It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.

New York Times, Thursday, July 7, 2016

Author:
Joel Elkins and Andrea Carla Michaels
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
17/7/20161
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000100
RebusCirclePangram
100
Joel Elkins
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
626/12/200012/17/201834
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
64392200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63217
Andrea Carla Michaels

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Elkins. This is puzzle # 53 for Ms. Michaels. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
JOEL: Andrea (the 'Queen of Mondays') and I know each other from LA Scrabble before she moved to NoCal. At the California Open in SF ... read more

JOEL: Andrea (the "Queen of Mondays") and I know each other from LA Scrabble before she moved to NoCal. At the California Open in SF in late 2014 she was mentioning to me that despite her many published puzzles, she wouldn't know how to even begin constructing a rebus. Somehow the idea of "TSA" came up and I told her I'd take a stab at doing a grid.

I sent her about 30 potential theme answers, of which she told me which ones she really liked (PATSAJAK, MORTSAHL, LIGHTSABER, YOUDONTSAY, WARTSANDALL, THATSAMORE). I liked "CROSS_CHECK" for the reveal, and she preferred "CHECKPOINTS". I deferred, and in retrospect, I think that was the better choice. We obviously couldn't get in everything we wanted (sorry, Pat), but I tried to get in most. We worked on the fill and cluing over a few dozen emails.

I have never had a puzzle published before (other than some I did for a throw-away years ago) and so I am thrilled to be able to check this off my bucket list. And in the NYT to boot! (Sort of like debuting on Broadway!) Only need about 50 more to catch up to Andrea...

ACME: Joel is a brilliant Scrabble player, a natural puzzle constructor, and a fun collaborator. It's his debut ... and a mini-one for me as I've never even been a part of a rebus. I loved this, WARTSANDALL! It's also my first puzzle in the NYT this year, and a Thursday no less! Wha?!

In re-solving it 18 months later, I recognized almost nothing, so it's been heavily edited or I've lost my memory. Perhaps a bit of both!

(Actually I found the original submission... grid totally intact, 1/3 of clues edited. I believe I came up with the original TSA for the rebus. Joel dug up at least 30 theme possibilities, which we whittled down to 8 and added the reveal. Joel built the grid where we put in 8s where the rebuses were to go.)

During the many iterations to smooth out the fill, we added the square in the upper NE and lower SW, and that did wonders.

Touches that mean something to me personally include: ELYSE (which is my sister's name), MORTSAHL, a role model when I began my career as a topical quasi-political standup back in the day (he got his start and is still going strong here in SF), and the ATTITUDE / Miley Cyrus clue that we didn't write, but I totally approve of!

Jeff Chen notes:
Congrats on the debut, Joel! TSA rebus, with CHECKPOINTS helping to describe the idea. Some really nice phrases hiding TSA: THAT'S ... read more

Congrats on the debut, Joel!

TSA rebus, with CHECKPOINTS helping to describe the idea. Some really nice phrases hiding TSA: THAT'S AMORE, LIGHTSABERS, WARTS AND ALL, YOU DON'T SAY. All four are ones I'd happily seed a themeless corner with — very well done. I also liked the crossing answers. MORT SAHL, SET SAIL aren't super exciting to me, but Joel and Acme could have easily resorted to neutral material like GETS AT.

My favorite rebuses are ones where there's a strong rationale why letters should be crammed into one box. CHECKPOINTS doesn't totally do that. "Points" does hint at a single box, but it would have been so nice to get something referencing how cramped and crammed those TSA checkpoints always are.

That central area is so choked-off from the rest of the puzzle. It makes constructing easier, since you can section off smaller areas and work on them independently, but it makes for not very good grid flow as a solver. Today however, it gave me an idea — how cool would it have been if those TSA CHECKPOINTS had been at the four squares choking off the middle! Something like the I of MOTIVE, the O of CONTRITE, etc.

Those big NE and SW corners are so tough to fill, even without constraints. Throw in a pair of crossing answers and they become even tougher. I have no doubt that the black squares at the very NE / SW corners helped a lot. Still, while I like entries like IF THAT and GENERALS, the plural TESSAS, tough French word TRENTE, and the odd AMEBA spelling made me hitch. Same goes with the really neat ARAWAK at the price of TOTALER (feels made up with that -ER), deep chemistry KETONE, and the partial-ish AT NINE.

Similar trade-offs occur with the NW and SE corners. They're not nearly as hard to fill given their lesser white space, but they're still not easy. Love KAHUNA. EVADER, not so much (especially since there's already a TOTALER).

But overall, those beautiful phrases hiding TSA made for an entertaining solve.

1
I
2
K
3
E
4
S
5
E
6
C
7
O
8
I
9
M
10
A
11
G
12
E
13
N
A
V
E
14
G
U
N
15
F
O
M
E
N
16
T
17
T
H
A
TSA
18
M
O
R
E
19
T
R
E
N
T
E
20
A
U
D
I
O
21
L
I
22
G
H
TSA
B
E
R
S
23
K
N
E
L
T
24
S
E
A
H
A
R
E
S
25
E
A
R
26
I
27
D
28
I
29
S
T
L
30
A
A
A
31
O
V
E
N
32
S
33
B
L
T
S
34
C
H
E
C
K
P
35
O
36
I
37
N
T
S
38
A
39
T
O
M
40
A
R
R
O
W
41
R
O
N
42
A
43
S
44
P
45
B
E
D
46
E
47
T
48
C
49
A
T
T
50
I
T
U
D
51
E
52
D
53
I
R
E
R
54
W
A
R
TSA
N
D
A
L
55
L
56
E
L
E
N
A
57
A
L
I
B
I
S
58
Y
O
59
U
D
O
N
TSA
Y
60
K
E
T
O
N
E
61
S
O
S
62
S
O
L
O
63
R
E
Y
E
S
64
E
K
E
65
E
W
E
N
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0707 ( 24,348 )
Across
1. "___ Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World" (2012 book) : IKES
5. Prefix with aware or catastrophe : ECO
8. It may be a reflection : IMAGE
13. What the transept transects : NAVE
14. Barrel holder : GUN
15. Whip up : FOMENT
17. Dean Martin classic : THATSAMORE
19. Twice quinze : TRENTE
20. Appliance store department : AUDIO
21. Jedi defenses : LIGHTSABERS
23. Prepared for dubbing : KNELT
24. Mollusks once known as lepus marinus : SEAHARES
25. Q-Tip target : EAR
26. ___ Amin, Oscar-winning role for Forest Whitaker : IDI
29. N.L. Central team: Abbr. : STL
30. It might give you a lift, briefly : AAA
31. A lot of dough can go into them : OVENS
33. Short-order orders : BLTS
34. Border stops ... or a hint to four squares in this puzzle : CHECKPOINTS
38. Focus of quantum mechanics : ATOM
40. "I'm With Stupid" shirt feature : ARROW
41. Burgundy of "Anchorman" : RON
42. Venomous viper : ASP
45. Resting place : BED
46. Series finale? : ETC
49. "Pink isn't just a color, it's an ___!": Miley Cyrus : ATTITUDE
52. Even more calamitous : DIRER
54. Everything, the good with the bad : WARTSANDALL
56. ___ Gilbert, protagonist of "The Vampire Diaries" : ELENA
57. Outs : ALIBIS
58. "Really?!" : YOUDONTSAY
60. Camphor or fructose : KETONE
61. Line in the sand? : SOS
62. Go it alone : SOLO
63. California's Point ___ National Seashore : REYES
64. Scratch (out) : EKE
65. Actor Bremner of "Trainspotting" and "Black Hawk Down" : EWEN
Down
1. Kind of valve : INTAKE
2. Bigwig : KAHUNA
3. Dodger : EVADER
4. Go to sea : SETSAIL
5. Swellheadedness : EGO
6. Headlock? : CURL
7. "___ the loneliest number" (Three Dog Night lyric) : ONEIS
8. At most : IFTHAT
9. Political comic who once had a one-man show on Broadway : MORTSAHL
10. Low life? : AMEBA
11. Warheads? : GENERALS
12. Implore : ENTREAT
16. Characters in "Romola" and "The Gondoliers" : TESSAS
18. Issue in a murder trial : MOTIVE
22. Some TVs : GES
27. Main mo. in so-called "Oscar season" : DEC
28. Tats : INK
31. Volt per ampere : OHM
32. Luxe spot : SPA
33. Incidentally, in a txt msg : BTW
34. Saying "Sorry," say : CONTRITE
35. Spherical symbol of authority : ORB
36. Cross state : IRE
37. Emulated a bobblehead : NODDED
38. Onetime Caribbean native : ARAWAK
39. Summer : TOTALER
42. When the morning shift might start : ATNINE
43. Lathers up : SUDSES
44. Something that may make people go "ick," for short : PDA
46. Before this moment, in poetry : ERENOW
47. Outside clearance event : TENTSALE
48. Colorer : CRAYON
50. Delivery room announcement : ITSABOY
51. "Family Ties" mom : ELYSE
53. "How can ___?" : ILOSE
55. Gander : LOOK
59. Employ, as "the Force" : USE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?