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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
907/5/201010/11/201852
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2467172088
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.634192
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

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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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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 )
Across Down
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
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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