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D.J.'S SPINNIN'

New York Times, Sunday, March 3, 2019

Author:
Tony Orbach and Andrea Carla Michaels
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
264/6/20043/3/201915
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
16044101
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.67021
Tony Orbach
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
656/12/20003/25/201937
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
74592200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63217
Andrea Carla Michaels

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 72 Missing: {QZ} This is puzzle # 26 for Mr. Orbach. This is puzzle # 64 for Ms. Michaels. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
Tony Orbach is a construction manager and musician in Upper Montclair, N.J. Andrea Carla Michaels is a professional namer (of companies and products) in San Francisco. They worked together ... read more

Tony Orbach is a construction manager and musician in Upper Montclair, N.J. Andrea Carla Michaels is a professional namer (of companies and products) in San Francisco. They worked together on this puzzle by email — bouncing theme ideas, crossword fill and clues back and forth. Tony sneaked in Andrea's favorite word at 75-Down. (Note her initials.)

This is their second collaboration for The Times.

Constructor notes:
TONY: Placing the additional Js was the main challenge in making this grid, with EMAJ maybe the main concession — but that's a nice-sounding key so, I for one am OK with it! ... read more

TONY:

Placing the additional Js was the main challenge in making this grid, with EMAJ maybe the main concession — but that's a nice-sounding key so, I for one am OK with it!

JOAO came to mind from a musical place, as well. Andrea and I both love names, and our initial, proposed clue was [Stan's partner on the 1964 multimillion-selling "Getz/Gilberto" album]. Having seen a clue in this Friday's puzzle referencing STAN Getz and his nickname, "The Sound," I half hoped that was somehow meant to help prime solvers for this, coming Getz reference in the form of JOAO (Gilberto).

However, the revised clue [Ian : Scottish :: ___ : Portuguese] does give the solver a fairer shot at getting this unusual-looking name, not used previously in the NYT puzzle, as they do not need to know Joao Gilberto to get the answer ... still, I do hope they will go and find him and that classic record that helped popularize the Bossa Nova in the U.S.

Similarly, JOSS went from the restrictive (name) [Screenwriter/director Whedon who created "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"] to the more gettable [Kind of stick for incense].

ACME:

The seed inspiration we had was FARMER IN THE JELL ironically not realizing JELL wasn't a word!

Tony carefully worked on the grid ensuring that there were no other unchanged D in the theme answers.

Although there are a limited number of words that start with J, we had a surprisingly rich list to choose from and would prob still be generating ideas if I had not insisted we actually send something in!

Jeff Chen notes:
DJ's SPINNIN' = phrases with D's replaced with J's. GRAVE JIGGERS made me out-and-out belly laugh. What an image that evokes! HOOVER JAM also entertained, given the change of HOOVER ... read more

DJ's SPINNIN' = phrases with D's replaced with J's. GRAVE JIGGERS made me out-and-out belly laugh. What an image that evokes!

HOOVER JAM also entertained, given the change of HOOVER from the name to the vacuum-related noun.

The others didn't do much for me, but humor is subjective. Hopefully, others were more entertained.

Nice touch that Tony and Acme chose phrases that didn't contain any other D's. It would have been inelegant for a simple letter substitution puzzle to have a stray D inside one of the theme phrases.

It's not easy to work so many Js into a single puzzle. Eight of them is no joke! But given that this is such a basic concept, I needed something more to keep up my interest. Here are some possible ways:

  • Bonuses in the fill. There's DON JUAN, but not much else.
  • Clean as a whistle gridwork? Nope, too much crossword glue. I stopped counting at 10 infractions. Adding / rejiggering black squares, to increase the word count from 138 to 140, could have helped.
  • Clever wordplay clues. None that stood out.
  • Extra layer of theme. At first I thought there was a neat extra: all the new Js form a circle ... like a record that's being spun! That would have been a solid addition. Alas, no. (Maybe it's a Dali-esque record?)

All in all, some decent theme answers, but I wish there had been something more to enliven my solving experience.

However, it's important to remember that I'm far from an average solver. There's something to be said for occasionally throwing a softball. Many people I know delight in being able to just complete a Sunday NYT crossword, so this could be right up their alleys.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0303 ( 25,317 )
Across
1
Praline ingredients : PECANS
7
Error at a bridge table : MISDEAL
14
Graduated : SCALAR
20
Sci-fi classic made into a 2004 film starring Will Smith : IROBOT
21
"Your money's no good here" : ITSONME
22
Trig function : COSINE
23
Strauss opera with the "Dance of the Seven Veils" : SALOME
24
Strains to hear, perhaps : LEANSIN
25
Being affected by yeast : RISING
26
Vacuum cleaner blockage? : HOOVERJAM
28
Sign at a restricted area of the Playboy Mansion? : JUSTBUNNIES
30
San Joaquin Valley city : FRESNO
31
All-Star pitcher Severino : LUIS
32
Some, in Sevilla : UNAS
33
Not shipwrecked, say : ASEA
34
Actor James : CAAN
35
S O S first responders : USCG
36
Where G.I.s shop : PXS
39
End of some lists : ETAL
42
Driving through some off-road terrain, say? : ROLLINGINTHEJEEP
46
Moves around aimlessly : MILLS
48
Ages and ages : EON
49
Fix : SPAY
50
Artist Joseph Wright's "A View of Catania With Mount ___ in the Distance" : ETNA
51
"Who ___ kidding?" : AMI
52
Cheerios : TATAS
55
This, e.g. : CLUE
57
Letter opener? : STEAM
58
San Francisco Giant, for example? : JOCKOFTHEBAY
61
Yahoo alternative : GMAIL
64
Land and such : REALTY
65
Land, to Livy : TERRA
67
Like Samuel Beckett's "Endgame" : ONEACT
70
Iranian money : RIALS
72
Overly serious Irish dancers? : GRAVEJIGGERS
75
Tons : ALOAD
78
Name on a green toy truck : HESS
80
Stag : ALONE
81
Individual's segment of a 4 x 400 relay : LAP
82
Fur : COAT
83
Sicken with sweetness : CLOY
85
Uncle Jorge, e.g. : TIO
86
Bergman or Borg : SWEDE
88
Write an order to replenish inventory of Levi's? : MAKETHEJEANSLIST
94
Alpine climber : IBEX
95
Chummy pair? : EMS
96
Sitarist Shankar : RAVI
97
Smackers : LIPS
98
D.C. bigwigs : POLS
100
Suffix with billion : AIRE
101
Memory problems : GAPS
102
Garfield's girlfriend in the comics : ARLENE
105
Throwaway vault at a gymnastics meet? : GARBAGEJUMP
109
Shower gift for a Gemini baby? : JUNEBUGGY
112
Glaciologist's concern : ICEAGE
113
Native New Yorkers : ONEIDAS
115
Beep again : REPAGE
116
Back-and-forth : BANTER
117
What a record collector might flip over : SIDEONE
118
Like Cheerios vis-à-vis Corn Flakes : OATIER
119
Divisions of the Westminster Dog Show : BREEDS
120
Launched : STARTED
121
Hairnets : SNOODS
Down
1
"Hogwash!" : PISH
2
___ Good Feelings : ERAOF
3
Lemon or lime : COLOR
4
Chiefly : ABOVEALL
5
"Easy to clean," in adspeak : NOMESS
6
Not so lenient : STERNER
7
Kunis of "Bad Moms" : MILA
8
Brangelina, at one time : ITEM
9
Org. of concern to the AARP : SSA
10
Lothario : DONJUAN
11
Subsequent : ENSUING
12
Out of whack : AMISS
13
Advanced : LENT
14
Ponytail holder : SCRUNCHY
15
Neologism : COINAGE
16
Orgs. : ASSNS
17
Super Bowl ___ (game played February 3, 2019) : LIII
18
Last of the Stuarts : ANNE
19
Rules, briefly : REGS
27
Ian : Scottish :: ___ : Portuguese : JOAO
29
Rapper Rhymes : BUSTA
31
Reclined : LAIN
34
Walk-in, for one : CLOSET
35
Let off the hook : UNPEG
36
Red Rose : PETE
37
TV princess : XENA
38
Cyberjunk : SPAM
39
Key with four sharps: Abbr. : EMAJ
40
Island in the East Indies : TIMOR
41
Chef Waters who wrote "The Art of Simple Food" : ALICE
43
Jacob's first wife : LEAH
44
Pocatello sch. : ISU
45
Travel bummer : JETLAG
47
Unemotional : STOLID
53
Shaving aisle brand : AFTA
54
Texter's bye-bye : TTYL
55
Cracker brand since 1831 : CARRS
56
Harp-shaped constellation : LYRA
57
Extended attacks : SIEGES
59
Something to do in a dojo : KARATE
60
Sits up for food, say : BEGS
62
Self-confidence, informally : MOJO
63
Have ___ with : ANIN
66
Takes advantage (of) : AVAILS
68
People person? : CELEB
69
Masonry, e.g. : TRADE
71
Japanese room divider : SHOJI
73
Morlock victims, in sci-fi : ELOI
74
X-ray ___ : SPEX
75
Top : ACME
76
Fertile dirt : LOAM
77
Twelvesome in "Gone With the Wind" : OAKS
79
Spot : EYE
83
Tesla needs : CHARGERS
84
Protective bank : LEVEE
85
48 in a cup: Abbr. : TSPS
87
Figure out, informally : WISEUPTO
89
Prioritized in a hospital : TRIAGED
90
Tree-lined walk : ALAMEDA
91
More chilly : NIPPIER
92
About 4,200 feet, for the Golden Gate Bridge : SPAN
93
Caped fighters : TOREROS
99
Eddie Bauer rival : LLBEAN
100
Subside : ABATE
101
Put the pedal to the metal : GUNIT
103
Mystery writer Marsh : NGAIO
104
Did a "rotten" Halloween trick on : EGGED
105
Barry, Robin or Maurice of the Bee Gees : GIBB
106
Rent-___ : ACAR
107
French director Clair : RENE
108
Kind of stick for incense : JOSS
109
Plain ___ : JANE
110
Imposed upon : USED
111
Gen ___ (millennials) : YERS
114
Indicator of staccato, in music notation : DOT

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?