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New York Times, Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Author:
Sande Milton and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
25/30/20188/1/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0002000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.66000
Sande Milton
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
997/5/20106/13/201960
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2578172598
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.636212
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {IZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Milton. This is puzzle # 86 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
SANDE: Today's puzzle came to pass after lengthy back-and-forths between Jeff and me about the appeal (or lack thereof) of themes ... read more

SANDE: Today's puzzle came to pass after lengthy back-and-forths between Jeff and me about the appeal (or lack thereof) of themes where you drop the same letter from real phrases to create funny theme words (letter-drops). When we started on the letter "E," we felt a lack of challenge and newness. So rather than drop "E," the 2nd vowel of the alphabet, we chose to exclude the 3rd vowel of the alphabet. That was perfect because we found a revealer that was spelled from only "legal" letters — EYELESS. And to up the ante, we opted to exclude the same vowel not only from the theme words—but from the whole puzzle!

Well, here's what happens when you do that: you search through the enormous heap of words from your word.lst and delete all words that have the verboten letter, so only "legal" words make up your word.lst. Guess what? Much to my shock, the word catalog shrunk more than 50 percent! There were no longer 232,051 words to choose (from Jeff's magnum word.lst). There were only 110,452. (Gulp!!) After the puzzle was complete, we reasoned, "What the hell! Why not exclude the verboten vowel from the clues as well?" Took me aback; what a challenge that turned out to be too.

Can't say enough about Jeff. How lucky for me to have found such a collaborator.

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun to work with Sande on this one! When I collaborate with a newer constructor, I often end up doing the lion's share of the grid ... read more

Fun to work with Sande on this one! When I collaborate with a newer constructor, I often end up doing the lion's share of the grid layout and filling, but not this time. I constructed the skeleton, but it was Sande hacking away at the grid, showing me versions that numbered into the dozens. Most of my efforts were just in pointing out problematic spots and giving suggestions on some piece of long fill that might work better than others.

I love seeing that kind of work ethic – many other constructors throw up their hands at my overly critical eye toward grid design, but Sande fully embraced it.

There's a good amount of theme material, what with the 9 – 14 – 7 – 14 – 9 lengths, but it's usually not that hard to work with. The middle 7 is especially friendly, compared to a middle 9, 11, 13, or 15. So typically, I'd be loath to finish a grid like this without at least four snazzy long bonus entries. But the no-I constraint turned out to be tougher than I first thought.

Well, it would have been easy to work in even six pieces of long bonus fill, if we had been okay with accepting globfuls of ELL, RUR kind of stuff. But I had imagined this would run on a Tuesday, so I pushed Sande to keep that glue count down to a bare minimum. I thought he did well in that regard.

Always the trade-offs, though. Maybe we could have made the long slots sing a little better? I like BYE WEEKS a lot, and ELOQUENT is pretty good. But I sure would have liked to get something more out of EQUALLY and SEAWEED (we ended up having to put in cheater squares to facilitate better fill, so these turned into seven-letter entries, which tend to be harder to convert into colorful stuff).

Turns out there are a lot of words and phrases that use the letter I! No wonder it turned out to be so difficult to fill with color and cleanliness. Learn something new with every puzzle.

1
O
2
S
3
L
4
O
5
T
6
A
7
R
8
B
9
L
10
O
11
O
12
P
13
G
O
O
D
14
E
A
V
E
15
Y
O
U
R
E
16
R
A
N
D
17
Y
Q
U
A
D
18
E
X
C
E
L
19
E
K
E
D
O
U
T
20
H
21
O
W
22
H
O
E
23
U
G
A
24
C
O
P
E
25
S
26
S
27
O
C
A
L
28
B
U
T
T
E
R
29
F
30
L
31
Y
32
S
A
N
K
33
L
E
T
34
K
O
R
E
A
35
P
U
N
36
E
Y
E
L
37
E
38
S
S
39
A
M
P
40
A
T
O
41
L
L
42
A
L
E
43
E
M
U
S
44
N
E
W
Y
O
45
R
46
K
S
L
A
47
N
D
E
R
48
E
Q
U
U
S
49
W
E
B
50
A
51
S
52
P
53
U
R
N
54
R
E
C
U
55
S
56
A
57
L
58
J
O
Y
59
C
E
60
G
61
R
E
E
K
R
U
N
S
62
A
P
R
O
N
63
F
O
N
D
64
N
E
N
A
65
R
H
E
T
T
66
U
N
O
67
S
T
A
T
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0801 ( 25,103 )

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Across
1
Home to Queen Sonja : OSLO
5
Feather's partner : TAR
8
Short fly ball : BLOOP
13
"Well done!" : GOOD
14
Part of a house that projects : EAVE
15
"___ a Grand Old Flag" : YOURE
16
Campus area for amorous students? : RANDYQUAD
18
Common spreadsheet program : EXCEL
19
Barely got : EKEDOUT
20
Reporter's non-W query : HOW
22
Plot turner : HOE
23
S.E.C. school near Atlanta, for short : UGA
24
Manages : COPES
26
Flutterer around Orange County and L.A.? : SOCALBUTTERFLY
32
Holed, as a putt : SANK
33
Rent out : LET
34
Where Seoul and Pyongyang are : KOREA
35
Groan-worthy remark, say : PUN
36
Unable to see ... or, when taken as a homophone, what today's puzzle answers and clues all are : EYELESS
39
Rock concert need : AMP
40
Lagoon surrounder : ATOLL
42
Beverage that may be labeled "XXX" : ALE
43
Layers of dark green eggs : EMUS
44
Put-down to someone from Manhattan or the Bronx? : NEWYORKSLANDER
48
Horse genus : EQUUS
49
Spun trap : WEB
50
Cause of Cleopatra's death : ASP
53
Large coffee vessel : URN
54
Judge's voluntary removal from a case : RECUSAL
58
James who wrote "Ulysses" : JOYCE
60
Marathons, way back when? : GREEKRUNS
62
Edge of a green : APRON
63
Dear, as a memory : FOND
64
German pop star who once had a #2 song : NENA
65
Butler who frequented Tara : RHETT
66
Game that has Draw Two and Reverse cards : UNO
67
"On the double!" : STAT
Down
1
Shrek, for one : OGRE
2
Boozehound : SOAK
3
___ Star State : LONE
4
Unusual sort : ODDDUCK
5
Not at all lax : TAUT
6
Gardner who played the Barefoot Contessa : AVA
7
Extremely popular : REDHOT
8
When N.F.L. teams don't have to play : BYEWEEKS
9
Salty bagel topper : LOX
10
"That hurts!" : OUCH
11
Snack that's often pulled apart : OREO
12
One-named soccer star : PELE
14
Just as much : EQUALLY
17
What could make you take a deep breath : YOGA
21
___-out clause : OPT
24
Buccaneer's sword : CUTLASS
25
"No seats left" letters at a theater : SRO
26
Pan-fry : SAUTE
27
Currently watchable : ONNOW
28
Nectar collector : BEE
29
Set up : FRAME
30
Creature from Madagascar : LEMUR
31
Talks, talks, talks : YAPS
32
Extend across : SPAN
36
Well-spoken : ELOQUENT
37
Many an annex : ELL
38
Japanese salad green : SEAWEED
41
Soapmaker's supply : LYE
43
Co-star of H'wood's "The Brothers McMullen" : EDBURNS
45
Capek play that debuted the word "robot" : RUR
46
Means of self-defense : KUNGFU
47
Adam's apple locale : NECK
50
Not fully closed : AJAR
51
10th-grade student, for short : SOPH
52
End for Joan of Arc : PYRE
54
Former attorney general Janet : RENO
55
Food for a woodpecker : SUET
56
Ballet dancer Pavlova : ANNA
57
Kaplan course subj. : LSAT
59
Barracks bed : COT
61
Weasley of the Harry Potter books : RON

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle.

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