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New York Times, Thursday, March 29, 2018

Author:
Claire Muscat and David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
13/29/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.71010
Claire Muscat
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
896/16/201112/8/201817
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
66681129212
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645163
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JV} This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Muscat. This is puzzle # 76 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
CLAIRE: The first iteration of this puzzle was actually for a Midi pack that David (who I have been lucky enough to have as my ... read more

CLAIRE: The first iteration of this puzzle was actually for a Midi pack that David (who I have been lucky enough to have as my constructing mentor and friend!) and I constructed this summer. For the themed Midis we kept the themes pretty simple, so I decided to try a NUTTY-themed puzzle for fun. I was a pretty green constructor at the time so I accidentally split the grid in half in my attempt to keep the fill clean, not realizing it would be an issue. David got a good kick out of both the silly theme and poorly laid out grid, and so the NUTTY puzzle became a running joke between the two of us.

So when he sent me an idea for an updated, more sophisticated version of my initial idea, I couldn't help but laugh about how the infamous NUTTY puzzle had come back to haunt me. However, I couldn't turn the opportunity down! I loved David's ingenious idea to have the word NUT literally enclosed in the "shell" of the themers, and we spent a good amount of Skype hours working on the grid together to reach our final product. The result is something I think we're both quite happy with, especially some of the fun fill (PIZZA FACE, GIANT SQUID) that we were able to squeeze in.

I'm most of all thrilled to be making my NYT print debut and am happy to finally be redeemed from my initial attempt. Also, if you haven't already, please check out Queer Qrosswords, a puzzle pack I am so proud to say I contributed to and whose profits go completely to LGBTQ+ charities. Happy solving!

DAVID: Always a pleasure to work with Claire! We "met" through the Cruciverb-l mailing list when I noticed she answered someone's question about an iffy entry from a millennial's perspective. Since there are so few young female constructors, I decided to reach out and see if she wanted to collaborate. It turned out that she'd been constructing for a few months but didn't feel confident enough to submit her work. Claire did send me her earliest constructions to test-solve, though, and I could already see she had talent!

Fast forward a year. Claire's crosswords have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the A.V. Club, the Orange County Register, the New York Times app, Queer Qrosswords (a LGBTQ crossword pack I highly recommend), and now The New York Times itself. She also has several themelesses in the queue for the new daily 15x15 Puzzle Society Crossword I edit, which appears in The Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Francisco Examiner, and other papers. The creativity and modern vibe that Claire brings to our community is very exciting, and I look forward to watching her continue to blossom!

One more quick plug for the Puzzle Collaboration Society group on Facebook. If you're a new constructor, there are many wonderful experienced constructors who are eager to connect with you and/or give you tips! Don't be a stranger.

Jeff Chen notes:
I think this may be incredibly clever. But perhaps it takes an incredibly clever person to appreciate it? We get different types of ... read more

I think this may be incredibly clever. But perhaps it takes an incredibly clever person to appreciate it? We get different types of NUTs, growing out of the letters N U T. Thus, the nuts grow from the NUTs? Or maybe it's some sort of fractal metaphor, that you see the same thing no matter at what scale you're looking?

It feels somehow meta. Self-referential.

Kinda? Sorta?

It was an incredibly cool set of findings — a "words hidden within phrases" type theme, kicked up a notch by the inclusion of the N U Ts. It boggles my mind a bit. It's hard enough to find most medium-length words within snazzy phrases, period. Toss in an extra letter (an extra constraint), and it's even tougher. Something very cool about ALMOND stretching to ALMOUND within BURIAL MOUND.

Some might even say it's buried with that phrase! More meta-ness.

With just three themers, David and Claire had a lot of flexibility in grid design, and they took full advantage of it. Some beauts in GIANT SQUID, BAR FIGHT / DO SHOTS, GOLF PRO, to name a few. TO NAME A FEW!

Eerie, the meta-esque touches.

PiZZA FACE is a colorful phrase, no doubt. But I'm not sure I'd strive to incorporate it. It's such a mean-sounding entry. Rich Norris over at the LAT once asked me to get rid of FOUR EYES because he wanted readers to come away uplifted from a puzzle, and that phrase potentially did the opposite. PIZZA FACE feels like a whole new level. Bleh.

Overall, I think there's a very nice crossword concept in here somewhere — things that grow out of NUTS or something. This particular implementation didn't do it for me, leaving me scratching my head even after a lot of thinking about it. But I did like the creative, innovative thought behind it, and the solid gridwork.

1
S
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N
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G
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0329 ( 24,978 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1. Tucked in, say : SNUG
5. The answer to this clue is located on one : EDGE
9. Laborious tasks : SLOGS
14. Hatcher on TV : TERI
15. ___ monster : GILA
16. Summer camp craft : CANOE
17. Complete blocks : EMBARGOES
19. Scramble : ADDLE
20. Light deli offering : LEANCORNEDBEEF
22. Kind of ray : MANTA
23. Apple platform : IOS
24. Dash letters : MPH
26. ___ place : ONES
27. Suburban spreads : LAWNS
30. Powdered ingredient in sweet teas and smoothies : TARO
31. An end to terrorism? : QAEDA
33. Premium 11-Down service : HBONOW
35. Traditional grave : BURIALMOUND
37. Twisted locks : PLAITS
39. A who-o-o-ole bunch of : LOTSA
40. Homer, for one : BARD
41. ___ manual : USERS
43. Puts blades to blades, say : MOWS
47. Letters on a beach bottle : SPF
48. Andre Young a.k.a. Dr. ___ : DRE
49. Endangerment : PERIL
50. It's longer for women than it is for men : LIFEEXPECTANCY
55. Roll with a hole : BAGEL
56. One with serious acne, pejoratively : PIZZAFACE
57. Facebook Messenger precursor : ICHAT
58. Jambalaya ingredient, at times : OKRA
59. Some fraternity members : ETAS
60. Prefix with fluoride : TETRA
61. Reason for mending : TEAR
62. Departed : WENT
Down
1. Patron of the high seas : STELMO
2. ___ lion (mythical hunter) : NEMEAN
3. Suave : URBANE
4. Menace in "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" : GIANTSQUID
5. Breakfast item in a box : EGGO
6. J'adore perfume maker : DIOR
7. Place for a stream : GLEN
8. Gently acclimate : EASEIN
9. Cut protections : SCABS
10. Haul aboard : LADE
11. Way some movies are seen : ONDEMAND
12. Driving instructor? : GOLFPRO
13. Intuit : SEE
18. Descendant of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company : RCA
21. Get drunk quickly, in a way : DOSHOTS
25. Modus operandi : HOW
27. Time off : LEISURE
28. Law with bldg. requirements : ADA
29. Pixar film set in 2805 : WALLE
30. "... just for example" : TONAMEAFEW
32. Bust, maybe : ART
34. Tour aid : BUS
35. Concern for a bouncer : BARFIGHT
36. "Eat ___ Chikin" (Chick-Fil-A slogan) : MOR
37. "Mystery!" network : PBS
38. French astronomer/mathematician who wrote "Traité de Mécanique Céleste" : LAPLACE
42. Vamp : SEXPOT
44. Like the Taj Mahal : ORNATE
45. Like good spellers? : WICCAN
46. Maximally wily : SLYEST
48. It's triangle-shaped : DELTA
49. Org. that might put on a school carnival : PTA
51. Source of a nightmare : FEAR
52. Diving position : PIKE
53. It begins "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia ..." : EZRA
54. Drug ___ : CZAR
55. Fell for the joke : BIT

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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