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New York Times, Monday, February 6, 2017

Author: Andy Hinz
Editor: Will Shortz
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12/6/20170
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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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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 Down
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
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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