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New York Times, Thursday, January 18, 2018

Author: Ryan McCarty and Alan Southworth
Editor: Will Shortz
Ryan McCarty
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
26/17/20171/18/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000101
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.50000
Alan Southworth
TotalDebutCollabs
11/18/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53000

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 31 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. McCarty. This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Southworth. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: RYAN: Alan and I met in college where we sang in several groups together, notably in our a cappella group the Princeton Nassoons. ... more
Constructor notes:

RYAN: Alan and I met in college where we sang in several groups together, notably in our a cappella group the Princeton Nassoons. He was actually the person who first got me interested in crossword puzzles! After graduating we decided it would be fun to collaborate and create a puzzle together.

Alan came up with the theme idea for this one, and we worked together to manually fill the grid and create clues. Based on the theme, we had clued this around Tuesday/Wednesday difficulty, though the NYT team accepted it for a Thursday and many of the clues were adjusted to be more challenging.

Looking back it would have been nice to get a couple juicier longer down answers in the NE and SW, and perhaps some better short fill, although I liked how they used some atypical clues for a few (ONO, ERE, ANO). Nevertheless, the puzzle was fun to make together, and I hope you enjoy it!

ALAN: Very excited to be my making my NYT Crossword debut today! A bit about me: I'm a 25-year-old energy market consultant/singer-songwriter/marathoner living in New York City. I found my way into the crossword community through a lifelong love of word games and puzzles (I grew up playing Scrabble and Boggle with my mom and solving Sudoku and Ken Ken before bed) but didn't really get into crosswords until college, where I met my collaborator, Ryan McCarty. Ryan and I were members of the Princeton University Glee Club and the Princeton Nassoons, the university's oldest a cappella group, before beginning our crossword collaboration.

For today's puzzle, I started writing down crossword theme ideas in the "Notes" app on my phone during my commutes to work in 2015. Many of the early concepts I came up with revolved around phrases that lent themselves to literal interpretations involving a letter addition or removal ("DROP THE F" BOMB luckily never came to fruition…).

But then NO WAY came to me and I realized dropping an entire word might result in some fresher "wacky" phrases. RUN A TRAIN was the first potential theme answer that I thought of, and with Ryan's expert grid construction skills and some more theme answer brainstorming, I knew we were on the right track, so to speak.

Side note: as a runner, I was excited to use "Marathon leader?" as the clue for ULTRA, but I wasn't sure if the Ultramarathon reference was too obscure for the general public. After a quick Google search eased my initial worries, I noticed the following blurb in the Wikipedia article for Ultramarathon:

Since 1997, runners have been competing in the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, which is billed as the longest official footrace in the world. They run 100 laps a day for up to 50 days around a single block in Queens, NY, for a total distance of 3,100 miles (5,000 km)

This absurd race has been the topic of many conversations since finding out about it during my crossword research. Just thinking about the fact that Suprabha Beckjord ran the race 14 times (i.e., she spent over two years of her life running around a high school in Queens) makes my legs hurt...

Jeff Chen notes: NO WAY = remove 'way' from phrases for kooky results. The theme confused me a bit since RUN A TRAIN is something I see in some of my ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

NO WAY = remove "way" from phrases for kooky results. The theme confused me a bit since RUN A TRAIN is something I see in some of my kids' books. It's a bit kooky … but a bit real, too. And SUBSTATIONS is a real word, isn't it? (Yup.)

Thankfully, HIGH ROBBERY clarified the theme (more or less) for me. There's no such thing as HIGH ROBBERY! And I like me some heist movies like "Tower Heist," especially when they happen up on rooves. So that worked for me.

ONE STREET … not kooky enough for me.

But I did love some of the fill. RIGHT-O! The GEM STATE shone. (*rimshot*) A LONDONER next to a STOCKADE painted a funny 17th-century picture. And CEMENT MIXER was fantastic!

Er, CEMENT MASON. Hmm. I so badly wanted it to be CEMENT MIXER. Such a great clue, riffing on "concrete plans." Let's just pretend it was the much more awesome CEMENT MIXER, shall we?

Overall, mixed results, especially given my high expectations for creativity on my Thursday puzzles. What other, more surprising WAY removals are there? WAYNE NEWTON to NE (Nebraska) NEWTON? PROJECT RUNWAY to PROJECT RUN? It turns out to be a tough trigram to work with. Huh.

I did appreciate much of the gridwork, not bad at all to finish up with just some ignorable stuff in a debut puzzle. Let's just try not to eke (ha) out so much similar ETE, ERE, ENE stuff next time.

1
C
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A
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B
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P
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H
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D
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S
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0118 ( 24,908 )
Across Down
1. Rebound : CAROM
6. Lady ___ Ashley, Jake Barnes's love in "The Sun Also Rises" : BRETT
11. Interregnum : GAP
14. Chilling : ONICE
15. Like the planets beyond the asteroid belt : OUTER
16. Chemical suffix : ENE
17. Rooftop heist? : HIGHROBBERY
19. Travel org. with an eTix app : MTA
20. "If you ask me," to texters : IMHO
21. Org. that discourages traveling : NBA
22. Flowerless plants : MOSSES
24. Diamond club : BAT
25. Some roles in the Jack Benny film "College Holiday" : COEDS
27. Marathon leader? : ULTRA
28. Dateless, say : ALONE
30. Handle engineer duties? : RUNATRAIN
32. Bird that has one long talon on each foot for fighting : EMU
34. Pear variety : BOSC
35. Preschooler : TOT
36. Last at Daytona, say : SLOWEST
40. N.H.L. team that became the Hurricanes in 1997 : WHALERS
42. "Mazel ___!" : TOV
43. "No ___" ("I'm fine") : NEED
45. My Chemical Romance genre : EMO
46. Della or Picabo? : ONESTREET
49. Openings at a day spa? : PORES
53. Jewel case insert : CDROM
54. Bright lights : NEONS
56. Response to "Madam, I'm Adam" that is itself a palindrome : EVE
57. Alaskan bear : KODIAK
59. ___ favor : POR
60. Reindeer in "Frozen" : SVEN
61. "Wheel of Fortune" buy : ANO
62. Sandwich shops? : SUBSTATIONS
65. Study : DEN
66. Orchestra tuners : OBOES
67. Pull some strings? : UNTIE
68. "Listen ___!" (Cockney cry) : ERE
69. "Forget it!" ... or a hint to 17-, 30-, 46- and 62-Across : NOWAY
70. Gripes : BEEFS
1. Premium Cuban cigar : COHIBA
2. Category in a guessing game : ANIMAL
3. "You betcha!" : RIGHTO
4. Number above "Operador" on un teléfono : OCHO
5. La Méditerranée, e.g. : MER
6. Tackle box item : BOBBER
7. Start of a children's rhyme : RUBADUB
8. It lasts trois mois : ETE
9. Contract period : TERM
10. Events for prospective pro athletes : TRYOUTCAMPS
11. Idaho, with "the" : GEMSTATE
12. Toward the front, anatomically : ANTERIOR
13. Group rallied by Mao Zedong : PEASANTS
18. Fish at a Hawaiian barbecue : ONO
23. Nikon product, for short : SLR
25. One who has concrete plans for the day? : CEMENTMASON
26. ___ globe : SNOW
29. Fresh out of the box : NEW
31. Queens stadium name : ASHE
33. ___ interface : USER
36. Defense fence : STOCKADE
37. Cockney, e.g. : LONDONER
38. Trite : OVERDONE
39. Typical college freshman : TEEN
41. John : LOO
44. Home of lanternfish and giant squids : DEEPSEA
47. "___ gather" : SOI
48. Foot, baby-style : TOOTSY
50. Election do-over : REVOTE
51. No matter whether : EVENIF
52. Has an inkling : SENSES
55. Major group HQ'd in Fairfax, Va. : NRA
58. 2016 animated film "___ and the Two Strings" : KUBO
60. Wave to a math teacher? : SINE
63. Opposite of stern : BOW
64. Moonshiner's vessel : TUB

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?