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Puzzle of the Week

New York Times, Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Author: Joel Fagliano and Sam Ezersky
Editor: Will Shortz
Joel Fagliano
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5510/22/200911/8/20174
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
12810710224
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65351
Sam Ezersky
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
177/28/201211/8/20176
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
00131264
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.75100

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 55 for Mr. Fagliano. This is puzzle # 17 for Mr. Ezersky. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: SAM: I ride the train to and from Will's house with Joel twice a week, and it's not uncommon for us to be building grids ... more
Constructor notes:

SAM: I ride the train to and from Will's house with Joel twice a week, and it's not uncommon for us to be building grids individually during the commute. Joel is, of course, an incredible constructor, so I can't help but glance over at what he's cooking up; besides, I'd never gotten a live look-in at another constructor's style.

One day, I saw Joel playing around with APOSTATES in a grid, to be parsed as A-P-O STATES. I thought for a few minutes and then threw D-I-A TRIBES and P-A-S SPORTS his way. Joel noted the interlock these three answers could have in a grid, and we were off to the races!

We shot for a low word count (70) right off the bat, not only to challenge ourselves, but because we felt there could be many fill bonuses with longer non-theme answers — LPGA TOUR, DAD ROCK and DON'T BE are my personal favorites.

I really liked working with Joel as he kept me honest in pushing myself to my limits. We must have gone through several fill iterations where I settled for an iffy answer (COP CAR was once LOW BET ... *yawn*), yet Joel seemed to know every time that something better was possible, whether the final fill was his or my own.

Consider this to be the first of many collabs from us. We hope you enjoyed it!

JOEL: Always a joy to have another constructor carry a half-baked idea like this over the finish line. As Sam said, hopefully this is the first of many train ride puzzles, it was a blast to work on.

Jeff Chen notes: Loved this theme. I've seen a lot of reparsing ideas, but to get MARKINGS changed to M A R KINGS, clued as [Midas, Agamemnon, ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Loved this theme. I've seen a lot of reparsing ideas, but to get MARKINGS changed to M A R KINGS, clued as [Midas, Agamemnon, Richard]? Brilliant! PASSPORTS into P A S SPORTS and HUSBANDS into H U S BANDS were also delightful changes in meaning. DIATRIBES into D I A TRIBES and APOSTATES into A P O states brought the total to five fantastic examples. Loved, loved, loved the concept; wish I had thought of it.

And what a beautifully executed grid. A ton of bonuses — almost too much. Big corners chock full of DAD ROCK (hand bashfully raised here), ENTROPY (why hasn't anyone written a crossword about one of my favorite physics concepts yet?!), DRINKER, PAROLEE / GRENDEL.

I admit, I didn't actually read "Beowulf" when I was supposed to. But I like feeling smart that I recognize the name GRENDEL!

Big corners with juicy material were just the start, too. Some longer bonuses in LPGA TOUR and CLEAR SKY, as well as ARS NOVA, a COP CAR lurking, YOU BET! Man, that's a ton of extras.

My only complaint was that I forgot about DIATRIBES and APOSTATES when I was admiring the themers. I was all set to ding the puzzle for only having three themers in MARKINGS, PASSPORTS, HUSBANDS. A more traditional layout would have had DIATRIBES and APOSTATES going horizontally, perhaps roughly where LPGA TOUR and CLEAR SKY. This would have helped themers stand out on their own, as solvers have gotten used to the convention of "longest across entries are themers."

That's not to say flouting convention is bad. There is something pretty neat about DIATRIBES and APOSTATES interlocking PASSPORTS. That's tough to do, and only can happen when the crossword gods smile down upon you. But in this case, I felt like the wow factor of that interlock didn't make up for the fact that the theme and bonuses got muddled up for me. Especially since LPGA TOUR kinda sorta looks like it ought to fit with this theme. If you squint.

But that's a minor point I bring up just for the sake of balanced analysis. Great theme, marvelous execution overall, and such little crossword glue that I couldn't find any to point out (maybe GROSZ, but the finance guy in me likes that).

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1108 ( 24,837 )
Across Down
1. Rotten : BAD
4. Like kiwis and mangos : TANGY
9. Member of la famille : PERE
13. The Depression or the Cold War : ERA
14. Dean Martin's "That's ___" : AMORE
15. Writer Edgar ___ Poe : ALLAN
16. TV screen inits. : LCD
17. Element next to iodine on the periodic table : XENON
18. Make an identification digitally? : POINT
19. Midas, Agamemnon, Richard : MARKINGS
21. Pursuer in a chase scene : COPCAR
22. Have too much of, briefly : ODON
23. Products that gradually dull : RAZORS
25. "I believe," on the internet : IMO
26. Something much-wished-for for people : NICEDAY
28. Rest on : SITATOP
30. Actor George with over 10 million Facebook followers : TAKEI
31. Feature of a 26-Across, maybe : CLEARSKY
32. Polo, archery, soccer : PASSPORTS
35. The U.S. Women's Open is part of it : LPGATOUR
38. Ewoks' home moon : ENDOR
42. Body part that vibrates : EARDRUM
43. Simple choice : YESORNO
45. "Chances ___ ..." : ARE
46. Equiangular shape : ISOGON
48. Competes (for) : VIES
49. Terse response to "I'm sorry" : DONTBE
51. Heart, U2, Slayer : HUSBANDS
53. Many a jukebox tune : OLDIE
54. World capital where Pashto is spoken : KABUL
55. Some U.F.C. victories : KOS
56. Senses : FEELS
57. Not moving : INERT
58. Flock member : EWE
59. Cut down : FELL
60. Chess finishes : MATES
61. Retrovirus molecule : RNA
1. Triple Crown venue : BELMONT
2. Domain of Pan, in Greek myth : ARCADIA
3. Genre for Dire Straits and Steely Dan, facetiously : DADROCK
4. Leave from the gate : TAXI
5. Supreme Egyptian god : AMENRA
6. Hetero, say : NONGAY
7. 1/100 of a Polish zloty : GROSZ
8. Desire : YEN
9. Sound preceding a ripple : PLOP
10. Draws out : ELICITS
11. Rampaged : RANAMOK
12. Measure of disorder, in thermodynamics : ENTROPY
15. Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Ohio : APOSTATES
20. Patella protector : KNEEPAD
21. Town ___ (bygone official) : CRIER
24. World capital on a fjord : OSLO
27. Dakota, Iroquois, Arapaho : DIATRIBES
29. Classical music style whose name means "new art" : ARSNOVA
31. Lifeguard's skill, for short : CPR
33. Heavy 39-Down : SOUSE
34. Heavy competition? : SUMO
35. Bat first : LEADOFF
36. Joint release? : PAROLEE
37. Foe of Beowulf : GRENDEL
39. Bar patron : DRINKER
40. In this puzzle it starts B-E-L : ONEDOWN
41. Body of water next to Antarctica : ROSSSEA
43. "Absolutely!" : YOUBET
44. Guarantee : ENSURE
47. African soccer powerhouse : GHANA
50. Cash holder : TILL
52. Crunchy diner orders : BLTS
54. One of the Kardashians : KIM

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 6 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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