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New York Times, Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Author:
Jeffrey Wechsler
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
187/17/19699/12/20180
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0145710
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1.581101
Jeffrey Wechsler

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JKQX} This is puzzle # 18 for Mr. Wechsler. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeffrey Wechsler notes:
It's always nice to see one's work published in the New York Times, but I was especially gratified to see this one appear – it ... read more

It's always nice to see one's work published in the New York Times, but I was especially gratified to see this one appear – it had been accepted on January 21, 2017! Well, as they say, good things come to those who wait. For those of you who found 2-Down to be difficult, please note that the event mentioned in the clue was less than a month in the past when the puzzle was accepted.

The puzzle theme is similar to one I published in the Chronicle of Higher Education several years ago entitled "Made in Japan". I noticed that several Japanese words commonly known to English speakers have literal translations that are rather surprising or intriguing. For example, "sayonara" means "if it must be so" and "karaoke" means "empty orchestra". More recently, I noticed the same thing sometimes occurs in the names of French food items, and the presence of the inimitable Julia Child on American television offered a revealer that would lead to such theme entries. In devising the grid, I was fortunate in the letter length of the selected entries; they allowed me to use a progression of terms that become, to a degree, relatively harder to spell or less familiar as one proceeds down the grid.

And a pun hangs in the air that I can't resist – the French terms are all theme entries, but not all entrées. Despite that comment, I hope you enjoy the puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes:
I was delighted by MILLE FEUILLE – watching bakers build their 'thousand layer' pastries is fascinating; a neat mix of art and ... read more

I was delighted by MILLE FEUILLE – watching bakers build their "thousand layer" pastries is fascinating; a neat mix of art and science. You need an aesthetic sensibility in order to entice the consumer, but also an understanding of chemistry to make the textures and flavors come together.

Same goes for crossword construction. Novel and interesting themes take creativity. But without the ability to execute on a solid grid, the puzzle doesn't come together.

I thought Jeffrey did well with this theme. There are probably many more French cooking terms that have entered into common usage, but I couldn't immediately think of any. And I like that each one here has a literal translation. BOUILLABAISSE = "boil and lower"? Fun!

The chemical reactions had problems, though. There were so many gluey aftertastes: EBON, EDDA LATHS, AERO, LE ROI, etc. Part of the problem was that Jeffrey had to work around that central 13-letter BOUILLABAISSE, which creates so many problems — especially given that the 12-letter HORS DOUEVRES and MILLE FEUILLE also force black square placements.

But a bigger part of the problem was trying to incorporate too many long bonuses. Break up EYES OF BLUE at the O, and it's easy to clean up EBON. Break up AS WITH at the I (and then get rid of the black square in front of AFT), and you can clean up the tough SHINZO ABE / TZE crossing.

(It's important to know world leaders. But I'd be sympathetic to a solver who put in SHINSO ABE.)

A solid recipe, but the execution of the bake could have been improved.

JimH notes:
I imagine something I call The Editor's Dilemma. Suppose you're responsible for 365 daily puzzles a year, not just to edit, but to ... read more

I imagine something I call The Editor's Dilemma. Suppose you're responsible for 365 daily puzzles a year, not just to edit, but to select. How do you choose? Crosswords that rely only on wide-spread knowledge become tedious. Ones that target specialized knowledge risk turning off as many solvers as they please.

If you speak French (being Canadian helps sometimes!) and you love to eat, today's puzzle is a delight. I quickly entered theme answers, all the while realizing that if Mr. Wechsler had targeted literal meanings of, say, Mexican food, my experience would have been less satisfying. Is this fair? Is fair even relevant? We sometimes see puzzles that rely on intimate knowledge of Manhattan geography, Sondheim musicals, or professional tennis. Me? I'm still waiting for a grid with all eight of Brünnhilde's Valkyrie sisters from The Ring. (How do you spell Roßweiße again?)

I agree with Jeff that crossing SHINZO with TZE is rough, especially since those are both transliterations.

"CRY havoc and let slip the dogs of war" is just one of many great lines Mark Antony gets. Trust me; that Shakespeare guy is going to be a household name.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0912 ( 25,145 )
Across
1. North Carolina county ... or lead-in to "-ville" : ASHE
5. Family member, endearingly : PAPA
9. Produced : BEGAT
14. Keep away from : SHUN
15. Attribute for "my girl" after "Five Foot Two" in a 1920s tune : EYESOFBLUE
17. Notable feature of Chicago : WIND
18. *Literally, "small ovens" : PETITFOURS
19. Pricey bar : INGOT
21. CPR provider, for short : EMT
22. "That's quite a trick!" : NEAT
23. Philosopher Lao-___ : TZE
24. Throw in : ADD
27. Its first vol., A-Ant, was published in 1884 : OED
29. Slick : SLY
30. *Literally, "outside the works" : HORSDOEUVRES
34. Toward the rudder : AFT
35. ___ Cruces, N.M. : LAS
36. Eponymous naturalist of a California woods : MUIR
39. *Literally, "boil and lower" : BOUILLABAISSE
43. Slips up : ERRS
44. Sir, to a Brit : GUV
45. Ad follower : HOC
46. *Literally, "thousand-leaf" : MILLEFEUILLE
51. Succor, briefly : TLC
54. ___ Paulo, Brazil : SAO
55. Notable feature of San Francisco : FOG
56. Org. that monitors gas prices : AAA
57. Prefix with -nautic : AERO
59. What the V sign can also represent : TWO
61. Question after a bad pun : GETIT
63. Julia Child's PBS show, with "The" ... or one associated with the answers to the starred clues : FRENCHCHEF
67. Example of change : DIME
68. Ritzy hotel accommodations : TOWERSUITE
69. Ending with evil : DOER
70. Actress Spacek : SISSY
71. Contemptible sort : TOAD
72. Capp of classic comics : ANDY
Down
1. Just like : ASWITH
2. Historic political visitor to Pearl Harbor on 12/27/16 : SHINZOABE
3. Want really badly : HUNGERFOR
4. Inner: Prefix : ENDO
5. Energy : PEP
6. "Roger" in the Navy : AYE
7. Rose no longer seen in fields : PETE
8. Writer after whom an asteroid and Mars crater are named : ASIMOV
9. #1 pal : BFF
10. Jet-black : EBON
11. Secures, as scrapbook photos : GLUES
12. Like an otologist's exam : AURAL
13. Irascible : TESTY
16. River gamboler : OTTER
20. Small amount : TAD
25. "Guest" at a child's tea party : DOLL
26. Negotiation goal : DEAL
28. 50% to start? : DEMI
31. ___ und Drang : STURM
32. Grammarian's concern : USAGE
33. Food that comes in rolls : SUSHI
37. A quarantined person is kept in it : ISOLATION
38. Like about 17% of the land in Holland : RECLAIMED
40. Org. with a feared black-and-white flag : ISIS
41. Muscular : BUFF
42. Old Chevy model renamed the Sonic : AVEO
47. Certain trellis components : LATHS
48. Revealing, in a way : LOWCUT
49. Big name in comfy footwear : UGG
50. Cafe : EATERY
51. White House family of the early 1910s : TAFTS
52. "Vive ___!" : LEROI
53. Work groups : CREWS
58. Word sometimes substituted for "your" : ONES
60. Interstates 70 and 71 cross in its capital : OHIO
62. Ancient Icelandic literary work : EDDA
64. "___ 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war": Mark Antony : CRY
65. J.F.K. stat : ETA
66. Provided sustenance : FED

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?