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New York Times, Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Author: Elizabeth A. Long
Editor: Will Shortz
Elizabeth A. Long
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
127/16/20072/24/20150
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0422310
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58130

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 38 Missing: {Q} Spans: 3 This is puzzle # 12 for Ms. Long. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes: Amusing take on the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' phenomenon, playing on 'famous person named Grey' + 'synonym for shade.' EARL Grey, LADY ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Amusing take on the "Fifty Shades of Grey" phenomenon, playing on "famous person named Grey" + "synonym for shade." EARL Grey, LADY JANE Grey, ZANE Grey are all crossworthy, methinks. It might have been nice to have everyone of the same ilk (all British nobles, e.g.) or three people from completely different backgrounds, but that's a minor point.

Some people have asked what Will means by "colorful entries," and this puzzle helps me make some observations. First, "colorful" or "vivid" is a very subjective term, so Will and I will undoubtedly disagree on many entries. But here are a few qualities that I think help add to a NYT crossword:

Manganese in various states of processing
  • Multi-word phrases. CALL A CAB rolls off the tongue. Single words can often be tough to make sing, especially ones that are "filler" in everyday conversation. Between CALL A CAB and something like COMMUTE, I'd take CALL A CAB most any day.
  • Terms that are fun to say. STOOLIE is a perfect example. SCULLERY too, for me at least. I'm sure people who work in food prep would shrug at SCULLERY, but I hear this term infrequently, and it just sounds fun.
  • Terms fitting the NYT's target demographic. People who read the NYT tend to be highly educated, so elements (pun intended) such as MANGANESE are appropriate. One caveat: it would have been great if the clue had pointed out a fun fact about MANGANESE, like its use in alloying stainless steel, as even most chemists can't remember Mg's chemical neighbors on the periodic table by memory. Not a lot of fun to try to answer a clue that's essentially: [random element].

These are simply my observations on what I think Will (and Rich and other editors) tend to favor. Each one has his/her own preference of course, so it's impossible to generalize with 100% accuracy. Will, want to weigh in?

Will Shortz notes: Hi Jeff, Your description on XWord Info today sounds about right. When Joel and I look at submissions, we mark them up with our ... more
Will Shortz notes:

Hi Jeff,

Your description on XWord Info today sounds about right. When Joel and I look at submissions, we mark them up with our reactions — check marks for entries we like, minus signs for ones we don't, x's for things we won't accept, question marks for entries we have to think about (like, hmm, is this really an in-the-language phrase?), and "ck" for stuff we need to check.

The size of these marks indicates the strength of our feelings. For example, OONA might get a small ding for being crosswordese, whereas E LEE would get a big demerit for being something we really, really don't want to use.

When we're done, we look over the manuscript as a whole, weighing the pluses and minuses, in deciding whether we want to accept the puzzle or not.

As for Elizabeth's puzzle today, we liked CALL A CAB, MANGANESE, SCULLERY, and WOODSY. On the minus side, PIELIKE gave us pause, and the grid has a modest amount of crosswordese. Joel revised the lower-left corner to remove the crosswordy ZASU and ANAS. He also looked at improving other areas, but didn't see a way to do this without making wholesale changes in the construction, which we didn't want.

The theme is really what sold me on this puzzle. I thought it was different and amusing. Of course, we timed its publication for the release of the movie "Fifty Shades of Grey."

I believe Elizabeth constructs without a computer (her grids are hand-drawn), so I give her big props for that.

--Will

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0224 ( 23,849 )
Across Down
1. Fashion designer Bill : BLASS
6. "Gomer Pyle, ___" : USMC
10. Laugh loudly : HOWL
14. Knight's weapon : LANCE
15. March Madness org. : NCAA
16. Anthony's former partner in radio : OPIE
17. Provide (with) : ENDUE
18. Frontiersman Boone, familiarly : DANL
19. Step on a ladder : RUNG
20. Shades of Grey? : EARLSSUNGLASSES
23. Resembling a quiche : PIELIKE
24. River that flows from the Bernese Alps : AARE
25. Disney deer : ENA
26. Cpl., e.g. : NCO
27. On vacation, say : OFF
30. ___ Rabbit : BRER
33. Best possible : IDEAL
35. Shade : HUE
36. Shades of Grey? : LADYJANESBLINDS
40. 35, minimally, for a U.S. president : AGE
41. One running the show : EMCEE
42. Silent approvals : NODS
43. One chasing after chicks? : HEN
44. ___ Dhabi : ABU
45. Admit, with "up" : OWN
47. Overlook for an Oscar nomination, say : SNUB
48. Singer in prison, maybe : STOOLIE
52. Shades of Grey? : ZANESLAMPCOVERS
56. Big movie screen format : IMAX
57. End in ___ : ATIE
58. Copenhageners, e.g. : DANES
59. It smells a lot : NOSE
60. ___ bene : NOTA
61. It may be skipped on a trip to a lake : STONE
62. '13 or '14, now : GRAD
63. Long hike : TREK
64. Some R.S.V.P.'s : YESES
1. "@#$!" cover-up : BLEEP
2. One of the Hawaiian islands : LANAI
3. Tennis's Agassi : ANDRE
4. Room where pots and pans are stored : SCULLERY
5. Welcomes at the door : SEESIN
6. Inappropriate, as influence : UNDUE
7. Make a PDF of, in a way : SCAN
8. Element between chromium and iron on the periodic table : MANGANESE
9. Advice to someone who's drunk and about to leave : CALLACAB
10. Thoroughbred, e.g. : HORSE
11. Magnum ___ : OPUS
12. Madeira or merlot : WINE
13. Parts of relays : LEGS
21. Some Jamaican music : SKA
22. On ___ (killing it) : AROLL
27. "Not that!" : OHNO
28. Elmer J. of toondom : FUDD
29. Admit, with "up" : FESS
30. Ho-hum : BLAH
31. The Incredible Hulk's feeling when he's green : RAGE
32. Biblical garden : EDEN
33. Place for a preemie : INCUBATOR
34. Syllable repeated after "fiddle" : DEE
37. Guess attire : JEANS
38. Able to walk : AMBULANT
39. Be creative : INNOVATE
45. One way to get meds, for short : OTC
46. Smelling of trees and earth, say : WOODSY
47. Health teacher's topic, informally : SEXED
48. What Teller of Penn & Teller won't do onstage : SPEAK
49. Jay ___ Garage (car enthusiast's website) : LENOS
50. Destructive 2011 East Coast hurricane : IRENE
51. Pluralizers : ESSES
52. Cry after a successful insult : ZING
53. Another name for Cupid : AMOR
54. Cape Canaveral org. : NASA
55. Tiny bug : MITE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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