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New York Times, Monday, April 3, 2017

Author: Agnes Davidson and Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Will Shortz
Agnes Davidson
TotalDebutCollabs
14/3/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61000
Zhouqin Burnikel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4811/13/201210/13/201717
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
517135332
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56281

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {DJQXZ} Spans: 1 This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Davidson This is puzzle # 40 for Ms. Burnikel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: AGNES: Prior to December 2015, my only experience with crossword puzzles was solving them, a pastime that I've enjoyed since the ... more
Constructor notes:

AGNES: Prior to December 2015, my only experience with crossword puzzles was solving them, a pastime that I've enjoyed since the late 1970's. Through C.C.'s generous invitation to collaborate, I'm enjoying the challenges and rewards of the nuts and bolts of construction. Most of all, I'm enjoying working with C.C. whom I consider both a friend and mentor. I'm very excited about our New York Times debut.

C.C.: This puzzle was accepted last Sept. Agnes and I were fairly conservative in our grid design due to theme entry length. I started making puzzles with Agnes in Dec. 2015 and we've had a few puzzles published by Rich (Jeff: Rich Norris, the LA Times editor). Agnes was eager to learn, and she learned so fast. She also works incredibly hard and is unfailingly kind, patient and accommodating of my background. I enjoy very much working with her.

Jeff Chen notes: Debut! Great to see C.C. work with so many new constructors. Baseball theme, a BATTER, COACH, PITCHER, and a FAN making up ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Debut! Great to see C.C. work with so many new constructors.

Baseball theme, a BATTER, COACH, PITCHER, and a FAN making up BALLPARK FIGURES. I liked how they concealed those words by using different meanings, i.e. BATTER as a coating, not as a hitter. BEER BATTER was my favorite — a snazzy phrase, and one that threw me off the scent.

It would have been nice to get the revealer, BALLPARK FIGURES, at the very end, though. Right in the middle of the puzzle is a logical spot to place that entry, but that did give away the game halfway through my solve.

I usually prize consistency, and one form of consistency is having all plural or all singular themers. In this case, though, it felt odd with just a lone FAN. Perhaps this represents a Dodgers game. Hey-o! (Lifelong Giants fan here.)

Getting multiple FANS in could have been done with WINDOW FANS, but that phrase doesn't resonate as well for me. (Perhaps it's because my two-year-old has a strange fascination with CEILING FANs. Don't ask.)

Tough to build around five long themers. Looking at the layout of black squares before starting, I guessed that two of the roughest spots would be in the north and the south — those are areas where there's a lot of overlap between themers.

In the north, PATEK is tough, and I don't think Cheri OTERI has made a crossworthy mark yet. In the south … as much as I love Superman, I'm not sure it's fair to expect most novices to get the KALEL / LEA / TOILE crossings.

I did appreciate the effort to incorporate some long fill — RACHAEL RAY and ILL BE THERE are both nice additions. They make for some difficult filling challenges, since they both intersect two theme answers apiece, but the results are pretty good, especially in the lower left. Very smooth there.

I'm not sure the prices of INE / NATL / RHEAS / SCRAG (those last two are tough vocab for a Monday) are worth RACHAEL RAY, but I'm sure her fans will disagree.

Well-disguised theme plus a spot-on revealer makes for a nice Monday puzzle.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0403 ( 24,618 )
Across Down
1. Inflated senses of self : EGOS
5. Moisture in the air : VAPOR
10. Flower girl? : IRIS
14. Muppet with a unibrow : BERT
15. Furious : IRATE
16. The "N" of N.F.L.: Abbr. : NATL
17. Coating for fish that you might think would make you tipsy : BEERBATTER
19. Sound heard in a cave : ECHO
20. "Cheers!," in Scandinavia : SKOAL
21. Historical periods : ERAS
23. Derby or fedora : HAT
24. Cinderella's carriage : PUMPKINCOACH
28. Hit the slopes : SKI
31. ___ v. Wade : ROE
32. Cousins of emus : RHEAS
33. Classical paintings : OILS
35. Org. that operates the Jupiter orbiter : NASA
38. ___-C.I.O. : AFL
39. Rough estimates ... or what the ends of 17-, 24-, 52- and 65-Across are? : BALLPARKFIGURES
44. Slangy "sweetie" : BAE
45. Pepper's partner : SALT
46. California wine valley : NAPA
47. Popular pain reliever : ALEVE
49. Have a part in a play : ACT
51. Talk, talk, talk : YAP
52. Waiter's refilling aid : WATERPITCHER
57. Utmost : NTH
58. Sport for heavyweights : SUMO
59. Curses (out) : REAMS
63. Couple, in a gossip column : ITEM
65. Overhead cooler : CEILINGFAN
68. Ruler said to have fiddled while Rome burned : NERO
69. Superman's birth name : KALEL
70. Song for a diva : ARIA
71. Sprouted : GREW
72. Underhanded sort : SNEAK
73. Like marathons and maxiskirts : LONG
1. Recedes, as the tide : EBBS
2. Sheldon of "The Big Bang Theory," for one : GEEK
3. Cookie that may be dipped in milk : OREO
4. Subway standee's support : STRAP
5. By way of : VIA
6. Works at a museum : ART
7. ___ Philippe (Swiss watchmaker) : PATEK
8. Cheri formerly of "S.N.L" : OTERI
9. Aired, as old TV shows : RERAN
10. Suffix with serpent : INE
11. Host of TV's "30 Minute Meals" : RACHAELRAY
12. Cornell University's home : ITHACA
13. Tree huggers? : SLOTHS
18. Fuzzy picture : BLUR
22. One who's all skin and bones : SCRAG
25. Leonardo da Vinci's "___ Lisa" : MONA
26. Fruits that are a little grittier than apples : PEARS
27. "That sounds good - NOT!" : OHFUN
28. Cry big tears : SOB
29. Maker of autodom's Optima : KIA
30. Words after "Reach Out" in a #1 Four Tops hit : ILLBETHERE
34. Work like a dog : SLAVE
36. Cousin of calypso : SKA
37. Quacky insurance giant : AFLAC
40. House of Lords members : PEERS
41. Scratch target : ITCH
42. Pollution police, for short : EPA
43. Softhead : SAP
47. Store window shader : AWNING
48. ___-day Saints (Mormons) : LATTER
50. Fork-tailed bird : TERN
53. Hockey discs : PUCKS
54. "Wait, let me explain ..." : IMEAN
55. French fabric : TOILE
56. Majestic : REGAL
60. Big, round head of hair : AFRO
61. Street through the middle of town : MAIN
62. Slight problem : SNAG
64. Cut the lawn : MOW
66. Pasture : LEA
67. Kind : ILK

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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