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New York Times, Friday, September 13, 2019

Author:
Anne and Daniel Larsen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
19/13/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000010
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58000
Anne Larsen
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
42/14/201711/16/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0020011
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63001
Daniel Larsen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 28 Missing: {JQZ} This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Larsen. This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Larsen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
DANIEL: For years, I have been trying to figure out how to construct acceptable themeless puzzles. After all, good, original themes ... read more

DANIEL: For years, I have been trying to figure out how to construct acceptable themeless puzzles. After all, good, original themes are hard to come by. My first attempts were awful, but as my program and word list improved, so did my puzzles. Eventually, I got better at finding the delicate balance between including fresh words and minimizing bad fill.

This was the 4th puzzle I wrote with Anne, and it was the break-through. Our seeds were FRAPPUCCINO (UNICORN FRAPPUCCINO didn't fit) and YELLOW VESTS. At the time we wrote it, YELLOW VESTS was highly topical, and Will kindly expedited the publication so that it would still be relevant. I was doing a project about the Yellow Vest movement in school, and when I came home, I found out that this puzzle had been accepted. Perfect timing!

ANNE: I've been peripherally involved with Daniel's crossword activities for a while, but this is the first time one of our joint puzzles has been accepted. We wrote this when I was home from college over winter break, and I was looking forward to a French class about revolutions, which is what made me think of YELLOW VESTS. Despite the stereotype of the over-caffeinated college student, FRAPPUCCINO was not from personal experience.

Our basic model for constructing was that Daniel operated his program while I suggested words and provided "constructive" criticism. I'm just glad it worked!

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut themeless from one of the young guns – and his sister! Neat to see them work together. I keep suggesting to my ... read more

Debut themeless from one of the young guns – and his sister! Neat to see them work together. I keep suggesting to my four-year-old that we make a crossword together, so she can smash the record. Her reading/writing vocabulary is impressive already, so if I were a betting man, I'd set the over/under at age ... 10.

Not that I'd place bets on my own daughter! I'd never wager with other fathers on how many times she'd poop in a day or if she'd get across the monkey bars on the first try, no sirree!

(At least I bet ON her, never against her. Results: four, and she didn't.)

There's a lot to love in this 72-worder. Note that I didn't say "standard 72-worder." It's unusual to keep one's corners so wide open, because it's so hard to "turn the corner." ARCADE / COUGAR / TIRADE is a beautiful result coming off that ACT OF GOD / ROID RAGE / CURE ALLS triplet.

There were a couple of toughies, EREBUS, PEALE, and LATH having the potential to throw solvers off, but other than those hiccups, I was impressed by the quality of fill. It did take me 30 frustrating minutes to finish — about 3x as long as usual for a Friday. Perhaps that tough vocab was the culprit?

Puzzles that have such wide-open corners usually can't help but use a couple of neutral entries like EXPERTLY, INTERVAL, RANDALL. Nice clues for the last two, though, INTERVAL having potential for a clever musical clue, and [Tony with an Emmy] wonderfully confusing.

Speaking of wonderfully confusing, WTF does [Hear "here!" here] mean? It took me a few readings to realize how brilliantly that hinted at ROLL CALL.

I liked the modern touch of YELLOW VESTS (the recent French protest movement) and FRAPPUCCINO to balance out more tired material like SET SHOTS and ED O'NEILL, especially when the latter is clued to "Married with Children" instead of his more recent (and better) work.

Solid overall. I'd love to see more family duos pairing up.

Jim Horne notes:

Anne Larsen is the latest addition to our teenage constructors page.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0913 ( 25,511 )

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Across
1
Part of many an amusement park : ARCADE
7
"Curious ..." : THATSODD
15
B.Y.U. athlete : COUGAR
16
Title for Judge Judy : HERHONOR
17
Tweetstorm, e.g. : TIRADE
18
With finesse : EXPERTLY
19
___ of Solomon (part of the Apocrypha) : ODES
20
Playbill section, informally : BIOS
22
Norman Vincent ___, best-selling author of "The Power of Positive Thinking" : PEALE
23
Hybrid Starbucks product : FRAPPUCCINO
26
Course number : PAR
27
Actress Gadot : GAL
28
"If you have to ___ ..." : ASK
29
Chuckleheads : GOOBERS
31
Behaved creepily, in a way : OGLED
33
Auto industry pioneer Michelin : ANDRE
34
News ___ : DESK
35
It's not good if it's purple : PROSE
37
Dict., gaz. and others : REFS
41
Volume not bought at a mall : EBOOK
43
Perspective : ANGLE
44
Tony with an Emmy : RANDALL
47
Substance whose primary use earned its discoverer the 1948 Nobel Prize in Physiology - but is now banned : DDT
49
Heat on the street : GAT
50
Kind of rock : EMO
51
French protesters beginning in 2018 : YELLOWVESTS
54
Caterpillar, for one : LARVA
56
Like koalas and pandas : CUTE
57
Wood strip : LATH
58
Major second, e.g. : INTERVAL
60
Fashion designer Pucci : EMILIO
62
Al Bundy portrayer on "Married ... With Children" : EDONEILL
63
Kitsch, e.g. : BADART
64
Birds with showy rear plumage : FANTAILS
65
Many early settlers of the U.S. frontier : SWEDES
Down
1
Natural disaster, legally : ACTOFGOD
2
Doping hazard : ROIDRAGE
3
Magic bullets : CUREALLS
4
Breathless : AGASP
5
#1 ___ (mug inscription) : DAD
6
Darkness personified : EREBUS
7
Teen drama set in SoCal : THEOC
8
Symbols meant to ward off evil : HEXSIGNS
9
Artist who created "chance collages" : ARP
10
Target demographic of many social programs : THEPOOR
11
Cross : SORE
12
Recorded, in a way : ONTAPE
13
Word with store or sign : DOLLAR
14
Laundromat equipment : DRYERS
21
"Ugh!" : ICK
24
Digs : PAD
25
Part of a network : NODE
30
European capital : BERN
32
Scraped (out) : EKED
33
Copacetic : AOK
35
Trolley car feature : POLE
36
Hear "here!" here : ROLLCALL
38
Picnic dish : EGGSALAD
39
What a fork in the road might lead to? : FLATTIRE
40
What are still attempts to score? : SETSHOTS
42
Where Gap and Google are headquartered : BAYAREA
43
4x4, e.g. : ATV
44
"Phew!" elicitor : RELIEF
45
Spock's mother : AMANDA
46
Big name in virus fighting : NORTON
47
Equivalent of "x" : DOT
48
Nerds : DWEEBS
52
Puts to sleep : LULLS
53
Slur over : ELIDE
55
Part of a volcano : VENT
59
Edward of the Edwardian Era : VII
61
Big mouth : MAW

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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