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New York Times, Friday, August 12, 2016

Author:
Kelly Clark
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1510/29/19978/12/20161
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1143510
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63000
Kelly Clark

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 32 Missing: {QW} This is puzzle # 15 for Ms. Clark. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kelly Clark notes:
Thank you for solving my first NYT themeless. Here's the thing: it was the most leisurely, relaxing puzzle I've ever made. Why? ... read more

Thank you for solving my first NYT themeless. Here's the thing: it was the most leisurely, relaxing puzzle I've ever made. Why? Because there's no THEME entries to get boxed in on! The hardest part o' this puzzle was cluing it. (Which, alas, to my shame, only 24 out o' 72 clues made the cut. And I really did try hard! Maybe too hard. Which brings me to my point.)

If you can make a themed puzzle — especially a Monday-Tuesday level one — you can do this standing on your head.

(I'm looking at YOU, ACME!!!) :-)

Besides the normal outlets, I make Monday-level puzzles twice a month for a mobile app called Deverai. Every week I make a Monday-level puzzle for a subscription group o' solvers who aren't experts at all. These are difficult to make, compared to this one.

I wrote this puzzle's first draft — back in April, 2015 — because of some strange kerfuffle about Why Women Don't Make More NYT Themeless Puzzles. This seemed odd to me, having enjoyed the work of, for example, my friends Sherry Blackard (34 NYT themeless puzzles to date), Liz Gorski (27 themeless puzzles to date)…and a host of others.

So I set to work. I realized I needed some anchor, so, given the fact that, due to my stupid turned-up nose, I was dubbed "pig-face" as a kid — I chose PETUNIA PIG for 1A. (Her gorgeous vowels did not hurt her chances.) I paired her with POST-IT NOTE since I was staring at one. (Did you know that it was discovered by accident by a 3M guy? That clue didn't make the cut, but there you are.)

My first draft — admittedly filled accompanied by a glass o' Chardonnay — was returned with the comments: (paraphrasing here) "Cut out the @$#@#%%# glue!" So I did, which forced me to substitute NAVEL ORANGE at 11 D with AGENT ORANGE…not a really pleasant entry, is it? Still the rewrite didn't take all that long.

I regret 55A. As an advertising copywriter, let me assure you that I've never used that abbr. in an ad. Other than that, it was great fun, and many thanks to Will and Joel — and especially you guys for solving it. And hey! Welcome Jake David Denny Chen, born 7/28/2016! :-)

Jeff Chen notes:
Kelly's themeless debut! She's in the small club of constructors with 10 or more NYT puzzles, but lack of themelesses have prevented ... read more

Kelly's themeless debut! She's in the small club of constructors with 10 or more NYT puzzles, but lack of themelesses have prevented her from "hitting for the cycle" — a pretty neat feat, showing off a wide range of constructing chops. Just a Saturday puzzle to go now!

Employing a grid with just 12 long (8+ letters) slots, Kelly has to convert almost every one of them to a sizzling entry in order to make it an outstanding themeless. I really liked that upper left trio, PETUNIA PIG plus the crazy sequence of letters in SHAKE N BAKE looking like SHAKEN BAKE. SUPER DUPER fun! I wasn't wild about the plural PAPS, but the abbr. GER was more minor. A fine start to the puzzle.

Some other fun entries, SOFT PRETZEL and especially AGENT ORANGE very colorful answers (pun intended). And although I was just SICK AS A DOG recently, I still liked seeing that snappy phrase.

NET PROFIT wasn't as fun for me. You'd think that this bottom line accounting term would delight this MBA, but I've seen it so many times in crosswords, it doesn't feel that fresh. ROOT AROUND is pretty good, although most any "add-a-preposition" phrase doesn't feel as nice as something like POST IT NOTE. So, a little bit of unfulfilled potential in the 12 long slots.

I did like Kelly's use of her mid-length slots — JIGGER is an interesting word, and I INSIST is a good, colloquial phrase.

I don't mind cheater squares usually, but for a 72-word themeless — the maximum word count allowed — I'd rather not see them. I can tolerate them in this instance if they facilitate unbelievably smooth results, but having SSTARS (all the various types of ?STARS answers feel inelegant to me, as that first letter can be so many things), PAPS, and DEFS right next to cheaters is not ideal. Along with a good amount of crossword glue holding things together — ADDL, ECTO, ROES (plural is usually ROE?) etc. — there was too much for my taste.

But overall, some fun entries, and a very entertaining northwest corner. Hoping to see Kelly's byline on a Saturday to complete the cycle!

1
P
2
E
3
T
4
U
5
N
6
I
7
A
8
P
9
I
10
G
11
A
12
S
13
A
14
P
15
S
H
A
K
E
N
B
A
K
E
16
G
I
L
L
17
S
U
P
E
R
D
U
P
E
R
18
E
C
T
O
19
T
D
S
20
V
E
T
S
21
I
N
K
E
Y
22
S
O
B
S
23
S
S
T
A
R
S
24
S
25
P
26
R
O
U
T
27
P
28
I
A
N
O
S
29
P
O
O
F
S
30
D
I
C
K
T
R
A
31
C
32
Y
33
A
L
O
T
34
V
E
X
E
S
35
A
D
O
S
36
N
E
T
P
37
R
O
F
I
T
38
I
N
O
N
E
39
A
R
O
U
S
E
40
J
I
G
G
E
R
41
A
42
G
R
E
E
S
43
D
A
N
E
44
C
O
O
T
S
45
J
A
M
S
46
T
47
A
48
G
49
C
R
U
Z
50
A
51
B
O
V
E
I
52
T
A
L
L
53
R
E
N
E
54
R
O
T
I
S
S
E
R
I
E
55
A
D
D
L
56
P
O
S
T
I
T
N
O
T
E
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0812 ( 24,384 )
Across
1
Porcine paramour : PETUNIAPIG
11
Yesterday, so to speak : ASAP
15
Product with a Crispy Buffalo variety : SHAKENBAKE
16
Underwater breather : GILL
17
Tremendous : SUPERDUPER
18
Beginning to morph? : ECTO
19
Brady bunch, briefly : TDS
20
Some zoo employees : VETS
21
Harmonious : INKEY
22
Blubbers : SOBS
23
Some red giants : SSTARS
24
Little 'un : SPROUT
27
They had rolls to play, once : PIANOS
29
Disappearing exclamations : POOFS
30
Foe of Big Boy and Little Face : DICKTRACY
33
Tremendously : ALOT
34
Bothers : VEXES
35
Bothers : ADOS
36
Good news for business : NETPROFIT
38
Combined : INONE
39
Turn on : AROUSE
40
Shot measure : JIGGER
41
Meshes : AGREES
43
One for whom "hello" is "hej" : DANE
44
Geezers : COOTS
45
Tough spots : JAMS
46
What "it" is found in : TAG
49
Symbol del cristianismo : CRUZ
50
Haughty : ABOVEITALL
53
Artist Magritte : RENE
54
It takes turns making dinner : ROTISSERIE
55
Extra, in ads : ADDL
56
Reminder that sticks? : POSTITNOTE
Down
1
Sound from a cheater : PSST
2
Israel's Olmert : EHUD
3
Staple of Memorial Day services : TAPS
4
Instrument that's cradled, for short : UKE
5
Full of butterflies : NERVOUS
6
Under water : INDEBT
7
Touches : ABUTS
8
Mushy foods : PAPS
9
'50s campaign nickname : IKE
10
2014 World Cup winner: Abbr. : GER
11
Weapon used in the Vietnam War : AGENTORANGE
12
Seriously under the weather : SICKASADOG
13
Fix as 20-Across might do : ALTER
14
Schemes : PLOYS
21
"And who ___?" : ISNT
22
Hot, salty snack : SOFTPRETZEL
23
Lord & Taylor rival, informally : SAKS
24
Go over : SPAN
25
John Paul II, e.g. : POLE
26
Do some ferreting : ROOTAROUND
27
Magical duster : PIXIE
28
Founder of Rhyme $yndicate Records : ICET
30
Webster wrote many of them: Abbr. : DEFS
31
Traffic director : CONE
32
Nieuwpoort's river : YSER
34
Counterpart of moi : VOUS
37
Some antlered animals : ROES
38
"No, no, really ..." : IINSIST
40
He succeeded two queens : JAMESI
41
Capital up the coast from Cape Coast : ACCRA
42
Hurt with a horn : GORED
43
Hoist on a ship : DAVIT
45
Dashes off : JOTS
46
Pacific dietary staple : TARO
47
Settled : ALIT
48
Jubilation : GLEE
50
"Leaves and Navels" artist : ARP
51
Comic's nightmare? : BOO
52
Eli Manning, on the field : TEN

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

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