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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
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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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