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New York Times, Monday, February 6, 2017

Author:
Andy Hinz
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
12/6/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59010
Andy Hinz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Hinz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Andy Hinz notes:
This puzzle was a huge learning experience for me. I worked on dozens of iterations of the theme answers, originally wanting to ... read more

This puzzle was a huge learning experience for me. I worked on dozens of iterations of the theme answers, originally wanting to include two more cameras as long, crossing downs, but I couldn't ever get it to work right. At one point I desperately had HITABEATNIKONCE ("Utterance by a 1960s bully recounting when he punched Jack Kerouac?") spanning the middle. I gave up for months, and then one day wondered "What if... Sputnik was actually called Sputnik One? Wouldn't that be convenient?" and from there decided to scale back the ambition a bit and just get the thing finished.

I learned a lot about the publishing and revision process and got some great assistance from Joel and Will, who helped clean up a couple of corners that weren't that great in my original submission. I also learned that my word list has a lot of tedious re-ranking in store for it.

This is my first published puzzle, and I am very grateful for all of the help I've received during the entire process. I would especially like to thank Peter Gordon and Patrick Blindauer for their immeasurably helpful tutoring sessions.

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut! Andy gives us HIDDEN CAMERAs, i.e. CANON, SONY, NIKON hidden across phrases. PRISON YARD is a snazzy phrase, evoking images of ... read more

Debut! Andy gives us HIDDEN CAMERAs, i.e. CANON, SONY, NIKON hidden across phrases. PRISON YARD is a snazzy phrase, evoking images of one of my favorite movies, "The Shawshank Redemption." I wasn't familiar with SPUTNIK ONE, just SPUTNIK, but it was interesting to learn the full name. It does appear to be SPUTNIK 1, not SPUTNIK ONE, but crosswords often play fast and loose with numbers that way.

I CAN ONLY HOPE is also good, although not as peppy to my ear. I found myself testing other phrases to see if another felt more spot-on. LETS HOPE SO sounded better, but that's personal preference.

Another minor ding for I CAN ONLY HOPE: CANON fully contains one of the words, CAN. This isn't going to matter to anyone but us crossnerds, but I find "hidden words broken across a phrase" themers much more interesting if only part of the hidden word is in each of the themer's words, like how SONY and NIKON are hidden.

Ambitious grid for a debut, only 72 words (max allowable is 78, debuts often are 76 or 78). Andy had to work with relatively big swaths of white space, most notably in the NW and SE corners. Note how HIDDEN CAMERA and NEAREST EXIT intersect, with the mid-length BASMATI and TESTER weaved right in — that makes for a tough area to fill.

While I did enjoy those entries, I wasn't sure they were worth the price of IT'S A and ERINS, given the other gluey bits in the puzzle. Having multiple instances within a particular category of glue makes these shorties especially noticeable: ERINS is made worse by ERIKS.

But I did like how Andy spread out his crossword glue into different categories in general: MDT, ITSA, ERINS, EXO, IRED are all different types of crossword glue. As a whole, it's too much for my taste in a Monday puzzle, but at least there aren't five partials or five plural names, etc.

Simple theme, audacious grid. I'd have preferred less audacious, which would have helped smooth out the fill. But the wide-open grid does allow for some interesting mid-length extras like THE HELP and LAMPOON.

ADDED NOTE: Reader Ed mentioned that the black squares in the middle look like tiny cameras. Neat effect!

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0206 ( 24,562 )
Across
1
Submissive : MEEK
5
Heading on a list of errands : TODO
9
Moon-related : LUNAR
14
Church recess : APSE
15
Iris's place in the eye : UVEA
16
Make amends (for) : ATONE
17
Food grown in a paddy : RICE
18
Transport for Huck Finn : RAFT
19
Days of the week in a calendar heading : MTWTF
20
"Keeping my fingers crossed" : ICANONLYHOPE
23
Chilled jelly dishes : ASPICS
24
Philosopher and social activist West : CORNEL
28
Follow : ENSUE
30
Gabriel García Márquez novel "Love in the Time of ___" : CHOLERA
31
Chunk of ice in the ocean : BERG
33
Exercise area for convicts : PRISONYARD
35
Prefix with skeleton : EXO
36
Dictator ___ Amin : IDI
37
___ v. Wade : ROE
38
First satellite to orbit Earth : SPUTNIKONE
43
Swiss capital : BERN
44
Attaches by rope, as a ball to a pole : TETHERS
45
Rolling Stones album "Get Yer ___ Out!" : YAYAS
47
Place to wear one's heart, in a phrase : SLEEVE
48
Employee at a perfumery : TESTER
51
Common security device ... or a feature of 20-, 33- or 38-Across : HIDDENCAMERA
55
Edible mushroom : MOREL
58
Out on the ocean : ASEA
59
Graph line : AXIS
60
Dentist's tool : DRILL
61
Book between Matthew and Luke : MARK
62
Color shade : TINT
63
Recurrent theme : TROPE
64
Naked : NUDE
65
"___ small world after all" : ITSA
Down
1
Santa ___ (one of Columbus's ships) : MARIA
2
"Iliad" and "Odyssey," for two : EPICS
3
Means of getaway : ESCAPEROUTE
4
Loudly lamenting : KEENING
5
Appears after being lost : TURNSUP
6
Egg-shaped : OVAL
7
Challenge : DEFY
8
Inauguration recitation : OATH
9
National ___, bygone humor magazine : LAMPOON
10
Downright : UTTERLY
11
Immediately : NOW
12
Aardvark's morsel : ANT
13
Coin flipper at the Super Bowl, informally : REF
21
Mil. training academy : OCS
22
Spanish eight : OCHO
25
Something to look for in an emergency : NEARESTEXIT
26
Goof : ERROR
27
Weighed down (with) : LADEN
29
Actor Estrada and others : ERIKS
30
TV procedural set in the Big Apple : CSINY
31
Defeats : BESTS
32
Kick out of school : EXPEL
34
Words at the altar : IDO
39
2011 Oscar-nominated picture set in 1960s Mississippi : THEHELP
40
1930s British P.M. Chamberlain : NEVILLE
41
Ticked off : IRED
42
What Marie Antoinette supposedly said to "let them" do : EATCAKE
43
Indian variety of 17-Across : BASMATI
46
Nay's opposite : YEA
49
Brockovich and Burnett : ERINS
50
Many a reggae musician, informally : RASTA
52
Send to hell : DAMN
53
Biblical son of Isaac : ESAU
54
Jock's antithesis : NERD
55
Summer hours in Denver: Abbr. : MDT
56
Bobby who played 10 seasons with the Boston Bruins : ORR
57
___ Grande : RIO

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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