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New York Times, Thursday, December 8, 2016

Author:
Damon Gulczynski
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3611/8/20043/28/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
14508810
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65320
Damon J. Gulczynski

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JKQV} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 19 for Mr. Gulczynski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Damon J. Gulczynski notes:
My entire reason for making this puzzle was to use the entry MAGNUM PI — 'Champagne bottle that holds 3.14159… liters?' ... read more

My entire reason for making this puzzle was to use the entry MAGNUM PI — "Champagne bottle that holds 3.14159… liters?" But as I started thinking up other themers, I noticed that the livelier ones had the initials at the front of them, not at the back. So my next idea was to do a mix of front and back, but I couldn't get the symmetry right, and after struggling with it for *way* too long I gave in to the obvious solution: ditch my beloved MAGNUM PI. And once I did, everything came together quite nicely. So let that be a lesson when it comes to crossword puzzle constructing (and perhaps life in general): Be flexible. Don't cling so tightly to your "great" ideas. Things often work out better when you let them go, and, honestly, they probably aren't that great anyway.

Also, it took a failed submission to get this one accepted. My first version had the entry GI BILL – "Invoice for a karate uniform?" – but neither Will nor Joel had heard of a karate gi, so they nixed it. I had no problem with this (I had PO BOXES on the bench, ready to go, if need be), but I was a bit surprised, as I thought karate gis were common knowledge. Although being that I get a little red squiggly underlining "gi" and "gis" as I type this, it's quite possible that I'm wrong here.

My final comment about this puzzle is that I wish it had run on Wednesday instead of Thursday. In part this is because I need Wednesday to complete the "cycle" (i.e., a puzzle published on each day of the week), but also because solvers often expect something trickier on a Thursday. This one is pretty straightforward. Oh well, no biggie. I'm cool with it if you are.

Jeff Chen notes:
Two-letter wordplay, with initials reinterpreted as whole words. The results amused me as a whole, LA DODGERS the best of the bunch. ... read more

Two-letter wordplay, with initials reinterpreted as whole words. The results amused me as a whole, LA DODGERS the best of the bunch. Funny to think about a singer who goes straight from sol to ti, avoiding the dreaded LA. Great choice to kick off the puzzle theme. IT SUPPORT (information technology) is a great phrase in itself, and I liked the idea of Stephen King getting a little help with his famous book, "It." And ID CARDS was another good one, making me think about Louis CK joking around about Freudian concepts.

PA ANNOUNCEMENTS felt stilted as a phrase — "overhead announcements" hits my ear better — but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to make a grid work.

Speaking of making a grid work, seven-letter themers are often awkward, as it's tough to make them stand out naturally as part of the theme. Damon does a nice job — note that there are no other seven-letter (or longer) entries in the across direction. This helps, but I still lost ID CARDS and PO BOXES in the background, especially since they're entries you might see as fill in other crosswords.

I wonder if putting them across the middle, separated by a black square, would have helped? That means PA ANNOUNCEMENTS might have to become PA SYSTEMS or something, with another themer needed to match it. Never easy!

Damon did a great job of making his grid smooth. Just an INTRA and TRI (although I've done some triathlons, and TRI is commonly used for the event); that's beautiful execution on short fill.

I would have actually been fine with a bit more glue if it meant a little more long fill. I did like MOTLEY, DEAD ON, MESS UP, PHENOM, but IN THE ZONE and RADIOHEAD are such great entries. Maybe moving the black square between URLS and IPA over to the left, to create another set of eight-letter slots? That would also have opened up the upper left and lower right corners, both of which are slightly choked off from the rest of the puzzle.

Overall though, some fun results, if not as groundbreaking as I like Thursday puzzles to be.

1
W
2
A
3
R
4
P
5
E
6
D
7
N
8
A
9
M
10
I
11
S
12
T
13
S
14
O
R
A
L
15
D
I
A
L
16
U
N
T
I
E
17
L
A
D
O
18
D
G
E
R
S
19
S
T
A
L
E
20
F
B
I
21
E
A
S
Y
22
A
I
R
I
E
R
23
O
24
H
A
R
E
25
I
D
C
A
R
D
S
26
A
27
C
H
E
D
28
L
29
A
M
A
S
30
P
H
E
N
O
31
M
32
R
A
G
33
P
34
I
35
S
36
A
37
P
A
A
N
N
O
38
U
N
C
E
39
M
E
N
T
S
40
T
I
D
Y
41
T
R
I
42
S
E
S
T
E
T
43
E
L
L
E
44
N
45
S
C
H
M
O
46
P
47
O
48
B
49
O
X
E
S
50
E
51
L
S
I
E
52
A
L
L
D
A
Y
53
A
L
O
U
54
Z
55
E
56
E
57
U
S
A
I
R
58
I
T
S
U
P
59
P
O
R
T
60
S
E
R
U
M
61
P
O
O
P
62
O
N
I
T
63
E
N
E
M
Y
64
A
N
N
E
65
M
E
N
U
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1208 ( 24,502 )
Across
1
Bend out of shape : WARP
5
"Downton Abbey" maid : EDNA
9
Rains lightly : MISTS
14
Like some accounts : ORAL
15
Part of a gauge : DIAL
16
Not knot? : UNTIE
17
Singers who go from "sol" straight to "ti"? : LADODGERS
19
So yesterday, say : STALE
20
Clarice's org. in "The Silence of the Lambs" : FBI
21
"Let's not get too excited now" : EASY
22
Not so stuffy : AIRIER
23
Midwest hub : OHARE
25
Comedians who do material on the Freudian psyche? : IDCARDS
26
Yearned : ACHED
28
Dharma teachers : LAMAS
30
Wunderkind : PHENOM
32
Old shirt, perhaps : RAG
33
Birthplace of Galileo : PISA
37
"Young 'uns, yer cuzzins are here" and others? : PAANNOUNCEMENTS
40
Shipshape : TIDY
41
Prefix with -sect : TRI
42
Octave's follower, in some poetry : SESTET
43
Groundbreaking 1990s ABC sitcom : ELLEN
45
Jerk : SCHMO
46
Shipping containers on Italy's longest river? : POBOXES
50
Pitcher of milk? : ELSIE
52
Dawn-to-dusk : ALLDAY
53
Jesus, for one : ALOU
54
One of a dozen? : ZEE
57
Carrier name until 1997 : USAIR
58
What Stephen King's editor provided for a 1986 novel? : ITSUPPORT
60
MASH supply : SERUM
61
Dope : POOP
62
Getting the job done : ONIT
63
"There is no greater evil than making light of the ___": Lao-tzu : ENEMY
64
Last monarch of the House of Stuart : ANNE
65
Course list : MENU
Down
1
Villain in some fairy tales : WOLF
2
Spirited horse : ARAB
3
Band that used a pay-what-you-want model to sell their 2007 album : RADIOHEAD
4
Mahmoud Abbas's grp. : PLO
5
Annual mystery-writing award : EDGAR
6
Engine type : DIESEL
7
Old-timey "not" : NARY
8
Lou Gehrig's Disease, for short : ALS
9
"When the ___ Over" (1967 Doors song) : MUSICS
10
Prefix with squad : INTRA
11
Flight part : STAIR
12
Like many mosaics : TILED
13
Oracles : SEERS
18
Perfectly precise : DEADON
22
"Poor Richard's Almanack" collection : ADAGES
24
Funny Youngman : HENNY
25
Apple offering : IMAC
26
Datebook abbr. : APPT
27
___ latte : CHAI
29
Schwarzenegger, informally : ARNIE
31
Assorted : MOTLEY
33
"Casino" actor Joe : PESCI
34
Hot, as a basketball shooter : INTHEZONE
35
Subj. group with a noted gender imbalance : STEM
36
Concerning : ASTO
38
They may be bookmarked : URLS
39
Goof : MESSUP
43
Out of service? : EXARMY
44
Admiral killed at the Battle of Trafalgar : NELSON
46
Button with two vertical lines : PAUSE
47
Either twin actress on "Full House" : OLSEN
48
Play loudly : BLARE
49
Intense dislike : ODIUM
51
Jeweler's eyepiece : LOUPE
53
Loads : ATON
55
"Dancing With the Stars" co-host Andrews : ERIN
56
Rebuke to a traitor : ETTU
58
Hoppy quaff, for short : IPA
59
Small dog, informally : POM

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?