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, Edge, Safari, or Firefox for best results.

New York Times, Monday, February 12, 2018

Author:
Michael Black
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
67/14/20109/24/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0213000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.73012
Michael Black

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {Q} Scrabble average: 1.89 This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Black. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael Black notes:
Well, it's been a while, but it's good to be back. This is my fifth puzzle — my last one ran a little over four years ago, my ... read more

Well, it's been a while, but it's good to be back. This is my fifth puzzle — my last one ran a little over four years ago, my first one ran in 2010. At this rate, I'll have joined the exclusive "Ten Club" in 2026.

A lot has happened since my last publication — I became a father, I made my way on air as a news anchor and sports announcer, and I met Will Shortz.

Being that I have more on my plate nowadays, I don't submit as often as I once did, but if a good idea crosses my mind, I will try to put it to paper.

This idea just sort of popped into my head one day. I thought it was worth trying it out, but admittedly, I had trouble figuring out theme answers for VISA and DISCOVER. Maybe ELVIS ANDRUS for VISA? Maybe if this were a crossword in Baseball Digest.

Truth is, the suggestion box under the Google search bar is what really helped me with these two. I began typing "ELVIS A" to see what would come up and did the same for "DISCO VER." The results I found seemed like legit answers, and Will apparently agreed.

A couple of cool things I realized recently with this puzzle: by total coincidence, the TEX in VORTEX crosses into RITTER, which is neat. Also by total coincidence, PAPI is at 34-Down, and Big Papi's number was 34 (my favorite jersey number).

Oh, and I'm sure there will be nitpickers out there who will find fault in my lack of MASTERCARD, but that just wasn't gonna happen. As the commercial says, that's for everything else.

Jeff Chen notes:
Now, these are the kinds of 'hidden word' finds I like! It seems a little miraculous that something as long as DISCOVER could span two ... read more

Now, these are the kinds of "hidden word" finds I like! It seems a little miraculous that something as long as DISCOVER could span two words of a normal phrase. AMEX is shorter and thus easier to work with, but that X ratchets up the difficulty. And even VISA's VI or VIS is no joke. Three great discoveries made for a great theme, CARDHOLDER a perfect revealer. Delightful!

Made me wonder what other possible themers were out there. VIS A VIS is the obvious one, but that doesn't hold a candle to the awesome ELVIS AND ME. There's NOVI SAD, the Serbian city, but that seems hardly crossworthy — not novice friendly, in any case.

And such a wealth of rare letters in the fill, (mostly) worked in so smoothly! Two Js, three Xs, two Zs, that's way more than a usual puzzle contains. ITEN was a price to pay for the two Zs in OZZY, but I was okay with that trade-off.

The only hesitation I had before giving this the POW! … two crossings that I worried might trip up newer solvers:

  • INI / SAW II. Not a great way to start the puzzle, especially cluing INI as a person with a hit from over 20 years ago. But what else could that be? VNI would be an unlikely name, and SAW VI … please, somebody make the franchise stop!
  • OJAY / CADY. I think educated solvers ought to at least have heard of Elizabeth CADY Stanton, but I could understand if someone couldn't remember the spelling. OJAI / CADI? Not nearly as correct-looking to my eye, but there is a city named OJAI, so I'd be sympathetic to that error, chalking it up to Mike's fault, not the solver's.

So the J in AJAX is the one rare letter that I didn't think was worth it, leading to a tough crossing that might trip up newer solvers.

But overall, I loved the theme DISCOVERies (I did wonder about MASTERCARD to get the full set, but what are you gonna do?) and 95% of the grid execution.

1
S
2
A
3
W
4
I
5
I
6
E
7
C
8
H
9
O
10
V
11
A
12
N
13
S
14
P
L
A
N
T
15
D
A
M
P
16
O
B
I
E
17
E
L
V
I
S
18
A
N
D
M
E
19
R
U
L
E
20
W
I
E
21
O
J
A
Y
22
R
23
I
T
T
E
R
24
S
E
D
25
A
K
A
26
M
A
C
E
27
O
A
X
28
A
29
C
A
M
E
X
30
I
31
C
32
O
33
S
34
P
35
I
N
Y
36
D
R
Y
A
D
37
T
A
Z
38
P
A
N
E
39
D
E
I
O
N
40
G
E
T
Z
41
U
P
N
42
W
A
X
E
R
43
C
O
N
E
Y
44
D
I
S
45
C
O
V
E
R
S
46
I
O
N
47
E
R
I
C
48
T
O
G
49
A
50
E
51
D
52
U
53
N
54
J
A
M
S
55
B
56
A
C
K
57
U
V
A
58
C
O
O
S
59
C
60
A
R
D
H
O
61
L
D
E
R
62
L
I
N
E
63
U
T
A
H
64
F
A
I
N
T
65
A
R
I
D
66
P
E
N
D
67
F
O
O
T
S
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0212 ( 24,933 )
Across
1
Horror sequel of 2005 : SAWII
6
Reverberation : ECHO
10
Movers' vehicles : VANS
14
Sow, as seeds : PLANT
15
Clammy : DAMP
16
Theater award : OBIE
17
Best-selling autobiography by Priscilla Presley : ELVISANDME
19
Be the best, in slang : RULE
20
Michelle of the L.P.G.A. : WIE
21
Any singer of the 1973 #1 hit "Love Train" : OJAY
22
Actor John of "Problem Child" : RITTER
24
Neil who sang "Laughter in the Rain" : SEDAKA
26
Antiriot spray : MACE
27
State capital ESE of Guadalajara : OAXACAMEXICO
33
Like a porcupine : SPINY
36
Woods nymph : DRYAD
37
Cartoon "devil," informally : TAZ
38
Window part : PANE
39
Sanders in the Pro Football Hall of Fame : DEION
40
Jazzman Stan : GETZ
41
Onetime competitor of the WB : UPN
42
Machine near the end of a car wash : WAXER
43
___ Island (amusement park site) : CONEY
44
Many a 1970s remix : DISCOVERSION
47
Rock's Clapton or Burdon : ERIC
48
Dressed for a classic fraternity party : TOGAED
52
Fixes, as a photocopier : UNJAMS
55
Front's opposite : BACK
57
Sch. in Charlottesville : UVA
58
Dove calls : COOS
59
One with credit ... or a literal hint to 17-, 27- and 44-Across : CARDHOLDER
62
Queue : LINE
63
What separates Nevada from Colorado : UTAH
64
Barely visible, as a star : FAINT
65
Rarely getting rain : ARID
66
Hang in the balance : PEND
67
___ the bill (pays for something) : FOOTS
Down
1
Shoots out : SPEWS
2
"Kate & ___" of 1980s TV : ALLIE
3
Signaled with the hand : WAVED
4
Singer Kamoze with the 1994 hit "Here Comes the Hotstepper" : INI
5
"There, there" : ITSOKAY
6
Author Ferber : EDNA
7
Suffragist Elizabeth ___ Stanton : CADY
8
"Lemme think ..." : HMM
9
1990s "Saturday Night Live" character with a cape : OPERAMAN
10
Whirlpool : VORTEX
11
Touch : ABUT
12
Stream near the Great Pyramids : NILE
13
Crystal ball user : SEER
18
Cleanser brand with a name from mythology : AJAX
23
Like some sprains and tea : ICED
25
Primo : AONE
26
City hall V.I.P.s : MAYORS
28
High muckety-muck on Madison Avenue : ADEXEC
29
Town ___ (colonial figure) : CRIER
30
Major Calif.-to-Fla. route : ITEN
31
Oscar-winning actress Blanchett : CATE
32
Rocker Osbourne : OZZY
33
Tater : SPUD
34
Big ___ (longtime Red Sox nickname) : PAPI
35
B&Bs : INNS
39
Tennis tournament since 1900 : DAVISCUP
40
Percussion in a Buddhist temple : GONG
42
Wriggler on a fishhook : WORM
43
"Iron Chef" competition : COOKOFF
45
Brought to a halt : CEASED
46
Poison ivy symptom : ITCH
49
Sound part of a broadcast : AUDIO
50
Happening : EVENT
51
Pub game : DARTS
52
Home of the N.C.A.A.'s Bruins : UCLA
53
Pinot ___ : NOIR
54
Folk singer Mitchell : JONI
55
Muffin material : BRAN
56
What Ritalin helps treat, for short : ADHD
60
Had a bite : ATE
61
"7 Faces of Dr. ___" (1964 film) : LAO

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?