It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge for best results.

New York Times, Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Author:
Jeff Stillman
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
51/28/20145/22/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0032000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53010
Jeff Stillman

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQVXZ} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Stillman. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Stillman notes:
The genesis for this puzzle was when my wife and I went out to Longhorn Steakhouse. They had a coaster that said, 'We believe in a job ... read more

The genesis for this puzzle was when my wife and I went out to Longhorn Steakhouse. They had a coaster that said, "We believe in a job WELL DONE." I took that bit of wordplay and ran with it. Some theme ideas that didn't make the puzzle included "BANG UP JOB!" (compliment for a crash test facility), "SENSATIONAL!" (a massage parlor), and "DYNAMITE!" (an explosives manufacturer). The hardest theme answer to clue was "NOT BAD AT ALL," which was first "compliment for a do-gooders club" (not sure how many of those there are) and then "compliment for the Justice League" (which seemed more of a general description and not specific to any particular world-saving activity).

The number of theme answers and their smallish size made for some fill that Will & Joel had issues with. Had we all known that this would come out a week after "The Force Awakens" opened, perhaps we could have kept DETOO and REYS. The latter was clued "Actor Fernando and others" but is now more apt as "Star Wars heroine namesakes." Incidentally, I wonder how many baby girls in 2016 will be named Rey. (Should I mention that my son's name is Luke?) I went through two edits of the fill before it was passable, making me feel in the end like I truly earned the accolades that were in this puzzle!

I think I'll treat myself to a steak.

Jeff Chen notes:
I was so amused by this puzzle. Something so fun and chuckle-worthy about telling an airline to KEEP IT UP! Same goes for telling a ... read more

I was so amused by this puzzle. Something so fun and chuckle-worthy about telling an airline to KEEP IT UP! Same goes for telling a charcoal salesman YOU'RE ON FIRE! Sure, some might be a little tortured to fit its "compliment receiver," but I loved the kookiness. Plus, I felt really good after solving this crossword. There's something to be said about a puzzle's positive theme imparting an uplifting feeling.

That doesn't look dangerous at all ...

I admit I hitched upon the first themer, wondering what fruit had anything to do with NOT BAD AT ALL (nothing). Thankfully, each subsequent themer worked great for me, and by the end of the puzzle, I knew this was POW! material.

Some of the themers are short (just seven letters), but packing six themers in is tough. Jeff did a really nice job of alternating his themers side to side and spacing them out, so he could lay out a skeleton that used a good amount of snazzy fill. TRAMPOLINE and BARREL ROLL would be sufficient, but working in LAMBADA / SPLASHY / OCTOPI / LOW RES made for even more of a bonus.

I also liked how Jeff introduced KWAME and CAM'RON to the Shortz era. Both names were mysteries to me, but I was still able to solve the puzzle since Jeff made all the crossings easy, setting me up for a win. That left me happy to go look these two up. I like old-school rap, so it was neat to read up on CAM'RON, who got a leg up with a nod from the Notorious B.I.G. himself.

I imagine some daily solvers will grouse about having to learn yet another rapper, but with super-fair crossings and interesting stories to be learned, I have no sympathy for the kvetchers.

The themers were a bit loose — seems like you could do this type of theme with dozens of compliments and their "recipients" — but I loved the kookiness as well as the STELLAR execution. It's one of my great pleasures to compliment people when they excel, so it makes me smile to give Jeff this POW! Super job (he said to the building fix-it person).

1
H
2
U
3
B
4
S
5
T
6
A
7
R
8
S
9
C
10
O
11
M
12
B
13
O
14
A
B
A
15
O
W
L
E
T
16
I
C
E
E
S
17
N
O
R
18
N
O
T
B
A
19
D
A
T
A
L
L
20
G
A
R
21
B
22
M
E
A
D
E
23
O
T
T
O
24
S
T
E
L
25
L
A
R
26
T
27
S
P
28
L
O
A
N
29
K
30
E
E
P
I
31
T
32
U
33
P
34
C
35
A
R
O
M
36
S
W
I
R
L
37
R
N
A
38
H
B
O
M
B
39
P
A
R
40
A
41
M
A
T
I
42
E
L
L
43
A
44
N
I
M
E
45
S
I
M
O
N
46
W
E
L
47
L
D
O
N
E
48
C
H
A
P
49
O
A
T
50
W
A
Y
T
O
51
G
52
O
53
C
54
R
55
A
W
56
S
57
W
58
A
R
M
59
A
L
A
N
60
Y
O
U
R
61
E
O
N
F
I
R
62
E
63
I
T
T
64
S
T
R
E
W
65
B
A
T
O
N
66
N
E
A
67
T
E
A
S
E
68
A
R
E
N
T
69
E
S
P
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1229 ( 24,157 )
Across
1
Airport with many connecting flights : HUB
4
Marquee names : STARS
9
Small jazz band : COMBO
14
Dr. J's first pro league : ABA
15
Screeching baby? : OWLET
16
Some frozen drinks : ICEES
17
Neither's partner : NOR
18
Compliment for a fruit-of-the-month club? : NOTBADATALL
20
Duds : GARB
22
Gettysburg opponent of Lee : MEADE
23
Bus driver on "The Simpsons" : OTTO
24
Compliment for a planetarium? : STELLAR
26
Recipe amt. : TSP
28
Money to tide one over : LOAN
29
Compliment for an airline? : KEEPITUP
34
Rebound, as a billiard shot : CAROM
36
Go round and round : SWIRL
37
Genetic messenger : RNA
38
Big bang maker, informally : HBOMB
39
72, at Augusta National Golf Club : PAR
40
Stradivari's teacher : AMATI
42
Building add-on : ELL
43
"Dragon Ball Z" genre : ANIME
45
Original "American Idol" judge with Randy and Paula : SIMON
46
Compliment for a steakhouse? : WELLDONE
48
British buddy : CHAP
49
Breakfast grain : OAT
50
Compliment for a GPS manufacturer? : WAYTOGO
53
Where something unpleasant sticks : CRAW
56
Throng : SWARM
59
Rickman of the Harry Potter films : ALAN
60
Compliment for a charcoal seller? : YOUREONFIRE
63
Addams Family member : ITT
64
Toss about, as petals : STREW
65
Maestro's stick : BATON
66
Grant source, for short : NEA
67
Poke fun at : TEASE
68
"Why ___ you in bed?" : ARENT
69
Mind-reading skill, for short : ESP
Down
1
Chillaxes : HANGS
2
Destroyer destroyer : UBOAT
3
Air show maneuver : BARRELROLL
4
Trinity member : SON
5
Like some beach volleyball teams : TWOMAN
6
___ ego : ALTER
7
Country's McEntire : REBA
8
Dutch burg : STAD
9
Org. in "Homeland" : CIA
10
Cousins of squids : OCTOPI
11
Pepperoni or sausage : MEAT
12
Slug : BELT
13
Scandinavian capital : OSLO
19
Dissuade : DETER
21
Leopold ___, "Ulysses" protagonist : BLOOM
25
Brazilian dance popular in the 1980s : LAMBADA
27
Eye-catching : SPLASHY
29
___ Kilpatrick, ex-mayor of Detroit : KWAME
30
Dublin's land : EIRE
31
Bouncer's place : TRAMPOLINE
32
"For ___ us a child is born" : UNTO
33
Suffering : PAIN
34
Ruminate (on) : CHEW
35
Up to the job : ABLE
36
___ room (site of postdebate political commentary) : SPIN
41
Roadster from Japan : MIATA
44
"False!" : NOTSO
47
Less than 300 dots per inch, commonly : LOWRES
48
Grammy-nominated rapper with the 2002 hit "Oh Boy" : CAMRON
50
"Don't forget to ___" : WRITE
51
Slalom obstacles : GATES
52
Ready to be drawn : ONTAP
53
Skin abnormality : CYST
54
Mechanical learning : ROTE
55
Distinctive quality : AURA
57
Org. for the New York Liberty : WNBA
58
Light years away : AFAR
61
Ram's mate : EWE
62
Suffix with differ : ENT

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?