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New York Times, Monday, February 23, 2015

Author:
Joel Fagliano
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6510/22/20096/16/20196
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
16911910325
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64351
Joel Fagliano

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FKQXZ} This is puzzle # 36 for Mr. Fagliano. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joel Fagliano notes:
Sometimes, the enjoyment in Monday and Tuesday grids can only be found in the theme. With the typical 78-word grid, crossword standbys ... read more

Sometimes, the enjoyment in Monday and Tuesday grids can only be found in the theme. With the typical 78-word grid, crossword standbys are bound to make up much of the fill and clues can't get too interesting or novel.

For this reason, I always aim to make my easy puzzles with a low word count. For one thing, it's a fun construction challenge. Getting Monday-level fill in a 72-word grid often takes the exact right arrangement of the themers and black squares, which is the sort of design problem I like (cause I'm weird like that). Luckily, the grid shape I found was still fairly segmented, which allowed me to work on each corner without too much spillover.

But besides being fun to make, the longer vocabulary and lack of three-letter answers allows for interesting words and phrases you wouldn't normally see on a Monday. In turn, those can get fresh (but still easy) clues that test a novice solver's brain in a way they haven't experienced before.

All in all, I'm really proud of how this one came out, and I hope solvers like it too!

Jeff Chen notes:
Joel has such an interesting perspective. The construction was SO smooth that I assumed it was a 76 or perhaps a 74-word puzzle. A ... read more

Joel has such an interesting perspective. The construction was SO smooth that I assumed it was a 76 or perhaps a 74-word puzzle. A 72-word themed puzzle is hard enough to achieve with a few gluey bits, so to nail it with nary a glop is amazing.

My personal style is a little different. I always try to work in six snazzy long downs (unless grid constraints are severe), but that tends to ignore the mid-length 5-, 6-, 7-letter fill, leaning heavily on the short stuff that Joel points out as pretty boring for solvers. I hadn't really considered how important that mid-range stuff is, but I see what he means when I look at fill such as JUNTA, IM SURE, and ACCT NO (which looks really cool in the grid — a nice surprise to have to work at uncovering a Monday entry). I like those entries no matter how they're clued.

The least populous state, West Virginia!

And his approach also gives the solver interesting trivia. Who knew WYOMING was the least populous state? I wouldn't, because my approach to grid design tends to ignore these 7-letter entries. (Also because I get WYOMING and Wisconsin confused.)

Finally, IM GAY brings us a reminder of a momentous event in TV history, Ellen coming out. Great stuff.

I might have liked a third fruit instead of BITTER PILL — if only BITTER PEAR or RANCID BANANA were metaphorical, sigh — but the theme coheres well enough. (I'm afraid the consistently very high quality of Joel's work has me spoiled ugli.)

A great construction, and a Monday puzzle chock full of interesting fill and tidbits.

1
G
2
L
3
A
4
S
5
S
6
C
7
L
8
A
9
W
10
P
11
O
12
R
13
T
14
Y
E
N
T
A
15
H
O
L
Y
16
U
H
O
H
17
M
E
G
A
N
18
A
U
T
O
19
T
Y
P
E
20
R
O
T
T
21
E
N
T
O
M
22
A
T
O
E
S
23
R
E
A
R
24
I
M
S
U
R
E
25
C
26
H
A
D
27
A
28
C
29
C
30
T
N
O
31
R
A
C
E
32
S
O
U
R
G
R
33
A
34
P
35
E
36
S
37
A
R
A
B
38
S
39
M
R
I
40
E
R
A
T
O
41
B
I
T
T
E
42
R
P
I
L
43
L
44
T
R
O
T
45
G
O
S
O
L
O
46
M
E
N
S
47
A
48
T
49
R
50
I
U
M
51
S
52
H
U
N
53
L
E
A
V
E
A
54
B
55
A
56
D
T
A
S
T
57
E
58
I
N
T
O
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N
O
V
A
60
D
E
I
T
61
Y
62
B
E
E
R
63
C
R
I
B
64
J
U
N
T
A
65
I
T
S
Y
66
E
N
D
S
67
I
M
G
A
Y
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0223 ( 23,848 )
Across
1
Window material : GLASS
6
Lobster limb : CLAW
10
Cruise ship stop : PORT
14
Gossip spreader : YENTA
15
The ___ Bible : HOLY
16
"This can't be good" : UHOH
17
Actress Fox of the "Transformers" movies : MEGAN
18
What a garage protects : AUTO
19
Use a keyboard : TYPE
20
Online aggregator of movie reviews : ROTTENTOMATOES
23
Where airplane bathrooms are, often : REAR
24
"No doubt in my mind" : IMSURE
25
Neighbor of Niger : CHAD
27
Bank ID : ACCTNO
31
Census form info : RACE
32
Fox's feeling in an Aesop fable : SOURGRAPES
37
Omanis and Saudis : ARABS
39
Hosp. scan : MRI
40
Muse of poetry : ERATO
41
Hard-to-accept consequence : BITTERPILL
44
Horse's gait : TROT
45
Strike out on one's own, as a musician : GOSOLO
46
The "M" of Y.M.C.A. : MENS
47
Heart chamber : ATRIUM
51
Avoid : SHUN
53
Not sit well ... or what eating 20-, 32- or 41-Across might do? : LEAVEABADTASTE
58
Wild about : INTO
59
Exploding star : NOVA
60
Aphrodite or Ares : DEITY
62
Product commonly advertised during football games : BEER
63
Baby's bed : CRIB
64
Postcoup group : JUNTA
65
Teeny : ITSY
66
Finales : ENDS
67
Groundbreaking admission from Ellen in a 1997 sitcom : IMGAY
Down
1
Facility with treadmills and yoga mats : GYM
2
Creepy look : LEER
3
Long-haired feline : ANGORACAT
4
Governor's financial concern : STATEDEBT
5
December list keeper : SANTA
6
Action film star Jackie : CHAN
7
Lummox : LOUT
8
Voice below soprano : ALTO
9
Least populous state : WYOMING
10
Strokes on the green : PUTTS
11
"Silly goose!" : OHYOU
12
Lasso wielder : ROPER
13
"___ things happen" : THESE
21
Historical periods : ERAS
22
Love, to Luigi : AMORE
25
Sidling sea creature : CRAB
26
Mata ___ (W.W. I spy) : HARI
28
Provides free of charge : COMPS
29
Bit of bric-a-brac : CURIO
30
Sing like a bird : TRILL
33
The Getty or the Guggenheim : ARTMUSEUM
34
Subject of advice from Dr. Spock or Dr. Phil : PARENTING
35
Prestigious British boys' school : ETON
36
Drunkards : SOTS
38
"Anyhoo ..." or "As I was saying ..." : SEGUE
42
Word before novel or language : ROMANCE
43
In need of direction : LOST
47
Suspect's story : ALIBI
48
Basic principle : TENET
49
Assigns stars to, say : RATES
50
Ebony's partner : IVORY
52
Pilgrim to Mecca : HADJI
54
"I wasn't ___ yesterday" : BORN
55
Enthusiastic : AVID
56
Pats gently : DABS
57
Jazz legend James : ETTA
61
"What great news!" : YAY

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?