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New York Times, Monday, April 18, 2016

Author:
Janice Luttrell
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
14/18/20160
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0100000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.73000
Janice Luttrell

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQ} This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Luttrell. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Janice Luttrell notes:
Would somebody pinch me? I can't believe one of my puzzles is in the New York Times. My Dad (pictured to the right) would be so ... read more

Jack Luttrell

Would somebody pinch me? I can't believe one of my puzzles is in the New York Times. My Dad (pictured to the right) would be so proud! He loved crossword puzzles.

Although he worked six days a week and had five kids, he found time to experience and enjoy life. His interests were varied; he played golf, learned how to fly a plane and happened to be the best tourist ever. He dragged us to every tourist spot in the Midwest. Sunday mornings he would crank up his Grundig (think Moon River by Andy Williams), sip a cup of coffee and complete the Chicago Tribune crossword puzzle. Only when he was finished would he go on with his busy life.

He died when I was 18, but I still remember the joy and peace I felt watching him on Sunday Mornings. It is because of him that I learned to love words, puzzles, and life itself.

I cannot thank my mentor, Patti Varol, enough. She has endless amounts of patience, and her generosity is stunning. I really can't imagine how, or why, she has stuck by me for the last several years. I'll be forever grateful.

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut! Fun idea, BREAD hinting at the ends of four themers: SEABISCUIT, STUDMUFFIN, BANKROLL, and MEATLOAF. It feels a little loose to ... read more

Debut! Fun idea, BREAD hinting at the ends of four themers: SEABISCUIT, STUDMUFFIN, BANKROLL, and MEATLOAF. It feels a little loose to me, as a loaf and a roll are units of bread, while biscuits and muffins have added sugar and other ingredients.

Then again, I maintain that there is no difference between a brownie and cake (much to the chagrin of my wife), so who am I to talk?

BURT and LONI, bringing back memories

I liked how consistent Janice was, choosing four single-word themers that can be broken into two words. Also nice to have some camouflage, the roll in BANKROLL quite different than the bready type of roll, for example.

Very impressive how clean Janice kept her grid, making it a puzzle I would gladly hand to novices. There are some tough bits like ISAK Dinesen, but "Out of Africa" is an important work, and all the crossings make it possible to get. One might argue that the ZADORA/DALEY and WAPNER/NAST intersections could be tough, but I think they're all famous enough to be fair game.

Also nice was how smoothly Janice worked in the X and Z in the west region. It's fun to see some rare letters in a crossword, and to get an X and Z in proximity without any compromises is appreciated.

Pia ZADORA, along with LONI Anderson, BURT Reynolds, and MYSPACE, did give the puzzle a slightly fusty feel. MYSPACE especially seems pretty outdated by now. It wasn't the first social network, the biggest, etc. so I don't know that it's crossworthy anymore.

Finally, some nice bonus fill in KICKBACK and CAPSLOCK, along with the fun GROK and HOSER. Having such long fill in a "windmill" arrangement of themers does make it necessary to star the four theme clues, so I would have preferred to see an arrangement with all four themers in the across direction, which would have allowed for a lot of long down fill without muddying up what is theme and what is not.

Well done; looking forward to more from Janice.

P.S. Patti Varol (editor of the Crosswords Club and part of the CrosSynergy management team) truly is the best! Huge fan of hers.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0418 ( 24,268 )
Across
1
Smooth-talking : GLIB
5
"___ and Punishment" : CRIME
10
Number in a quartet : FOUR
14
Capital of Italia : ROMA
15
Fable writer : AESOP
16
"___ Karenina" : ANNA
17
Send ___ errand : ONAN
18
*1938 Horse of the Year : SEABISCUIT
20
Relax : KICKBACK
22
Artificial jewelry : PASTE
23
Unsophisticated sort : RUBE
24
See 45-Across : CHAD
26
Actress/singer Pia : ZADORA
29
Mensch : GOODEGG
32
Praise highly : EXALT
33
Scarlett O'Hara, for one : BELLE
34
"___ the land of the free ..." : OER
36
Window base : SILL
37
Moolah ... or the makeup of the ends of the answers to the starred clues : BREAD
38
Lion's locks : MANE
39
Bathwater tester : TOE
40
"The Lorax" author : SEUSS
41
About 39 inches, in England : METRE
42
Onetime rival of Facebook : MYSPACE
44
Untrustworthy sort : WEASEL
45
With 24-Across, body of water that's in four African countries : LAKE
46
Condé ___ (magazine company) : NAST
47
Watering spot in the desert : OASIS
50
KEY USED FOR THIS CLUE : CAPSLOCK
54
*Hunk : STUDMUFFIN
57
Like most businesses between 9 to 5 : OPEN
58
There's no place like it : HOME
59
Orchard : GROVE
60
Prefix with dynamic : AERO
61
Roman god of love : AMOR
62
Idiot, in Canadian lingo : HOSER
63
Source of linseed oil : FLAX
Down
1
Grasp, in slang : GROK
2
Actress Anderson who was once married to 21-Down : LONI
3
Popular desktop computer : IMAC
4
*Provide funds for : BANKROLL
5
Yellow-skinned melon : CASABA
6
Athlete/model Gabrielle : REECE
7
Dinesen who wrote "Out of Africa" : ISAK
8
Flash ___ (faddish assembly) : MOB
9
Prefix with -dermis : EPI
10
Building front : FACADE
11
Burden : ONUS
12
Corporate division : UNIT
13
Put on a scale from 1 to 10, say : RATE
19
Garden shovel : SPADE
21
Actor Reynolds who was once married to 2-Down : BURT
24
Pepsi and RC : COLAS
25
"Please ___" (operator's request) : HOLD
26
Verve : ZEST
27
Universal truth : AXIOM
28
Longtime name in Chicago politics : DALEY
29
V fliers : GEESE
30
Farm animals that butt : GOATS
31
Romance or science fiction : GENRE
33
Actor Willis : BRUCE
35
Fishing line holder : REEL
37
A toucan has a colorful one : BEAK
38
*"Bat Out of Hell" singer : MEATLOAF
40
Jerk : SPASM
41
Pigsty : MESS
43
Mini-burger : SLIDER
44
Original judge on "The People's Court" : WAPNER
46
Trustingly innocent : NAIVE
47
Employee protection org. : OSHA
48
Part of a molecule : ATOM
49
Heavyweight wrestling : SUMO
50
Corp. money managers : CFOS
51
German auto make : OPEL
52
Michael of "Arrested Development" : CERA
53
Kentucky's Fort ___ : KNOX
55
"Yuck!" : UGH
56
To's partner : FRO

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

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