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New York Times, Thursday, August 10, 2017

Author: John E. Bennett and Jeff Chen
Editor: Will Shortz
John E. Bennett
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
44/9/20148/10/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0021100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57040
Jeff Chen
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
777/5/201011/26/201745
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2267111768
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.633162

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQVZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Bennett. This is puzzle # 71 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Constructor notes: JEB: The initial inspiration for this puzzle was triggered by my wanting to know the origin of the expression 'By hook or by ... more
Constructor notes:

JEB: The initial inspiration for this puzzle was triggered by my wanting to know the origin of the expression "By hook or by crook." When googled it was interesting to find that it is very old and is said to come from one or two different potential derivations; one relating to firewood restrictions and the other to navigational hazards! I liked that BY HOOK OR BY CROOK could be nicely matched for puzzle symmetry (word length, meaning, and potential graphic relevance) by ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. From there the "hook" and "crook" design graphic, with the FISH and LAMB props, began to take shape.

This puzzle, even though rejected on its first review by Will and Joel., did receive generally positive attention for theme and design. The negative commentary had to do with too much weak fill and a block layout that was overly closed through the center section between the "hook" and "crook". I struggled mightily with the resubmittal and found that in opening the center by shortening the "hook" and "crook" by one square that the fill was still troublesome and the graphic was starting to be compromised. The second submittal was shot down also, even though Will left the door open a crack for another try.

That's when I decided to "call in the cavalry" in the form of my cross-town friend Jeff Chen! :-) I was excited that Jeff wanted to invest time in saving this puzzle as a collaboration, and I know if it weren't for his expertise and input, this puzzle would never have gotten "NYT Ink." Jeff came up with two improved suggested modifications to the "hook" and "crook" layout which helped to loosen up the fill potential. Plus, his more robust word database contributed to the overall fill quality. Following the resubmittal or our new iteration, Will gave it the "thumbs up"!

Jeff Chen notes: Jeb and I live close by, so we get together and talk shop. During one session, he asked me to review some of his ideas, and I thought ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Jeb and I live close by, so we get together and talk shop. During one session, he asked me to review some of his ideas, and I thought this one had the most potential. It seemed a little thin, but I suggested he ought to run with it.

Months later, he got back in touch, saying that Will and Joel liked the idea, but not his rounds of gridwork. After several backs and forths, they thought he might be biting off more than he could chew; that perhaps the grid was too ambitious to construct to their standards.

Those are the magic words for me, so Jeb didn't have to do much convincing to get me on board.

The first thing I did was to switch the order of the themers — Jeb had BY HOOK OR BY CROOK first, and I felt like it'd give away the game too quickly. Easy to swap them.

Then, I tried to rebuild around more theme — how cool would it be if there was something thematic running through the two themers? It took a lot of searching, but I finally came up with something I liked: the GREAT OUTDOORS. Perfect! Well, maybe not perfect, but a nice, descriptive phrase that tied LAMB and FISH together — could be clued with respect to a meadow and a fishing hole. So I spent maybe eight hours coming up with a grid around that.

Jeb's response: "Neat grid! But how is GREAT OUTDOORS related to the theme?"

Not perfect indeed.

So, back to the drawing board with a completely different grid. Ten more hours later, I finally decided that I'd have to accept a trade-off, and SST allowed for a good amount of snazzy fill. I was pretty sure Will and Joel would favor the first (GREAT OUTDOORS) grid, anyway.

Yet again, shows what I know!

1
B
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0810 ( 24,747 )
Across Down
1. Diner staple, for short : BLT
4. Wine, informally, with "the" : GRAPE
9. Astronaut Kelly : SCOTT
14. [Shrug] : MEH
15. Itching : EAGER
16. Right to the point : PITHY
17. Whatever it takes : ONEWAYORANOTHER
20. Party person : CATERER
21. Musician whose first name is a toy : YOYOMA
22. ___ trick : HAT
23. Home to an annual Ideas Festival : ASPEN
26. First name of the second vice president to resign from office : SPIRO
28. Mulching material : PEAT
29. Dynamite : FAB
32. "Pagliacci" role : TONIO
33. China's ___ Dynasty : HAN
34. Symbol of gentleness : LAMB
35. ___ Sound : PUGET
36. Hoary : OLD
37. Latin American sweetie : AMIGA
39. Symbol of Christianity : FISH
40. Attachment to a job app : BIO
41. Congested place, at times : SINUS
42. Attraction at Boeing's Museum of Flight, for short : SST
43. "J'adore ___" (ad slogan) : DIOR
44. Sound of metallic impact : CLONK
45. 2016 Disney film : MOANA
46. Carriage with its horse : RIG
47. It might prevent you from drifting off : ANCHOR
51. James I and Charles I : STUARTS
55. Whatever it takes ... as hinted at in the arrangements of black squares around the circled letters : BYHOOKORBYCROOK
58. Together : INALL
59. Short loin cut : TBONE
60. Pac-12 athlete : UTE
61. Like a workaholic : TYPEA
62. Big rolls : SIXES
63. Seat of Christianity? : PEW
1. Standout in a quad : BMOC
2. Dunham of "Girls" : LENA
3. "What you have to realize ..." : THETHINGIS
4. Transmission element : GEARTOOTH
5. "The Martha ___ Show" of 1950s TV : RAYE
6. Recluse's problem, maybe : AGORAPHOBIA
7. What a "/" may mean : PER
8. Procter & Gamble cleaning brand : ERA
9. Do a little cuddling : SPOON
10. ___ desk (newspaper post) : CITY
11. Roman emperor who overthrew Galba : OTHO
12. Silent part of "mnemonic" : THEM
13. Banks of "America's Got Talent" : TYRA
18. Spent the most? : WEARIEST
19. Something said by a put-out Putin? : NYET
24. Flippered animal along the Pacific Coast : SEALION
25. Don't open it! : PANDORASBOX
26. Indy racer sponsor : STP
27. Hairstyles that need lots of combing : POUFS
29. Everyday : FAMILIAR
30. -NH2 attachment, in chemistry : AMINOGROUP
31. Toy shooter : BBGUN
34. Seat of New Mexico's Doña Ana County : LASCRUCES
38. Pose : ASK
43. Square one : DORK
45. Bucks : MOOLA
47. Somewhat : ABIT
48. Letters that might precede 10001 : NYNY
49. Bloke : CHAP
50. Darn it! : HOLE
52. Newcastle upon ___, England : TYNE
53. Add (up) : TOTE
54. Distort : SKEW
56. Rare occurrences at Super Bowls, briefly : OTS
57. Clutch hitter's stat : RBI

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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