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New York Times, Monday, March 10, 2014

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

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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.

1
F
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O
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K
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M
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0310 ( 23,498 )
Across
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
Down
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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