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New York Times, Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Author:
Jim Quinlan
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
25/27/20153/8/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0001100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59000
Jim Quinlan

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Quinlan. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jim Quinlan notes:
This theme came about while I was on lunch duty (one of the less glamorous aspects of teaching in a middle school). While daydreaming, ... read more

This theme came about while I was on lunch duty (one of the less glamorous aspects of teaching in a middle school). While daydreaming, I decided I wanted to give crossword construction a shot and was determined to create a theme before the lunch period was over. Immediately thereafter, a student playfully accused another of stealing her friend's bag of chips: "Katie did it!" she said. Katie defended herself in the third person: "No! Katie didn't!" Beginner's luck for me. It's proven much more difficult since to devise solid themes.

Nancy Salomon was gracious enough to mentor me through the process of construction. I am so grateful for her sharing her expertise and for the incredible amount of time she has spent communicating with me.

Will Shortz notes:
Is today's theme consistent? It depends on how you interpret it. By spelling, no ... but phonetically, yes, it works. KATYDIDN'T, ... read more

Is today's theme consistent? It depends on how you interpret it. By spelling, no ... but phonetically, yes, it works.

KATYDIDN'T, MATHISN'T and BUSHWASN'T are pretty tight. These all add -N'T to familiar words/names to turn a verb at the end into a negative contraction. So far so good.

CATSCAN'T is slightly different, but not in a bad way. Because CAN already ends in an N, you only need to add -'T to complete the contraction. Probably not many solvers will be bothered by that.

The sticky example is ANIMUSTN'T, which adds -TN'T. That would be a deal-breaker — reason for instant rejection — if the theme's consistency were judged solely by spelling. But since the first T of ANIMUSTN'T is silent, this theme example works likes the others when said out loud. So the whole theme is consistent in that way.

Some solvers may object to the puzzle's loose phonetics. Technically, MATHIS ends in an "s" sound, which turns into a "z" sound in ISN'T. Also, the "a" sounds in BUSHWAS ("ah") and WASN'T ("uh") aren't quite the same. You have to say these two examples quickly for them to work.

I'm willing to do that for such a fresh, amusing, and otherwise super-specific theme.

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut! Jim was nice enough to give me a ride back to the airport after the ACPT, and it's great to see his name on the byline today. ... read more

Debut! Jim was nice enough to give me a ride back to the airport after the ACPT, and it's great to see his name on the byline today. He mentioned to me that it was tricky to think up enough themers for this one — once you use DID / DIDN'T, you can't really use it again.

Several of the themers amused me: MATHIS to MATH ISNT / BUSHWAS (synonym of "hooeys") to BUSH WASN'T / KATYDID to KATY DIDN'T all felt consistent. And while CAT SCAN to CATS CANT was different in it parsing, it had a fun transformation.

I spent a while trying to figure out ANIMUSTNT, though — it was a relief to read Will's note after I pondered this question. I get the wacky result of ANI MUSTNT, but its base phrase eluded me. For consistency sake, it had to be ANIMUST, right? But while ANIMIST and ANIMUS are regular words, ANIMUST was some bushwa. So, I think it must be an inconsistent themer, derived from ANIMUST. Er, ANIMUS.

After considering it further, it does fit if it's a looser sound transmogrification, as Will mentioned. It still feels awfully loose, though.

You'd think the stupid Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam would have this painting, wouldn't you?

Tricky grid for one's debut. BUSHWASNT is one of those awkward lengths for a middle answer — 9, 11, or 13 are all difficult because they split the sides of the grid into upper and lower halves — but Jim does well to incorporate quite a bit of nice fill into those seven-letter slots. TINY TIM and SASHIMI are an especially nice pair. VAN GOGH is a strong one too, although it curiously missed the perfect opportunity to cross-reference to an crossing answer: his famous painting, The STARRY Night.

As much as I liked all those seven-letter entries, perhaps adding a pair of black squares somewhere to increase the word count to 78 and smooth things out would have been better. With so many three-letter words (23), it's important to choose mostly innocuous ones, more on the end of BET and OAR vs. CDL and OLA.

So, aside from the inconsistent themer (I'd love to hear from someone if an ANIMUST is a real thing!), a fun solving experience with the mid-length fill helping to balance out some of the compromises in the short fill.

1
O
2
B
3
A
4
M
5
A
6
T
7
R
8
A
9
D
10
E
11
T
12
V
13
A
14
V
I
D
A
L
15
W
A
K
E
D
16
O
A
R
17
A
G
O
R
A
18
A
N
I
M
U
19
S
T
N
T
20
E
P
I
21
M
I
A
M
I
22
P
E
G
23
C
A
T
S
24
C
A
N
T
25
S
26
K
I
B
O
27
B
28
D
R
E
A
R
Y
29
P
E
E
R
A
G
E
30
L
S
D
31
O
A
32
S
33
E
S
34
N
I
G
H
T
35
B
U
S
H
W
A
36
S
N
T
37
O
38
C
39
T
E
T
40
O
E
S
T
E
41
S
42
T
43
A
44
L
O
W
N
O
45
T
E
46
A
T
47
R
A
I
N
48
A
L
I
G
N
S
49
M
50
A
T
H
I
S
N
T
51
G
S
A
52
H
53
O
O
F
S
54
T
H
Y
55
K
A
T
Y
56
D
I
D
N
T
57
Q
U
I
T
58
S
59
I
T
E
60
T
R
I
T
E
61
T
A
M
I
L
62
X
E
D
63
S
T
E
E
R
64
S
L
I
M
Y
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0527 ( 23,941 )
Across
1
Fourth U.S. president to win a Nobel Peace Prize : OBAMA
6
Fantasy league deal : TRADE
11
F.D.R. energy initiative : TVA
14
Gore who wrote "Lincoln" : VIDAL
15
Rose from slumber, old-style : WAKED
16
Scull need : OAR
17
Ancient marketplace : AGORA
18
Singer DiFranco should heed a warning : ANIMUSTNT
20
Prefix with center : EPI
21
Little Havana locale : MIAMI
22
Cribbage board item : PEG
23
Jazz players are incapable : CATSCANT
25
Winter recreation vehicle : SKIBOB
28
Like rainy weather, say : DREARY
29
Dukes, earls, etc. : PEERAGE
30
Drug ingested in "Easy Rider" : LSD
31
Saharan stopovers : OASES
34
Busy time for bats : NIGHT
35
W. never existed : BUSHWASNT
37
Little big band, maybe : OCTET
40
Sunset dirección : OESTE
41
London's Paddington, e.g.: Abbr. : STA
44
Something a tuba hits : LOWNOTE
46
Transport in an Ellington tune : ATRAIN
48
Trues up : ALIGNS
49
Calculus disappears : MATHISNT
51
Federal procurement agcy. : GSA
52
Tap-dances, informally : HOOFS
54
Lord's Prayer possessive : THY
55
Singer Perry opted out : KATYDIDNT
57
Calls it a day : QUITS
59
Ore suffix : ITE
60
Hardly original : TRITE
61
Language of Sri Lanka : TAMIL
62
Marked wrong : XED
63
Sometimes-branded animal : STEER
64
Unethical, informally : SLIMY
Down
1
Eggs in labs : OVA
2
1-Across caricature feature : BIGEARS
3
Took as one's own : ADOPTED
4
Tomei of "The Wrestler" : MARISA
5
Eggs ___ Suisse : ALA
6
Who wrote "When in doubt, tell the truth" : TWAIN
7
Charged headlong : RANAT
8
Tamiroff of "Anastasia" : AKIM
9
Curtains, so to speak : DEMISE
10
URL ender : EDU
11
Gift to a donor, maybe : TOTEBAG
12
Post-Impressionist with several self-portraits : VANGOGH
13
Much of what is auctioned at Sotheby's : ART
19
Airline with ultralow fares : SPIRIT
21
Mexican pyramid builders : MAYAS
23
Mid-fifth century year : CDL
24
Salad bar cube : CROUTON
26
Clothing designer Cole : KENNETH
27
"23 red," e.g., at a casino : BET
29
Anti-D.U.I. ads, e.g. : PSAS
32
Nursery rhyme dwelling : SHOE
33
Female producer of lanolin : EWE
35
Johnson & Johnson pain soother : BENGAY
36
Fantasy league concerns : STATS
37
Hello, in Rio : OLA
38
Ipana competitor, once : COLGATE
39
Injured, as an ankle : TWISTED
41
Fare often served with wasabi : SASHIMI
42
Boy in a Scrooge vision : TINYTIM
43
"A Bug's Life" extra : ANT
45
Jeans go-with, often : TSHIRT
47
Everyday routine : RITUAL
49
Street hustler's game : MONTE
50
In pursuit of : AFTER
53
Often-punted comics character : ODIE
55
"Kid-tested" cereal : KIX
56
Drying-out woe, for short : DTS
57
Ice cream amts. : QTS
58
Like some grins : SLY

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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