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New York Times, Thursday, July 3, 2014

Author: Luke Vaughn
Editor: Will Shortz
Luke Vaughn
TotalDebutCollabs
17/3/20140
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000100
RebusCirclePangram
100

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 80, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JKQZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Vaughn NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Luke Vaughn notes: Very proud to make my debut today! When I thought of this theme I instantly loved it (I still do) and I'm glad Will liked it enough ... more
Luke Vaughn notes: Very proud to make my debut today! When I thought of this theme I instantly loved it (I still do) and I'm glad Will liked it enough to accept the puzzle despite it having 80 words and a couple sections of not-great fill. I don't like ESSENES next to NOOSES any more than the next guy (especially crossed by DSO and ONONE), but I'm somewhat okay with it because (a) I was unable to make it work with anything better; (b) I liked my clue for NOOSES; and (c) somewhere, someone is trying to cram [ASH]KENAZI into 50D.

The biggest change to my clues that Will made was taking out a lot of that sort of one-dimensional misdirection. For example, my clue for SL[ASH] was "Guns N' Roses rocker," for which the obvious answer is the 3-letter AXL. In one revision I had that at 59A and had [ASH]LEE at 60D with the clue "A Simpson sister," which would of course make the solver confidently enter the 4-letter LISA, reinforcing the incorrect L. I think that kind of misdirection is fun, but once the solver has grokked the theme, those clues might fall flat. My favorite clue that didn't make it — my favorite clue in my entire original submission, actually — was "Headed for the beach" for 62A (WASHING ASHORE). My favorite clues that did make it were 36A (PAR) and 42D (LOO).

My first passion is running, so I was happy that BOLT retained its Usain definition rather than being clued as the verb, and I was VERY happy (and surprised) that [ASH]TON was kept as Eaton (who lives in the same city as me) rather than Kutcher. I was also glad that RON's clue referenced Arrested Development, my favorite TV show.

Overall I'm not too [ASH]AMED of the final product since it's my debut. I hope to make a few more NYT-worthy puzzles and I'm sure the quality will improve with each one.

Jeff Chen notes: What a neat idea! Congrats on the debut, Luke. When I got to that central entry, I smugly sat back. And entered MOUNT RAINIER. So ... more
Jeff Chen notes: What a neat idea! Congrats on the debut, Luke. When I got to that central entry, I smugly sat back. And entered MOUNT RAINIER. So what if it didn't fit? There had to be some rebus-y shenanigans, right? Some Seattle-ite I am. I wasn't aware that MT ST HELENS spread ASH into 11 different states — fun to learn!

As with any established theme type, it's important to do something new, something different, or at least incorporate snappy themers which add zing. Art must evolve or it dies. And I like what Luke has done here. Instead of just saying "Why don't I do a rebus with ASH squares?" he uses that fact about spreading ASH into 11 different states as a rationale. I like that step to go above and beyond. It would have been really cool if the eleven states had been incorporated somehow. Perhaps if 1A had been something like (WA)LTER and 1D (ASH)CROFT — a two-way rebus? Those extra layers are tough to incorporate, but how cool would that have been?

The grid did feel a bit restricted to me, so it wasn't a surprise to find out it was an 80-worder. I didn't mind that so much since there were still a lot of long answers, but the abundance of three-letter answers (25) did make it feel a bit choppy for me. Will typically doesn't allow more than 22-ish three-letter words in a puzzle, and for good reason. Each three-letter word typically has been used so much that it's tough to come up with strong clues for them (that haven't been used before). And to me, so much short stuff brings a feeling of inelegance, both by making a puzzle look constricted and producing a choppy solve where you have to switch from word to word more quickly. Subjective, of course.

A couple of rough spots, not surprising given the 13-letter central answer plus eleven instances of ASH. Even six-ish rebus squares can be difficult, so having eleven is quite the challenge, especially when you consider you can't duplicated answers (if you have ASHEN, you can't use ASHES). The NW and SE corners are where I'd expect to see some difficulty (considering they're the biggest chunks of open white space), and there are some chunky bits. By fixing ASHCROFT, ASHAMED, and TEXAS HOLD EM (great entry!) into place, you've constrained three sides of that subspace. Tough to fill cleanly from there, and OON / FLIC / AREOLE are not a great trio. I wonder if moving that first ASH square to the start of 5D would have been better (ASHRAM, A SHARP, etc.)? Leaving that long 1D unconstrained might have given better flexibility in filling that tough region.

Finally, some great clues. Luke's already pointed out the clever clue for NOOSES and LOO — bravo, sir! I also liked the one for EVEL, which had me thinking about Olympic long jumping.

Congrats again, and I hope to see more from Luke! BTW, Will recently put out a note that he's in greatest need of Sunday-size puzzles and non-rebus Thursdays.

1
ASH
2
A
3
M
4
E
5
D
6
A
7
R
8
C
9
S
10
M
11
S
12
G
13
S
14
C
R
A
V
E
15
B
O
L
T
16
O
P
E
L
17
R
E
N
E
E
18
O
N
ASH
O
19
R
T
L
E
ASH
20
O
O
N
21
P
22
D
A
23
R
E
H
ASH
24
F
L
I
25
C
26
E
R
27
R
28
M
O
S
D
29
E
30
F
31
T
E
X
ASH
32
O
L
D
E
33
M
34
O
R
O
35
O
W
E
36
P
A
37
R
38
T
W
I
X
39
M
40
O
U
N
T
41
S
T
H
E
42
L
E
N
S
43
W
E
P
T
44
E
M
I
45
L
O
L
46
E
T
A
47
ASH
L
48
E
Y
O
L
49
S
50
E
51
N
52
T
H
R
53
ASH
54
E
55
S
56
E
N
O
57
S
O
S
O
58
T
A
R
T
59
G
N
60
ASH
61
D
S
O
62
W
63
ASH
I
N
G
ASH
64
O
65
R
E
66
T
67
R
ASH
E
S
68
V
E
S
T
69
E
V
E
L
70
O
N
O
N
E
71
A
N
T
I
72
D
A
D
S
73
N
A
P
E
S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0703 ( 23,613 )
Across Down
1. Sheepish : ASHAMED
6. Compass drawings : ARCS
10. Secretaries may collect them: Abbr. : MSGS
14. Jones for : CRAVE
15. Aptly named Olympics star : BOLT
16. Maker of the Insignia : OPEL
17. Woman's name with an accent : RENEE
18. Under tight control : ONASHORTLEASH
20. Suffix with bass : OON
21. Purse or pocket item, briefly : PDA
23. Go over and over : REHASH
24. French cop : FLIC
26. Go off : ERR
28. Half of hip-hop's Black Star : MOSDEF
31. Game in 2006's "Casino Royale" : TEXASHOLDEM
34. Treasure of the Sierra Madre : ORO
35. Must give : OWE
36. It's not unusual : PAR
38. "Two for me. None for you" candy : TWIX
39. It left parts of itself in 11 states in 1980 : MOUNTSTHELENS
43. Had pity (for) : WEPT
44. One of the music industry's former Big Four : EMI
45. [Ha!] : LOL
46. Info for an airport car service, briefly : ETA
47. "It Takes Two" co-star : ASHLEYOLSEN
52. Licks : THRASHES
56. "Here Come the Warm Jets" musician : ENO
57. All right : SOSO
58. Like limeade : TART
59. Grind : GNASH
61. Brit. military decoration : DSO
62. Like seashells at high tide : WASHINGASHORE
66. Bad-mouths : TRASHES
68. Three-piece piece : VEST
69. First name in long jumping : EVEL
70. Two ___ (double-teaming situation) : ONONE
71. Pro competitor : ANTI
72. Pops : DADS
73. What locks may cover : NAPES
1. Early 2000s attorney general : ASHCROFT
2. Anatomical ring : AREOLE
3. Detective of 1960s-'70s TV : MANNIX
4. Female rapper with the 2002 hit "Gangsta Lovin'" : EVE
5. Thought-provoking : DEEP
6. On : ABOARD
7. Howard who narrated "Arrested Development" : RON
8. Not go together at all : CLASH
9. Attack en masse : STORM
10. Ones woolgathering? : MOTHS
11. Landing for many an Apollo mission : SPLASHDOWN
12. "Who'da thunk it?!" : GEE
13. / : SLASH
19. U.S. truck maker until the early '50s : REO
22. X : DELETE
25. Leave the casino, say : CASHOUT
27. Cold-blooded sort : REPTILE
29. Dwarf planet beyond Pluto : ERIS
30. Hottie : FOX
32. Keep : OWN
33. Start of a tile game : MAH
37. Need for support : RELYON
38. Enlightens : TELLS
39. Kind of lab : METH
40. Illusion creator : OPARTIST
41. Chart-topper : SMASH
42. Throne room at Buckingham Palace : LOO
43. Like April, typically : WET
48. Co-author of "The Communist Manifesto" : ENGELS
49. Place to get a malted : SODASHOP
50. Early Semite : ESSENE
51. Deadly constrictors : NOOSES
53. One-named singer with the 2003 hit "Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)" : ASHANTI
54. Fraction of a watt-hour : ERG
55. Hidden (away) : STASHED
60. Olympic decathlon gold medalist ___ Eaton : ASHTON
62. Home of Marshall Univ. : WVA
63. Colorless : ASHEN
64. Eggs : OVA
65. Sunburned : RED
67. Code carrier, sometimes : RNA

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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