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New York Times, Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Author:
Paul Hunsberger
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
82/16/20105/17/20170
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1042100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54120
Paul Hunsberger

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Hunsberger. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Paul Hunsberger notes:
This one all started because I really liked the idea of creating a word chain that could be hooked back to its beginning. But it ... read more

This one all started because I really liked the idea of creating a word chain that could be hooked back to its beginning. But it didn't take long to realize that this was a difficult idea. The first challenge was to find ten consecutive in-the-language phrases that would accomplish this (and that were of course also symmetrical). The second was cluing the theme; how to best indicate the chain (with each word overlapping in two different phrases) and the looping aspect to the solver? I'm happy with how it all turned out, but with five theme phrases essentially unclued, thought it might have been destined for a Thursday… hope that not too many Wednesday-lovers were annoyed with this one!

In the original version, I was determined to use RUBBERCHICKEN. This led to RUBBERCHICKENCURRYHOUSE… etc. but when Will Shortz didn't like CURRYHOUSE enough, I realized that the RUBBERCHICKEN may have been too much of a stretch (sorry). As it turns out, this led to the serendipitous discovery of CLOSEDCIRCUIT instead, which seemed to make for the perfect (unclued) middle to my word loop.

Jeff Chen notes:
I'll admit, I had no idea what was going on until well after I filled in the last square — those [… X / Y …] clues ... read more

I'll admit, I had no idea what was going on until well after I filled in the last square — those [… X / Y …] clues befuddled me. But, a nice click when I realized that Paul put together a great word chain, using strong base phrases.

Here's an example: DOUBLE BACK and COURT CASE are both peppy phrases. But so is BACK / COURT … as hinted at by the last part of DOUBLE BACK's clue, and the first part of COURT CASE's clue! I've seen plenty of word chains in crosswords, but I don't remember this cluing mechanic. Entertaining (once I finally grokked it!).

I liked that Paul worked in so many bonuses in the fill — that way, if the theme didn't appeal to you, some of SATCHMO, DRUM PAD, MIX-A-LOT, I HEAR YOU, TOMMYROT might. And as a huge "Parks and Recreation" fan, I love PAWNEE.

A couple of dabs of crossword glue to make it all happen, though. Those "parallel downs" (EPISODIC / CULTURAL and I HEAR YOU / TOMMYROT) are tough to pull off without some compromises. I don't mind a bit of TYRO to get the latter two fantastic entries. The price of IPUT and CFL does seem high for the more neutral EPISODIC and CULTURAL though.

(Paul is Canadian, so I did smile a little at CFL … once I remembered that it stood for the Canadian Football League.)

It's so tempting to incorporate parallel downs, especially when you can make one side work as great as the lower right. They're so hard to do both smoothly and snazzily, that it's not uncommon for one side to pale in comparison. It can be such a constructor's dilemma — feature one great side at the price of a less-than-stellar other side?

Finally, MIMEO (outdated), IN PEN (a bit partialish), and EIN in one region wasn't great. But thankfully, that was the only area with such a high concentration of goop.

Nice spin on a word chain, though — I like it when someone takes a tried and true idea and makes it a little different.

1
P
2
E
3
C
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S
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M
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E
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T
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R
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O
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H
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E
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R
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A
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A
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D
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K
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O
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C
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F
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M
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L
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M
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C
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D
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W
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W
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D
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P
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A
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M
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B
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G
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B
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D
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W
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O
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M
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0517 ( 24,662 )
Across
1
Muscles worked by bench presses : PECS
5
Transport de Montréal : METRO
10
Queen of the Greek gods : HERA
14
"Hmm, how shall ___ this?" : IPUT
15
Hosiery shades : ECRUS
16
Alternative to Thrifty or Dollar : AVIS
17
Tributary of the Colorado : GILA
18
... for a loop, say / Area that an N.B.A. team has eight ... : DOUBLEBACK
20
Passage off Gibraltar, e.g. : STRAIT
22
Laughing gas and rust, for two : OXIDES
23
... seconds to clear / Successful detective's ... : COURTCASE
26
"S.N.L." alum Cheri : OTERI
27
"Fireside chats" monogram : FDR
28
"Baby Got Back" Grammy winner Sir ___ : MIXALOT
30
Fig. on a W-9 : SSN
31
Hemsworth of "The Hunger Games" : LIAM
33
Asians who play elephant polo : THAIS
35
... declaration / Critical computer ... : CLOSEDCIRCUIT
41
John's running mate in 2008 : SARAH
42
Website for D.I.Y.ers : EHOW
44
Merino mother : EWE
47
Thing to practice percussion on : DRUMPAD
51
Angsty music genre : EMO
52
Soccer superstar Lionel : MESSI
54
... component / Dreaded words in a video ... : BOARDGAME
56
One-upped : BESTED
58
Like light beers : WATERY
59
... arcade / Knocked ... : OVERSEEING
62
"Noob" : TYRO
64
___ wave (oscilloscope output) : SINE
65
Obsolete repro machine : MIMEO
66
Helped oneself to : TOOK
67
Did in, as a dragon : SLEW
68
How confident solvers may solve : INPEN
69
Results of sacrifices : OUTS
Down
1
Eat, eat, eat, with "out" : PIG
2
Like soap operas : EPISODIC
3
Like some international exchanges : CULTURAL
4
Beatle who sang "Octopus's Garden" : STARR
5
Ruling family of old Florence : MEDICI
6
Levy on polluters, e.g. : ECOTAX
7
Play about Capote : TRU
8
Marinade alternative : RUB
9
World capital on the 60th parallel : OSLO
10
Something to kick, maybe : HABIT
11
Gives the slip to : EVADES
12
Utensils for making hash browns : RICERS
13
Invites for tea, say : ASKSIN
19
Kind of dancer : EXOTIC
21
Drive-up convenience : ATM
23
Grid org. with a 110-yard field : CFL
24
"Hello, Dolly!" singer, informally : SATCHMO
25
For grades K-12 : ELHI
29
Dory propeller : OAR
32
Crooks' patterns, to cops : MOS
34
Be litigious : SUE
36
Nicknames for 41-Acrosses : SADIES
37
Muff : ERR
38
Apply sloppily : DAUB
39
"Roger that" : IHEARYOU
40
"Horsefeathers!" : TOMMYROT
43
Hand-wringer's emotion : WOE
44
Adorn with raised designs : EMBOSS
45
Cotton planter's headache : WEEVIL
46
Dead Sea Scrolls writer : ESSENE
48
Oklahoma tribe : PAWNEE
49
Home to Henry VIII's Catherine : ARAGON
50
Pesticide banned in the '70s : DDT
53
Scatter, as seeds : STREW
55
Succeed in annoying : GETTO
57
Moore of "G.I. Jane" : DEMI
60
"Ich bin ___ Berliner" : EIN
61
Prank-pulling sort : IMP
63
Good-to-go signals : OKS

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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