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New York Times, Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Author: Daniel Larsen
Editor: Will Shortz
Daniel Larsen
TotalDebutCollabs
12/14/20170
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0010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64000

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Larsen NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Daniel Larsen notes: I've been into crosswords for a few years. Before that, I was into word squares. At some point, my father wrote a simple ... more
Daniel Larsen notes:

I've been into crosswords for a few years. Before that, I was into word squares. At some point, my father wrote a simple crossword making program that let you enter words. I decided to add some more features.

For my 12th birthday, I asked for a better word list (the original one was just the Unix word list). I got what I asked for. Meanwhile, the program kept improving until the only hard part (if you were okay with doing some trial and error) became making sure that there was a minimal amount of crosswordese and obscure words, which my older sister and father helped with. (They also wrote most of the clues.)

I tried to submit a puzzle a week for a while. This was the eighth puzzle I submitted. Originally, I came up with the idea to have words with R's and L's turning into W's. When I told my father what I was doing, he told me that that was essentially how Elmer Fudd talked.

I got a list of common words with r and l in them and spent many evenings working before I had my theme answers. I originally had only QUACKOFDAWN, WHISKEYMOVE, WOWEDMOUTHS, SWATMACHINE, and ELMERFUDD in the middle. However, a center 9 puts a huge constraint on the grid and, although I tried very hard, the fill was simply terrible.

At some point, it occurred to me that adding a symmetrical theme partner to Elmer Fudd might make the construction easier! My best 9-letter word was TWEEHOUSE. Unfortunately, my original self-constraint was to have all the theme answers change their spelling beyond a simple letter substitution. Still, I hoped the theme answers were humorous enough to make people overlook this flaw. I didn't like that the middle section was a cut-off 3x3 section, but I couldn't find a different way to do it.

As for the fill, Will and Joel were unhappy with it in a few places. They made some much-needed improvements until it became the puzzle that is here today.

I'm thrilled to be making my debut in the New York Times!

Jeff Chen notes: Debut! Daniel breaks the record for youngest NYT constructor. What was I doing at age 13? Oh yes, still watching ELMER FUDD. I ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Debut! Daniel breaks the record for youngest NYT constructor. What was I doing at age 13? Oh yes, still watching ELMER FUDD.

I spent hundreds of hours following the exploits of that wascally wabbit, so this puzzle brought me back. I particularly liked QUACK OF DAWN (from "crack of dawn"), as it hinted at Daffy Duck, another one of Fudd's usual targets. And SWAT MACHINE (from "slot machine") hinted at Wile E. Coyote's crazy contraptions! How cool would it have been if every themer related to Looney Tunes.

Using six themers is no joke, especially for a debut. Such a high theme density will almost always require some dabs of crossword glue to hold everything together. So I appreciated that I noticed very little as I solved. ON OR here, WYE there, some minor ERE, ATO, INS, but that was it. Nice craftsmanship to produce a smooth result.

And the big NE / SW corners! These roughly 6x4 chunks are so tough to fill with interesting and smooth material. I enjoyed that NE, what with MARINE and ESPRIT de corps, with just INS and an outdated SUPRA. The SW was even nicer, with so many evocative answers like SAMSON, SQUASH, AUSSIE, and MANTRA. Well done.

Not many extras in this puzzle; not a surprise because of the high theme density. But I liked AW GO ON, which looks so amusingly like AW, GOON. Seems like that should be a Looney Tunes title.

Love me some Harry Potter, so yay for the OWL clue, referencing Ordinary Wizarding Level exams.

Can't wait to see what my daughter's patronus is, BTW.

This lisp-ish concept has gotten somewhat overdone, and not many of the themers made me laugh. But I liked ELMER FUDD as a revealer, and I thought Dan did a great job executing his gridwork. If only there had been something extra, like all the themers chosen and clued to Looney Tunes, this might have been POW! material for this Road Runner junkie.

1
A
2
I
3
D
4
S
5
P
6
L
7
U
8
S
9
I
10
T
11
E
12
M
13
S
14
R
O
U
E
15
R
A
P
T
16
N
A
S
A
L
17
T
W
E
E
18
H
O
U
S
E
19
S
U
P
R
A
20
S
A
L
S
A
21
R
E
A
22
M
23
G
R
I
T
24
S
25
W
A
T
M
A
26
C
H
I
N
E
27
O
28
A
29
K
30
L
E
Y
31
R
U
T
T
E
D
32
W
H
I
S
K
E
33
Y
34
M
35
O
V
E
36
L
A
N
D
37
E
O
E
38
B
39
A
40
R
41
S
42
W
43
O
W
E
D
44
M
45
O
U
T
H
S
46
S
47
A
48
M
49
S
O
N
50
A
W
G
O
O
N
51
Q
U
A
C
K
O
52
F
53
D
54
A
W
N
55
U
S
N
A
56
R
E
A
D
57
E
58
M
59
C
60
E
61
E
62
A
S
T
R
63
A
64
E
L
M
65
E
R
F
U
D
D
66
S
I
R
E
N
67
L
A
I
R
68
A
B
I
G
69
H
E
A
D
Y
70
S
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71
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0214 ( 24,570 )
Across Down
1. Helps : AIDS
5. ___-size model : PLUS
9. Things : ITEMS
14. Licentious man : ROUE
15. Paying close attention : RAPT
16. ___ congestion (cold symptom) : NASAL
17. Small, cute residence? : TWEEHOUSE
19. Bygone Toyota sports car : SUPRA
20. Music with conga drums : SALSA
21. 500 sheets of paper : REAM
23. Moral toughness : GRIT
24. Device for killing mosquitoes? : SWATMACHINE
27. Annie who was nicknamed "Little Sure Shot" : OAKLEY
31. Like a well-worn dirt road : RUTTED
32. Pouring into a shot glass, e.g.? : WHISKEYMOVE
36. Come to earth : LAND
37. Fair-hiring inits. : EOE
38. Stars and ___ (Confederate flag) : BARS
42. Relatives of slack jaws? : WOWEDMOUTHS
46. Delilah was his undoing : SAMSON
50. "Stop joshin' me!" : AWGOON
51. What wakes everyone up in the morning at the duck pond? : QUACKOFDAWN
55. Sch. for future admirals : USNA
56. Like books and tea leaves : READ
57. Host at a roast : EMCEE
62. "Ad ___ per aspera" (Kansas' motto) : ASTRA
64. Archenemy of Bugs Bunny ... who might say things like 17-, 24-, 32-, 42- and 51-Across : ELMERFUDD
66. Wail of an ambulance : SIREN
67. Den : LAIR
68. Not ___ deal : ABIG
69. Having an exhilarating effect : HEADY
70. Trig function : SINE
71. Leave completely filled : SATE
1. Counterpart of sciences : ARTS
2. Des Moines's home : IOWA
3. Fight at 20 paces, say : DUEL
4. Lays eyes on : SEES
5. Expert : PRO
6. Advice-giving "Dr." of radio : LAURA
7. Surprise victory : UPSET
8. Sauna feature : STEAM
9. Shoo-___ (overwhelming favorites) : INS
10. Instructed : TAUGHT
11. ___ de corps : ESPRIT
12. Jarhead : MARINE
13. On the schedule : SLATED
18. Goalie Dominik with 16 seasons in the N.H.L. : HASEK
22. Man's nickname that's just wonderful? : MARV
25. Letter before zee : WYE
26. Signal from offstage : CUE
27. ___ exams (tests at the end of a student's fifth year at Hogwarts) : OWL
28. "Eureka!" : AHA
29. Family relations : KIN
30. "Acid" : LSD
33. Wood for archery bows : YEW
34. One of the Stooges : MOE
35. U.K. lexicon : OED
38. Software problem : BUG
39. From ___ Z : ATO
40. Letter before sigma : RHO
41. Fig. on an application : SSN
42. Stir-fry vessel : WOK
43. ___ about (approximately) : ONOR
44. Gaping opening : MAW
45. Proprietor : OWNER
46. Racket sport : SQUASH
47. Sydneysider, for one : AUSSIE
48. Words said over and over : MANTRA
49. Chicken : SCARED
52. Believes : FEELS
53. ___ Lama : DALAI
54. PC network overseer : ADMIN
58. Degs. for creative types : MFAS
59. Country with which the U.S. re-established diplomatic relations in 2015 : CUBA
60. Toolbar heading : EDIT
61. Narrow advantage : EDGE
63. "___ last words?" : ANY
65. Before, to poets : ERE

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle.

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