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New York Times, Thursday, August 10, 2017

Author:
John E. Bennett and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
64/9/20142/14/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0031200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57050
John E. Bennett
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1017/5/20108/7/201961
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2678182598
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.637222
Jeff Chen

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
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.' ... read more

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 ... read more

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
2
L
3
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4
G
5
R
6
A
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P
8
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9
S
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C
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O
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T
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14
M
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P
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W
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N
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C
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Y
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P
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P
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P
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F
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A
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B
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T
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H
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L
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B
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P
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G
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O
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D
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A
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A
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F
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H
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B
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S
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S
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D
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C
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M
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R
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A
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N
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H
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B
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P
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W
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0810 ( 24,747 )
Across
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
Down
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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