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New York Times, Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Author: Jesse Eisenberg and Patrick Blindauer
Editor: Will Shortz
Jesse Eisenberg
TotalDebutCollabs
12/15/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0001000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65000
Patrick Blindauer
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
647/21/20057/2/201720
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
14561217118
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59252

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {KQX} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Eisenberg This is puzzle # 63 for Mr. Blindauer. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: To mark the 75th anniversary of the New York Times crossword, which debuted on Feb. 15, 1942, we are beginning today a series of puzzles co-constructed by famous people who solve the Times crossword, working together with regular Times puzzle contributors. The first such collaboration, below, is by the actor Jesse Eisenberg "The Social Network," "Rio," "Now You See Me," "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice") and Patrick Blindauer (with his 55th Times contribution). The celebrity collaborations will continue throughout the year — at least one a month, and sometimes more often. More information about the making of today's puzzle, along with news on future puzzles in the series, appears on the Times's crossword blog (nytimes.com/columns/wordplay).
Constructor notes: JESSE: Patrick Blindauer and I initially created this puzzle thinking that it would be released around Thanksgiving. As a nod to my ... more
Constructor notes:

JESSE: Patrick Blindauer and I initially created this puzzle thinking that it would be released around Thanksgiving. As a nod to my family, vegetarians who celebrate ThanksLiving (yes, a vegan Thanksgiving), I thought we could create a puzzle for vegan dinner options. How did that morph into a food snowman? I don't remember.

I've never made a puzzle before, but I love solving them. Working with Patrick, who is a puzzlemaster, was thrilling; it was simultaneously an exercise in boundless, abstract creativity (a food snowman?) and rigid boundaries (we need exactly two 13-letter and two 10-letter foods that are also parts of the body!). It's a discipline that requires multiple parts of the mind: 1/2 Jackson Pollock, 1/2 Alan Turing.

It was also a good opportunity to express my love of African geography (SENEGAL), my family's heritage (POLE) and mention my playwright friend Will (ENO). And it was primarily exciting to use clues that have never appeared before (e.g. Christian with some intelligent designs? for DIOR; What revolting people do for RIOT).

PATRICK: I had a blast working on this with Jesse; big thanks to Will for putting us in touch.

We brainstormed at least a dozen ideas before settling on this, a wacky concept that we originally pitched for a Monday. I was in the middle of my Kickstarter campaign for "Piece of Cake Crosswords," and Jesse was eagerly anticipating the birth of his child. I had recently become a father myself so we chatted about that, as well as our mutual love of theatre. He was eager to learn about all aspects of construction and was an excellent collaborator. It was fascinating to watch his agile mind at work.

Congrats on your debut, Jesse, and happy birthday to the New York Times crossword!

Jeff Chen notes: Such a cool idea to have celebs co-construct crosswords! Huge fan of Jesse's roles in 'The Social Network' and 'Now You See Me.' And ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Such a cool idea to have celebs co-construct crosswords! Huge fan of Jesse's roles in "The Social Network" and "Now You See Me." And Patrick is a great partner for a debut collaboration — one of the top puzzlemakers out there.

This is one avant-garde snowman. I've seen HEAD OF LETTUCE and EARS OF CORN in food-like-body-parts crosswords before, maybe even BUTTERFINGERS too, but none of them related to snowmen. Points for … originality? Not sure I ever would have thought of sticking LETTUCE on this horror movie fiend. I can't decide if sticking CHERRY PITS under a snowman's arms is hilarious, or incredibly creepy.

No long bonus entries, but some nice mid-length fill in NFL TEAM, CUTOFFS (perhaps the snowman is a nevernude?) and DARWIN. And some rare letters worked in with care — in JAZZ / ZITI / ZAHN — spices things up.

Such a smooth grid, something Patrick excels at. It was so smooth that I would have liked some more bonus long fill in exchange for a little more crossword glue. Taking out the black square between AGOG and ELITE is one way to do that. Shifting the block above TACO to the right is another option. These changes would make filling harder of course, but as long as the final tally of gluey bits was still reasonable, I would have liked to see that trade-off.

I'd also like to have seen the body parts in more anatomical order, starting with HEAD, to EARS, to PITS, to FINGERS. That would be much tougher to do, since HEAD OF LETTUCE's length makes it unsuitable for row three, forcing all the themers to be shoved tighter together toward the center — and less spacing is almost always a constructor's bane. But I think it would still have been doable.

Some great clues spiced up the solve:

  • MACS are decidedly un-PC types — IBM-PC, that is.
  • Neat that STENO anagrams to NOTES!
  • The (hated, vile) Cowboys are an NFL TEAM, but the Indians are not. Neat use of "cowboys and Indians."
  • Absolutely love the DIOR and RIOT clues Jesse mentioned above.

Nice kick-off to what hopefully will be a long series of these celeb collabs!

JimH notes: We count this as Mr. Blindauer's 63rd puzzle because we include his eight Variety puzzles. (Click his photo to see thumbnails of all his ... more
JimH notes:

We count this as Mr. Blindauer's 63rd puzzle because we include his eight Variety puzzles. (Click his photo to see thumbnails of all his work.) Seven of his Varieties are Diagramless, but the eighth, called Out of Order, is clever and original and highly recommended. Try it before you jump to the answers.

Across Lite (Be sure to read the Notepad!) and Solution.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0215 ( 24,571 )
Across Down
1. Doc on a battlefield : MEDIC
6. Captain of literature : AHAB
10. Unwanted subway sights : RATS
14. Honda division : ACURA
15. Singer Bareilles : SARA
16. Water, south of the border : AGUA
17. "We used some food to make a snowman. Under his arms we put ___" : CHERRYPITS
19. Writer Morrison : TONI
20. The sun : SOL
21. Prov. north of Northumberland Strait : PEI
22. Dakar's land : SENEGAL
24. Picked up via gossip : HEARD
26. Used to own : HAD
27. "Then we gave him ___" : BUTTERFINGERS
32. Touch of love : CARESS
34. Kind of clef : ALTO
35. Half a kisser : LIP
36. During : AMID
37. Org. for drivers : PGA
38. Christian with some intelligent designs? : DIOR
39. Plop down : SIT
40. Tiny problem : SNAG
42. Crewmate of Sulu and Bones : SCOTTY
44. "On top we put a ___" : HEADOFLETTUCE
47. Last word of the Pledge of Allegiance : ALL
48. South Beach plan and others : DIETS
49. Obama adviser Valerie : JARRETT
53. Playwright Will who wrote "The Realistic Joneses" : ENO
54. Mom-and-pop org. : PTA
57. Admit frankly : AVOW
58. "Finally, we stuck in two ___. Yum!" : EARSOFCORN
61. Rigatoni's cousin : ZITI
62. Berry imported from Brazil : ACAI
63. Counterfeiter, e.g. : FELON
64. Newswoman Paula : ZAHN
65. Neat, as a lawn : MOWN
66. "Ciao!" : SEEYA
1. Decidedly non-PC types? : MACS
2. Comeback in a cave : ECHO
3. Burr/Hamilton showdown : DUEL
4. Abbr. on some sale goods : IRR
5. Completely covers : CARPETS
6. Dream : ASPIRE
7. "Bali ___" : HAI
8. Newspaper section : ARTS
9. Single, say : BASEHIT
10. Like "Pocahontas" or "Mulan" : RATEDG
11. Like a kid in a candy store : AGOG
12. StarKist product : TUNA
13. Something that's frequently trimmed : SAIL
18. Poet who wrote "In dreams begins responsibility" : YEATS
23. Small iPod : NANO
24. Toned : HUED
25. Was boring, as a meeting : DRAGGED
27. Water filter brand : BRITA
28. State with 1,350 miles of coastline: Abbr. : FLA
29. Type of type : ELITE
30. What revolting people do? : RIOT
31. Not showing one's age, say : SPRY
32. Check alternative : CASH
33. Gallic girlfriend : AMIE
37. "___ Joey" (Rodgers and Hart musical) : PAL
38. Word files, briefly : DOCS
40. Palm : hand :: ___ : foot : SOLE
41. Cowboys, but not Indians : NFLTEAM
42. Worker whose name is, appropriately, an anagram of NOTES : STENO
43. Jeans style : CUTOFFS
45. Champion of evolution : DARWIN
46. Makes a connection : TIESIN
49. Grammy category : JAZZ
50. New Balance competitor : AVIA
51. Philip who said "goodbye" to Columbus : ROTH
52. ___ Bell : TACO
54. Szczecin resident : POLE
55. Weight classification : TROY
56. "___ Karenina" : ANNA
59. Lacking refinement : RAW
60. Capital of Colombia? : CEE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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