying when I finally figured out what was going on.

It was interesting to read about Jules going through several iterations of the "comforters". IT GETS BETTER and THERE THERE worked perfectly for me, but THIS WILL PASS felt a little off (ITLL PASS seems more in the language to my ear). Could be a generational or a cultural thing? Same with NOT TO WORRY. Could also be that I'm personally much more likely to say GET OVER IT, SUCKA. I'm kidding. Sort of.

Even with five long themers, Jules manages to work in a lot of nice fill. SPONGEBOB is fun to see in the grid even though we saw him just recently, and COPYEDIT and BOOK A TRIP are quite nice too. Trying to find good entries that cross three themers (SPONGEBOB and BOOK A TRIP both do this) is often very difficult. Even if you can find a few good options, it often forces compromises in the surrounding areas since you have few options to try out.

Two areas I paused at, the first being FOWLES / LOEB. I know Lisa LOEB the singer, but the Harvard reference was lost on me. The cross was a blind guess, made tougher by my reasoning that if it was LOEB it would have been clued to the singer. You can see now why I'm a terrible rock, paper, scissors player, as I try to out-think my opponent until my brain smokes. (And I totally would have taken the wine with Iocaine powder in it.)

The second was the NW corner. NOT TO WORRY didn't make itself apparent in my head so I tried all sorts of DONT WORRY, DONT YOU WORRY, WORRY WORRY (I never claimed I was logical). Not knowing OMNIA made that especially hard. But hey, this is the New York Times Thursday puzzle. It's supposed to be hard.

Glad to finish it with just one error!

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1121 ( 23,389 )
Across Down
1. Pen denizen : CON
4. Go ballistic? : ARC
7. In : ATHOME
13. Employee insurance plan, for short : HMO
14. Makeup of one of the homes of the Three Little Pigs : WOOD
16. Isn't piglike : SHARES
17. One putting out feelers : ANT
18. Wacko : LOCO
19. Rug fibers : SISALS
20. Commencement, e.g. : RITE
22. John who wrote "The French Lieutenant's Woman" : FOWLES
24. Formerly : NEE
25. People for whom "tena koe" means "hello" : MAORIS
27. 401(k) employer matching contributions, e.g. : NONWAGES
29. Card : WIT
30. Like CH3CO2H : ACETIC
31. Nicktoons character : SPONGEBOB
34. Rigans, e.g. : LETTS
38. Onetime Mideast org. : UAR
39. Cheese selection : EDAM
40. Quite familiar : OLDHAT
41. Some records : FIRSTS
43. To-do : FLAP
45. PC file suffix : EXE
46. Rustic poems : IDYLS
47. Make some travel plans : BOOKATRIP
49. On : ABOARD
51. Holy ___ : SEE
52. Ready for publication : COPYEDIT
55. Trypanosome carrier : TSETSE
58. Red Cross letters : ABO
59. Guideposts : TENETS
61. Cager who retired in 2011 : SHAQ
62. Jumps : VAULTS
64. Gad about : ROAM
66. Part of the Australian coat of arms : EMU
67. Hosts : EMCEES
68. Her "birthday" is Oct. 4, 2011 : SIRI
69. Louis XIV, e.g. : ROI
70. Much of Mauritania : SAHARA
71. Acid : LSD
72. Head-to-head contact, for short? : ESP
1. Mojo : CHARM
2. ___ vincit amor : OMNIA
3. [ ] : NOTTOWORRY
4. Cobbler's tool : AWL
5. Skyline sights : ROOFS
6. O'Brien's Team ___ : COCO
7. Say so : ASSENT
8. [ ] : THISWILLPASS
9. Eats : HAS
10. Malay for "human" : ORANG
11. Fray : MELEE
12. Bookends on shelves? : ESSES
15. Some bedcovers ... or, literally, what the four unclued answers are : DOWNCOMFORTERS
21. The Emerald Isle : ERIN
23. Harvard University Press's ___ Classical Library : LOEB
26. [ ] : ITGETSBETTER
28. Killed, as a test : ACED
30. Bygone hoops org. : ABA
31. Muslim mystic : SUFI
32. Accountant's stamp : PAID
33. MS. recipients : EDS
35. [ ] : THERETHERE
36. Fleet vehicle : TAXI
37. Stride : STEP
40. Iowa's state tree : OAK
42. Do in, so to speak : SLAY
44. El Al hub city : LOD
47. ___ Capital : BAIN
48. Athletic supporters? : TEES
50. Black Sea port : ODESSA
52. Cries uncle : CAVES
53. President whose initials "stink" : OBAMA
54. Tobacco holder : POUCH
55. Several Peters : TSARS
56. Aegean island : SAMOS
57. Furnish : EQUIP
60. Labor : TOIL
63. Rustic locale : LEA
65. Prefix with century : MID

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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