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New York Times, Monday, November 9, 2015

Author:
Pawel Fludzinski
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
77/12/20127/19/20171
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1102210
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1.53000
Pawel Fludzinski

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JVX} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Fludzinski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Pawel Fludzinski notes:
Today's version of CUTIES is the 4th iteration of this puzzle. It started life as a 21x21 puzzle, but I quickly realized two things ... read more

Today's version of CUTIES is the 4th iteration of this puzzle. It started life as a 21x21 puzzle, but I quickly realized two things (after a quick rejection) — first, this theme is more appropriate for an early week puzzle rather than a Sunday puzzle, and second, it is difficult to come up with enough meaningful QT theme entries that are in common usage to accommodate a Sunday puzzle.

There were two 16-letter entries in the larger version that I wanted to salvage for a daily puzzle — QUENTIN TARANTINO and QUIDDITCH TOURNEY. Both of these entries were in the second version (15x16). Will thought QUIDDITCH TOURNEY was a bit contrived, but he did like QUENTIN TARANTINO, so I kept that entry in the third version. However, in reviewing the grid in version 3, there was too much subpar fill necessary to accommodate QUENTIN TARANTINO. In the end, Will/Joel suggested letting go of this theme entry and the net result is what you see today in version 4.

With respect to clues, most of mine (75%) survived — a high percentage for me. The only two I was disappointed to lose were 39A — I originally proposed "Necessary skill for Jeopardy" (QUICK THINKING), but I can understand perhaps not wanting to reference the game show; and 52D — I proposed "With 53-Down, Jethro Tull's best-selling album" (AQUA LUNG), but then I date myself. Undoubtedly too obscure a clue except for us Tull/Zeppelin fans from the 70s!

As always, Will/Joel provided invaluable advice and assistance. Very much appreciated.

Jeff Chen notes:
A puzzle on the QT: Q T phrases, linked together with the apt CUTIES revealer. Nice choice of themers, QUICK THINKING and QUALITY TIME ... read more

A puzzle on the QT: Q T phrases, linked together with the apt CUTIES revealer. Nice choice of themers, QUICK THINKING and QUALITY TIME having real quality. And QUANTUM THEORY is fantastic! Wish I could say I understood the workings of QUANTUM THEORY better, but part of its mystique is its incomprehensibility.

GIANT SQUID from "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea"

That's what I tell myself, anyway.

QUARTER TONE is an interesting one — I played cello and trombone for decades, but I still had to think about how many semi-tones there were in an octave. Aren't there just seven steps in a C scale? C D E F G A B back to C, right? Yes, but semi-tones are the individual steps in a chromatic scale: C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C. Thought-provoking clue / answer pair.

Qs are notoriously difficult to integrate into crosswords. With four of them, many constructors would place black squares such that all the Qs either started a word or were the second letter (AQUA, EQUAL, etc.). I like how Pawel went big with both SEQUOIA and GIANT SQUID. The latter is an especially colorful answer, made even more so by the Jules Verne-related Nautilus clue. Very nice.

Pawel also chose to go with a 74-word layout, very tough when you already have to wrestle with four Qs. Generally I like the results, with some nice long stuff like GORGONZOLA and EBENEZER, but the north and south regions didn't come out as smooth as I think a Monday puzzle ought to be. "Dies IRAE" was unknown to me before I started doing crosswords, and I had been in orchestras for two decades.

And that ETTE / BOIS / GENET crossing GINNIE / EGESTS … as much as I like EBENEZER down there, I don't think it's worth all that glue. It's tough. Once you place that B of EBENEZER, it makes that already constrained south section even harder to fill.

So, a nice concept with great themer choices, executed with POW-level quality … except in two spots. So close!

1
T
2
A
3
G
4
S
5
T
6
I
7
G
8
M
9
A
10
N
11
A
12
S
13
A
14
R
P
I
15
E
R
R
O
R
S
16
A
C
E
D
17
I
R
A
18
Q
U
A
L
I
T
19
Y
T
I
M
E
20
C
O
N
21
F
U
S
E
D
22
R
O
A
D
I
E
23
I
N
T
R
O
S
24
F
O
U
L
25
A
S
S
A
I
26
U
27
S
A
28
T
I
29
G
30
E
31
R
32
Q
U
A
33
N
T
U
M
34
T
H
E
O
R
Y
35
I
36
C
U
37
O
A
S
I
S
38
R
A
E
39
Q
U
I
40
C
41
K
T
H
I
N
K
42
I
43
N
G
44
S
E
D
A
N
45
N
E
E
46
C
O
O
47
L
48
S
49
M
E
50
N
S
51
G
I
N
N
I
E
52
A
53
L
54
K
A
L
I
55
E
56
B
E
N
E
Z
E
R
57
Q
U
A
R
T
E
58
R
T
O
N
E
59
O
L
E
60
U
N
T
O
61
C
U
T
I
E
S
62
L
O
N
63
A
G
E
S
64
E
G
E
S
T
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65
A
W
E
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1109 ( 24,107 )
Across
1. Game in which to cry "You're it!" : TAG
4. Mark of disgrace : STIGMA
10. Curiosity rover launcher : NASA
14. Campus in Troy, N.Y. : RPI
15. Blunders : ERRORS
16. Got a hole in one on : ACED
17. Nest egg inits. : IRA
18. Period of undivided attention, as with a spouse or child : QUALITYTIME
20. Addled : CONFUSED
22. Band aide : ROADIE
23. Emcees' deliveries : INTROS
24. One of six allowed to an N.B.A. player : FOUL
25. Very, in music : ASSAI
26. Springsteen's "Born in the ___" : USA
28. Detroit ballplayer : TIGER
32. Noted Max Planck contribution to physics : QUANTUMTHEORY
35. Post-E.R. locale : ICU
37. Desert refuge : OASIS
38. "Norma ___" (Sally Field film) : RAE
39. Skill useful for handling an emergency : QUICKTHINKING
44. Chrysler 300 or BMW 740 : SEDAN
45. Born, in bios : NEE
46. Refrigerates : COOLS
49. The "M" in Y.M.C.A. : MENS
51. ___ Mae (government lender) : GINNIE
52. ___ metals (periodic table group) : ALKALI
55. Mr. Scrooge : EBENEZER
57. 1/24 of an octave : QUARTERTONE
59. Bullring bravo : OLE
60. Golden rule preposition : UNTO
61. Babies (aww ...) ... or an aural hint to 18-, 32-, 39- and 57-Across : CUTIES
62. Chaney of chillers : LON
63. Ripens, as cheese : AGES
64. Disgorges : EGESTS
65. Blow away : AWE
Down
1. One of the Nixon daughters : TRICIA
2. Things cooks wear : APRONS
3. Creature that attacked the Nautilus in "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" : GIANTSQUID
4. Tree whose name contains all five vowels : SEQUOIA
5. Tie up, as a turkey : TRUSS
6. "Dies ___" (Latin hymn) : IRAE
7. Top prize at the Olympics : GOLD
8. Diagnostic scan, briefly : MRI
9. "The Jetsons" dog : ASTRO
10. Actress Portman : NATALIE
11. The "A" in DNA : ACID
12. Final Four game : SEMI
13. "Zip-___-Doo-Dah" : ADEE
19. One's early years : YOUTH
21. Mrs., in Munich : FRAU
24. Period of widespread food shortage : FAMINE
26. Residents of Provo and Salt Lake City : UTAHNS
27. "Wake Up Little ___" (#1 Everly Brothers hit) : SUSIE
29. Italian blue cheese : GORGONZOLA
30. Alternative to All : ERA
31. Bread for a Reuben : RYE
33. "Believe It or ___!" : NOT
34. Condescending cluck : TSK
35. Stats for Mensa : IQS
36. Actor's prompt : CUE
40. Sporty Chevys : CAMAROS
41. Prepared to propose, in the traditional way : KNELT
42. Extremely aloof demeanor : ICINESS
43. Alternative to all : NONE
47. Stay out of sight, as a criminal : LIELOW
48. Tranquil : SERENE
50. Aunt and uncle's little girl : NIECE
51. French playwright Jean : GENET
52. With 53-Down, pioneering mechanical breathing apparatus : AQUA
53. See 52-Down : LUNG
54. Actress Winslet : KATE
55. Suffix with major : ETTE
56. ___ de Boulogne (Parisian park) : BOIS
58. As snug as a bug in a ___ : RUG

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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