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New York Times, Monday, August 26, 2013

Author:
Ian Livengood
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
554/12/20109/15/20164
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
617667112
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64371
Ian Livengood

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 30 for Mr. Livengood. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ian Livengood notes:
I was researching potential words to justify vertical theme answers. Why? Why not, I say. 'Hanging' was vertically appropriate and ... read more

I was researching potential words to justify vertical theme answers. Why? Why not, I say. "Hanging" was vertically appropriate and that led to LOW HANGING FRUIT. I scrapped BLIND MELON at 38-Down since the band wasn't quite Monday-appropriate as a theme answer and, most important, the fruit grew in the ground instead of dangling from a tree. Hope solvers like this one, it's hard to make 'em any easier. Come for the SWEET TALK, stay for the CENTER CUT. Enjoy!

Will Shortz notes:
Ian worked as my assistant back in the fall of 2010 and spring of 2011. It was the first puzzle job he'd ever had, beneficial for both ... read more

Ian worked as my assistant back in the fall of 2010 and spring of 2011. It was the first puzzle job he'd ever had, beneficial for both of us. He's now at Penny Press puzzle magazines in Connecticut. Ian's constructions are always super clean (like this one), and he's very flexible. Easy, medium or hard — he can construct an elegant puzzle at any skill level.

Jeff Chen notes:
Almost all crosswords place theme answers horizontally, because they're generally easier for solvers to pick out that way. It's a rare ... read more

Almost all crosswords place theme answers horizontally, because they're generally easier for solvers to pick out that way. It's a rare puzzle that can successfully pull off vertical themers, and Ian does it well. A simple theme for a Monday, one with good rationale why the themers should run down instead of across.

Note that Ian didn't just choose any four fruits, but ones that are disguised within their phrases. Sure, SODA LIME or PRICKLY PEAR would exhibit literal LOW HANGING FRUIT, but the first isn't a fun phrase and the second isn't disguised. DIDNT GIVE A FIG could work, but it doesn't fit the two-word pattern. So bravo to Ian for being both consistent and specific in his choice of themers.

18A and 63A are fun longer fill, but do they distract from the theme (making solvers wonder what SWEET TALK and CENTER CUT have to do with LOW HANGING FRUIT)? In this case I think it's totally fine because the theme is so obvious, but it would be a different story if the theme were more difficult to ascertain.

Finally, a JWDW (Jeff would do WHAT?!) moment. Will made an excellent point last week about a great majority of his audience already being NYT xw solvers, so that's what he edits to. But I would love to see at least a few super-easy Monday puzzles throughout the year, since it's difficult to get most of my friends to even try a NYT puzzle. Today's is certainly fair (all answers are ones that an educated person ought to know), but I can see how it would be tough for newbies (EL AL, ULEE, OCHS, OLEO, ESTES). Here's an idea for audience-building, which I think is important for the long-term health of crosswords: what if puzzles in the first week of the month were relatively easier than the rest of the month? Anyway, something to consider.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0826 ( 23,302 )

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Across
1
For real, in slang : LEGIT
6
Day-___ paint : GLO
9
2008 candidate with the slogan "Change we can believe in" : OBAMA
14
Supreme Court justice Samuel : ALITO
15
Tech giant with the catchphrase "You've got mail" : AOL
16
English royal house before Stuart : TUDOR
17
"Come on, stop being such a wimp!" : MANUP
18
Wheedle : SWEETTALK
20
Backup strategy : PLANB
21
Push roughly : SHOVE
22
"Au revoir, ___ amis" : MES
23
Course that's a cinch : EASYA
25
Investments for old age, for short : IRAS
27
Largest inland city in California : FRESNO
30
Org. for the Redskins, but not the Reds : NFL
32
5K or 10K : RACE
35
Grazing area : LEA
36
"A penny saved is a penny earned," e.g. : ADAGE
38
Two-legged creature : BIPED
39
Illegal torching : ARSON
41
Old Russian space station : MIR
42
Minor failing : LAPSE
43
"Kama ___" (ancient love guide) : SUTRA
44
Case of the blahs : ENNUI
46
PC hookup : LAN
47
Door turner : KNOB
48
"Life of Pi" director Lee : ANG
49
Nasty looks : SNEERS
51
Letters of invitation? : RSVP
53
Serves meals to : FEEDS
55
Eggs in fertility clinics : OVA
57
Gets closer to : NEARS
59
Pretty poor grade : DPLUS
63
Like some premium roasts : CENTERCUT
65
Garlicky sauce : AIOLI
66
Note an alto is unlikely to hit : HIGHC
67
Even score : TIE
68
Basic belief : TENET
69
Stylishly streamlined : SLEEK
70
Urban grid: Abbr. : STS
71
A cube has 12 of them : EDGES
Down
1
Reading light : LAMP
2
Carrier to Israel : ELAL
3
Actress Gershon of "Bound" : GINA
4
___ Store (source of many 99¢ downloads) : ITUNES
5
Kingpin : TOPBANANA
6
Bloated : GASSY
7
Simple things to pick ... or what 5-, 11-, 29- and 38-Down have? : LOWHANGINGFRUIT
8
Ersatz butter : OLEO
9
Riverbank frolicker : OTTER
10
"Nothing ___ net" : BUT
11
Lump that moves when you swallow : ADAMSAPPLE
12
Distinctive Cindy Crawford feature : MOLE
13
Clumsy boats : ARKS
19
Satan's doing : EVIL
24
Turf : SOD
26
Diva's delivery : ARIA
27
Hooch container : FLASK
28
Any "Seinfeld" showing, now : RERUN
29
"Colorful" city bordering Newark, N.J. : EASTORANGE
31
Office plant : FERN
33
Onetime Joker portrayer ___ Romero : CESAR
34
Perfect settings : EDENS
37
"You said it, brother!" : AMEN
38
Dinner and a movie, say, with someone you don't know : BLINDDATE
40
Spheres : ORBS
45
"___ it or lose it" : USE
48
Mimicry pro : APER
50
Glimpsed : ESPIED
52
Style of T-shirt that does not have a round collar : VNECK
54
___ Park, Colo. : ESTES
55
Former New York Times publisher Adolph : OCHS
56
Bit of headgear raised at the wedding altar : VEIL
58
Stage presentations : ACTS
60
___ John Silver : LONG
61
Title beekeeper in a 1997 film : ULEE
62
Takes the bench : SITS
64
Word usually ignored in alphabetization : THE

Answer summary: 1 debuted here and reused later.

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