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New York Times, Monday, July 7, 2014

Author:
Lynn Lempel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
9012/9/197912/2/20192
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664142130
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1.610912
Lynn Lempel

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 resulted ... read more

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 ... read more

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 )

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Across
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
Down
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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