It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge for best results.

New York Times, Monday, September 11, 2017

Author:
Erik Agard and Paolo Pasco
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3811/6/20125/18/201917
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
83565371
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61150
Erik Agard
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
137/17/20151/19/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1300054
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63011
Paolo Pasco

This puzzle:

Rows: 16, Columns: 14 Words: 75, Blocks: 42 Missing: {BJQVZ} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Agard. This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Pasco. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
ERIK: Earlier this year, Paolo mentioned he'd had an idea for a LA LA LAND puzzle; he had WALLA WALLA and LAKE PLACID but was ... read more

ERIK: Earlier this year, Paolo mentioned he'd had an idea for a LA LA LAND puzzle; he had WALLA WALLA and LAKE PLACID but was having trouble finding more theme answers. Feeling like a genius, I quickly rattled off what I thought were some solid additions: DALAI LAMA? LAPIS LAZULI? BLACK FLAG? SOLAR FLARE? He responded "ooh those are good" ... and then very gently and casually hipped me to the fact that his themers were both LANDs and not just LA LAs. Woah.

This illustrates two things I know to be true about Paolo: one, that his puzzling brain has access to levels of holistic awareness that few others are capable of reaching (you can now see this on display every week at his website, Grids These Days); and two, that his emotional intelligence is comparably enviable. If I were starting some sort of Crossword Thing and needed someone to put in charge of editing or wrangling or what have you, Paolo would certainly make my short list.

Big thanks to Will et al. for getting this thing into Monday shape. It's hard to write clues that are evocative and concise and accessible all at once, so I appreciate the help. The 35-Across clue is maybe a tad more derogatory than the one we submitted (a Larry Bird reference), but maybe that's our bad for putting it in the grid? That aside, I'm very satisfied with the way this one turned out, and I hope you enjoyed it.

PAOLO: As a longtime Glutton For Pun solver, I am overjoyed to be collaborating with Erik Agard himself. After solving his excellent 2017 Oscars-themed puzzle, I went to Twitter to flood him with praise via direct message. Somewhere in the ensuing conversation, I brought up my idea for a LA LA LAND-themed puzzle (with only the entries WALLA WALLA and LAKE PLACID at hand). Thankfully, Erik was open to collaborating, even though making a puzzle inspired by "La La Land" may have gone against every fiber of his being. It says something about his graciousness, and I'm grateful for that. He found MALAY PENINSULA and TORTILLA FLAT to round out the theme, and so it went.

Another note: I almost feel like there's a "Moonlight"/"La La Land" situation between the GFP and NYT puzzles. As with the two movies, I feel like both of the puzzles have their own merits. This puzzle is like "La La Land"; it's meant to appeal to general audiences, and it'll be consumed by more people than its counterpart. Fun, breezy — mass appeal. Erik's solo puzzle, on the other hand, is like "Moonlight"; more independent, and consumed by fewer people, but absolutely mold-breaking.

I will say this about both "Moonlight" and Erik's Oscar puzzle: if you haven't experienced either, you need to remedy that post haste. This is to say: Erik Agard is an absolute cruciverbal artist, and I am honored and humbled to have been able to work with him. Hope you enjoyed!

Jeff Chen notes:
Great start to the week, a solid offering from two of my favorite people in the crossworld. I've seen a couple of LA LA LAND ... read more

Great start to the week, a solid offering from two of my favorite people in the crossworld. I've seen a couple of LA LA LAND puzzles over the years — especially after the Oscars brouhaha — so (probably like Erik) I was a tad underwhelmed to get "phrases containing LA and LA." What a nice a-ha moment when I realized that it wasn't just any old phrases, but actual LANDs containing LA and LA. Beautiful!

Mirror symmetry can be a godsend. I don't imagine there are many place names containing LA and LA. As a constructor, it can be supremely frustrating to find great theme answers, only to realize that they don't pair up. Lengths of 14, 12, 10, 10, bleh! Except that mirror symmetry handles some kooky theme set lengths perfectly. Good trick to have in one's arsenal.

Mirror symmetry typically requires more black squares than regular symmetry, and today's grid is no exception. It's usually necessary to deploy some black squares in the middle of the puzzle, and they tend to chunk up, like the "hat" sitting atop HICK. Some editors put a limit on black squares at 36 or 38, but I don't mind when a puzzle gets up to 40 or even 42, as long as it's still visually pleasing. This grid looked fine to me.

Tough to make one's voice heard in an early-week puzzle that calls for simple clues, but I love what these guys have done. OOPSIE! SLED clue referencing "Calvin and Hobbes." PERFECT GPA! Even a fun quote with LOW. (It's from Michelle Obama, taking the high road when others go LOW.)

I wasn't sure about AFROED, but it does have dictionary support. More importantly, Erik has been awesomely AFROED in the past, so I defer to him. Otherwise, not a single hitch in the short fill — such meticulous work in filling out their grid, not an OOPSIE in sight. Your effort and care are much appreciated, sirs.

A joy to solve; exactly how interesting, smooth, and snazzy a Monday puzzle should be.

1
P
2
S
3
I
4
S
5
O
6
S
7
P
8
A
9
D
10
L
11
S
12
D
13
O
M
G
14
P
O
M
A
D
E
15
A
P
E
16
M
A
L
17
A
Y
P
E
N
I
N
18
S
U
L
A
19
P
R
O
F
20
S
L
E
D
21
A
R
I
D
22
T
O
R
23
T
I
L
L
A
24
F
L
A
T
25
O
W
E
26
S
E
A
27
P
28
A
29
L
E
O
30
D
A
31
W
32
E
33
S
34
E
G
A
D
35
H
36
I
37
C
38
K
39
M
A
X
X
40
A
U
K
41
D
A
S
H
E
42
S
43
L
P
S
44
R
A
E
45
I
L
L
I
N
I
46
L
O
W
47
P
48
E
R
F
E
C
T
G
49
P
A
50
F
L
U
K
E
51
S
H
A
W
52
L
53
L
E
A
D
54
M
55
O
56
O
T
57
M
A
I
58
L
59
A
R
C
O
60
P
A
P
A
61
P
L
E
A
62
L
A
I
R
63
T
H
A
T
64
E
L
O
N
65
A
L
D
A
66
Y
U
L
E
67
R
A
N
D
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0911 ( 24,779 )
Across
1
Pitchfork-shaped letter : PSI
4
Brillo alternative : SOSPAD
10
The drug acid, by another name : LSD
13
"!!!!," in a text : OMG
14
Hairstyling substance : POMADE
15
Animal whose name is a synonym of "parrot" : APE
16
Kuala Lumpur's locale : MALAYPENINSULA
19
College teacher, informally : PROF
20
"Calvin and Hobbes" conveyance : SLED
21
Getting little rainfall : ARID
22
Titular California district in a Steinbeck novel : TORTILLAFLAT
25
Have debts : OWE
26
Setting for much of "Moana" : SEA
27
Kind of diet regimen based on nonmodern eating habits : PALEO
30
Dominique ___, 1996 Olympic gymnastics gold medalist : DAWES
34
"Holy cow!" : EGAD
35
Hayseed : HICK
39
T. J. ___ (department store chain) : MAXX
40
Arctic bird : AUK
41
Counterparts of dots, in Morse code : DASHES
43
Vinyl albums, for short : LPS
44
Issa who stars on HBO's "Insecure" : RAE
45
"Fighting" N.C.A.A. team : ILLINI
46
"When they go ___, we go high" : LOW
47
4.0, in school : PERFECTGPA
50
Happy accident : FLUKE
51
Shoulder garment : SHAWL
53
Pb, to chemists : LEAD
54
Not worth discussing : MOOT
57
Postal delivery : MAIL
59
California-based gas company : ARCO
60
Dad : PAPA
61
"Not guilty," e.g. : PLEA
62
Hideout : LAIR
63
"I don't wanna be ___ guy, but ..." : THAT
64
Musk of Tesla : ELON
65
Actor Alan : ALDA
66
Christmas season : YULE
67
___ McNally (mapmaker) : RAND
Down
1
"___ and Circumstance" : POMP
2
Intelligent : SMART
3
Ice pad? : IGLOO
4
Person wearing a trench coat and sunglasses, stereotypically : SPY
5
Mistake, cutely : OOPSIE
6
Odor : SMELL
7
Group of experts : PANEL
8
Nike rival : ADIDAS
9
Hideout : DEN
10
Mrs. George W. Bush : LAURA
11
Divorced : SPLIT
12
At 0% battery : DEAD
17
Sporting a natural : AFROED
18
Deep bow : SALAAM
23
A pair : TWO
24
Served dinner : FED
27
Fruit in a fruit basket : PEAR
28
Contents of el océano : AGUA
29
1980 Winter Olympics host : LAKEPLACID
31
Washington city with a repetitive name : WALLAWALLA
32
Business fair : EXPO
33
Annual Austin festival, for short : SXSW
35
At 50%, to a pessimist : HALFEMPTY
36
___ of Wight : ISLE
37
Fashionable : CHIC
38
University in northeast Ohio : KENTSTATE
41
N.B.A. star Nowitzki : DIRK
42
[Alas] : SIGH
48
Writer Welty : EUDORA
49
Treat really nicely : PAMPER
50
Wild : FERAL
52
Rest atop : LIEON
53
With 58-Down, head-in-the-clouds place ... or a hint to each answer that has four circles : LALA
55
Hawaiian island : OAHU
56
October birthstone : OPAL
58
See 53-Down : LAND

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?