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New York Times, Monday, March 10, 2014

Author: Kelly Clark
Editor: Will Shortz
Kelly Clark
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1510/29/19978/12/20161
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1143510
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1.63000

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQWZ} This is puzzle # 14 for Ms. Clark. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kelly Clark notes: I love crossword puzzles! Unfortunately, I'm a lousy solver. (Case in point: when Jeff sent me this puzzle — and keep in mind ... more
Kelly Clark notes: I love crossword puzzles! Unfortunately, I'm a lousy solver. (Case in point: when Jeff sent me this puzzle — and keep in mind that I Made It Myself! — I thought I'd give myself an ego boost and solve it ... managing to screw up at 25 Across. I wrote in TOP THAT, sheesh.) Ironically, my first puzzles were later-in-the-week jobs and I really wanted to make a puzzle for people like me. The inspiration? My husband's TOOL BOX. My favorite clue is [Skill needed when being asked "Does this dress make me look fat?] for TACT.

I hope people enjoy this puzzle. 'Course, as good ol' Qoheleth says? "Nothing new under the sun!"

Will wrote me on August 2, 2012, accepting this puzzle. I was thrilled! A cool Monday puzzle! Several months later (January 28, as a matter o' fact) I was pleased with myself for breezing through Jaime Hutchison and Vic Fleming's puzzle ... until I realized (gulp) it was the same theme! Or, at least, pretty darn close!

So for those o' you who think this theme is familiar? It is! :-)

Thanks for solving it ... and I hope those who attended had a great time at the ACPT! It was an honor for me to have made the tournament opener.

Jeff Chen notes: There are two camps when it comes to revealers (an entry which overtly explains the theme): some love them because they make ... more
Jeff Chen notes: There are two camps when it comes to revealers (an entry which overtly explains the theme): some love them because they make everything crystal clear, some hate them because they leave nothing to the solver to figure out. I think a case can be made either way, but today I really like the fact that Kelly leaves out a revealer. The theme is simple enough to figure out (HAMMER, LEVEL, FILE, NAIL are all items in a TOOLBOX) that is was nice to sit back after I finished and have a little a-ha moment. Nicely done.

Consistency breeds elegance in crosswords, i.e. four themers which work exactly the same is awfully nice. I did appreciate that all four themers today hide their respective item, making it somewhat opaque as to what was going on (DOORNAIL wouldn't hide the meaning of NAIL at all, for example). Well done there. I did find it a little bothersome that FINGERNAIL was the only single word out of the four, and that ON THE LEVEL (such a nice phrase!) was the only themer with three words. It would have been nice to have more consistency there.

The pinwheel arrangement of themers doesn't often allow for much long fill, and today is no exception. It's difficult to work in eights or nines due to grid layout, especially when there's a central theme answer. Still, Kelly manages to work in TOP THIS! and ALL DONE! and STIFFS and OLD AGE, all really nice entries.

The fill is an interesting mix, from the 21st century GOOGLE to the oldies ELENI and ILIE Nastase and XENA the Warrior Princess. It skews a bit toward an older solving crowd, but that will make much of the NYT's solving audience happy. It's a tough job to satisfy every segment of the NYT solving population, so this one does a nice job for the old guard who take pride in knowing automatically what AMICI and AMAT and OBIS are. I personally tend to prefer puzzles that feel a little more modern, but a case could easily be made that puzzle ought to feel "classic," and that "modern" puzzles contain too much stuff that has no staying power. Two sides to every coin.

TEN KS is an interesting little entry. I only ever see them as 10-Ks (both as a race and as a SEC annual filing) so I'm not a fan of seeing it written out. But I know some constructors who like the craziness of how TENKS looks in a grid. I winced a little to see TEN KS and TEN in the same grid, but sometimes these things happen.

All in all, a fun Monday. I like that it made me work a little to figure out the theme.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0310 ( 23,498 )
Across Down
1. Mr. ___ (handyman) : FIXIT
6. Geishas' sashes : OBIS
10. Amo, amas, ___ : AMAT
14. Nicholas Gage memoir : ELENI
15. Speedy : FAST
16. Coin with F.D.R.'s image : DIME
17. One-by-one formation, as in walking : SINGLEFILE
19. Similar (to) : AKIN
20. Sushi fish : SEAEEL
21. Perfect diving score : TEN
22. Briefest of kisses : PECK
23. "Rule, Britannia" composer : ARNE
25. "Yeah? Try and do better!" : TOPTHIS
27. It stinks : ODOR
30. See 34-Across : INK
32. Latina lass: Abbr. : SRTA
33. Solo of "Star Wars" : HAN
34. With 30-Across, black writing fluid : INDIA
36. Extra energy : OOMPH
39. Mel of the Giants : OTT
40. Handyman's tote : TOOLBOX
42. Stooge with bangs : MOE
43. Big laughs : HAHAS
45. With magnanimity : NOBLY
46. Muff one : ERR
47. Stately shaders : ELMS
49. Turf : SOD
50. Vicinity : AREA
51. "Swan Lake" and others : BALLETS
54. Skill needed when being asked "Does this dress make me look fat?" : TACT
56. Barely got, with "out" : EKED
57. Marker in a poker pot : IOU
59. Bing competitor : GOOGLE
63. One way to record a show : TIVO
64. Manicurist's target : FINGERNAIL
66. Bygone British gun : STEN
67. Toss, as a coin : FLIP
68. Belly button : NAVEL
69. New Haven school : YALE
70. Concordes : SSTS
71. Goes downhill in the winter : SLEDS
1. Admit, with "up" : FESS
2. Nastase of tennis : ILIE
3. TV's Warrior Princess : XENA
4. Engaged, as a transmission : INGEAR
5. Flooring installer : TILER
6. Insect repellent brand : OFF
7. Worm on a hook, e.g. : BAIT
8. Spot of land in the ocean : ISLET
9. Dictation takers of years past : STENOS
10. Get comfortable with, as new conditions : ADAPTTO
11. Spillane detective : MIKEHAMMER
12. ___ curiae (friends of the court) : AMICI
13. Marathon warm-up races : TENKS
18. Pacific weather phenomenon : ELNINO
24. ___ a happy note : ENDON
26. Authorized substitute : PROXY
27. "I almost forgot ...!" : OHOH
28. Numerical info : DATA
29. Honest : ONTHELEVEL
31. Weights of some contraband : KILOS
34. Informal response to "Who's there?" : ITSME
35. Monk's superior : ABBOT
37. Skin opening : PORE
38. Wife of Zeus : HERA
41. The golden years : OLDAGE
44. "There, finished!" : ALLDONE
48. Doesn't leave a tip : STIFFS
50. Lacking a key, musically : ATONAL
51. Ross the flagmaker : BETSY
52. Large Japanese dog : AKITA
53. Dirties : SOILS
55. Foot woes : CORNS
58. Condo, e.g. : UNIT
60. Donated : GAVE
61. Didn't tell the truth : LIED
62. Right-angle bends : ELLS
65. Auto accessory often mounted on the windshield, for short : GPS

Answer summary: 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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