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New York Times, Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Author:
Tracy Gray
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
249/8/20106/12/20185
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6245610
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60431
Tracy Gray

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 7 for Ms. Gray. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tracy Gray notes:
My husband and I own a lawn/landscaping company and monitoring the weather is an obsession with us as our livelihood revolves around ... read more

My husband and I own a lawn/landscaping company and monitoring the weather is an obsession with us as our livelihood revolves around working in the great outdoors. In 25 years of business, we have worked through every imaginable type of weather condition including Nor'easters, tropical storms, blizzards, ice, freezing rain, hail, droughts, wind, thunderstorms, etc. and thankfully, a lot of gorgeous, sunny days as well. For someone like me who watches "The Weather Channel" every single day and follows three other forecasters on Facebook, it was on my "radar" to construct a weather-related puzzle.

I initially submitted this puzzle back in November 2011 with 4 movie titles that each described the weather for a particular U.S. city/state and clued as such. "THE BIG CHILL" was clued as [Weather forecast for...International Falls, MN]; "TROPIC THUNDER" [Weather forecast for...Honolulu, HI] and so on. In Feb. 2012, Will responded that he liked the concept in principle but did not think that the movie "A MIGHTY WIND" was well enough known (but worked for Chicago, IL) and "MERCURY RISING" (for Miami, FL) could apply to any place that got really hot and therefore, not as good a candidate for a theme entry. So, I went back to my notes and eventually submitted two different theme concepts to Will — one with movie titles and the other with song titles, clued as the Weather Forecast (revealer) for a specific city/state. The song title version was accepted in August 2012.

I was a bit surprised to see that my original cluing concept of weather related to a city/state was dropped in the final edited version, but I am still happy with the theme entries clued as song hits from various years. Also, Will kept almost 60% of my clues as submitted, which is also very pleasing. For me as a constructor and a solver, it is all about the theme. However, like many other new constructors have stated in their notes, I am now focusing on improving the fill and striving for less crosswordese in my future puzzles.

Now, it's time to go outside, weed my garden, and enjoy "1966 Beatles hit" [Good Day Sunshine].

Jeff Chen notes:
Song title masquerading as WEATHER FORECASTs, fun! Even being an idiot when it comes to pop music, I easily recognized three of the ... read more

Song title masquerading as WEATHER FORECASTs, fun! Even being an idiot when it comes to pop music, I easily recognized three of the four songs by title, a good mark for a Tuesday puzzle. AGAINST THE WIND took me most of the crossings to get, but after Googling it, I realized I ought to have known it. The slow process of increasing my pop music knowledge base chugs along...

With five longish themers, it's great that Tracy managed to work in some long fill. LIVE WIRE and HEPTAGON are really fun. So bizarre that someone would decide to make a coin in the shape of a HEPTAGON! (I recently learned this from a really good Matt Gaffney Weekly Crossword Contest puzzle.) Currency people, get on a triskaidecagonal coin already, will you? (I'd buy that for a dollar! What, no original Robocop fans in the audience?) Also, a nice touch that EDIT OUT and SLEEP IN are in symmetrical locations.

I've had the pleasure of co-constructing with Tracy a few times now, and one aspect I really appreciate about her work is that she has a very different perspective than me. Being a nerdburger Star Wars robot-fighting sports-talking math lover, I tend to fill my own crosswords with stuff that skews heavily male (see above Robocop reference). So I really like it when Tracy puts more academic fill in, like BAHIA, ARHAT, HELOT. Classes up the joint.

There were a couple of crunchy locations, not too surprising given the theme density and the long fill. That's a lot of constraints to work with. The word ERUCT stuck out for me — not sure whether to wince at it or to appreciate learning something new? With so few Bing hits (45K), I tend to think the former. And crossing the plural of a name I didn't know, ERINS, made it feel even crunchier. Along with an AMIR here, an ORIG there, it felt not as smooth as I typically like. Ah, the difficulties of working with high constraints.

Finally, it's rare to get a Tuesday treat, a wordplay clue that makes me smile. I'm sure I've seen variations on [Place for sweaters?] before, but I liked getting a fun clue, not about a sweater to be worn, but a sweater, as in a person who sweats. Good stuff.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0513 ( 23,562 )
Across
1. Big shindig : BASH
5. Plaid-clad miss : LASS
9. Southpaw : LEFTY
14. Arab chieftain: Var. : AMIR
15. BP sale of 2013 : ARCO
16. Required reading for a classics major : ILIAD
17. 1987 Buster Poindexter hit : HOTHOTHOT
19. You might pick up good ones from people : VIBES
20. Tattoos, informally : INK
21. Vegetarian's no-no : MEAT
22. Wall St. watchdog : SEC
23. 1980 Bob Seger hit : AGAINSTTHEWIND
28. It may be picked by the picky : NIT
29. Delete, as from an article or video : EDITOUT
31. Times before eves : AFTS
34. Agricultural apparatus : BALER
36. Italian monk's title : FRA
37. Local news feature suggested by the answers to 17-, 23-, 48- and 60-Across : WEATHERFORECAST
41. Animal that bugles : ELK
42. Burp : ERUCT
43. Lead-in to boy or girl : ATTA
44. Go way past one's usual wake-up time : SLEEPIN
46. Defense grp. founded in Bogotá : OAS
48. 1971 Bill Withers hit : AINTNOSUNSHINE
54. 15-Across product : GAS
55. Patella's place : KNEE
56. Fist bump : DAP
57. Bit of mistletoe : SPRIG
60. 1977 Foreigner hit : COLDASICE
62. Steinway or Baldwin : PIANO
63. Not a facsimile: Abbr. : ORIG
64. Went like hell : TORE
65. Guitar players in rock bands, slangily : AXMEN
66. Novel conclusion? : ETTE
67. Sport-___ (vehicles) : UTES
Down
1. Brazilian state northeast of São Paulo : BAHIA
2. Honor ___ thieves : AMONG
3. Alaskan panhandle city : SITKA
4. Title for a princess: Abbr. : HRH
5. Newest news : LATEST
6. Enlightened Buddhist : ARHAT
7. Writer Turow : SCOTT
8. Bar habitué : SOT
9. Firecracker : LIVEWIRE
10. Draw out : ELICIT
11. Little lie : FIB
12. ___ Bo : TAE
13. QB's stat. : YDS
18. Upscale hotel company : OMNI
22. Passover feast : SEDER
24. Part of M.I.T.: Abbr. : INST
25. Spartan serf : HELOT
26. Jack Sprat's dietary restriction : NOFAT
27. Limp Bizkit vocalist Fred : DURST
30. "See ya!" : TATA
31. Bowls over : AWES
32. Gal's guy : FELLA
33. George who played Sulu on "Star Trek" : TAKEI
34. 2009 Sacha Baron Cohen comedy : BRUNO
35. Patriots' grp. : AFC
38. Shape of the British 50-pence piece : HEPTAGON
39. CNN's Burnett and others : ERINS
40. A.T.M. supply : CASH
45. V-8, e.g. : ENGINE
46. Keyed up : ONEDGE
47. Cruising : ASEA
49. Cousin of culottes : SKORT
50. Dark : UNLIT
51. Numbskull : IDIOT
52. Mother-of-pearl : NACRE
53. Modern pentathlon equipment : EPEES
57. Place for sweaters? : SPA
58. Fotos : PIX
59. Aries animal : RAM
60. Cedar Rapids college : COE
61. Early Beatle Sutcliffe : STU

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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