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New York Times, Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Author:
Natasha Lyonne and Deb Amlen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
14/2/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.85000
Natasha Lyonne
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
45/23/20044/2/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1030000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61000
Deb Amlen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 40 Missing: {X} Spans: 1 This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Lyonne. This is puzzle # 4 for Ms. Amlen. See all the celebrity crosswords. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: CELEBRITY CROSSWORD
This puzzle is a collaboration by the actress Natasha Lyonne of Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black" and "Russian Doll," working together with Deb Amlen, who writes the Times's daily crossword column, Wordplay (nytimes.com/column/wordplay). You can read more about the making of today's puzzle there. This is Deb's fourth crossword for The Times.
Constructor notes:
Natasha Lyonne: Working with Deb Amlen to create this puzzle has quite literally been a lifetime highlight for me. I thought I had ... read more

Natasha Lyonne: Working with Deb Amlen to create this puzzle has quite literally been a lifetime highlight for me.

I thought I had peaked at being a clue in a New York Times crossword puzzle, so having this opportunity to become a constructor is a clear sign I have crossed over and am writing to you from the afterlife.

I have become someone who thinks in clues, who jokes in puzzles and who lives for the answers. Most days of the week.

Deb is a puzzler extraordinaire. Working alongside her has stimulated parts of my brains that I hope will remain aglow for years to come. She is definitely the person I would most recommend being blindfolded in a labyrinth with. Should it come up. She was the key that led me to safety and it was a privilege to get to construct under her tutelage. Much like a young, fumbling Richard Dreyfus in the oft forgotten film, "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz," I was able to bask in her golden glow and try to make a name for myself amid endless stabs at mastering puzzle making.

There was so much to learn, but Deb was patient with my endless enthusiasm and heartbreak at the Herculean task. I was like one of those eager puppies you see get lost during a dog show who just keeps running around the obstacle course, having forgotten the rhyme or reason or lessons of their master. But the point is — they're show dogs! What has my dog done lately other than nap on my lap as I fill out more crosswords? She's done nothing, that's what.

I have a true obsession with the crossword. I spend the bulk of my downtime doing them. They're my happy place. Where I can hear the click. The white noise sound I'm always looking for that feels closest to self-soothing. They're my personal spa day and I would live in a puzzle if I could.

There were points where I thought to myself "Is the crossword a case of 'Never meet your idols'?" But once we nailed the Fosse-esque ALL THAT JAZZ theme, things really began cooking. Our shared love of the film kept us going. Seeing BOB FOSSE marry Dr. Dre with 26-Down's "Nothing but a G THANG" really hits me in all my happy reference places. The film "All That Jazz" occupies about as much space in my psyche and in "Russian Doll" as the crossword puzzle itself, so it felt very satisfying to see all the worlds I love so much collide.

I plan to buy an awkward amount of copies of this issue to drape myself in on any dark days to come. I welcome you to do the same and hope very much you enjoy the puzzle!

Thank you, New York Times, and by proxy, to my personal and wildly intimidating hero, Will Shortz, for allowing this highest of lifetime achievements to benefit two charities incredibly near to my heart, the Lower Eastside Girls Club and the Women's Prison Association.

Deb Amlen: Natasha is a joy to work with, and her creativity, energy and passion for crossword puzzles were incredibly inspiring. She even bought the Crossfire software program, so she could learn how to construct and put in her share of the work.

The really strange thing about this collaboration was that, even though we had never met before or discussed it, we both had exactly the same initial idea for a theme. I think that freaked us both out a bit, but it also gave us common ground on which to work.

We both love the film "All That Jazz" — a semi-autobiographical take on choreographer BOB FOSSE's life — which happens to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. The interesting thing (to me, at least) is that we liked it for different reasons. Natasha is an amazingly well-read philosopher who adored the movie's take on the main character moving between life and death. I liked it because I am the sister of a former dancer and have always loved the visual impact of Bob Fosse's choreography.

Natasha and I worked focused on filling the grid with as little junk as possible. The only part that was tough to polish, even after ripping that section apart multiple times, was the eastern part of the grid where Phil MAHRE resides. Sorry, Phil, but if I could have put something else in your slot, I would have. Even so, I think we're both happy that we could debut some nice theme entries.

And I'm thrilled that Will and the editorial team kept many of our clues. I'm particularly proud of "Ghost at the altar?" and "It might have golden locks." I had forgotten how much fun it is to write a really twisted clue.

So thanks, Will, for hauling me out of retirement for this wonderful experience. I hope everyone enjoys our puzzle.

To keep our mojo working, Natasha and I have decided to donate part of our fee to two charities, the Lower Eastside Girls Club and the Women's Prison Association.

Also, don't miss Natasha's extraordinary turn as the co-creator, star, writer and director of Netflix's "Russian Doll." You will love it.

And as far as that "golden glow" that Natasha mentioned, only my hairdresser knows for sure. (Hi, kids!)

Jeff Chen notes:
The NYT celeb series continues! I watched the first season of OitNB, and Nicky was my favorite character. It's a shame that this ... read more

The NYT celeb series continues! I watched the first season of OitNB, and Nicky was my favorite character. It's a shame that this crossword didn't relate to her, but considering Nicky's … ahem … colorful personality, it wouldn't have been appropriate for the NYT.

ALL / THAT / JAZZ referring to the movie about BOB / FOSSE, the choreographer. These types of "first words hide a saying" themes live and die on 1.) how snazzy their theme phrases are, and 2.) the impact of the a-ha moment when the solver connects the words together.

ALL FLASH NO CASH is a great way to hide ALL.

THAT CANT BE RIGHT is a solid colloquial phrase, too.

I did hitch at JAZZ UP THE PLACE, as I wanted it so badly to be JAZZ UP THE JOINT. Even more appropriate given the setting for OitNB!

I didn't get a fantastic a-ha upon realizing ALL THAT JAZZ was the theme, mostly because I didn't immediately recall who BOB / FOSSE was. It works fine, but I might have preferred a revealer that meant "and related things," like ODDS AND ENDS or ET CETERA or best yet, YADA YADA YADA.

With such little constraints – ALL / THAT / JAZZ and BOB / FOSSE the only fixed requirements – Deb and Natasha had a lot of flexibility in their grid. I loved what they did with YOGA POSE, TZATZIKI, even BROCCOLI and COP OUTS. That's a lot of bonuses to PROFFER!

I wasn't sure about ZUCK, but perhaps that's what the kids are calling him these days? Generally good gridwork otherwise, just some minor dings in CTR ICH MEIN MTA. And yeah, MAHRE.

With this celeb series, I love when the crossword riffs on something specific to the celeb. But overall, a solid crossword with some great phrases worked in.

Jim Horne notes:

How Natasha Lyonne Created a Times Crossword Puzzle — nice NYT article about her experience.

1
C
2
A
3
S
4
C
5
A
6
A
7
M
8
Y
9
B
10
L
11
I
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P
13
T
R
E
A
T
14
W
E
E
15
P
R
A
D
O
16
R
E
A
L
M
17
M
T
A
18
R
O
V
E
S
19
A
L
L
F
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L
A
S
H
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N
O
C
A
S
H
22
M
E
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N
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I
F
C
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S
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A
26
T
E
E
N
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N
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O
T
F
O
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R
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M
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E
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I
C
H
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D
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O
O
R
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E
L
I
A
S
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T
H
A
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T
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C
A
N
T
B
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E
R
I
G
H
T
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B
O
N
Z
O
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U
R
S
A
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I
R
E
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Y
O
G
A
P
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O
S
E
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T
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R
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A
D
E
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T
O
O
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R
U
E
D
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J
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A
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Z
Z
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P
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T
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H
E
P
L
A
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C
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E
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I
Q
U
I
T
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O
O
H
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I
G
A
V
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E
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L
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C
K
S
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M
B
A
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E
I
D
E
R
64
T
I
K
I
65
B
O
B
66
F
O
S
S
E
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0402 ( 25,347 )

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Across
1
Who says "Speak, hands, for me!" in "Julius Caesar" : CASCA
6
Poehler vortex of funniness? : AMY
9
It might be on one's radar : BLIP
13
Reward for Fido : TREAT
14
Tiny : WEE
15
Where to enjoy a Goya : PRADO
16
Queen's domain : REALM
17
N.Y.C. subway overseer : MTA
18
Wanders : ROVES
19
Dressed like "a hundred-dollar millionaire" : ALLFLASHNOCASH
22
Lo ___ (Chinese noodle dish) : MEIN
23
"Portlandia" airer : IFC
24
Glossy fabric : SATEEN
27
"I'll pass" : NOTFORME
32
"___ bin ein Berliner" : ICH
33
It might have golden locks : DOOR
35
Howe he could invent! : ELIAS
36
"I think I made a mistake here" : THATCANTBERIGHT
40
"Bedtime for ___" : BONZO
41
Celestial bear : URSA
42
Rage : IRE
43
Downward-Facing Dog, e.g. : YOGAPOSE
45
Merchant : TRADER
48
#Me___ : TOO
49
Felt remorse for : RUED
50
"Add some throw pillows or a pop of color around here, why don't you!" : JAZZUPTHEPLACE
57
Parting words : IQUIT
58
Aah's partner : OOH
59
Words on some blood drive stickers : IGAVE
61
Is very fortunate, with "out" : LUCKS
62
Wharton grad : MBA
63
Creature to get down from : EIDER
64
Polynesian carving : TIKI
65
With 66-Across, choreographer whose life is depicted in the starts of 19-, 36- and 50-Across : BOB
66
See 65-Across : FOSSE
Down
1
Middle: Abbr. : CTR
2
The "A" in BART : AREA
3
Animal having a ball at the circus? : SEAL
4
1980 Blondie hit : CALLME
5
Cost of withdrawing, say : ATMFEE
6
"Gee, you're killin' me!" : AWMAN
7
Baseball's "Amazin's" : METS
8
When sung three times, what follows "She loves you" : YEAH
9
Vegetable with a head : BROCCOLI
10
Volcano's spew : LAVA
11
Fateful day for Caesar : IDES
12
Deluxe : POSH
15
Present for acceptance : PROFFER
20
Actress Blair of "The Exorcist" : LINDA
21
It can be picked : NIT
24
Remain idle : SITBY
25
Sound during hay fever season : ACHOO
26
Dr. Dre's "Nuthin' but a 'G' ___" : THANG
27
Our, in Orléans : NOTRE
28
Sun, moon and stars : ORBS
29
Unbending : RIGID
30
Phil ___, slalom skiing gold medalist at the 1984 Olympics : MAHRE
31
Fragrant compound : ESTER
34
Cross to bear : ONUS
37
Greek sauce with yogurt and cucumbers : TZATZIKI
38
Bad rationalizations : COPOUTS
39
Gobble : EATUP
44
"Alley ___!" : OOP
46
Analgesic's promise : RELIEF
47
Slow, in music : ADAGIO
49
Where one might kick a habit, informally : REHAB
50
Ghost at the altar? : JILT
51
Here, in Madrid : AQUI
52
Facebook founder's nickname : ZUCK
53
Taj Mahal, e.g. : TOMB
54
King of the road : HOBO
55
Untrustworthy types : CADS
56
After-work times, in classifieds : EVES
60
"Able was I ___ I saw Elba" : ERE

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?