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New York Times, Friday, December 27, 2013

Author:
Ian Livengood & J.A.S.A. Crossword Class
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
554/12/20109/15/20164
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
617667112
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64371
Ian Livengood

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 34 Missing: {Q} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 34 for Mr. Livengood. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ian Livengood notes:
This puzzle went through several rewrites before settling on the final themeless. CALVIN AND HOBBES (my favorite entry) is the perfect ... read more

This puzzle went through several rewrites before settling on the final themeless. CALVIN AND HOBBES (my favorite entry) is the perfect answer, I think. It's well-known by multiple generations, universally beloved and evokes some really fun memories.

Big thanks to Dan, Carol and Grant (to name a few) for their help putting this one together. Dan adds: "It was a great deal of fun to participate in the creation of this puzzle (as it is every semester). Any crossword enthusiast (at least 55 years old) would find this class immensely rewarding."

Will Shortz notes:
Twice a year for the past few years Ian Livengood has conducted a class on crossword construction for the Jewish Association Serving ... read more

Twice a year for the past few years Ian Livengood has conducted a class on crossword construction for the Jewish Association Serving the Aging in New York City. (Caleb Madison started the class in 2010, but Ian took it over when Caleb went off to Yale.) As with all of Ian's constructions, the grid here is lively and superclean. I wonder how he does a collaboration like this in real time in a class.

Jeff Chen notes:
I wrote Ian a month ago, in mock surprise that his name WASN'T on the list for upcoming puzzles that week. His response: 'If it ain't ... read more

I wrote Ian a month ago, in mock surprise that his name WASN'T on the list for upcoming puzzles that week. His response: "If it ain't broke ..." I'll have what you're having, sir.

Seriously, when you're this good, I don't mind seeing a name pop up this frequently. Today's themeless is a collaboration with his J.A.S.A. Crossword Class, which sounds like a blast. It's hard for me to imagine anyone in the class knows INSTAGRAM or DJANGO UNCHAINED well, so it's pretty awesome that this puzzle has a relatively recent feel to it, what with INSTAGRAM, OBAMACARE, and texty OTOH (on the other hand). Good mix too, with RED SCARE and NEWSREELS; something for everyone.

Themeless puzzles have an interesting race-like quality amongst constructors: "who'll be the first to debut X?" OBAMACARE debuted in the NYT in a 2012 David Quarfoot puzzle and has appeared two more times since (three including today's). Seeing it once recently is fine, but seeing it four times now gets a little tiresome. It's such a tough thing to figure out, since the delay in getting themeless puzzles can run in the range of two years.

A rule of thumb I use in my own themeless submissions is based off a comment Will made last summer. He puts checks by snappy answers (DADS TO BE, VETO POWER), and minuses next to ugly fill (I would consider NAOH, EST, plural UNOS, TAE, and TAI in this category), and that helps him figure out whether or not to accept. I like to have at least 10 checks (preferably 15), less than 5 minuses, and zero "automatic disqualifications" (recently I tried to sneak RSI (repetitive stress injury) by, but it didn't fly). This is all subjective of course. ONE IN TEN seems awfully arbitrary to me, but perhaps someone else would see it as desirable, especially if they could come up with an awesome clue for it.

Enjoyable solve today. J.A.S.A. Crossword Class, keep up the good work!

1
G
2
O
3
O
4
D
5
C
6
A
7
T
8
C
9
H
10
S
11
T
12
O
13
R
14
M
15
I
N
S
T
A
G
R
A
M
16
T
I
N
E
A
17
N
E
W
S
R
E
E
L
S
18
S
L
E
D
S
19
U
S
E
20
B
E
A
V
21
L
I
S
T
22
P
E
G
23
S
24
T
I
25
C
26
S
Y
N
C
H
27
C
O
L
28
A
29
S
30
N
A
31
O
H
32
T
A
E
33
I
N
T
34
A
L
O
E
35
V
E
R
A
36
D
37
J
38
A
N
G
O
39
U
N
C
H
A
I
N
E
D
40
A
U
C
K
L
A
N
D
41
E
V
A
42
D
I
T
43
O
T
O
H
44
D
E
L
45
O
46
S
47
S
C
A
48
M
S
49
S
O
50
W
51
S
T
U
52
F
53
T
E
L
E
54
B
R
55
I
56
G
57
T
A
I
58
O
B
O
T
59
E
60
O
B
A
M
A
61
C
A
R
E
62
B
O
N
E
S
63
V
E
T
O
P
O
W
E
R
64
E
X
E
R
T
65
A
S
H
K
E
N
A
Z
I
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1227 ( 23,425 )

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Across
1
Compliment after a dive : GOODCATCH
10
Word with cellar or door : STORM
15
2012 billion-dollar Facebook acquisition : INSTAGRAM
16
Dermatologist's case : TINEA
17
Things employed to show the passage of time à la "Citizen Kane" : NEWSREELS
18
Some saucers : SLEDS
19
Mixed ___ : USE
20
'50s-'60s sitcom nickname : BEAV
21
Cant : LIST
22
Identifies : PEGS
24
Small jerk : TIC
26
Accord : SYNCH
27
Brown refreshers : COLAS
30
Caustic soda, chemically : NAOH
32
___ kwon do : TAE
33
Gridiron datum: Abbr. : INT
34
So-called "potted physician" : ALOEVERA
36
Oscar-nominated film featuring a dentist-turned-bounty hunter : DJANGOUNCHAINED
40
Home of Sky Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere : AUCKLAND
41
"Uncle Tom's Cabin" girl : EVA
42
Morse bit : DIT
43
Contrarian's abbreviation : OTOH
44
Island where Artemis was born : DELOS
47
Phishing lures : SCAMS
49
Disperse : SOW
51
Double ___ Oreo : STUF
53
Lead-in to type : TELE
54
Two-master : BRIG
57
Sushi fish : TAI
58
Leader of Uganda's independence movement : OBOTE
60
Subject of a landmark 2012 Supreme Court decision : OBAMACARE
62
Dice : BONES
63
Final say : VETOPOWER
64
Apply : EXERT
65
Like Albert Einstein, ethnically : ASHKENAZI
Down
1
Add zip to : GINUP
2
"Hold on ..." : ONESEC
3
Port on Lake Ontario : OSWEGO
4
Result of drying out, maybe : DTS
5
Pasta, e.g., informally : CARB
6
"The African Queen" screenwriter : AGEE
7
Attempt to cure : TREAT
8
"Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat" duo : CALVINANDHOBBES
9
Bounty letters : HMS
10
E, F and G in D.C. : STS
11
Jennifer of "Bound" : TILLY
12
Quite a long shot : ONEINTEN
13
Cause for some blacklisting : REDSCARE
14
Who's who in publishing? : MASTHEAD
23
Move furtively : SLINK
25
Class graded on a curve? : CALC
26
Gather at harvest : SHEAVE
28
Whites, informally : ANGLOS
29
Brown coat : STOAT
31
Expressed some delight : OOHED
35
Perfume holders : VIALS
36
Some Lamaze assistants : DADSTOBE
37
Drink with a straw : JUICEBOX
38
Have no help : ACTALONE
39
Some, in Salamanca : UNOS
45
Parliamentary home : OTTAWA
46
Newsman Ray : SUAREZ
48
What stress may be good for : METER
50
"Roasted in ___ and fire": Hamlet : WRATH
52
Guy with a cooking show : FIERI
55
Reassuring comment after a fall : IMOK
56
Wide breach : GAPE
59
What means the most at the end? : EST
60
Beginnings of life : OVA
61
Bilk : CON

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 4 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?