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New York Times, Thursday, November 28, 2013

Author:
Loren Muse Smith and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
311/28/20135/4/20173
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.68000
Loren Muse Smith
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1027/5/20108/29/201961
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2678182698
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.637222
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 16, Columns: 14 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FQZ} Spans: 2 Scrabble average: 1.85 This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Smith. This is puzzle # 20 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Loren: First I have to say that Jeff Chen is the nicest, most generous person in Crossworld. And I am so enjoying reading ... read more

Loren:

First I have to say that Jeff Chen is the nicest, most generous person in Crossworld. And I am so enjoying reading his very funny comments on the puzzles. Over a year ago, Jeff had a collaboration with someone. On the day it ran, he went to Rex Parker, gave his email address and invited new constructors to contact him as he likes working with neophytes. Boy, I took him up on that and peppered him constantly with theme ideas that he patiently discussed with me.

Jeff and I remember today's puzzle's inception differently. I had been kicking around the idea of hiding ASP in a grid, first with things like BANANA SPLIT and CAST A SPELL. I'm pretty sure it was Jeff who suggested this way of doing it. He did the heavy lifting — he built the grid and placed the ASPs over the PLANES — I don't think I could have pulled that off! We both worked on the fill, and I did a lot of the clues. If it's a so-so alliterative clue, it's probably mine; alliteration is my go-to trick to perk up a meh clue. I had "Flower feature" for CALYX, "Sendai suds" for SAPPORO, "sowed stuff" for STASH. Jeff definitely clued HANG-GLIDER, my favorite clue in the puzzle. Jeff is also to thank for the YO HO HO in the same grid as MATEY.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy the puzzle!

Will Shortz notes:
This is Loren Muse Smith's first New York Times crossword, and what an auspicious debut. The theme is ingenious, and the ... read more

This is Loren Muse Smith's first New York Times crossword, and what an auspicious debut. The theme is ingenious, and the construction is handsome, too. Did you notice the unusual-sized 14x16-square grid? Loren is only the second West Virginia crossword constructor I've published in my 20 years at the Times. The other, Pamela Amick Klawitter, is also a woman with a three-word name. It's noticing little things like this that keep me amused.

Jeff Chen notes:
Loren was so much fun to meet last year at the ACPT. Such a nice person, fun to hang out with, and a great sense of humor. ... read more

Loren was so much fun to meet last year at the ACPT. Such a nice person, fun to hang out with, and a great sense of humor. But she's too humble — it was another puzzle she put together which led to this one. I thought it was extremely well constructed, but I also felt like it was lacking something, a certain je ne sais quoi or a fuller raison d'etre. When we tossed around SNAKES ON A PLANE, it felt like everything snapped into place. I love it when a plan comes together (cue The A-Team theme song).

I always look at the good and the "could have been improved" in a puzzle, and there's a lot I really like about this puzzle. But there's also no doubt that the heavy constraints forced some compromises. Neither Loren nor I were fans of all the short stuff at the top (ISPS, RIAA, IRR etc.), but at the time it seemed like a reasonable price to pay for including SIOUX WAR and SANDBAG (and the symmetrically placed KLAXONS and SEMINARY). We looked at possibly breaking up some of the long stuff to get better short fill, but the compromises still were there so we ran with this. Tough trade-offs.

And to those grousing about the BIKO/ORIBI crossing, I raise my hand on that one. Loren was keen to get something more friendly there, but I used the Jedi mind trick to convince her otherwise. So if you faltered at that spot, please look closely into my eyes and accept my apologies ... (waving hand hypnotically in front of your face) and go get me a scotch.

Looking forward to more from Loren! Oh, one point I forgot: happy 65th bday to Samuel L. Jackson! We hoped this would run next month on his actual 65th birthday (Dec. 21), but what are you gonna do.

ADDED NOTE: Time for another installment of Can I Beat Dan At My Own Puzzle? My solving time, just having looked at the answers = 3:27. Will Dan Feyer and the other speedsters beat me?* We'll add Loren's time here too as soon as the puzzle publishes.

*Dan's time: 2:17. I need ideas for a bigger handicap. Blindfolding him?

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1128 ( 23,396 )
Across
1
Not for the Parti Québécois? : PAS
4
Comcast and CenturyLink, in brief : ISPS
8
Terminal info : ETAS
12
Words of praise : ODE
13
Org. that fought Napster : RIAA
14
Hook's place : CLASP
15
Joe Louis, to fans : THEBROWNBOMBER
18
Kind of bean : SOYA
19
Out, in a way : UNDER
20
For instance : SAY
21
Flower feature : CALYX
23
Anti-apartheid activist Steve : BIKO
25
Base of a certain pole, figuratively : LOWMAN
27
Grate : RASP
31
Some radios : AMS
34
One interested in current affairs? : HANGGLIDER
36
Host of the 1972 Winter Olympics : SAPPORO
38
___ it all : ABOVE
39
Stowed stuff : STASH
40
Isn't content with the status quo, say : ASPIRES
42
Gang Green member : NEWYORKJET
45
Some TV drama settings, for short : ERS
46
___ in progress (iPhone phrase) : SYNC
47
Cottonwoods : ALAMOS
49
Tennis's Mandlikova : HANA
51
Classic toothpaste name : IPANA
54
"Gross!" : EEW
57
Recipe instruction : MIXIN
59
Door fixture : HASP
61
Cult classic whose title is depicted four times in this puzzle : SNAKESONAPLANE
64
Beaker material : PYREX
65
Mrs. James Joyce : NORA
66
Toon's place : CEL
67
Positive principle : YANG
68
Mother of Nike, in Greek myth : STYX
69
Historic leader? : PRE
Down
1
They may be cast-iron : POTS
2
For a specific purpose : ADHOC
3
"I'm outta here!" : SEEYA
4
Like some verbs: Abbr. : IRR
5
Little Bighorn conflict : SIOUXWAR
6
Future queen, maybe : PAWN
7
Balloon ballast : SANDBAG
8
Street shader : ELM
9
Keep ___ on : TABS
10
Lost : ASEA
11
Nimble : SPRY
14
Blarney Castle's county : CORK
16
Cinderella's soiree : BALL
17
Human ___ : BEING
22
Chant from a 32-Down, maybe : YOHOHO
24
Small antelope : ORIBI
26
6 letters : MNO
28
Hold dear : ADORE
29
Cut : SEVER
30
Voice mail imperative : PRESS
31
Orgs. : ASSNS
32
See 22-Down : MATEY
33
Offspring : SPAWN
35
Object of scrutiny at airport security : LAPTOP
37
Outwit, in a way, with "out" : PSYCH
40
Horror film director Alexandre ___ : AJA
41
School at which students are collared? : SEMINARY
43
Some queens : RANIS
44
"Ah-OO-gah!" horns : KLAXONS
48
Canadian-born comedian once featured on the cover of Time : SAHL
50
Kind of card : AMEX
52
Antidiscrimination grp. : NAACP
53
Ed of "Up" : ASNER
54
Spot : ESPY
55
"A Day Without Rain" singer : ENYA
56
Tip off : WARN
58
Playing longer than expected, for short : INOT
60
One-named sports star who was once the highest-paid athlete in the world : PELE
62
Party congregation site, maybe : KEG
63
Bellum's opposite : PAX

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?