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New York Times, Friday, February 22, 2019

Author:
Daniel Nierenberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
24/21/20182/22/20190
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0000011
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54000
Daniel Nierenberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 30 Missing: {JKQXZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Nierenberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Daniel Nierenberg notes:
Happy Friday everyone! The seeds for this puzzle were BAHAMA MAMA, PROM DRESS, RED DRAGON, and ADDED SUGAR. My original submission ... read more

Happy Friday everyone!

The seeds for this puzzle were BAHAMA MAMA, PROM DRESS, RED DRAGON, and ADDED SUGAR. My original submission had DEFLEA at the bottom left corner, but I wasn't entirely sure Will would approve. As a backup, I included an alternative bottom left corner featuring RIFLES instead of DEFLEA, which you see today. Even though I'm a huge horror fan, RED DRAGON was my second favorite entry; my first was NEAR MISSES. I've gotten a few rejections in the past from Will telling me my puzzle was a "near miss," so once I saw it pop up in Crossfire by pure chance, I knew I had to keep it. I figured it would give submitters a good laugh to see a "near miss" be approved.

On that note, to anyone still trying to get their foot in the door, here's how I improved my odds for an acceptance (especially themeless puzzles); an enormous thanks to Will and the team!

  1. Get rid of any crosswordese (delete these from your wordlists and default puzzle program wordlists!).
  2. Make sure the black square pattern doesn't cut off the flow/connections of the answer spaces too much (Ex: Don't have only one answer square connect two major puzzle areas.)

The hardest thing in my opinion for a themeless is featuring enough interesting long fill. Every editor has a different taste. As a scientist, I love LACTIC ACID or MARINE BIOME as answers, but they were rejected in past submissions and specifically pointed out. Additionally, long fill stacks or an area of words will just sound and look right to you. Trust your gut.

Just keep submitting and hope for the best!

Jeff Chen notes:
I enjoy when constructors can place related entries within the same stack. Having a BAHAMA MAMA at the ALOHA TOWER? I don't know ... read more

I enjoy when constructors can place related entries within the same stack. Having a BAHAMA MAMA at the ALOHA TOWER? I don't know what's in a BAHAMA MAMA, but what a lovely tropical image it all evokes (especially after last week's eight inches of snow here in Seattle.)

A lot of long slots in this grid design – 16 (!) of 8+ letters. Daniel did well in his conversion rate, most all of these long entries good to great. Freshness in PROM DRESS, DIETARY LAW, ADDED SUGAR. And I appreciated that there wasn't anything that made me feel out of the loop, old, or just plain stupid. I like that Daniel aimed for broad appeal.

Out of the 16 slots, I counted only three that were just so-so: OVERTURE, EPISODES, SNAP OPEN. The first is debatable, maybe elating some classical music buffs. Perhaps EPISODES could have been elevated to asset-land with a clever clue, but [Installments] didn't do anything for it. And the last – tough to get excited about a +short word like OPEN, OUT, AT, etc. phrase.

So you're probably asking, 13 of 16 long slots converted into assets, not that much crossword glue (ERLE RPI EOSIN) – why not a POW!?

Short answer is because I'm annoying.

Long answer:

  1. ATHWART a-thwarted me up in the north. What a bizarre word, in a precious mid-length slot.
  2. EOSIN is another toughie. I recognize the word from having been in biotech, but it's going to look wrong to many others.
  3. I've seen BAHAMA MAMA in many other themelesses in other venues because its consonant-vowel alternation is so constructor-friendly. This is so unfair, and something very few people will recognize or be affected by. (I told you, I'm annoying!)
  4. Ultimately, the bar for 72-word crosswords is so high that one has to be near perfect to garner POW! attention from me.

But overall, it's a strong offering. I bet if Daniel had figured out a way to get rid of ATHWART or EOSIN – easier said than done – I'd have put it in the POW! running.

1
B
2
A
3
H
4
A
5
M
6
A
7
M
8
A
9
M
10
A
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C
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A
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S
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E
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A
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A
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H
D
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V
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D
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T
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I
D
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T
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W
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B
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E
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D
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N
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P
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A
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S
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S
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P
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O
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M
30
D
R
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S
T
O
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P
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T
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O
V
E
R
T
U
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R
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E
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P
A
L
E
S
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P
A
D
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P
A
G
E
R
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S
N
A
P
O
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P
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N
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F
O
R
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L
L
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R
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D
D
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G
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R
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D
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E
F
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A
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O
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P
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H
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L
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D
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R
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W
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M
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N
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0222 ( 25,308 )
Across
1
Rum drink popular at beach bars : BAHAMAMAMA
11
Cold ___ : CASE
15
Hawaii landmark featuring four seven-ton clocks : ALOHATOWER
16
Modern entertainment device : HDTV
17
It's no cause for alarm : IDLETHREAT
18
Patent prerequisite : IDEA
19
Cry after doing something impressive : TADA
20
Bridge position : WEST
21
Run : BLEED
22
List maker : DEAN
24
Hawk : PEDDLE
25
Animal associated with Palm Sunday : ASS
28
Wear for a queen : PROMDRESS
31
"Knock that off!" : STOPIT
33
Oratorio opener, often : OVERTURE
36
Doesn't measure up : PALES
37
Fill out : PAD
38
A resident might carry one : PAGER
39
Flip, as a top : SNAPOPEN
41
In spite of : FORALL
42
1981 novel that introduced the character Hannibal Lecter : REDDRAGON
44
Loaf at a bakery : RYE
45
Rid of some pests : DEFLEA
47
Ship with a prophetic prow : ARGO
49
Parts : ROLES
50
"Grand" or "demi" ballet move : PLIE
52
In prime condition : HALE
56
Express letters? : ASAP
57
Kosher restaurant's observance : DIETARYLAW
59
Bog : MIRE
60
Goal of meditation : INNERPEACE
61
Over : ANEW
62
Close shaves : NEARMISSES
Down
1
Chum, e.g. : BAIT
2
"Manhattan Murder Mystery" actor, 1993 : ALDA
3
A plan may be put on it : HOLD
4
Leading : AHEAD
5
Something to fall back on? : MAT
6
From side to side : ATHWART
7
Rita who was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 : MORENO
8
Floors : AWES
9
Tenderizer target : MEAT
10
"All ___ is a kind of confession, more or less oblique": James Baldwin : ART
11
Temple, for one : CHILDSTAR
12
Source of empty calories : ADDEDSUGAR
13
Bessemer process output : STEEL
14
Get by : EVADE
21
Popular drinking game : BEERPONG
23
Installments : EPISODES
24
Season opener? : PRE
25
Ophidian menaces : ASPS
26
Getz who was nicknamed "The Sound" : STAN
27
Phenomenon that emits X-rays : SOLARFLARE
29
2016 hit animated film : MOANA
30
It might have bonus features : DVD
32
Cartoon Casanova : PEPELEPEW
34
Hinge (on) : RELY
35
First name in court fiction : ERLE
37
In accordance with : PER
40
Hand-held organizer, briefly : PDA
41
The biblical cubit was based on its length : FOREARM
43
Boot covering : GAITER
45
Video store category : DRAMA
46
Dye used in some ballpoint ink : EOSIN
48
"Without a doubt!" : OHYES
50
Derby car material : PINE
51
River to the Arctic Ocean : LENA
53
Interjection of dejection : ALAS
54
Some curtain trim : LACE
55
Gimmers are young ones : EWES
57
Hubbub : DIN
58
Oldest tech school in the U.S. : RPI

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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