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New York Times, Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Author:
Alex Eaton-Salners
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
192/2/20175/22/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
02448001
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54220
Alex Eaton-Salners

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 77, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QYZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Eaton-Salners. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Alex Eaton-Salners notes:
This is my second crossword published in the NYT though it was actually the first one accepted. The impetus for its construction was the ... read more

This is my second crossword published in the NYT though it was actually the first one accepted. The impetus for its construction was the infelicity of having to enter the word AÑO in crosswords as ANO (for those not in the know the word ANO has a less-than-savory meaning in Spanish). I thought — let's make a crossword where the word AÑO is written properly!

I started by brainstorming words containing an ñ and experimentally intersecting them. I considered using the word EÑE as a revealer, but once I hit on having SPANISH and ESPAÑOL cross EL NIÑO there was no turning back. I expanded to 16 columns to simultaneously accommodate PIÑA COLADA (a central themer with an even number of letters) and provide just enough room for adjacent horizontal theme entries at lengths 6 and 9. Isolating each section of the grid in this manner reduced the strain created by having crossing theme entries.

Although the horizontal theme entries are symmetric, it would have been ideal to also have symmetry in the vertical themers. Unfortunately, there weren't enough options to pull that off.

As submitted, the theme clues did not use cross references. For example, SEÑOR was clued as [Man of La Mancha?] and AÑO was clued as [Year abroad?]. SPANISH and ESPAÑOL had the same clue, which alluded to but didn't explicitly mention the letter ñ. The new cluing is more solver-friendly though — especially for people without much exposure to Spanish.

Some other musings on changed cluing: As submitted, PEÑA NIETO was clued as [Obama's Mexican counterpart], which was true back in May of 2016 when the puzzle was written (how time flies!). Understandably, my original clue for COPERNICUS, which referenced young Doc Brown's dog in the movie "Back to the Future" didn't make the cut (maybe next time...). Finally, I'm not completely on board with the new clue for WOOT (to me its meaning is more hooray or yippee than wow).

Jeff Chen notes:
Five special characters in the grid, reflecting the N with a tilde used in SPANISH. We've seen this concept before, but I like many of the ... read more

Five special characters in the grid, reflecting the N with a tilde used in SPANISH. We've seen this concept before, but I like many of the touches Alex added. I liked having SPANISH as a revealer — without this, I don't know that I would have picked up on the theme — and I loved ESPANOL right next to it. It's hard to stack specific answers together, and it's even harder to do that when they're running through a themer (EL NINO). Very cool.

I appreciated the bonuses, COPERNICUS and GEOLOGISTS making for a science-y mini-theme. Given how so many people seem to dismiss science these days, I love the effort to pair up these long entries.

As a basketball fan, I love getting Dikembe MUTOMBO in the grid. As a Sonic fan, I hate Dikembe MUTOMBO. (His #8 seeded Nuggets upsetting my #1 Sonics was over 20 years ago. But my friends and I still can't joke about it.)

WOOT! made me smile — it's a slangy expression of exhilaration that my friends and I use. LT DAN did too, as I have fond memories of "Forrest Gump." But, I heard from a constructor friend that Will pointed out LT DAN in one of his puzzles as an undesirable dab of crossword glue. I quickly changed its assigned score on my list! It's so subjective, but Will is the final arbiter.

Good gridwork, especially given five pairs of theme answers, plus SPANISH as a revealer. With so much inflexibility within the grid, to get by with just some TNG (I'm a huge fan of "Star Trek: the Next Generation, but TNG is tough to figure out), IN A NET (sounds like a partial), SEP. Well, I didn't care for the combination of ERINNA (ancient poet) and IN AT in the lower right corner, but it was totally worth it to get that cool mash-up of SPANISH right next to ESPANOL / EL NINO.

Since I've seen this concept done a few times before, it would have been great to get something extra today. Not sure what that is, though.

Overall, the puzzle's solid execution still made for a fun solve.

1
S
2
P
3
I
4
T
5
C
6
A
7
B
8
S
9
P
10
O
11
M
12
P
13
S
H
I
N
E
14
R
15
O
P
A
H
16
S
P
U
R
17
M
A
Ñ
A
N
A
18
P
E
Ñ
A
19
N
I
E
T
O
20
I
V
A
N
21
F
22
L
E
X
O
R
S
23
N
O
W
24
D
E
T
E
25
C
T
O
R
26
S
P
A
27
R
E
M
E
28
G
R
A
T
A
29
T
N
30
G
31
O
R
B
S
32
E
S
S
33
B
34
A
S
I
E
35
B
36
A
S
S
O
S
37
P
I
Ñ
A
C
O
38
L
A
D
A
39
N
40
O
41
N
O
N
O
42
U
L
T
R
A
43
S
44
E
45
P
46
O
K
E
D
47
S
O
D
48
P
49
E
P
S
I
50
S
I
E
S
51
T
52
A
53
S
54
G
A
55
S
T
R
A
P
S
56
E
N
D
57
I
C
E
58
W
I
N
E
59
I
N
A
T
60
J
A
L
61
A
P
E
Ñ
O
S
62
E
63
L
N
I
Ñ
O
64
O
W
E
S
65
L
O
O
T
66
P
I
N
S
O
N
67
B
A
S
K
68
A
R
T
S
69
D
A
H
L
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0405 ( 24,620 )
Across
1
Rod at a pig roast : SPIT
5
Vehicles with medallions : CABS
9
Partner of circumstance : POMP
13
Result of a sock in the eye : SHINER
15
Colorful, warm-blooded fish : OPAH
16
Cowboy boot accessory : SPUR
17
Tomorrow, in 43-Down : MAÑANA
18
Mexican president Enrique : PEÑANIETO
20
Pavlov with a Nobel : IVAN
21
Biceps and hamstrings : FLEXORS
23
"Buy It ___" (eBay option) : NOW
24
Word after motion or lie : DETECTOR
26
"Puh-lease!" : SPAREME
28
Persona ___ (welcome guest) : GRATA
29
1987-94 "Star Trek" series, briefly : TNG
31
Eyes, to bards : ORBS
32
Pothook shape : ESS
33
Count in music : BASIE
35
Lowest-voiced choir members : BASSOS
37
Drink often served with a miniature umbrella : PIÑACOLADA
39
Vehement rejection : NONONO
42
Prefix with violet or violent : ULTRA
43
Mo. when the N.F.L. season starts : SEP
46
Gave the go-ahead : OKED
47
Outfield-patching need : SOD
48
Cola wars competitor : PEPSI
50
Naps south of the border : SIESTAS
54
Devices that prevent fumes from escaping : GASTRAPS
56
Many an eligible receiver : END
57
Drink made from frozen grapes : ICEWINE
59
___ the finish (having potential to win) : INAT
60
Peppers milder than habaneros : JALAPEÑOS
62
Warm Pacific current : ELNIÑO
64
Is in the hole : OWES
65
Ill-gotten goods : LOOT
66
Attaches, as a carnation : PINSON
67
Soak up the sun : BASK
68
Theater, dance, etc. : ARTS
69
Roald who wrote "Fantastic Mr. Fox" : DAHL
Down
1
Bic or Gillette offerings : SHAVERS
2
They're broken at parties : PIÑATAS
3
How butterflies might be caught : INANET
4
Highest point value for a Scrabble tile : TEN
5
He placed the sun at the center of the universe : COPERNICUS
6
Tiptop : APEX
7
Bathrooms, in 43-Down : BAÑOS
8
Tuned too high : SHARP
9
Air pump fig. : PSI
10
Beer drinkers' utensils : OPENERS
11
Basketball Hall-of-Famer Dikembe ___ : MUTOMBO
12
Exceptional ability : PROWESS
13
Tiny bit : SMIDGE
14
Log craft : RAFT
19
"Crypto City" at Ft. Meade : NSA
22
"___ luck!" : LOTSA
25
Log construction : CABIN
27
Parks of the civil rights movement : ROSA
30
Rock scientists : GEOLOGISTS
34
Year, in 43-Down : AÑO
35
"Cheers" setting : BAR
36
Change with the times : ADAPT
37
Okra units : PODS
38
Forrest Gump's C.O. : LTDAN
39
Profile-altering plastic surgery : NOSEJOB
40
Pacific battle site of 1945 : OKINAWA
41
Parts of hypodermics : NEEDLES
43
Language that utilizes the letter "ñ" : SPANISH
44
43-Down, in 43-Down : ESPAÑOL
45
One of the eight in a V-8 : PISTON
49
Greek poet who wrote "The Distaff" : ERINNA
51
Message left on a hotline, perhaps : TIP
52
Northeast Corridor express train : ACELA
53
Mister, in 43-Down : SEÑOR
55
Ooze : SEEP
58
"Wow!," in Internet-speak : WOOT
61
Set, as a price : ASK
63
Tupperware topper : LID

Answer summary: 14 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?