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New York Times, Monday, July 20, 2015

Author:
John Westwig
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
37/20/201512/13/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0110100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.69000
John Westwig

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQX} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Westwig. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Westwig notes:
The concept for this puzzle began a rainy summer morning in 2011, vacationing with my grandparents on the Jersey Shore. We had ... read more

The concept for this puzzle began a rainy summer morning in 2011, vacationing with my grandparents on the Jersey Shore. We had Wimbledon on, and somehow my semi-somnolent brain made the connection between the initials of one of the players (Andy Murray) and my current state of grogginess. I spent most of the day brainstorming different people with the relevant ante-meridianic initials; my grandparents contributing a whole host of actors and celebrities I had never heard of. I had not constructed too many puzzles at this point, so actually filling in the grid with my theme in place was a challenge. School resumed, and I forgot about my offhand efforts. About two years later I rediscovered this puzzle as I was transferring old files over to a new computer, and despite the gut-wrenching fill it caught my eye as a puzzle I might be able to rework.

The first submission Will liked, but was worried that many of the people I had included were too obscure for the NY Times crowd. He gave me a list of alternates (helpfully all ten letters), that I had overlooked in my searches. By that time, I had started to realize that making a worthwhile puzzle was more than including an amusing theme and a few tricky clues. I urged myself throughout the revision process to included longer, spicier fill, with a minimum of bleh. I settled on the grid here, with two 8s in the NE and SW, and relatively open corners opposite. I'm still wondering if I could have done without the rather obscure CLU and overused INO, but at least the latter comes from an Ithaca-related myth…

The result you see here is perhaps the seventh or eighth revision — I hope you all enjoy!

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut — and another teenager! Great use of a revealer, interpreting MORNING PERSON as a person with the initials A and M. People ... read more

Debut — and another teenager! Great use of a revealer, interpreting MORNING PERSON as a person with the initials A and M. People initialisms are a well-worn theme type, so it's important to add an extra layer if you want to stand out. John does just that, as the MORNING -> AM - > "A. M. people" link is clever.

If only ANGELA MERKEL didn't have a name of umständlich crossword length

When you have four featured people, I personally like seeing representation in terms of male/female, ethnicity, and variety in their careers. I loved seeing AKIO MORITA, a giant in the business world, kick off the themers. Am I biased because I love being in Japan, where I blend in (until I open my mouth, that is)? Yup. I would have enjoyed seeing an African-American and a Latino perhaps, but what are you gonna do.

Without doing an exhaustive search, I can't say how easy it would be to incorporate another woman to balance things out. Sorry ALANIS MORISSETTE, your 16-letter name isn't favorable for crosswords. Chancellor of Germany ANGELA MERKEL? Twelve letters is an awkward length for a themer. AGNES MOOREHEAD, your 14 letters are also an awkward length.

Ah — ALICE MUNRO, sorry. Your literary power apparently was no match for ANDY MURRAY's serve. I still am a big fan.

With a theme based around names, I prefer seeing fewer names in the fill, as excessive proper nouns make me feel like I'm doing pub trivia instead of a crossword. I normally like ED HARRIS and Jackie ROBINSON, but perhaps with so much ELIZA, ROMERO, BRYN Mawr, AVON, FIRTH, DESADE, etc., maybe I would have preferred different long downs today.

The 10/10/13/10/10 letter themers makes for an audacious debut. I was especially impressed by John's upper left and lower right corners — big, open spaces, cleanly filled. Typically I don't mind a somewhat esoteric INO or CLU Gulager, but given how many proper names are already jam-packed in, I would have preferred different types of glue if possible — even a partial or abbr. to mix things up.

Similarly, ENZO Ferrari: I like your Z, but perhaps not today.

Nice revealer, requiring a little thought on a Monday. I like that.

Will Shortz notes:
As John indicates, we spent a lot of time working to get the best set of 10-letter names of famous people with the initials A.M. ... read more

As John indicates, we spent a lot of time working to get the best set of 10-letter names of famous people with the initials A.M. Ethnic diversity and gender balance were serious considerations, as always, but other factors are just as important.

ANNE MURRAY was on our short list for this puzzle, but we didn't consider her to be nearly as famous as ANDY MURRAY. Anne Murray's last hit was in 1981, 34 years ago, whereas Andy Murray is a current tennis player who won Wimbledon as recently at 2013. ALICE MUNRO was also considered — but for a Monday puzzle we judged Andy Murray to be the best known.

Also, as a general matter it has to be acknowledged that there are a lot more famous men than famous women. In the "Noted Personalities" section of the World Almanac, for example, men outnumber women by more than 5 to 1. So naturally themes based on famous people's names are likely to have more men than women.

My main goal in a puzzle like today's is to have a broad range of generally familiar names, and I think today's set achieves that. To expect 50/50 gender balance is unrealistic, and insisting on such a balance in every puzzle would lead to inferior work.

1
S
2
W
3
A
4
B
5
S
6
A
7
C
8
R
9
E
10
E
11
N
12
Z
13
O
14
C
A
P
R
I
15
P
H
A
T
16
D
E
A
D
17
A
K
I
O
M
18
O
R
I
T
A
19
H
U
G
E
20
M
E
E
K
21
V
O
L
T
22
F
A
T
23
P
U
C
E
24
A
N
D
Y
25
M
U
R
R
26
A
27
Y
28
S
P
E
N
29
T
30
A
R
R
I
V
E
31
I
32
F
33
I
34
M
35
A
Y
36
I
N
O
N
37
M
38
O
39
R
N
I
N
G
P
E
40
R
S
O
N
41
P
A
L
O
42
R
O
M
E
R
O
43
T
I
D
B
44
I
T
45
W
46
A
47
R
48
D
49
S
50
A
L
M
I
C
H
51
A
52
E
53
L
54
S
55
G
E
E
K
56
O
N
E
57
G
L
E
E
58
E
A
S
E
59
M
60
E
N
S
61
A
L
I
M
A
62
C
G
R
A
W
63
O
R
E
O
64
B
O
Z
O
65
L
A
U
D
E
66
B
R
Y
N
67
S
W
A
N
68
U
P
P
E
R
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0720 ( 23,995 )
Across
1
Q-Tips, e.g. : SWABS
6
Nice plot of land : ACRE
10
Automaker Ferrari : ENZO
14
Italy's Isle of ___ : CAPRI
15
Excellent, in dated slang : PHAT
16
Opposite of hopping, as a party : DEAD
17
Sony co-founder : AKIOMORITA
19
Gigantic : HUGE
20
Submissive : MEEK
21
Electric Chevy model : VOLT
22
Weight-watcher's worry : FAT
23
Purplish red : PUCE
24
2013 Wimbledon champion : ANDYMURRAY
28
Worn out : SPENT
30
Show up : ARRIVE
31
"Excuse me, but ..." : IFIMAY
36
Get ___ the ground floor : INON
37
Early riser ... or what each of 17-, 24-, 50- and 61-Across is? : MORNINGPERSON
41
___ Alto, Calif. : PALO
42
Cesar who played the Joker : ROMERO
43
Morsel : TIDBIT
45
City voting districts : WARDS
50
Longtime "Monday Night Football" sportscaster : ALMICHAELS
55
Overindulge in a brainy subject, with "out" : GEEK
56
Follower of Formula or Air Force : ONE
57
Utter happiness : GLEE
58
Comfort : EASE
59
Clothing store section : MENS
61
"Love Story" actress : ALIMACGRAW
63
Cookie with a chocolaty outside : OREO
64
Knucklehead : BOZO
65
Summa cum ___ : LAUDE
66
___ Mawr College : BRYN
67
Graceful avian swimmer : SWAN
68
Word before house or hand : UPPER
Down
1
Little rascals : SCAMPS
2
"Rise and shine!" : WAKEUP
3
Each : APIECE
4
Shattered : BROKEN
5
___ card (cellphone chip) : SIM
6
Kitchen garment : APRON
7
Parent's counterpart : CHILD
8
In bad condition : RATTY
9
Second letter after epsilon : ETA
10
"Apollo 13" co-star : EDHARRIS
11
Particle with no electric charge : NEUTRINO
12
Zig's opposite : ZAG
13
Keats wrote one to autumn : ODE
18
Eggs : OVA
22
Mink or sable : FUR
25
The second "M" of 34-Down : MAYER
26
Beauty care brand : AVON
27
Japanese currency : YEN
29
Sn, to a chemist : TIN
32
Colin who played King George VI : FIRTH
33
Rescuer of Odysseus, in myth : INO
34
Studio with a roaring lion : MGM
35
Imitate : APE
37
Post office delivery : MAIL
38
Inherited wealth : OLDMONEY
39
Jackie who broke baseball's color barrier : ROBINSON
40
One of eight on a chessboard : ROW
41
School fund-raising grp. : PTA
44
Freezer trayful : ICE
46
Feature of a May-December marriage : AGEGAP
47
Stand on two legs, as a horse : REARUP
48
"The Crimes of Love" author Marquis ___ : DESADE
49
Stick for a shish kebab : SKEWER
51
Like a lit lantern : AGLOW
52
Doolittle of fiction : ELIZA
53
Pucker-inducing fruit : LEMON
54
Caribbean, e.g. : SEA
59
Group of rioters : MOB
60
Mess up : ERR
61
Muscles that are crunched : ABS
62
Actor Gulager of "The Tall Man" : CLU

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?