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New York Times, Thursday, June 11, 2015

Author: Lewis E. Rothlein
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
36/11/20157/13/20170
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1.63000
Lewis Rothlein

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Rothlein. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Lewis Rothlein notes: Will asked me to revise this puzzle twice. The first time was to clean up some ugly fill, but the only way I could rework the ... more
Lewis Rothlein notes:

Will asked me to revise this puzzle twice. The first time was to clean up some ugly fill, but the only way I could rework the words was to change a theme answer to one with less pop (LARGEMOUTH to AVERAGEMAN). Will liked the cleaner grid, but asked that I keep LARGEMOUTH in, and, after I added two blocks, I was able to do it. Through such attention to detail, Will in effect polished the puzzle while allowing me to do all the work myself, which I greatly appreciated.

I came up with this theme after solving a puzzle with an embedded-word theme and seeing if I could think of a new one. I was thinking Wednesday for this puzzle, because the theme didn't seem tricky enough for Thursday. But I'm guessing the shape of the grid swayed Will toward the more difficult day. He said he would toughen up some of the clues, and now I think it fits Thursday quite nicely, even if the theme isn't so out-of-the-box.

An example of a toughened clue was that for ANTS. Mine was the tepid "Wingless creatures related to wasps," and it became the crisp "Mymecophobe's fear." While most of my clues were basically kept intact, the clue changes made the puzzle better. My first priority is to create an enjoyable solving experience, and I hope this was just that!

I'm a former journalist, schoolteacher, and business owner, and now I teach yoga. Crosswords are a hobby. I am thrilled at having my NYT debut!

Jeff Chen notes: Debut! Neat arrangement of six themers, five of which contain a HIDDEN GEM, i.e. the word GEM is split across two words. Cool to see ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Debut! Neat arrangement of six themers, five of which contain a HIDDEN GEM, i.e. the word GEM is split across two words. Cool to see a rare grid pattern, with two of the theme answers flipped vertically and incorporated into a triple-stack of nine-letter words. Some great material in those stacks, INDULGE ME / TEA LEAVES / LAY TO REST = a great start to the puzzle.

Who knew the Bluesmobile was a DODGE MONACO? Cool trivia.

Lewis uses a Z-pattern in his grid, which helps immensely in filling. Note how you can almost isolate the lower right corner, not having to worry much about how it connects into the rest of the grid.

The drawback is that it's all too easy for solvers to get stuck in one of the corners. Even flipping two pairs of squares in the stairstep — shifting the block after EVENS to the left, and the block after MESA to the right — would have helped puzzle flow immensely. Would have made construction much harder, though.

Speaking of hard constructions, LARGE MOUTH over DODGE MONACO is a rough arrangement. You have to find two words at 21-A and 22-A that facilitate smooth fill in that region — very tough. Not surprising to require DEREG / ERG and CAPT / ETHNO to hold those sections together. As much as I like low-word-count puzzles, breaking up BEDMATE might have helped smooth things out.

Loved the clue for EARS: [Ones catching some waves] referring to sound waves. Beautiful!

Will has mentioned that all he's looking for in a Thursday puzzle is something that's harder than a Wednesday. I can see where he's coming from, but I personally like to have a bigger bang for my buck, an a-ha moment that's worthy of the struggle in battling through the grid. Even having different GEMs hidden in the themers — OPAL, ONYX, RUBY, whatever — would have been a nice touch toward Thursday-worthy-ness.

Incredibly difficult to come up with something innovative every Thursday, but I think that's what many people have come to expect.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0611 ( 23,956 )
Across Down
1. "___ pass" : ITLL
5. Turn over : CEDE
9. Wound application : ALOE
13. Spring's counterpart : NEAP
14. Harsh : ACERB
16. One with special quarters: Abbr. : CAPT
17. Standard work shifts : DAYS
18. *Kind of bass : LARGEMOUTH
20. Last: Abbr. : ULT
21. Man-eater : OGRE
22. "Bewitched" husband : DARRIN
23. One of 13 popes : LEO
24. *Model of the Blues Brothers' Bluesmobile : DODGEMONACO
26. ___ City, Long Island : GARDEN
28. Ones catching some waves : EARS
29. Ties : EVENS
30. Series starter : PARTI
32. "Harrumph!" : BAH
35. Southwest hikers' destination : MESA
36. Cartoonist Bushmiller who created "Nancy" : ERNIE
37. "The Burning Giraffe," e.g. : DALI
38. Maximum ending? : EST
39. Comment starting "By the way ..." : ASIDE
40. Sphere : WORLD
41. Myrmecophobe's fear : ANTS
42. Sullied : MARRED
43. *Opportunity for revenge : GRUDGEMATCH
48. "___ been had!" : IVE
49. Consignment shop deal : RESALE
50. Dips : SAGS
51. Ungodliness : SIN
52. *Publicist, e.g. : IMAGEMAKER
54. Out of date? : STAG
55. One getting the message? : PAGE
56. Old Testament kingdom : SHEBA
57. Celebrate : FETE
58. Union busters? : EXES
59. Without interruption, after "in" : AROW
60. U.S. city that's an anagram of a world capital : OREM
1. *"If I may ..." : INDULGEME
2. Reading material for the future? : TEALEAVES
3. Bury : LAYTOREST
4. Audiophile's collection : LPS
5. Brand of bath beads : CALGON
6. Gift with a GIF, maybe : ECARD
7. Libertarian's aim, for short : DEREG
8. Physics unit : ERG
9. Squirrel's cache : ACORNS
10. Classic 1944 Otto Preminger film noir : LAURA
11. Vision-related : OPTIC
12. Prefix with biology : ETHNO
15. Spouse or lover : BEDMATE
19. Official New Zealand language besides English : MAORI
21. They may have kings as subjects : ODES
25. Unsettling, say : EERIE
27. Cold case solver, maybe : DNA
30. Light splitter : PRISM
31. Plus : AND
32. Wig wearer : BARRISTER
33. Ease : ALLEVIATE
34. Well-kept secret ... or a hint to the answer to each starred clue : HIDDENGEM
36. Treasures : ESTEEMS
37. Palme ___ (top prize at Cannes) : DOR
39. Take : ANGLE
40. Muted trumpet sounds : WAHS
41. Bits of wisdom : ADAGES
42. Hill's partner in publishing : MCGRAW
43. Beef : GRIPE
44. Big name in real estate : REMAX
45. Consumption : USAGE
46. Poser : ASKER
47. Exercise with a portmanteau name : TAEBO
53. Sudden understanding : AHA
54. Calif. air hub : SFO

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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