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New York Times, Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
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1.645173
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {Q} Scrabble average: 2.02 This is puzzle # 23 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
Wow — I constructed this puzzle a really long time ago! I don't remember when I started working on it, though I know I submitted ... read more

Wow — I constructed this puzzle a really long time ago! I don't remember when I started working on it, though I know I submitted the first version to Will just a few weeks after I turned 15. My original puzzle included Season 13 "Dancing With the Stars" winner J.R. MARTINEZ, which Will felt was a little too obscure. So I took my idea back to the drawing board and came up with J.R.R. TOLKIEN, which Will noted was inconsistent, since the name has three initials. Finally, after a lot of digging, I found the last 10-letter entry I would need to rebuild the puzzle: J.B. FLETCHER. Will liked that including J.B. FLETCHER would give the puzzle a more even balance of real and fictional people, so I set to work on producing the final fill.

Filling around eight theme entries containing a J, some of which were stacked, was very challenging. I was and still am pretty happy with how the puzzle turned out, though I'd probably try to use a bit less crosswordese nowadays. I particularly like how crazy the upper left looks with all the O's. I hope you enjoy solving my puzzle, JCTS and all!

Will Shortz notes:

(Will is taking a break from contributing Notes so he can focus on preparing for the upcoming American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.)

Jeff Chen notes:
Ten years ago, three long theme answers was the norm. If you had three grid-spanners (15 letters long) it was kind of magical! Then ... read more

Ten years ago, three long theme answers was the norm. If you had three grid-spanners (15 letters long) it was kind of magical! Then came the era of four themers. Harder to construct, and it forced constructors to up their game. No so bad with the widespread adoption of computer-assistance. And these days, five is more typical than not, with the really gung-ho folks packing in six.

And then there's DStein. EIGHT theme answers jammed into one crossword? What's the emoticon for (slapping hands to face like in Home Alone), because whoa!

Interesting theme today, people commonly known by their J_ initials. Extremely tough for a Tuesday. With any name-based puzzle, opinions are going to vary widely, especially with names drawn from the deep corners of specific knowledge areas. I live in Seattle and am a Mariners fan (whenever they're not playing the Giants or A's), but it took me a while to pull out JJ PUTZ (whoops! no pun intended)*. The rest of them thankfully were easy enough, except for JB FLETCHER, which I feel like should know. Point is, this might be a love-it/hate-it puzzle depending on the solver's background.

Many experienced constructors can cleanly pull off a puzzle with five themers. Some can even handle six without an ANOA or an ULU. Since I've never tried to incorporate eight before, I can't say how truly hard or easy it is. But judging by the fact that David has some chops and there are some rough edges to this construction, I don't think I'll be attempting it in the near future.

I do like the experimentation, the pushing the boundaries to see what's possible — nothing worse than complacency, sticking with tried and true with nothing new. But the stacking of themers in the SE produces some unsightly crosses — JCTS next to random Roman numeral MMDII with ESTE nearby, oof.

And the NE and SW corners felt like they should be easier to fill, but upon closer inspection, I changed my mind. The preponderance of J's up in the NE makes it extremely difficult (what else could go where JOJO is besides JUJU?), and once you fix JOJO into place, hotchee-motchee do things get tough. Easier in the SW (no J's to worry about), so I found it an odd choice to cross two very tough names together in BROZ and JJ PUTZ. I would have much preferred something like DR OZ in there, which isn't bad to fill around and feels to me much more gettable to a bigger population of solvers. Budding constructors, try replacing BROZ with DR OZ and see what you can come up with. There are a lot of ways to do that while also putting something better in for the arbitrary ONE LB.

All in all, an interesting experiment in pushing the boundaries, and glad I learned a little about JB FLETCHER.

*He's lying

Jim Horne notes:
1
H
2
O
3
D
4
S
5
B
6
A
7
S
8
K
9
J
10
O
11
J
12
O
13
A
N
O
N
14
I
L
I
E
15
S
O
D
O
16
I
17
J
K
R
O
18
W
L
I
N
G
19
B
O
S
O
M
20
J
P
M
O
R
G
A
N
21
M
A
H
A
L
O
22
Z
O
E
S
23
S
E
C
24
L
A
N
25
E
26
X
27
J
E
T
28
L
A
H
29
T
I
30
A
R
B
31
E
32
A
33
T
34
S
I
N
35
E
N
36
V
37
Y
38
R
A
F
39
T
40
C
R
O
C
I
41
A
G
E
E
42
L
Y
L
E
43
H
A
N
K
E
44
R
45
E
R
S
46
E
N
47
J
O
Y
48
A
49
B
R
A
M
50
P
51
O
T
52
J
O
S
53
M
54
O
N
A
55
I
N
C
56
A
P
S
57
J
M
B
A
R
58
R
59
I
60
E
61
N
E
H
R
U
62
J
C
D
I
T
H
E
R
S
63
E
L
E
C
T
64
A
T
I
T
65
O
M
I
T
66
B
R
O
Z
67
I
S
I
S
68
P
O
S
E
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0204 ( 23,464 )
Across
1
Coal carriers : HODS
5
Take pleasure, as in one's glory : BASK
9
One-named singer with the 2006 hit "Too Little Too Late" : JOJO
13
Soon, quaintly : ANON
14
Tennis's Nastase : ILIE
15
"Same with me" : SODOI
17
Author of the best-selling book series in history : JKROWLING
19
___ buddy : BOSOM
20
Founder of U.S. Steel : JPMORGAN
21
"Thank you," in Hawaii : MAHALO
22
Actress Caldwell and others : ZOES
23
Instant : SEC
24
Office PC hookup : LAN
25
Joe Namath or Mark Gastineau : EXJET
28
Actress Christine of "Funny About Love" : LAHTI
30
Wall St. operator : ARB
31
Eschews takeout, say : EATSIN
35
A deadly sin : ENVY
38
Means of a castaway's escape, maybe : RAFT
40
Early bloomers : CROCI
41
"Inside the Company: C.I.A. Diary" author Philip : AGEE
42
Vocalist Lovett : LYLE
43
Itch (for) : HANKER
45
R.N. workplaces : ERS
46
Take pleasure in : ENJOY
48
The "A" of James A. Garfield : ABRAM
50
Stew holder : POT
52
"___ Boys" (Louisa May Alcott novel) : JOS
53
"___ Lisa" : MONA
55
HOW THIS CLUE IS WRITTEN : INCAPS
57
"Peter Pan" author : JMBARRIE
61
Kind of jacket : NEHRU
62
Dagwood Bumstead's boss : JCDITHERS
63
Campaign sign directive : ELECT
64
On task : ATIT
65
Exclude : OMIT
66
Josip ___ Tito, Yugoslav statesman : BROZ
67
Egyptian goddess whose headdress was shaped like a throne : ISIS
68
A model strikes one : POSE
Down
1
Muslim's trek : HAJJ
2
Cleaning a mess, maybe : ONKP
3
Quad quarters : DORM
4
Alarm clock button : SNOOZE
5
Baloney : BILGE
6
Name after "a.k.a." : ALIAS
7
___ Féin (Irish political party) : SINN
8
"Animal House" party fixture : KEG
9
"The Well-Tempered Clavier" composer : JSBACH
10
"I'm intrigued!" : OOOH
11
Reclusive best-selling novelist : JDSALINGER
12
Alley Oop's girl : OOOLA
16
"That was my cue" : IMON
18
Composed, as an email : WROTE
21
Villain : MEANIE
23
Like pomaded hair : SLICK
25
Viscount's superior : EARL
26
Word with tube or vision : XRAY
27
Pen name for Angela Lansbury's character on "Murder, She Wrote" : JBFLETCHER
29
Boston Harbor jetsam : TEA
32
They often elicit blessings : ACHOOS
33
Photocopier parts : TRAYS
34
Holy Trinity member : SON
36
Stylish Wang : VERA
37
Polite rural affirmative : YESM
39
Real hottie : TEN
44
Charged, as in battle : RANAT
47
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher who was a 2007 All-Star with Seattle : JJPUTZ
49
Drink a little here, drink a little there ... : BARHOP
50
Woodsy odor : PINE
51
Candy bag wt., maybe : ONELB
53
2,502, to ancient Romans : MMDII
54
Newspaper part with mini-bios : OBITS
56
With a bow, on a score : ARCO
57
Hwy. crossings : JCTS
58
San ___, Italy : REMO
59
Showy bloom : IRIS
60
Villa d'___ : ESTE
62
___ alai : JAI

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?