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CONFLICTING ADVICE

New York Times, Sunday, August 30, 2015

Author: Lee Taylor
Editor: Will Shortz
Lee Taylor
TotalDebutCollabs
18/30/20150
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This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 84 Missing: {JQZ} This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Taylor NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Lee Taylor notes: I was on a long flight last fall and ran out of reading material. I wished I had a crossword puzzle to do. Then I thought, 'I think I'll make one — how hard can it be?' That was the beginning of the journey ... more
Lee Taylor notes:

I was on a long flight last fall and ran out of reading material. I wished I had a crossword puzzle to do. Then I thought, "I think I'll make one — how hard can it be?" That was the beginning of the journey that ends with my puzzle appearing this Sunday in the Times.

This was actually my third puzzle; the first two got rejected. Joel and Will showed endless patience with me as I worked through four revisions to finally get this one right.

The first revision strengthened the theme clues. It also forced me to make my own grid, something I hadn't tried before. That ended up being funner than I expected as I like the aesthetics of the grid designs.

The second revision had me eliminate boring entries like ALDA and TEPEE and strive for words not commonly seen. Unfortunately, while adding more vibrant and interesting words, I allowed some weaklings to sneak in as well.

Revision four ruthlessly eradicated all those words Will identified as unacceptable or unlikable. Perseverance paid off and I finally got the coveted "yes" from Joel.

I love language and often think about turns of phrase. There is often humor, sometimes unintentional in the things we say, and that is what inspired the theme. My favorite entries are FAT FARM and BOBOS.

And a little about me: I work for the National Park Service as the superintendent of San Juan Island National Historical Park in Washington State. I grew up in a family that bought multiple copies of the Sunday New York Times so that everyone could work on the crossword puzzle independently.

Jeff Chen notes: Debut! And from a fellow Washingtonian. Lee found some nice pairs of common maxims … which give exactly the opposite advice. I've heard 'Knowledge is power but IGNORANCE IS BLISS' many times before, but the ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Debut! And from a fellow Washingtonian. Lee found some nice pairs of common maxims … which give exactly the opposite advice. I've heard "Knowledge is power but IGNORANCE IS BLISS" many times before, but the others were newish to me.

Huh, I probably should have known Peter TOSH ...

I liked how each of the twelve aphorisms are pretty well known, with the notable exception of FOOLS SELDOM DIFFER. I struggled mightily with that middle word, and even after uncovering it, I struggled to figure out what it meant. Fools tend to think the same thing? Really? Then why does no one ever agree with me?

(rimshot)

Anyhoo, interesting layout, with two sets of interlocking answers. It can be a neat effect when answers happen to fortuitously lock together — it's often so tough because even if you can make it happen on one side, the symmetrical spot must also work. Here though, the lower MAN crossing MAN isn't terribly elegant. I usually don't care about small words duplicated in a grid, but to have them crossing each other is not ideal for me.

One really nice clue: [Pairs are often seen in it] for POKER. Made me think of "pairs" as in (human) couples. [Handles] for ALIASES was also clever, in that it refers to the noun version of handles, not the verb. This puzzle played very hard for me, well over my average solving time, I think mostly because of the opacity in cluing. Hardly a gimme in sight! Good workout, although I would have liked more clever clues to keep my interest level up through the frustration.

Sunday 140 word puzzles are so tough — I think it's the roughest way to make one's NYT debut. That very low word constraint makes it tough to avoid gluey bits like TESHES (gah, TOSHES!), APORT, the usual OGEE / AMAH kind of stuff. So tricky to make a super-smooth Sunday 140 worder.

Interesting theme idea with a couple of nice pairings.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0830 ( 24,036 )
Across Down
1. Fake blood, e.g. : GOO
4. Many establishments on Paris's Boulevard Saint-Germain : CAFES
9. Enjoy thoroughly : SAVOR
14. Ex-Mrs. Trump : IVANA
19. Person behind a strike? : UMP
20. Cause of a 2014 epidemic : EBOLA
21. Word with light or horse : OPERA
22. Figure in Jewish folklore : GOLEM
23. One time around : LAP
24. "He who hesitates is lost, but ..." : LOOKBEFOREYOULEAP
27. Beat around the bush? : PROWL
29. Mathematician Fibonacci : LEONARDO
30. N.B.A. team once coached by Larry Bird : PACERS
31. DVR lineup : SHOWS
33. Rich cake : TORTE
34. Brown who wrote "The Diana Chronicles" : TINA
35. Handles : ALIASES
37. Silliness : INANITY
41. Half-and-half, maybe : MUTT
42. Park place : BENCH
46. ___ game : BLAME
49. Kind of arch : OGEE
50. Frequent subject of fibbing : AGE
51. ___ Soetoro, stepfather of Barack Obama : LOLO
52. Longest river entirely within Switzerland : AARE
53. Group of Coyotes, for short : NHL
54. Name on a toy truck : HESS
56. To the point : ADREM
57. Empty stomach sound : GROWL
59. ___ limit (sign at the edge of town) : CORP
60. Sound : AUDIO
62. Crumbly cheeses : FETAS
64. Arctic lights : AURORAE
66. Regimented resort : FATFARM
68. See 73-Across : FIT
69. Locale of the 15-Down Eyjafjallajökull : ICELAND
70. Decked out : ATTIRED
71. Like pop-ups : ARCED
73. Check for 68-Across : TRYON
74. 2006 Pixar film : CARS
75. Heavy drinker, in slang : DIPSO
77. Out of the barn, say : LOOSE
79. ESPNU covers it : NCAA
82. Celestial altar : ARA
83. Gladly, old-style : FAIN
84. Steer closer to the wind : LUFF
85. It borders the N. Atl. : EUR
86. Prison escape path, maybe : DUCT
88. A sharp equivalent : BFLAT
89. Sing the praises of : EXTOL
91. Unused : MINT
92. Give the right : ENTITLE
94. Second chances for students : RETESTS
96. Head of an inn? : BOAR
97. Caliban in "The Tempest," e.g. : SLAVE
102. Pooh-bah : NABOB
103. Get into : ACCESS
106. Part of a dominatrix's outfit : STILETTO
108. Babe in the woods : OWLET
111. "You can't judge a book by its cover, but ..." : CLOTHESMAKETHEMAN
114. "___ no idea" : IVE
115. Blazing stars : NOVAE
116. Pairs are seen in it : POKER
117. Emulate Isocrates : ORATE
118. Birth certificate datum : SEX
119. Paradises : EDENS
120. Chemical ___ : AGENT
121. Trig functions : SINES
122. Boom source : SST
1. [Um, this can't be good] : GULP
2. All-Star second baseman Infante : OMAR
3. "Birds of a feather flock together, but ..." : OPPOSITESATTRACT
4. Solo features of six Bach suites : CELLOS
5. Blood type system : ABO
6. "Great minds think alike, but ..." : FOOLSSELDOMDIFFER
7. Actress Sommer : ELKE
8. Clog : SABOT
9. Till now : SOFAR
10. Left at sea : APORT
11. Like some salsa : VERDE
12. Stackable dessert item : OREO
13. 2004 musical biopic for which the star won Best Actor : RAY
14. Pet in the comic strip "FoxTrot" : IGUANA
15. See 69-Across : VOLCANO
16. "Helm ___!" (captain's cry) : ALEE
17. Within view : NEAR
18. Ratchets (up) : AMPS
25. Ambient music innovator Brian : ENO
26. Put forward : OPINE
28. "Huh?" : WHAT
32. It's a trap : WEB
34. "Slow and steady wins the race, but ..." : TIMEWAITSFORNOMAN
35. Shanghai nursemaid : AMAH
36. Winter Olympics sport : LUGE
38. "Knowledge is power, but ..." : IGNORANCEISBLISS
39. 1943 conference site : TEHRAN
40. Checked online reviews of, modern-style : YELPED
43. Here/there connector : NOR
44. One on staff? : CLEF
45. Sphere of civilian activity during war : HOMEFRONT
46. Trifle : BAGATELLE
47. Cousin of Sven : LARS
48. Michael Sheen's character in "Twilight" : ARO
55. Mystical Muslims : SUFIS
56. Broadcast : AIRED
58. Ill-gotten gains : LUCRE
59. Port on the Panama Canal : COLON
61. D.C.'s ___ Constitution Hall : DAR
63. Personal quirk : TIC
65. "Born to Die" singer Lana Del ___ : REY
66. Pretense : FACADE
67. Galloping : ATARUN
71. Part of SEATO : ASIA
72. Billet-___ : DOUX
76. Gal ___ : PAL
78. More than once in a while : OFT
80. You may have a great one in your family : AUNT
81. Part of M.F.A. : ARTS
87. Like some mountain guides : TIBETAN
88. Oh-so-bored : BLASE
90. "Glee" star ___ Michele : LEA
91. It may mean "Pet me!" : MEOW
93. Comedian Daniel and musician Peter : TOSHES
95. Broadsides, informally : TBONES
97. Rooting interest : STAKE
98. Compare : LIKEN
99. Not nodding : ALERT
100. Nov. 11 honoree : VET
101. Community spirit : ETHOS
103. Red in the face? : ACNE
104. Lummox : CLOD
105. Inlet : COVE
106. Beijing problem : SMOG
107. Hatcher of "Desperate Housewives" : TERI
109. Holiday lead-ins : EVES
110. Emoji holder : TEXT
112. Place for a "me day" : SPA
113. Gorged on : ATE

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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