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New York Times, Monday, May 26, 2014

Author: Dan Margolis
Editor: Will Shortz
Dan Margolis
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
35/26/20148/28/20170
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0300000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56000

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 37 Missing: {FJQXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Margolis. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Dan Margolis notes: After many attempts, I'm very pleased to see my puzzle being published in the NY Times! The first puzzle I attempted to construct ... more
Dan Margolis notes: After many attempts, I'm very pleased to see my puzzle being published in the NY Times! The first puzzle I attempted to construct years ago was on graph paper, and I had so many erasures that I tore through the paper in several spots. Much easier to use Crossword Compiler!

My inspiration for this puzzle came when I saw the term "hip hop" in a music review, and started thinking about the origin of the term. And that's when "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane came to mind and it all flowed from there. I really wanted to use "pop song" for one of the theme answers, but couldn't come up with a song with "father" or "dad" in the title that was well known enough. I have to thank my extended family for some of the others, as we sat around the Thanksgiving table bouncing around ideas and eventually I was able to come up with three other music genres.

When Will contacted me to let me know he had basically accepted it, he said that I needed to revise my clues and answers to reflect a Monday level difficulty. Much easier said than done, I have a new found respect for Monday constructors, as it's difficult not to have a few semi-tough clues in an entire puzzle. On the other hand, I'm glad my first published puzzle is a Monday, as most of my friends and family can at least take a shot at finishing it (and they should have plenty of time as Monday is a holiday).

I continue to work on other puzzles but am very relieved to no longer be a cruci-virgin!

Jeff Chen notes: Debut! I really appreciated the novel theme today, one I wouldn't usually expect from a Monday puzzle. After solving, I had to reread ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Debut! I really appreciated the novel theme today, one I wouldn't usually expect from a Monday puzzle. After solving, I had to reread the theme clues to figure out what was going on. "Hip-hop" song had nothing to do with the hip-hop genre, but referred to a WHITE RABBIT which actually hip-hops. Fun! Same went for "Rap" song leading to KNOCK ON WOOD. Rap = knock, get it? I really liked the innovation; well done Dan!

With many debut authors, we tend to get pretty straightforward constructions, with few to no longer fill entries. Not today! Dan could have easily broken up UNBROKEN or iced ICED TEA so kudos for making my Monday solve snazzier than expected. I really liked IT IS SAID and even REDCAPS — so much good stuff packed in!

It didn't come totally without a price, but the glue entries were manageable. I personally dislike partials, only random Roman numerals being worse for me. Totally a personal preference (note though that Rich Norris over at the LAT has changed his standards to a max of two partials in a 15x grid). So seeing AT ME next to IT NO wasn't great. And OLA always feels a bit wonky to me, as does the shouldn't-be-gridworthy Robert ILER. LET UP crossing SUN UP was a little inelegant, too. Some compromises, but all in all, well worth it to get so much good long fill.

Let's take a peek at the NE and SW corners, 6x3 chunks. Typically we see constructors working with 5x3 or 4x3 chunks in those areas, because they're much easier to fill. So why might Dan give himself this challenge? Well, a puzzle with four 11-letter themers must often call upon this difficult layout. Here's why: Dan spaces his themers perfectly, allowing two or three rows in between adjacent ones. But if that block of three black squares (under the OOD of KNOCK ON WOOD) was shifted to above the OOD, that NE corner would be almost sectioned off from the rest of the puzzle. A 4x3 chunk, quasi-isolated is no good, choking off a solver's feng shui. So although harder to work with, this 6x3 arrangement is much better from a grid flow standpoint.

And I appreciate that Dan took the time and care to make those big corners smooth. There's really nothing objectionable in either NE or SW, and he even gives us MACAWS in the SW. Very nice, professionally done.

Looking forward to more from Dan!

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0526 ( 23,575 )
Across Down
1. Afternoon TV's Dr. ___ : PHIL
5. Deep-sea diver's equipment : SCUBA
10. Little trickster : IMP
13. No longer in the closet, say : OUTED
15. Grandmothers, affectionately : NANAS
16. Mother of a fawn : DOE
17. "Hip-hop" song of 1967 : WHITERABBIT
19. Prospector's find : ORE
20. When a cock crows : SUNUP
21. Cock : ROOSTER
23. Shocked reaction : GASP
25. "Pay ___ mind" : ITNO
27. Super-duper : AONE
28. Pilot's announcement, briefly : ETA
29. "Rap" song of 1966 : KNOCKONWOOD
32. Mennonite group : AMISH
34. Race with batons : RELAY
35. Workers with lots of baggage : REDCAPS
38. "No, No" woman of Broadway : NANETTE
42. Residents of the Sooner State, informally : OKIES
44. Belief system : CREED
45. "Country" song of 1971 : AMERICANPIE
50. Young fellow : LAD
51. Main part of a church : NAVE
52. Winter coat material : WOOL
53. Friend in war : ALLY
54. Brewed drink often served with lemon : ICEDTEA
57. Prefix with -hedron : TETRA
59. Ending with Wolf, Bat or Super : MAN
60. "Metal" song of 1950 : SILVERBELLS
64. Thunderstruck feeling : AWE
65. "Stormy Weather" composer : ARLEN
66. Role for which 11-Down won her Oscar : ANITA
67. It was dropped at Woodstock : LSD
68. "Start over" button : RESET
69. Prefix with dynamic : AERO
1. "Wham!" : POW
2. "What's that?" : HUH
3. "According to some ..." : ITISSAID
4. Abate : LETUP
5. Suddenly become alert : SNAPTO
6. Taxi : CAB
7. Intact, as a chain : UNBROKEN
8. Scott of "Charles in Charge" : BAIO
9. Concerning : ASTO
10. "Same here" : IDOTOO
11. Rita who won an Oscar for "West Side Story" : MORENO
12. Looked hard : PEERED
14. Home for a bear : DEN
18. Destroy : RUIN
22. Fictional Tom or real-life Diane : SAWYER
23. Equipment : GEAR
24. "Look ___!" : ATME
26. Big maker of A.T.M.'s : NCR
29. Military uniform material : KHAKI
30. Suffix with pay or schnozz : OLA
31. F.D.R. veep John ___ Garner : NANCE
33. Crossed home plate, say : SCORED
36. Photo : PIC
37. Coastal defenses against flooding : SEAWALLS
39. Fib : TELLALIE
40. Blue-green : TEAL
41. Water whirl : EDDY
43. ___-Caps (candy) : SNO
45. Neither vegetable nor mineral : ANIMAL
46. Easily tamed tropical birds : MACAWS
47. Made level : EVENED
48. Packing a wallop : POTENT
49. Robert of "The Sopranos" : ILER
53. Madison Square Garden, e.g. : ARENA
55. Ivan or Nicholas : TSAR
56. Dublin's land : EIRE
58. TV schedule abbr. : TBA
61. Peace sign, for one : VEE
62. Piece of mail: Abbr. : LTR
63. ___ Paulo, Brazil : SAO

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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