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New York Times, Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Author:
Elizabeth A. Long
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
137/16/20072/18/20180
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1422310
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58130
Elizabeth A. Long

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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

1
B
2
L
3
A
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S
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S
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U
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S
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M
9
C
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H
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O
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W
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L
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L
A
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15
N
C
A
A
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O
P
I
E
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E
N
D
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D
A
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L
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R
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G
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E
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A
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P
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A
A
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E
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N
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O
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F
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F
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B
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R
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I
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D
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L
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H
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L
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J
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A
N
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B
L
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I
N
D
S
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A
G
E
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E
M
C
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N
O
D
S
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H
E
N
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A
B
U
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O
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W
N
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S
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B
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S
T
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O
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L
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I
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E
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Z
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A
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N
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M
P
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I
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A
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A
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D
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N
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G
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Y
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0224 ( 23,849 )
Across
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
Down
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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