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New York Times, Monday, July 7, 2014

Author: Lynn Lempel
Editor: Will Shortz
Lynn Lempel
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7912/9/19799/26/20172
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654132130
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1.610712

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQVZ} This is puzzle # 67 for Ms. Lempel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Lynn Lempel notes: I submitted this puzzle roughly eight months ago — a pretty quick turnaround these days. Any difficulty in construction ... more
Lynn Lempel notes: I submitted this puzzle roughly eight months ago — a pretty quick turnaround these days. Any difficulty in construction resulted from my attempt to fit COLOR in the sequence — but that just wasn't going to work.

I also vacillated a lot as to whether to include BEAUTY PARLOR in the grid. On the one hand, I don't necessarily like to hit solvers over the head with the theme if a revealer isn't needed; I sort of enjoy that aha moment when you suddenly realize what it is. But I also see comments so often from people who say they didn't realize what the theme was, or even that the puzzle had one. So finally, for an early-week puzzle, I decided to put it in — especially since the grid accommodated it so easily. Without those added entries the sides could have had snappier fill, but such are the compromises we have to make.

Sure, clues were changed, but the overall balance seems similar to what I submitted. One clue's demise was predictable: My clue for NPR was "Station that airs the Puzzlemaster."

Jeff Chen notes: A few months ago, I joined CrosSynergy, a syndicate of crossword constructors providing daily puzzles for the Washington Post. Bob ... more
Jeff Chen notes: A few months ago, I joined CrosSynergy, a syndicate of crossword constructors providing daily puzzles for the Washington Post. Bob Klahn, who runs the group, has been extremely helpful in getting me oriented, and Lynn (a long-time CS member) has been great as well. It's been a nice reminder to me how important it is to know your audience. I had started by aiming too hard, since that's 1.) the type of puzzle I like, and 2.) NYT-ish. It was great to get the feedback that for the WP daily solver, I was making (cluing, especially) puzzles way too tricksy. Thanks, Lynn!

Onto the puzzle. I like how Lynn casually commented how yeah, maybe she'd toss in BEAUTY / PARLOR. Typically it's difficult to do such a thing, especially in the method she used. Placing that pair of answers on the west and east sides of the puzzle constrains them quite a lot, and that can often require glue-y fill to execute. But look how beautiful that west section came out. Maybe THEIST isn't a "Monday-ish" word to some, but I'll reiterate my point about knowing your audience. A NYT reader might not be expected to know this word, but shouldn't an educated person be expected to know the word "theology"? It's not a big step from theology to THEIST. And ELISHA Cuthbert may not be someone everyone knows, but she's a costar of a pretty popular TV show ("24"). Plus, Lynn's been very careful to make the crossing answers transparent.

The east side isn't as pretty to me, as TRURO strikes me as both 1.) one of those names that either you know or you don't and 2.) a bit esoteric, especially for West Coasties like myself. That said, Lynn's been careful to make the crosses very gettable, so I don't find it unfair. Just not as elegant as the west section. Simply my opinion, of course.

I personally had a tough time grokking the theme, as the sequence WASH, CUT, SET, DRY, COMB is much more complicated than my personal system (CUT). But I liked seeing that sequence after finishing the solve. As Lynn mentioned, fun to get that a-ha moment. I unfortunately stumbled upon BEAUTY and guessed PARLOR very early on, so it didn't have quite that impact I would have liked. That's why I prefer to have revealers (if they're necessary, and here I think Lynn made a good decision since it's a Monday puzzle) toward the end of the puzzle, where you won't accidentally run into them. Fitting in BEAUTY PARLOR at the end is not easy, though, especially considering Lynn's already high theme density.

What with the very high theme density (five themers plus BEAUTY / PARLOR, it's not surprising to see a few rough spots. The center in particular struck me, what with ERGS, EPEE, and REDYE all crunched up. Perhaps I wouldn't have thought as much about it if the theme hadn't been about the BEAUTY PARLOR. As it was, I had a hitch, wondering if REDYE was a secret Easter egg or a bit of accidental themage?

Finally, I really enjoyed the clue for YARN, especially given that Monday clues tend to be straightforward by necessity. Not only is it playful, but it might subconsciously give a little lift to a solver at the beginning of a work week. I think it's fun to aim for that in generally, personally. What should crossword puzzles be, if not uplifting? As with this clue, I had a ball with Lynn's puzzle.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0707 ( 23,617 )
Across Down
1. Toot one's own horn : BRAG
5. Terrytoons' Deputy ___ : DAWG
9. Kitchen and garden vessels : POTS
13. Having X and Y chromosomes : MALE
14. Sooner State resident, informally : OKIE
15. Wood-shaping tool : LATHE
16. Tom Sawyer's bucketful : WHITEWASH
18. French ___ soup : ONION
19. Draft org. : SSS
20. Lure for bargain hunters : PRICECUT
22. Like birthday greetings sent after the fact : BELATED
26. "What time ___?" : ISIT
27. Privileged few : ELITE
28. Physicists' work units : ERGS
30. Aid for catching a mouse : TRAP
34. Prepare to shoot : AIM
35. Olympics sword : EPEE
37. Patriotic chant at the Olympics : USAUSA
39. Mac or PC hookup : USB
40. General way of thinking : MINDSET
42. "All Things Considered" network : NPR
43. Believer in God : THEIST
45. "Star Wars" sage : YODA
46. Mideast export : OIL
47. What a knitter might have a ball with? : YARN
48. Covered in frosting : ICED
50. Beach town that's home to Cape Cod's oldest lighthouse : TRURO
52. Pet's teensy tormentor : FLEA
54. Knitter's creation : SWEATER
56. Like some champagne : EXTRADRY
60. Chicago trains : ELS
61. Wilt : DROOP
62. Sweet spot in a hive : HONEYCOMB
67. Takes in, as at the box office : EARNS
68. Was in the red : OWED
69. Carpet layer's calculation : AREA
70. Vladimir's veto : NYET
71. Stratagem : PLOY
72. Obscene : LEWD
1. Parent company of Rolls-Royce : BMW
2. When tripled, pep rally cheer : RAH
3. Louisville's Muhammad ___ Center : ALI
4. Insinuates : GETSAT
5. Use a divining rod : DOWSE
6. Letters before an alias : AKA
7. Bit of smoke or hair : WISP
8. Yankee who was the first major-leaguer to have his number retired : GEHRIG
9. Leon who was Obama's first C.I.A. director : PANETTA
10. Suffix with psych- : OTIC
11. "All hail, Macbeth, ___ shalt be king hereafter!" : THOU
12. Transmitted : SENT
15. Centers of activity : LOCI
17. Holds in high regard : ESTEEMS
21. Published : ISSUED
22. With 33-Down, where to go for the ends of 16-, 20-, 40-, 56- and 62-Across : BEAUTY
23. Actress Cuthbert of "24" : ELISHA
24. Flexible, as a gymnast : LIMBER
25. Celebrity chef Paula known for Southern cuisine : DEEN
29. Change back to brunet, say : REDYE
31. Expire, as a subscription : RUNOUT
32. Have as a goal, with "to" : ASPIRE
33. See 22-Down : PARLOR
36. Felt sorry for : PITIED
38. Dignified : STATELY
41. Puts down roots? : SODS
44. Close to the stage, say : INFRONT
49. Server at a drive-in restaurant : CARHOP
51. Mischief-maker : RASCAL
53. Swimmers' back-and-forths : LAPS
55. Like an untended garden : WEEDY
56. Biblical garden : EDEN
57. Cavity detector : XRAY
58. Ripped : TORE
59. Pained cry : YOWL
63. Prefix with conservative : NEO
64. Lucky rockhound's find : ORE
65. Kitten's cry : MEW
66. Crummy : BAD

Answer summary: 1 debuted here and reused later.

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