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New York Times, Thursday, May 4, 2017

Author:
Loren Muse Smith and Tracy Gray
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
311/28/20135/4/20173
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.68000
Loren Muse Smith
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
259/8/20104/8/20196
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6345610
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61441
Tracy Gray

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 83, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 3 for Ms. Smith. This is puzzle # 21 for Ms. Gray. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
LOREN: A while back, Tracy and I connected on Facebook about the ACPT. When the conversation turned to the inevitable 'You working on any ... read more

LOREN: A while back, Tracy and I connected on Facebook about the ACPT. When the conversation turned to the inevitable "You working on any puzzles right now?" we discovered that both of us had been kicking around the idea for an ICE rebus. I was thrilled when she suggested we combine our efforts because I don't have the construction chops to design a rebus grid on my own.

Any grid, actually. My MO is to think of a theme, decide on my theme entries, and head straight to Crossword Compiler. If Compiler doesn't offer any ready-made grids that work, I ditch the whole idea and go take a nap.

So Tracy and I came up with possible themers, and then she flat went to work. And work. And work. No telling how many grids she came up with. At one point I think "we" just decided it'd be too hard. Then a few months later boom – she emailed with this grid, and I was so impressed, I immediately got up from a nap to help with the tweaking and cluing.

I like the idea for this theme because a word "written" in a black square is unexpected and hard to see, just like that patch of BLACK ICE we've all wiped out on.

It was a pleasure to work with Tracy, a talented, inventive, resolute constructor.

TRACY: Many thanks to Loren for coming up with the concept and spot-on revealer for this puzzle! I loved the idea so much that I couldn't wait to get started on a grid (Nov. 2015)…

The problems started with the revealer BLACK ICE being 8 letters and not working in the center row of a 15x grid. It also didn't work on row 13 in the lower SE corner due to its symmetrical theme entry containing a black ice square on row 3 in the upper NW corner. So, I decided to put BLACK smack dab in the middle of the puzzle with ICE directly below it. This led to the B and the K of BLACK as unchecked letters, but I thought Will might allow it. However, as much as I liked the looks of this quirky grid, I just couldn't get good fill with 4 pairs of crossing hidden ICE theme entries, so we decided to give it a rest for awhile.

Fast forward to Nov. 2016…a year after our initial conversation and 8 grids later, I found that a simple change to a 16 x 15 grid appeared to solve all of our problems. I woke Loren up from her long nap with a surprise "COMPLETED BLACK ICE PUZZLE!" email so that she could work her Linguistics Major magic on the tweaking of fill words and cluing.

Thanks again, Loren – it was fun working with you!

Jeff Chen notes:
BLACK ICE played upon today, with ICE quasi-rebused inside four black squares. (See the grid below for a visual.) At first I thought it would ... read more

BLACK ICE played upon today, with ICE quasi-rebused inside four black squares. (See the grid below for a visual.) At first I thought it would have been better to make the BLACK ICE squares stand out somehow — perhaps having them be the only isolated black squares in the grid? — but then I remembered that the entire concept of BLACK ICE is that you can't actually see it coming. Fair enough!

Did you notice that Loren and Tracy picked theme phrases such that they didn't need to use a giveaway "[no clue]" indicator anywhere? For example, ADV(ICE) COLUMN has COLUMN show up as a normal word — plus, they clued it so it disguises the meaning (newspaper COLUMN vs. building COLUMN). I was wondering why VAN had gotten such a tough clue (VAN Cliburn, the pianist), but it all made sense when I realized that it was obfuscating the VAN in POL(ICE) VAN. Nice.

Some sizzling themers, too. MR N(ICE) GUY was my favorite, but ADV(ICE) COLUMN, SERV(ICE) DOG, POL(ICE) VAN were all big thumbs-ups in my eyes. All of them worked well, although I did have to convince myself that OFFICE TEMP was a real thing. (It is. Mostly.)

Pretty clean grid, especially considering working with four theme pairs plus a revealer ain't no joke. True, NO D(ICE) and (ICE) AGE are shorties, but still, any time you have to fill around crossing themers, it can get hairy really quick. Strong results, with just some minor ESSA and the oddly arbitrary Y SHAPE in that tough opening corner.

TEMP did give me pause, given its [Time's partner, informally] clue and its ENNIO crossing. I was iffy on Morricone's first name (so thank goodness I do a lot of crosswords!) — ANNIO / TAMP seemed plausible too. TIME and TEMP? I'm still not sure "time and temperature" flows off the tongue, but Google seems to disagree with me on this as well. Harrumph.

Nice to get a few bonuses in the fill, especially MONGOOSE, and an appropriate TEAMWORK for this pair of constructors. Well executed overall … although after much thought, my brain wanted to take the BLACK ICE concept to its extreme, with completely random spots of BLACK ICE, so that you couldn't predict where they'd show up.

Stupid brain.

1
Y
2
A
3
W
4
P
5
S
6
H
7
A
8
T
9
H
10
J
11
A
12
M
13
B
14
S
15
S
N
O
O
P
16
T
R
E
E
17
O
S
O
L
E
18
H
O
L
L
A
19
M
O
A
N
20
A
S
N
E
R
21
A
D
V
22
C
23
O
L
U
M
N
24
N
E
G
E
V
25
P
E
E
26
V
E
D
27
S
W
A
28
B
29
N
O
D
30
E
S
S
A
31
O
32
R
E
O
33
A
34
L
T
O
I
35
D
36
N
37
A
R
Y
38
R
39
A
R
E
40
S
N
O
41
O
42
L
43
D
44
B
L
A
45
C
K
I
C
E
46
E
G
G
47
F
I
R
48
L
E
N
A
49
W
A
R
50
M
51
F
L
A
52
R
E
S
53
T
54
E
A
R
55
R
56
O
57
A
58
M
59
A
G
E
60
S
61
T
A
R
62
T
63
U
N
D
R
A
64
T
B
I
L
65
L
66
A
R
M
67
I
S
T
68
D
A
Y
69
E
N
N
I
O
70
P
A
I
D
71
A
72
G
O
R
A
73
M
E
T
E
R
74
A
C
N
E
75
H
U
N
A
N
76
P
R
O
S
E
77
S
T
E
M
78
N
Y
E
T
S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0504 ( 24,649 )
Across
1
Harsh cries : YAWPS
6
Biblical verb : HATH
10
Doorway components : JAMBS
15
Meddlesome sort : SNOOP
16
Playhouse locale, perhaps : TREE
17
"___ Mio" : OSOLE
18
Shouted casual greeting : HOLLA
19
Bellyache : MOAN
20
Actor who won comedy and drama Emmys for the same role : ASNER
21
"Miss Manners," for one : ADVICECOLUMN
22
Pillar : COLUMN
24
Beersheba's region : NEGEV
25
Ticked off : PEEVED
27
Make shipshape, as a ship : SWAB
29
"Ain't gonna happen!" : NODICE
30
She, in Salerno : ESSA
31
Jell-O pudding flavor : OREO
33
"Curiously strong" mint : ALTOID
36
___ a soul : NARY
38
Like albinism : RARE
40
___-Caps (Nestlé brand) : SNO
41
White-haired : OLD
44
Winter driving hazard ... or a literal hint to four squares in this puzzle : BLACKICE
46
Béarnaise ingredient : EGG
47
Cone producer : FIR
48
Russian river to the Arctic Ocean : LENA
49
Close, in a guessing game : WARM
51
Spreads outward : FLARES
53
Wardrobe malfunction : TEAR
55
Incur cellphone charges, maybe : ROAM
59
Hit 2002 animated film : ICEAGE
60
Headliner : STAR
62
Arctic plain : TUNDRA
64
Very low-risk investment, familiarly : TBILL
66
11/11 : ARMISTICEDAY
68
"Que Sera Sera" singer, 1956 : DAY
69
Film composer Morricone : ENNIO
70
Accountant's stamp : PAID
71
Ancient Greek market : AGORA
73
One collecting money on the sidewalk? : METER
74
Something to clear up? : ACNE
75
Spicy cuisine style : HUNAN
76
Novel writing : PROSE
77
A snifter has a short one : STEM
78
Lots of disputin' from Rasputin? : NYETS
Down
1
What a dowsing rod or a slingshot has : YSHAPE
2
Jumper cable connection points : ANODES
3
They might come in packs : WOLVES
4
Patrol wagon : POLICEVAN
5
It's out of this world : SPACE
6
WWW programming code : HTML
7
Waken : AROUSE
8
Group effort : TEAMWORK
9
Salon shade : HENNA
10
"Mad Men" femme fatale : JOAN
11
"Aye," e.g. : ASSENT
12
Cobra fighter : MONGOOSE
13
Extorting from : BLEEDING
14
Helping hound : SERVICEDOG
23
Like natural gas and carbon monoxide : ODORLESS
26
Pianist Cliburn : VAN
28
They're pushed on planes : BARCARTS
32
Seacrest of "American Top 40" : RYAN
34
It might precede a pickup line : LEER
35
Frankfurter : DOG
37
Up to the task : ABLE
39
Audio equipment brand : AIWA
41
Crunch time helper, maybe : OFFICETEMP
42
Comics character who was perpetually 19 : LILABNER
43
Involve unwillingly : DRAGINTO
45
Waterfall : CATARACT
50
Generous, affable sort : MRNICEGUY
52
Counts (on) : RELIES
54
Weasel word? : ERMINE
56
Quirky sort : ODDONE
57
Dormant volcano near the Turkish/Iranian border : ARARAT
58
Ancient pyramid builders : MAYANS
61
Snacks served with cerveza : TAPAS
63
Many a Mormon : UTAHN
64
Time's partner, informally : TEMP
65
It's passed on : LORE
67
Footnote word : IDEM
72
Wise ___ : GUY

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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