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New York Times, Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Author:
Laura Braunstein
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
212/10/20173/21/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1001000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.82100
Laura Braunstein

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Ms. Braunstein. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Laura Braunstein notes:
This puzzle's theme was inspired by a text. I was chatting with a friend, and he texted, in response to something I said, 'Bears ... read more

This puzzle's theme was inspired by a text. I was chatting with a friend, and he texted, in response to something I said, "Bears repeating!" So I sent back a row of the "bear face" emoji:

🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻

— bears, repeating. I realized I had a 14-letter phrase, and started looking around for others that began with the criteria "plural animal name that is also a verb."The original grid had BEARS REPEATING (with the clue [Grizzly, panda, grizzly, panda, grizzly, panda?]), along with SEALS WITH A KISS [Pinniped passion?], YAKS ON THE PHONE [Himalayan cattle call?], and the revealer ANIMAL BEHAVIOR.

This was one of the very first puzzles I submitted to the New York Times, almost a year ago. Will and Joel were very encouraging in their feedback and suggested a second draft in which each entry had a prepositional phrase (bye bye BEARS!) and no revealer. I put together a new version (with much help from Erik Agard and John Lieb, both of whom have been fantastic as mentors and collaborators) which was finally accepted. This is my solo debut in the Times; much has happened since I first started constructing, and I feel very fortunate to be part of the crossword community.

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun animal plays today, reinterpreting phrases involving animals that can commonly double as a verb. DUCKS OUT OF VIEW = birds hiding ... read more

Fun animal plays today, reinterpreting phrases involving animals that can commonly double as a verb. DUCKS OUT OF VIEW = birds hiding from a hunter, FLIES IN THE FACE eliciting that awful feeling of having gnats swarm you, etc.

I thought Laura did a fantastic job in grid execution. There are only four themers, but since they're all long (14 letters), this usually causes problems in the west and east regions, where two long themers have to interact. Beautiful work in the east. Smooth results, and even an X in AXELS, along with the nice FERMI and HAMLET. Now that's the way to execute in that type of tricky region!

In the west, FIXIE seemed odd to me – I remember it seeming even odder when I first saw it. But it does seem to be a term in usage.

I imagine Laura tried out different combinations of themers in different locations to figure out what letter placements would best allow for smooth fill. Very nice to have that flexibility, if you can select themers that are all of equal length.

The reason I didn't consider this POW!-worthy was the awkwardness of the themers. SEALED WITH A KISS is a fantastic phrase. SEALS WITH A KISS, not so much. Same with FLIES IN THE FACE, without "of" to finish it off. And ON THE PHONE felt like filler in order to make YAKS fit the theme. I realize YAKS ON THE PHONE might seem more solid to others, but I doubt I'd strive to use it as fill in another crossword.

Impressive solo debut, though. I'm hoping that we'll be seeing a lot more from Laura. Her gridwork was much better than stuff I see from many – perhaps even most – experienced constructors.

1
A
2
H
3
E
4
A
5
D
6
B
7
A
8
R
9
B
10
A
11
R
12
K
13
S
14
B
O
C
C
E
15
I
L
E
16
A
V
A
N
T
17
C
O
R
D
S
18
L
O
S
19
F
I
V
E
O
20
D
U
C
K
21
S
O
U
T
22
O
F
V
I
E
W
23
S
A
X
24
S
A
L
25
F
26
L
27
I
E
S
I
28
N
T
H
E
29
F
30
A
31
C
32
E
33
G
I
A
N
T
S
34
Y
O
U
35
E
X
A
M
36
E
X
I
T
S
37
I
M
P
38
T
R
E
V
I
39
M
I
L
E
40
O
D
E
41
H
A
M
L
E
T
42
S
E
A
L
43
S
W
I
T
44
H
A
K
I
S
S
45
C
E
O
46
E
R
E
47
Y
48
A
49
K
50
S
O
N
T
51
H
E
P
H
52
O
53
N
54
E
55
E
L
I
O
T
56
B
A
D
57
O
M
E
G
58
A
59
L
I
N
D
T
60
O
L
E
61
M
E
R
G
E
62
P
I
D
A
Y
63
X
E
D
64
E
N
D
O
R
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0321 ( 24,970 )
Across
1. In front : AHEAD
6. Where a person in charge is making the rounds? : BAR
9. Shouts, as an order : BARKS
14. Lawn game : BOCCE
15. Suffix with project : ILE
16. ___-garde : AVANT
17. Units of firewood : CORDS
18. ___ Gatos, Calif. : LOS
19. "Hawaii ___" : FIVEO
20. Why the hunter couldn't shoot the mallards? : DUCKSOUTOFVIEW
23. "Wailing" instrument : SAX
24. The "she" in the lyric "She's a good old worker and a good old pal" : SAL
25. Reason a cow swatted herself? : FLIESINTHEFACE
33. AT&T Park team : GIANTS
34. Who's doing this crossword : YOU
35. Appropriate rhyme for "cram" : EXAM
36. Leaves : EXITS
37. Prankster : IMP
38. Rome's ___ Fountain : TREVI
39. Marathon marking : MILE
40. Words of tribute : ODE
41. His last words were "The rest is silence" : HAMLET
42. Circus animals enjoying some chocolate? : SEALSWITHAKISS
45. Fig. in annual reports : CEO
46. Lead-in to long : ERE
47. Whose conversation might be about shaggy hair and Himalayan peaks? : YAKSONTHEPHONE
55. Novelist George : ELIOT
56. Spoiled : BAD
57. The end : OMEGA
59. Big Swiss chocolatier : LINDT
60. Stadium cheer : OLE
61. Become one : MERGE
62. Annual math celebration : PIDAY
63. Checked off : XED
64. Forest moon of the Ewoks : ENDOR
Down
1. "Black-ish" network : ABC
2. Home turf : HOOD
3. Wedding dress shade : ECRU
4. "Highway to Hell" band : ACDC
5. Combo office accessories : DESKSETS
6. "___ Blues" (Neil Simon play) : BILOXI
7. Baseball family name : ALOU
8. Traveler's convenience : RESTSTOP
9. Confound : BAFFLE
10. Tel ___ : AVIV
11. Sitarist Shankar : RAVI
12. Word with high or hole : KNEE
13. Put away : STOW
21. Reason for a parental reprimand : SASS
22. Setting for 19-Across : OAHU
25. Many a single-gear bicycle : FIXIE
26. "The Greatest" daughter? : LAILA
27. "Experience what's inside" sloganeer : INTEL
28. N.L.'er wearing blue and orange : NYMET
29. Physicist Enrico : FERMI
30. Skating leaps : AXELS
31. Places for Neanderthals : CAVES
32. Give off : EMIT
33. Crown inlays : GEMS
37. Boob tube : IDIOTBOX
38. Not-so-intimidating sort of test : TAKEHOME
40. Wilson of "The Royal Tenenbaums" : OWEN
41. Relative of a zither : HARP
43. Who was instructed to "Beam me up" on old TV : SCOTTY
44. Obeyed : HEEDED
47. Crowdsourced review site : YELP
48. Et ___ (and others) : ALII
49. Tenderhearted : KIND
50. Common mixer : SODA
51. In good shape : HALE
52. Unsettling dream, maybe : OMEN
53. Put-down that nowadays may be worn as a badge of honor : NERD
54. Frozen waffle brand : EGGO
58. ___ Lingus : AER

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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