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New York Times, Thursday, February 28, 2019

Author:
Randolph Ross
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1115/12/19912/28/20190
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49103161824
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.486002
Randolph Ross

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 34 Missing: {FQZ} Spans: 4 This is puzzle # 111 for Mr. Ross. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Randolph Ross notes:
The theme entries started with JASMINE AND JEANS. I noted this would make a 15-letter entry with a cute clue (BLUE JAYS) that could be ... read more

The theme entries started with JASMINE AND JEANS. I noted this would make a 15-letter entry with a cute clue (BLUE JAYS) that could be paralleled with BLACK EYES, HONEY BEES, HIGH SEAS, and GREEN PEAS. Coming up with 4 15-letter entries and a 9-letter entry for the middle was a lot for a daily puzzle, but I didn't want to give any of them up and I thought the challenge to craft a 72 word grid that could hold them all would be something I wanted to try. To make it even harder for myself I kept the parts of each pairing in alphabetical order.

Designing the theme entries this way probably caused me to have a few more abbreviations than I would have liked, which may displease some solvers. I think the trade-off for an abundance of long theme entries was worth it in this puzzle. I know sometimes it's not, and a constructor should knock out the weakest theme entry for the sake of the rest of the grid; but I managed to get a real tight theme and the personal constructing pleasure of crafting an interlock that held so many long answers.

RESAND was also an entry I didn't particularly like - it's not a word most, if any, solvers would use or hear. I spent a long time trying to get rid of it. However, when I thought of the clue "Smooth over" I thought that would compensate for the not so great "re" word. RSVPED and NBATEAM, with their consecutive consonants both got me out of trouble in the grid. I also came up with the original UN VOTE to help me complete the fill.

This was a fun crossword constructing exercise for me. I hope it's also an "aha moment" for solvers when the theme answers are discovered.

Jeff Chen notes:
Letter homophones, [Blue jays] innocently cluing JASMINE AND JEANS, i.e. (blue) JASMINE and (blue) JEANS are real things. I couldn't ... read more

Letter homophones, [Blue jays] innocently cluing JASMINE AND JEANS, i.e. (blue) JASMINE and (blue) JEANS are real things. I couldn't place BLUE JASMINE immediately, so my understanding of the theme was murky at first. But Woody Allen's 2013 movie came back after some thought.

Took a while to remember that a honey badger was an animal, too. That led to an internet rabbit hole of HONEY BADGER DON'T CARE memes.

I'd love for the honey badger to be my spirit animal. Too bad mine is the mole. Wah wah.

I appreciated that it's a tricky enough idea for a Thursday. I had to work for it, no doubt. But it felt more like work than fun to uncover the crossword entries themselves. That's the risk you take when you rely on oddball entries. It's inelegant when one of your entries could just as easily be CLASS and COMMAND, CHAIR and COURT, COUNCIL and COLONIC.

Maybe not that last one.

Sometimes Will encourages constructors to go for a low word count for a Thursday puzzle because that makes the solve even more difficult. I didn't like that today, as those NW and SE corners – HONEY BADGER DON'T CARE! You have to run so many entries through and around JASMINE AND JEANS / BADGERS AND BEARS. With so much open space, it's inevitable to get some RESANDS ABEAM.

AH, SO (I'm not squinting my eyes, I swear). DAMN!

In the SE, I couldn't figure out if I loved or hated UN VOTE. In the end, I leaned toward the latter. Such an arbitrary-feeling entry.

I'd have broken up these two corners (splitting OBADIAH and DEMERIT in half is one way).

It's already a tough, twisty theme. Smoother gridwork could have made for an improved solving experience. It's tough, though — I've been right there with Randy's desire to take on a personal constructing challenge. Such an allure to set a personal goal and try one's best for it.

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H
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0228 ( 25,314 )
Across
1
Crowd on the move : HORDE
6
Valuable paper : CURRENCY
14
Crossing the keel : ABEAM
15
It holds water : STREAMBED
16
Blue jays : JASMINEANDJEANS
18
"Watch out!" : DANGER
19
Game with 501 points : DARTS
20
___ plate : TIN
21
Temple title : RABBI
24
Bygone compacts : GEOS
26
Honey bees : BADGERSANDBEARS
30
"I can see clearly now" : AHSO
31
Second-largest moon of Saturn : RHEA
32
Alternative to AOL : MSN
33
Dry eyes : ICEANDINK
38
Abbr. at a tire shop : PSI
41
To boot : ALSO
42
Autobahn auto : AUDI
46
High seas : COMEDYANDCRIMES
51
Candy bar with chocolate and caramel around a wafer : TWIX
52
Tributary of the Rio Grande : PECOS
53
Gandhi and others, for short : PMS
54
Much of the back of a baseball card : STATS
57
Follower of debate in the General Assembly, in brief : UNVOTE
59
Green peas : PEACEANDPEPPERS
63
AA and AAA : BATTERIES
64
Farm refrain : EIEIO
65
Parts of tourist guides : AREAMAPS
66
Jobs at a body shop : DENTS
Down
1
Leon Uris novel, with "The" : HAJ
2
Shortest Old Testament book : OBADIAH
3
Smooths over : RESANDS
4
Very, informally : DAMN
5
Albert Einstein, notably : EMIGRE
6
'L' train overseer, for short : CTA
7
Caterer's container : URN
8
Funny Foxx : REDD
9
Indian chief : RAJA
10
Surface : EMERGE
11
Thunder, but not Lightning : NBATEAM
12
Bleeps : CENSORS
13
QB's accumulation: Abbr. : YDS
15
Nikola Tesla's countrymen : SERBS
17
___ miss : NEAR
20
Not yet on the sched. : TBA
22
Without exception : BARNONE
23
Like a crisp picture, say : INHD
25
Private info, for short : SSN
27
"There but for the grace of God ___" : GOI
28
Opus ___ : DEI
29
Kick out for good : BAN
34
Real heel : CAD
35
Seat of White Pine County, Nev. : ELY
36
"Now!" : ASAP
37
China's Chiang ___-shek : KAI
38
Election fig. : PCT
39
Unlikely source of a silk purse : SOWSEAR
40
Mirror : IMITATE
43
Lots of : UMPTEEN
44
Teacher's punishment : DEMERIT
45
Magazine no. : ISS
47
Tough-to-win horse racing bet : EXACTA
48
Certain intimate apparel sizes : DCUPS
49
Traffic director : CONE
50
Got back (to) : RSVPED
55
Abound : TEEM
56
Tegan and ___ (pop duo) : SARA
58
Andy Taylor's kid on old TV : OPIE
59
Keglers' org. : PBA
60
Quick drink : NIP
61
Paris's Jardin ___ Tuileries : DES
62
Kind of pad : SOS

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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