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New York Times, Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Author:
Alan DeLoriea
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
212/14/20163/13/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0101000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63000
Alan DeLoriea

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QVZ} Spans: 1 This is the debut puzzle for Mr. DeLoriea. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Alan DeLoriea notes:
This is my first NYT crossword, and I must say I feel honored to officially join the constructors' fraternity. It was a revelation to ... read more

This is my first NYT crossword, and I must say I feel honored to officially join the constructors' fraternity. It was a revelation to me that constructors were real people several years ago when I saw a familiar name in the byline, a competitor of mine at the San Francisco Scrabble club (I live in Portland now). She was kind enough to humor me and critique a puzzle I attempted at the time, one that was not of a standard for public consumption.

More recently, with additional solving and blog-reading years under my belt, I got the itch to try constructing again. The idea for this puzzle emerged from a different idea. I was brainstorming fun entries with colors in them and thought of the grid-spanning YELLOW BRICK ROAD. Shortly after that, of course, the song got stuck in my head ("Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the YELLOW BRICK ROAD"). This made me think of Twitter, and TWITTER FEED, at which point I realized that I had stumbled on a more promising course for my puzzle to...follow. So I eased on down that road, and I like where it took me. I hope you like it too.

Jeff Chen notes:
Second debut in two days! I enjoy watching the ever-growing ranks of constructors earning their NYT 'Shortz number.' Alan gives ... read more

Second debut in two days! I enjoy watching the ever-growing ranks of constructors earning their NYT "Shortz number."

Alan gives us five things that can be followed, a DOTTED LINE, a GOOD EXAMPLE, the YELLOW BRICK ROAD, a TWITTER FEED, and an OPENING ACT. I particularly liked TWITTER FEED, as it has a fresh, recent(ish) feel to it, and it's a great phrase in itself. Nice to have a little something for everyone, too, what with YELLOW BRICK ROAD way back from Baum's 1900 novel.

I think this type of puzzle works best when the examples cumulatively cover a huge, varying range. Following a TWITTER FEED (paying attention to) is a different kind of "follow" than following the YELLOW BRICK ROAD (going along a path), but all the "follows" still feel a little too similar for my taste.

Also, follow a DOTTED LINE … at first, I thought nothing of it, but what does that mean? Some research shows it's probably referring to the dotted lines on a map? Like the dotted line Jeffy from "The Family Circus" traces in his delightfully wandering journeys? (Don't ask why I know so much about the Family Circus. It's not pretty.)

Five themers can be tough to fill around, and when you lock three of them into place, it can get even harder. With GOOD EXAMPLE / YELLOW BRICK ROAD / TWITTER FEED and DEBRIEF all knitted together, it's not a surprise that the center of the puzzle is the most difficult to fill cleanly. ONE B is a big glob of random crossword glue, and with FEB / FWD and NCO, it's a bit inelegant in there.

As much as I like DEBRIEF as an interesting word, I wonder if it would have been better to use some black squares to break that entry up at its two Es. That would have forced all sorts of changes in the black square pattern, so it's tough to say if it'd even work.

A couple of interesting bonuses in GOLD DIGGER and POP UP BOOKS, even EMOJI. EDDARD Stark is a great, tragic figure, and I'm sure glad Alan made all his crossings very gettable! These bonuses helped keep my attention through the solve.

Again, I love to see new constructors adding to the diversity of the NYT, so if you — yes YOU! — ever get the itch, drop me a line and either I'll give you a hand or connect you to someone else who can help.

1
U
2
B
3
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4
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5
R
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A
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B
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P
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A
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M
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15
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D
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D
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1214 ( 24,508 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1. Company whose business is picking up : UBER
5. Torah expert : RABBI
10. Email folder : SPAM
14. A, B or C : NOTE
15. Mexican civilization known for its colossal head sculptures : OLMEC
16. Teensy bit : IOTA
17. Something to follow : DOTTEDLINE
19. Espy : SPOT
20. Tense : ONEDGE
21. Apprehend : NAB
23. Last: Abbr. : ULT
24. Something to follow : GOODEXAMPLE
28. "Game of Thrones" and others : SAGAS
32. Circus safety feature : NET
33. Q neighbor : TAB
34. Low pair : TWOS
35. Black History Month: Abbr. : FEB
36. Fashion designer Miller : NICOLE
39. Something to follow : YELLOWBRICKROAD
42. Patriarch of House Stark on "Game of Thrones" : EDDARD
43. "___ believe ..." : IDO
44. Gumbo vegetable : OKRA
45. Helical stuff : DNA
46. Still frame of Mickey, maybe : CEL
47. Indian tea region : ASSAM
48. Something to follow : TWITTERFEED
52. With 69-Across, V.I.P. : BIG
53. Genre for Fall Out Boy : EMO
54. Feudal lords : LIEGES
59. Bacchanal : ORGY
61. Something to follow : OPENINGACT
64. Basis of a scholarship : NEED
65. Region of ancient Palestine : JUDEA
66. Arm of the Dept. of Labor : OSHA
67. Goofs : ERRS
68. Devices for many runners : IPODS
69. See 52-Across : SHOT
Down
1. Reverse : UNDO
2. Godsend : BOON
3. Suffix with bachelor : ETTE
4. On Medicare, say: Abbr. : RETD
5. "It's not my first ___" : RODEO
6. Word between "mine" and "mine" : ALL
7. Health meas. used to diagnose obesity : BMI
8. Colorado senator Michael : BENNET
9. Mountaineering tool : ICEAX
10. "___ boom bah!" : SIS
11. Their characters jump off the page : POPUPBOOKS
12. Ring in the ocean : ATOLL
13. Finishing option : MATTE
18. Parts of an ovo-lacto vegetarian's diet : EGGS
22. Dyeing technique : BATIK
25. Ruiner of a perfect report card : ONEB
26. Get information from, in a way : DEBRIEF
27. Computer shortcuts : MACROS
28. Eye sore : STYE
29. Wowed : AWED
30. One who wants a ring for bling? : GOLDDIGGER
31. Leaning : ASLANT
35. Subject line abbr. : FWD
36. Sgt., e.g. : NCO
37. ___ Spencer, co-anchor of ABC's "Good Morning America" : LARA
38. Cheese coated in red wax : EDAM
40. One might do it from a soapbox : ORATE
41. Pointless : IDLE
46. Arise : CROPUP
47. Deuce follower : ADIN
48. Steakhouse selection : TBONE
49. Electrician, at times : WIRER
50. Nontext part of a text : EMOJI
51. ___ Sports Bureau (official 58-Down provider for Major League Baseball) : ELIAS
55. Stars may have big ones : EGOS
56. Deep cut : GASH
57. Voice-controlled product from Amazon : ECHO
58. See 51-Down : STAT
60. The ten in "first and ten": Abbr. : YDS
62. Old name for Tokyo : EDO
63. Homer's neighbor : NED

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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