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New York Times, Thursday, April 23, 2015

Author: David Steinberg and Bruce Leban
Editor: Will Shortz
David Steinberg
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
836/16/20116/29/201816
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
66671127182
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.644153
Bruce Leban
TotalDebutCollabs
14/23/20151
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60000

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 32 Missing: {FJQVX} Spans: 4 This is puzzle # 39 for Mr. Steinberg. This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Leban. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: BRUCE: This puzzle had its origins at a dinner table conversation at the National Puzzlers' League annual convention last year. I ... more
Constructor notes:

BRUCE: This puzzle had its origins at a dinner table conversation at the National Puzzlers' League annual convention last year. I repeated the joke and David counted letters in his head and announced that it could almost be split into four 15s. With an assist from Stanley Newman, sitting in between us, it fit exactly and David and I agreed to collaborate, with Stanley bowing out.

David filled the grid, I wrote a first pass on the clues and we bounced the clues back and forth until we reached consensus. One fun thing about collaborating is getting a different take on construction and cluing. Despite years of experience, as this was my first puzzle for the Times, David's perspective on "Thursday difficulty" was valuable.

Of my clues that survived editing, my favorite is "Way-out challenge?" I was glad Will kept my Thumbs-up and Thumbs-down clues but I wonder why he changed Cleveland to Toledo.

My favorite of David's clues is definitely "Female that sounds like you?"

I've been constructing puzzles for more than 20 years, founded the Microsoft Puzzlehunt in 1999, have served as an assistant editor of the National Puzzlers' League for the last ten years, and recently published my first puzzle book, Jumping to Conclusions, a book of hangman riddles available through Puzzazz. I'm currently working on a set of puzzles for June's Puzzled Pint.

DAVID:

The National Puzzlers' League convention is always a lot of fun, and last year was no exception! I was lucky enough to be sitting at a table with Bruce (aka Vroo) and Stan Newman (aka Famulus) when Bruce told the kleptomaniacs joke. I noticed that the original joke almost split into four 15-letter entries; if the wording could somehow be tweaked, the joke would be cruciverbal gold! Luckily, Stan came to the rescue by almost instantaneously coming up with a fix! Unfortunately, I remembered reading somewhere that no more than two constructors can be listed in a Times crossword byline. So Stan graciously bowed out of the collaboration.

The grid ended up being much more challenging to fill than I'd anticipated because the traditional grids with four 15-letter entries that I considered all had five-letter entries intersecting the first and last three letters of the middle theme entries. Since our theme entries had to be in a certain order, and the order happened to produce unfriendly letter patterns for those five-letter entries (such as K???C), I had to resort to a completely nontraditional pattern. My goal for the fill was to include as many lively entries as possible, as quote puzzles can get a bit dull otherwise, but at the same time to keep the short fill as clean as Stan would've wanted had he been a collaborator! So I kept the word count down to 74 and, after many hours, ended up with a grid that I felt had few trade-offs; Bruce was happy with it, too.

The cluing phase was the most interesting part of the collaborative process. Bruce made a Google spreadsheet with columns and columns of data about the total usage of each of our clues, whether they were similar to others in databases, etc. After many back-and-forths, we ended up with what I felt was an awesome set of clues! As always, though, Will and Joel elevated the clues from awesome to EPIC!

Overall, it was a pleasure collaborating with Bruce, and I look forward to seeing what ideas germinate at the next NPL convention. For now, both of us hope you enjoy the puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes: Ah, the quip puzzle. A great quote puzzle must be 1.) funny / whimsical and 2.) grammatically untortured. The first criteria is so ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Ah, the quip puzzle. A great quote puzzle must be 1.) funny / whimsical and 2.) grammatically untortured. The first criteria is so subjective, but the second is much less so.

Especially when making up your own quip, it's too easy to add an extra "the" or pluralize a word to make the crossword symmetry work. I appreciate how nicely this quote flows. It also breaks up pretty nicely, skipping to the next line when a semi-natural break occurs. That's tough to do and still adhere to regular crossword symmetry.

I still don't understand why it's "juicy" but I'll play along

I found the solve tougher than a usual Thursday, since 1.) you have to solve a quip puzzle with only the downs at first and 2.) the downs were full of esoteric names. I was super thankful of my pharma background, as I entered ZYRTEC just off the T. Then I was super grumpy when I realized ZYRTEC is an allergy medicine. D'oh! Toward the end, CIMINO obscured the starts of parts 3 and 4 of the quip, making the puzzle very difficult for me. I am glad to learn more about a film director I really should have known anyway.

Some really nice clues:

  • SYNERGY always makes me laugh, as it's one of those terms MBAs toss around. (Not just stereotypically, unfortunately.) So I got a chuckle when I saw [Hoped-for collaboration result].
  • The syntax on [Way-out challenge?] felt a bit off, but it's a fun way to get at getting out of a MAZE.
  • MODISTE is such a fun, artsy word, and the [Couturier] clue gave me a nice challenge. Those JUICY COUTURE sweat suits apparently have infiltrated my psyche, darn it.
  • At the ACPT, Will slyly mentioned that David tends to work in a lot of 18-year old teenage boy material. He recently committed to my alma mater, and I wish him many hot DATES. Hopefully that part of Stanford campus life has changed since I was there. Yes, it must have been the campus culture of non-dating. Couldn't have been me.
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0423 ( 23,907 )
Across Down
1. Many Manolo Blahniks : PUMPS
6. Huger than huge : EPIC
10. Way-out challenge? : MAZE
14. Slow pacesetter : SNAIL
15. Hospital worker : AIDE
16. "Sorry to say ..." : ALAS
17. Start of a quip about wordplay : YOUCANTTELLPUNS
20. Celebs : NAMES
21. Product of a zymurgist : ALE
22. Grand Central org. : MTA
23. Big factor in the Cy Young Award : ERA
25. Title with an apostrophe in the middle : MAAM
27. Sauce made with roux, milk and cheese : MORNAY
29. Part 2 of the quip : TOKLEPTOMANIACS
32. E.M.T.'s cry : CLEAR
33. Some like them hot : DATES
34. Jalopy : HEAP
35. "Die Lorelei" poet : HEINE
37. Marine growth rich in iodine : KELP
41. "Posses" : CREWS
43. New York's Mount ___ Hospital : SINAI
44. Part 3 of the quip : BECAUSETHEYTAKE
49. Currently : ASITIS
50. Rake in : EARN
51. ___ school : MED
52. Setting for many old films : TCM
53. Bean : NOB
55. Genghis Khan tactic : SIEGE
57. End of the quip : THINGSLITERALLY
62. Former late-night luminary : LENO
63. "___, boy!" : HERE
64. Simpletons : GEESE
65. "The Garden of ___," Oscar Wilde poem : EROS
66. Banknote featuring Mao : YUAN
67. Down measurements : YARDS
1. Singer recognized as the "King of YouTube" in 2012 : PSY
2. Discarding card game : UNO
3. Highest Hawaiian peak : MAUNAKEA
4. 12-point type : PICA
5. Pen : SLAMMER
6. Really rankles : EATSAT
7. Commodity-trading card game : PIT
8. Something talked about in a TED talk : IDEA
9. 5-Down cohabitant : CELLMATE
10. X setting, maybe : MAP
11. Graduate of Mount Holyoke, e.g. : ALUMNA
12. Tagamet competitor : ZANTAC
13. Optional ACT components : ESSAYS
18. ___ tide : NEAP
19. Sierra ___ : LEONE
23. Chisel, maybe : ETCH
24. Part : ROLE
26. Couturier : MODISTE
28. Take a chance : RISKIT
30. Pet that likes to be petted : LAPCAT
31. "That's incredible!" : MAN
35. 1980 hit with the lyric "That sweet little boy who caught my eye" : HESSOSHY
36. Female that sounds like you? : EWE
38. Cloisonné artisan : ENAMELER
39. With 48-Down, setting for Toledo : LAKE
40. Like a calico : PIED
42. Sorry about : RUING
43. Hoped-for collaboration result : SYNERGY
44. Clash : BATTLE
45. Tessellating artist : ESCHER
46. Michael who directed "The Deer Hunter" : CIMINO
47. Accelerate : HASTEN
48. See 39-Down : ERIE
54. French flag hue : BLEU
56. Earth, to the ancient Greeks : GAEA
58. Thumbs-down responses : NOS
59. 401(k) alternative : IRA
60. Trip cause : LSD
61. Thumbs-up response : YES

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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