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New York Times, Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Author: Lisa Loeb and Doug Peterson
Editor: Will Shortz
Lisa Loeb
TotalDebutCollabs
16/6/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.78000
Doug Peterson
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
412/20/20066/6/201722
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
2273111132
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63200

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {Q} This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Loeb. This is puzzle # 41 for Mr. Peterson. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Notepad: CELEBRITY CROSSWORD
To mark the 75th anniversary of the New York Times crossword, which debuted in 1942, we are publishing a series of puzzles co-created by famous people who solve the Times crossword, working together with regular Times puzzle contributors.
This collaboration is by the singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb, who had the #1 Billboard hit referenced in 41-Across - and altogether 11 studio albums to date - working with Doug Peterson, an employee at an accounting firm in Pasadena, Calif. This is Doug's 41st puzzle for The Times.
The celebrity collaborations will continue periodically through the year.
More information about the making of today's puzzle appears in the Times's daily crossword column (nytimes.com/column/wordplay).
Constructor notes: Meeting Lisa and working with her on this puzzle was an absolute blast. Many thanks to Will for setting it up. After a little ... more
Constructor notes:

Meeting Lisa and working with her on this puzzle was an absolute blast. Many thanks to Will for setting it up.

After a little brainstorming, we were leaning towards a theme involving music or something to do with glasses. (People who were "framed," maybe?) We couldn't resist working Lisa's signature song into the theme, so we checked out a list of #1 songs with one-word titles. (What did constructors do before Wikipedia?) We eventually came up with a fun set that spans decades of popular music. And we guarantee that at least one of these songs will give you an earworm! The best potential theme entry left on the cutting room floor could be clued as [Botching the lyrics to a 1997 #1 Mariah Carey hit?] (11 letters).

We had difficult theme entry lengths to work with, but the grid gods smiled upon us. No ugly clumps of black squares, and a great set of four long downs, the highlight being BOBBLEHEAD.

Working on the clues together was my favorite part of the collaboration. And I ordinarily hate writing the clues. I especially like what Lisa came up with for JODIE at 29-Down. Using the initial capital letter to disguise a surname is a veteran move.

Lisa's a natural. If she ever gets tired of writing songs and touring, she has a bright future as a crossword constructor.

Jeff Chen notes: Doug and I have exchanged many emails about this celeb constructor series. It was so neat hearing details about his experience with ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Doug and I have exchanged many emails about this celeb constructor series. It was so neat hearing details about his experience with Lisa, an enthusiastic solver and co-constructor who wanted to be involved in every step of the process. How awesome to be invited over to her house to work together in person!

I love that their theme (one-word famous songs within phrases, reinterpreting the phrases through wacky clues) relates to Lisa. I only recognized HAPPY off the bat — I couldn't remember exactly what Lisa's hit song was titled — but I did get a kick out of HAPPY HOLIDAYS being defined as observances around that particular song.

They had to work with terribly inconvenient themer lengths, those 13- and 14-letter entries so pesky. Note 1.) how UMBRELLA POLICY has to be put in row 4 instead of row 3, and how that squishes the themers together more than usual. No bueno! And also note 2.) that each of the themers forces at least one black square placement right off the bat. Double no bueno!

I like that Doug put together a few grid skeletons and discussed the pros and cons with Lisa, and that she helped consider both the aesthetic considerations as well as the trade-offs between snazzy and smooth fill. Doug had one layout using "Utah blocks" — imagine if ENE had been blacked out — which would have made the fill easier, but many of us constructors can't stand the visual chunkiness of so many black squares. Feels like a crutch, a blemish on the puzzle.

Doug puts a high emphasis on packing his puzzles with strong, long fill, and that was much appreciated today. BOBBLEHEAD! UPROARIOUS! ERROL FLYNN! FAIR ENOUGH! These can help hold a solver's attention if he/she doesn't quite connect with the theme. And the layout is so nice; those long downs perfectly spread out. More constructors ought to lay out their puzzles using this general approach.

A few minor ENE / ESE / ENS, along with a oof-worthy AGIN. But not bad overall, especially considering the inconvenient themer lengths.

I also liked that they worked in so many music entries/clues. I normally would balk at the crossing of ELAL / ELO in an early-week puzzle, but today it seemed fun to me. Referencing Hall & Oates, The Shangri-LAS, DELLA Reese was also nice.

Given that I had to look up half the featured songs (I'm a pop culture idiot), the theme didn't resonate well enough with me to get a POW! But I enjoyed the result of this collaboration. I hope it doesn't stop here — how cool would it be if they became a regular crossword-making DUO!

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0606 ( 24,682 )
Across Down
1. Inner parts of corn : COBS
5. Nectar source : AGAVE
10. Turn toward : FACE
14. "The ___ King" : LION
15. Hayfield worker : BALER
16. Airline that flies only six days a week : ELAL
17. Jessica of filmdom's "Fantastic Four" : ALBA
18. Duck for cover? : EIDER
19. Toy block brand : LEGO
20. Regulation regarding a 2007 #1 Rihanna hit? : UMBRELLAPOLICY
23. Jazzy Reese : DELLA
24. Bagel topper : LOX
25. Dallas-to-N.Y.C. direction : ENE
26. Jamaican spirits : RUM
29. Letters on an N.Y.C.-bound bag : JFK
30. Friend's opposite : FOE
33. Special observances for a 2014 #1 Pharrell Williams hit? : HAPPYHOLIDAYS
37. "Damn right!" : AMEN
39. Cry before "set, go!" : READY
40. Tick off : RILE
41. 1994 #1 Lisa Loeb hit played at a potluck? : STAYFORDINNER
44. Where one might chill : PAD
45. The Shangri-___ ("Leader of the Pack" group) : LAS
46. Em chasers : ENS
47. ___-friendly : ECO
50. The "O" of S O S, apocryphally : OUR
51. Important exam : FINAL
53. 1979 #1 Styx hit played for Little Red Riding Hood? : BABEINTHEWOODS
59. Go out for a while? : DOZE
60. ___ and aahed : OOHED
61. Sass, in slang : TUDE
62. Israeli arms : UZIS
63. Course reversal : UTURN
64. Feudin' with : AGIN
65. Radiate, as charm : OOZE
66. Hit home? : SIDEA
67. Females : SHES
1. Composer Debussy : CLAUDE
2. Some Texas tycoons : OILMEN
3. Toy in a souvenir shop : BOBBLEHEAD
4. Problem for a comb : SNARL
5. Adam's family member : ABEL
6. Olympic track gold medalist Devers : GAIL
7. "M*A*S*H" man : ALDA
8. Hit HBO show for Julia Louis-Dreyfus : VEEP
9. Swashbuckling leading man : ERROLFLYNN
10. ___ the Cat : FELIX
11. Trump impersonator Baldwin : ALEC
12. Hard to fool : CAGY
13. "Do Ya" rock grp. : ELO
21. Wyatt of the Old West : EARP
22. Mythical mischief-maker : LOKI
27. Really funny : UPROARIOUS
28. Mike who played filmdom's Austin Powers : MYERS
29. Foster child in "Freaky Friday" : JODIE
30. "Point taken" : FAIRENOUGH
31. Olive of cartoons : OYL
32. Japan finish? : ESE
34. At ___ rate : ANY
35. "You ___ me at 'hello'" : HAD
36. Dr. who can't write prescriptions : DRE
37. Nile menace : ASP
38. N.Y.C. subway overseer : MTA
42. Chimney vent : FLUE
43. Warning letters next to a web link : NSFW
48. Club attendant : CADDIE
49. Twins Mary-Kate and Ashley : OLSENS
50. Jabba-esque : OBESE
52. Smidgens : IOTAS
53. Classic TV clown : BOZO
54. Comic Ansari : AZIZ
55. "The Little Red Hen" refusal : NOTI
56. Heavy-landing sound : THUD
57. Not yonder : HERE
58. Bespectacled Dame of comedy : EDNA
59. Hall & Oates, for example : DUO

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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