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New York Times, Monday, July 20, 2015

Author: John Westwig
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
27/20/20155/3/20160
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0110000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.72000
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

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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 ... more
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 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. ... more
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 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. ... more
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. 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.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0720 ( 23,995 )
Across Down
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
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.

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