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New York Times, Thursday, March 31, 2016

Author: Ellen Leuschner and Jeff Chen
Editor: Will Shortz
Ellen Leuschner
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
87/11/201110/23/20167
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3210200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53010
Jeff Chen
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
777/5/201011/26/201745
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2267111768
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.633162

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 34 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 7 for Ms. Leuschner. This is puzzle # 51 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: ELLEN: It's always fun to work with Jeff. The seed for the puzzle was contranyms, which are words that have two or more opposite ... more
Constructor notes:

ELLEN:

It's always fun to work with Jeff. The seed for the puzzle was contranyms, which are words that have two or more opposite meanings. For example, BUCKLE can mean both "fasten" and "come undone". That's hardly where we ended up with our theme, but that's what brainstorming is about.

I love some of Will's new clues. "Mass distribution?" for WAFER or "Current events?" for TIDES. That's good stuff!

JEFF:

Ellen and I have been collaborating for a few years now. We've brainstormed dozens — probably hundreds — of ideas by now, but we've been so selective about what we pursue, only producing six puzzles to date. But Will has taken four of them; a much higher success rate than mine alone.

Says something about Ellen!

I had forgotten how far "off-track" we went from our original discussion about contranyms. That's such a cool part about our process — we almost always land at a much more interesting place, miles away from where we started.

Jeff Chen notes: Took us a while to find enough good examples of the [Double ___?] style — we continued brainstorming for a long, long time ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Took us a while to find enough good examples of the [Double ___?] style — we continued brainstorming for a long, long time until we finally had enough to cull a symmetrical set from. I really like how thorough Ellen is in all of her processes, and I've learned from her rigor.

It's not Harry Potter, but it'll do

It's fun as a constructor to push myself, so we tried to work all five themers into a low word-count grid, focusing on getting as much colorful long material in as possible. Entries like TRES BIEN and PEN NAMES and BAD DREAM are fun for me as a solver to uncover, so we placed high value on working a lot of those in.

I made a boo-boo in our first pass of the grid skeleton, Ellen asking me who HENLE was at 7-D. I wondered, who in the world hasn't heard of Don Henle? Turns out that's Don Henley. Drat! So we ended up with a little more crossword glue than I like in that north region — DE LA, BRYN (can only be clued one way), and IS SO — but we felt that overall, the assets in fill outweighed the liabilities.

PEN NAMES was fun to clue, as I love the story of J.K. Rowling writing a new series under a new pen name, Robert Galbraith. "The Cuckoo's Calling" is a well-written hard-boiled detective novel with compelling characters, yet it only sold something like a thousand copies. She eventually got outed, and now it's a major series, each new chapter eagerly anticipated by millions.

Okay, as an aspiring and unknown writer, maybe I hate that story.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0331 ( 24,250 )
Across Down
1. Elected : OPTED
6. Big online source for film info : IMDB
10. "Gotcha, dude" : IDIG
14. Pep : VERVE
15. ___ Valley (Utah ski resort) : DEER
16. Fallon predecessor : LENO
17. Double solitaire? : ONEANDONLY
19. ___ buco : OSSO
20. Entry points : INS
21. Double space? : NULLANDVOID
23. Light touch : DAB
24. "And what ___ rare as a day in June?": Lowell : ISSO
25. Volkswagen model : JETTA
26. Surrounded by : AMIDST
28. Leave early, say : SLIPOUT
30. Give the stink eye : LEER
31. Jet for a jet-setter : CESSNA
33. Double take? : SNATCHANDGRAB
38. Mass distribution? : WAFERS
39. Supermodel who married David Bowie : IMAN
41. War zone, e.g. : HOTSPOT
44. Benefit : UPSIDE
46. Supreme Court justice nominated by Bush : ALITO
47. Stick with it : TAPE
49. Zika virus tracker, for short : CDC
50. Double life? : VIMANDVIGOR
53. Noah's escape : ARK
54. "Do I ___!" : EVER
55. Double back? : AIDANDABET
57. One of its sources is Lake Tana : NILE
58. Champagne name : MOET
59. 1890s vice president Stevenson : ADLAI
60. "Who ___?" : SAYS
61. "Who ___?" : ELSE
62. Self-congratulatory words : YAYME
1. Like London's City Hall : OVOIDAL
2. Robert Galbraith and J. K. Rowling : PENNAMES
3. "Excellent, mon ami" : TRESBIEN
4. "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg" heroine : EVA
5. Comics troublemaker : DENNIS
6. No-nos in Leviticus 26:1 : IDOLS
7. Bay Area's ___ College : MENLO
8. Crème-crème filler : DELA
9. Welsh word that starts a noted college name : BRYN
10. Cole Porter tune sung by Frank Sinatra and Maurice Chevalier : ILOVEPARIS
11. Spaniard granted the right to conquer Florida by Charles V : DESOTO
12. As found : INSITU
13. Proficient with : GOODAT
18. Attic buildup : DUST
22. Activity for some wedding hires : DJING
27. Make a scene, say : DRAWSTARES
28. Govt. IDs : SSNS
29. It might be taken before a trip : LSD
31. Jazzman Baker : CHET
32. What an otoscope examines : EAR
34. Lightly touch, as a shoulder : TAPON
35. Co. money manager : CFO
36. How conflicts are best resolved : AMICABLY
37. Nightmare : BADDREAM
40. Bit of Blues Brothers attire : NECKTIE
41. Asylums : HAVENS
42. Pig featured in a series of children's books : OLIVIA
43. On-schedule : TIMELY
44. Knowing all about : UPON
45. Like some parking garage rates : PERDAY
47. Current events? : TIDES
48. 5.5-point type : AGATE
51. One appointed to the Royal Victorian Order : DAME
52. Ancestor of a cello : VIOL
56. Oklahoma city : ADA

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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