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New York Times, Monday, December 1, 2014

Author: John Guzzetta
Editor: Will Shortz
John Guzzetta
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1710/9/201210/15/20174
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1322441
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1.63100

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQVX} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Guzzetta. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Guzzetta notes: Hello all! Landing in a Monday slot has been a personal goal for a while, with more failures than I care to admit. I really ... more
John Guzzetta notes: Hello all! Landing in a Monday slot has been a personal goal for a while, with more failures than I care to admit. I really appreciate those who do it better than I do, with a near-perfect balance of smoothness and snappiness. REATA still irks me, but it permitted STIR FRY, ZEPHYRS, LIP SYNC, and SITCOM, so I went with it. Anyway, I hope the final product suits your fancy!

By the way, I still have a lot to learn about clues, because Mr. Shortz changed most of them. The only one I wished he had kept was 25 down — I had a pyrotechnician instead of an arsonist.

Jeff Chen notes: Such a nice way to start off the week, colorful phrases akin to 'enthrall me' getting wacky connections to careers. My favorite was ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Such a nice way to start off the week, colorful phrases akin to "enthrall me" getting wacky connections to careers. My favorite was ROCK MY WORLD, perfectly tied to a seismologist. (Also very nice would have been a diamond seller, using the slangy meaning of "rock" in an engagement ring.) Love the consistency; each of the four themers having a (verb) MY (noun) structure.

Typically the "pinwheel" arrangement doesn't allow for a lot of great long fill, as it's too easy for the theme to get muddied up. After seeing the grid, I girded myself to get theme and not much more, but boy, was I pleasantly surprised. John gives us a clinic in how to wisely use your moderate-length fill. I thought I was lucky to get CAMP OUT, ALL TOLD, and PAIR UP right off the bat, and the goodness kept coming. ZEPHYRS and LIP SYNC anchor the other corner, and STIR FRY puts the exclamation point on the end with its fantastic clue, playing on the "walk" and "wok" homonyms. Newer constructors — heck, all constructors — ought to study how carefully John picked his moderate-length fill, maximizing the sizzle.

Drawing of a redoubt

I didn't know what REDOUBT was, but I liked learning about it. This is the right way, in my eyes, to introduce a new term to people's vocabulary — 1.) all of the crossings are perfectly fair, none of them even remotely possible to get wrong, and 2.) having it be the only odd duck in the grid. I like learning a thing or two, but like most lazy folks, one is better than two for me on a Monday.

I might have given it the POW! if it hadn't been for a few things. LIGHT MY FIRE clued to an arsonist … that's not really a career, is it? (Don't tell any of the kids I work with if it is.) I like John's pyrotechnician, which could have also been candlemaker. LED designer? Cinematographer? I understand the difficulty of not being able to use "light" in the clue — lighting expert, light designer — but this one inconsistency sticks out in a big way to me.

It would have been nice to see a couple of longer bits of fill, too. (If the square between BUILT and FAB had been taken out, for example.) This theme is so overt that it'd be tough to confuse long fill and themers. That may have not allowed for all the fantastic mid-length fill, but given how well John executed on it at 78 words, I bet he'd do just fine at 76 words too.

Very fun solve, a pleasure to write about.

1
O
2
P
3
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D
9
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A
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N
A
15
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G
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B
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B
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32
B
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F
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A
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B
36
A
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37
C
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M
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F
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1201 ( 23,764 )
Across Down
1. Sight-related : OPTIC
6. Pink part of a cow, in cartoons : UDDER
11. Cul-de-___ : SAC
14. Coliseum : ARENA
15. Din : NOISE
16. "Gross!" : UGH
17. "You really ___!," said the adoring seismologist : ROCKMYWORLD
19. Investment option for old age, in brief : IRA
20. Jury member : PEER
21. Frequently : OFTEN
23. In sum : ALLTOLD
27. Connoisseur of fine food : GOURMET
29. Take part in a buddy system, say : PAIRUP
30. Starting restaurant employee, maybe : BUSBOY
31. Gold bar : INGOT
32. Constructed : BUILT
33. Groovy : FAB
36. Sore : ACHY
37. Larger cousin of a violin : CELLO
38. Whittle down : PARE
39. Ping-Pong table divider : NET
40. Mineral layer involved in fracking : SHALE
41. Loma ___, Calif. : LINDA
42. Event on the Bounty : MUTINY
44. "Modern Family" or "All in the Family" : SITCOM
45. Field for Newton or Einstein : PHYSICS
47. Gentle winds : ZEPHYRS
48. One with a long, long sentence : LIFER
49. "___ and restrictions may apply" : FEES
50. Spoon-bending Geller : URI
51. "You really ___!," said the adoring ship captain : FLOATMYBOAT
58. French sea : MER
59. Rodeo rope : REATA
60. Having high moral principles : NOBLE
61. Letter before cue, ar, ess ... : PEE
62. "Oh no!" : YIKES
63. Examined before robbing : CASED
1. Relative of a paddle : OAR
2. Con's opposite : PRO
3. Sleuth, in old crime fiction : TEC
4. Quill fluid : INK
5. Activity with a tent and s'mores : CAMPOUT
6. Single : UNWED
7. One of three on "Let's Make a Deal" : DOOR
8. Northwest by north, e.g.: Abbr. : DIR
9. Class for some immigrants, for short : ESL
10. Fortress : REDOUBT
11. "You really ___!," said the adoring tailor : SUITMYFANCY
12. Coincide : AGREE
13. "U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!," e.g. : CHANT
18. Website for customer reviews : YELP
22. To's opposite : FRO
23. Beelike : APIAN
24. Knight's weapon : LANCE
25. "You really ___!," said the adoring arsonist : LIGHTMYFIRE
26. "Iliad" locale : TROY
27. Trickery : GUILE
28. Norway's capital : OSLO
30. One who might steal a classmate's lunch money : BULLY
32. Garbanzos, e.g. : BEANS
34. Zeal : ARDOR
35. Grins from ear to ear : BEAMS
37. Fashionable : CHIC
38. Essence : PITH
40. Go for a wok, say? : STIRFRY
41. Mouth the words : LIPSYNC
43. Take advantage of : USE
44. Appear : SEEM
45. Ready for market, as a chicken : PLUMP
46. One landing a job : HIREE
47. Z Z Z, to Greeks : ZETAS
49. Destiny : FATE
52. Hawaiian necklace : LEI
53. Tree with lobed leaves : OAK
54. Cousin of a python : BOA
55. Delivery room docs : OBS
56. Ginger ___ : ALE
57. Sen. Cruz : TED

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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