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New York Times, Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Author: Damon J. Gulczynski
Editor: Will Shortz
Damon J. Gulczynski
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2411/8/20045/27/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1430637
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63320

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FQX} This is puzzle # 21 for Mr. Gulczynski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Damon J. Gulczynski notes: I wanted to make a pop culture-themed puzzle that spanned many generations. Without an exact theme idea in mind, I started ... more
Damon J. Gulczynski notes:

I wanted to make a pop culture-themed puzzle that spanned many generations. Without an exact theme idea in mind, I started browsing lists of old actresses and actors hoping something would come to me. Because SID CAESAR and LEE J. COBB both have surnames that start with C, they were listed near each other, and I made the obvious salad connection. Next I came up with the revealer SALAD DAYS, and the idea that my puzzle would contain movie stars with salad names who reminded people of their salad days. It seemed clever enough.

It didn't work out quite like I wanted. (Does it ever?) There aren't a ton of well-known salad-named movie stars (nary a Waldorf or a House or a Tuna), and so I had to take what I could get: three actors who were at their peaks over fifty years ago and a guy who was better known for, um, "being intimate" with a dead moose on the side of the road on a silly TV show than he was for being in movies. (Unfortunately, I didn't think of Eva Green until well after the puzzle had been accepted.)

So if you were born in the ‘40s or the ‘80s, this puzzle might hearken you back to your SALAD DAYS. Otherwise it's a puzzle with a simple theme for all the people out there who really like vegetable-based word play.

Jeff Chen notes: Damon plays on SALAD DAYS (a term from Shakespeare), using four men with last names doubling as types of salads. SID CAESAR I knew ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Damon plays on SALAD DAYS (a term from Shakespeare), using four men with last names doubling as types of salads. SID CAESAR I knew off the top. TOM GREEN vaguely stirred a memory (he's the guy that used to star in "The Tom Green Show," not surprisingly).

ORSON BEAN apparently has done a huge body of work both in film and TV.

I probably should know LEE J COBB, as he's had many major movie roles. More importantly, he comes up not infrequently in crosswords as LEE J — not a lot of options when you need a four-letter entry ending in J!

Interesting choice to cram the themers together toward the middle of the puzzle — usually the first and last themers go into rows 3 and 13 to maximize spacing. But sometimes, squeezing pairs together can make the construction easier. Today, it's like Damon only has to work with three (albeit long) themers.

It does allow for a novel grid layout, including a lot of 6-letter entries. DENALI, AW GEEZ, PAYPAL, I GUESS, PAELLA are not only great words/phrases but since most crosswords don't feature many 6-letter entries, these feel nice and fresh.

I wasn't so thrilled about some of the shorter fill, though. I probably wouldn't have minded that central RVER / SERE / ONT section if there hadn't been more AGT, ESAS, NEC, USD gluey bits elsewhere. Tough, working around a central 9-letter theme answer.

EWERS and EPEE don't bother me much, as they're real-life things, but I have heard grumbles about these. (My wife, who's much, much smarter than me, dislikes EWERS, as she knows the word only from crosswords.)

Puzzles featuring proper names — especially full names — can feel like a trivia contest. So to get some AMATI, BLY, DEY, MACAU, NGAIO in addition to the themers felt like a lot of names in one puzzle.

But all in all, some nice thematic finds, covering a range of salads. And quite a lot of great bonus fill — some great 7s in MANSMAN, MIC DROP, MOOCHER, HOLY ARK — albeit, with prices to pay for them.

1
M
2
O
3
M
4
D
5
A
6
T
7
A
8
M
9
A
10
C
11
A
12
U
13
A
N
I
14
E
W
E
R
15
S
16
O
B
O
E
S
17
N
E
C
18
N
G
A
I
O
19
T
B
I
R
D
20
S
I
D
21
C
A
E
S
A
R
22
A
N
O
23
M
O
R
A
L
E
24
L
E
25
E
26
J
C
O
B
27
B
28
A
T
O
M
I
Z
29
E
30
P
A
Y
P
A
L
31
N
A
P
E
32
C
33
O
34
O
E
D
35
S
T
Y
36
O
37
R
38
S
O
N
B
E
A
39
N
40
A
41
M
42
C
43
V
E
N
T
I
44
A
45
A
46
H
47
S
48
G
O
O
49
I
E
R
50
T
51
A
52
N
K
T
O
P
53
T
O
M
G
R
E
54
E
55
N
56
P
A
E
L
L
A
57
C
P
U
58
S
A
59
L
A
D
D
A
Y
S
60
S
H
O
E
61
D
62
A
M
A
T
I
63
N
A
T
64
P
E
R
S
E
65
S
E
N
O
R
66
T
R
I
67
A
R
T
S
Y
68
S
E
W
S
69
A
K
C
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0314 ( 24,598 )
Across Down
1. Pop fan? : MOM
4. Numbers to crunch : DATA
8. Asian gambling mecca : MACAU
13. Singer DiFranco : ANI
14. Water pitchers : EWERS
16. Slender woodwinds : OBOES
17. Asian electronics giant : NEC
18. Mystery writer Marsh : NGAIO
19. Sporty car in a Beach Boys song : TBIRD
20. *"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" actor, 1963 : SIDCAESAR
22. Year, south of the border : ANO
23. A pep talk might boost it : MORALE
24. *"12 Angry Men" actor, 1957 : LEEJCOBB
28. Reduce to particles : ATOMIZE
30. Online money transfer facilitator : PAYPAL
31. Scruff of the neck : NAPE
32. Made bird noises : COOED
35. Pig's digs : STY
36. *"Anatomy of a Murder" actor, 1959 : ORSONBEAN
40. "Breaking Bad" network : AMC
43. It's a size larger than grande at Starbucks : VENTI
44. Sounds of satisfaction : AAHS
48. Like a toasted marshmallow vis-à-vis a non-toasted one : GOOIER
50. Shirt with straps instead of sleeves : TANKTOP
53. *"Road Trip" actor, 2000 : TOMGREEN
56. Rice-based Spanish dish : PAELLA
57. PC "brain" : CPU
58. Youthful time in one's life ... which this puzzle might harken solvers back to? : SALADDAYS
60. Did a smith's job on : SHOED
62. Prized violin : AMATI
63. D.C. ballplayer : NAT
64. In and of itself : PERSE
65. Mister, south of the border : SENOR
66. Prefix with borough : TRI
67. Bohemian : ARTSY
68. Puts in stitches : SEWS
69. Dog breeder's org. : AKC
1. One admired for his masculinity : MANSMAN
2. The tiniest bit : ONEIOTA
3. Gesture to punctuate a great performance : MICDROP
4. Highest mountain in North America : DENALI
5. "What a bummer!" : AWGEEZ
6. Oolong and Earl Grey : TEAS
7. Popular typeface : ARIAL
8. Bon ___ (witticism) : MOT
9. Monastic realm : ABBACY
10. Many washers and dryers in apartment buildings : COINOPS
11. Stunt pilot : AEROBAT
12. Amer. money : USD
15. Peeved : SORE
21. Hitchcock role in almost every Hitchcock film : CAMEO
25. Sporting sword : EPEE
26. Actress ___ Pinkett Smith : JADA
27. Journalist Nellie : BLY
29. "Micro" and "macro" subject, for short : ECON
33. Province west of Que. : ONT
34. Passing mention? : OBIT
37. Winnebago owner, briefly : RVER
38. Bone-dry : SERE
39. In the buff : NAKED
40. F.B.I. employee: Abbr. : AGT
41. Sponge : MOOCHER
42. Behave : COMPORT
45. 1996 Olympics site : ATLANTA
46. It stores a synagogue's Torah scrolls : HOLYARK
47. Moving jerkily : SPASTIC
49. "Um ... O.K." : IGUESS
51. "Superbad" producer Judd : APATOW
52. Low points : NADIRS
54. Those, to José : ESAS
55. April, May and June, for example : NAMES
59. Swimmer's assignment : LANE
60. Where you might hear 44-Across : SPA
61. Susan of "L.A. Law" : DEY

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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