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New York Times, Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Author: Joel Fagliano and Finn Vigeland
Editor: Will Shortz
Joel Fagliano
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5610/22/20091/14/20184
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
13810710224
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65351
Finn Vigeland
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1510/20/20102/10/20184
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6123012
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64220

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 33 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 41 for Mr. Fagliano. This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Vigeland. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: JOEL: I take the train from New York City out to Will's house in Pleasantville each day, so I'm very familiar with the 'Watch the ... more
Constructor notes:

JOEL: I take the train from New York City out to Will's house in Pleasantville each day, so I'm very familiar with the "Watch the Gap" warning on every platform. This theme sprung from the realization that the "The Gap" doubled as a store. For a while, though, I couldn't get a full symmetrical set, so this sat around in my half-baked ideas notebook. When I pitched it to Finn, he came back with some great feedback about my existing examples and some new ones we might try. SUBWAY FARE was one of his, and I particularly like how both words change meaning in that one. Really elegant. Anyway, Finn was a great collaborator — hopefully this is the first of many from us!

FINN: It was a ton of fun to collaborate with Joel on this puzzle. Once we placed the theme answers and decided on a grid design that looked like it would work, it was surprisingly easy to split the grid in two. We only had to pre-determine two squares (the B at the end of CASHCAB and the E at the start of ENGRAVE) in order to be able to fill each half without the other one being there, since every other connecting entry between the two sides was a themer. I filled the left half and Joel took the right, and then I clued the acrosses and he clued the downs. Editing each other's work was a great exercise in understanding the other's style. To constructors looking to change things up: I highly recommend collaborating with a friend!

Jeff Chen notes: Fun theme, regular phrases interpreted in relation to a store that might be found in a mall — TARGET, SUBWAY, GAP, and APPLE ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Fun theme, regular phrases interpreted in relation to a store that might be found in a mall — TARGET, SUBWAY, GAP, and APPLE are ubiquitous in malls and are ripe for wordplay. I've heard the SUBWAY FARE line before, but the others felt pretty fresh.

Apple store in Ginza, Japan

With just four themers, I'd expect some nice long fill from Joel and Finn, and they deliver. I didn't remember how close the name NORMA BATES was to Norman Bates. Fun to piece that one together.

They also give us two long acrosses, which are much less common than long downs. This can be tricky, as these long across slots can cause filling problems. Check out how much overlap there is between APPLE TURNOVER and BANNER ADS, for example. The good thing is that the BANNER ADS slot can be filled with just about anything, and Joel/Finn select a strong entry that facilitates easy crosses. I really like how they worked in UBER and T BONED in that section.

I wasn't much a fan of CAREERIST though. It does have dictionary support, but I can't remember ever hearing the term throughout my engineering or startup pharma careers. Or through business school. It does allow for CASH CAB to be worked in, but I'm undecided on how good an answer that is. I did catch some episodes while it was on, but I wonder if it will seem passe to some solvers even now.

I like how they pushed the word count to 74, allowing for more 6-letter words than usual. TOW CAR and TURRET are ones we don't see every day. I did feel like the fill strained slightly, at least more than what I'm used to seeing with Joel's work — it's unusual to see even a single ABAA or an EFTS in his puzzles.

This is a rare case where I thought the theme would have made for a better Sunday-size grid. I liked the idea, amusing in its store wordplay, but I got a sense for only a teenty-tiny mall. I would have enjoyed another three or four stores added into the mix, in order to set the scene more completely. Perhaps STAPLES, KAY (Jewelers), PAYLESS, SEES (Candies), etc.?

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0916 ( 24,053 )
Across Down
1. Fancy wheels, familiarly : BENZ
5. Speed-of-sound ratio : MACH
9. Commotion : SCENE
14. Cornfield menace : CROW
15. Certain quatrain rhyme scheme : ABAA
16. Hot winter quaff : COCOA
17. Ladder climber : CAREERIST
19. Archaeologist's workplace : RUINS
20. "Welcome to the mall! Make sure you don't ___" : MISSTHETARGET
22. Letter that rhymes with 34-Across and 21-Down : ETA
24. Rocky road ingredient, for short : CHOC
25. Some inkjets : HPS
26. "The food court offers much more than just your typical ___" : SUBWAYFARE
29. Young salamanders : EFTS
33. Vagabond : TRAMP
34. See 22-Across : BETA
36. What's a bit of a shock to a chemist? : ION
37. Style of New York's Chrysler Building : ARTDECO
40. Sequel : PARTTWO
42. Souvenir shop purchase : TEE
43. Bird in Genesis : DOVE
45. Home to Incan 19-Across : CUZCO
46. E-tailer of homemade knickknacks : ETSY
48. "Some people hate the next store, but I don't ___" : MINDTHEGAP
51. Before, poetically : ERE
53. Silk Road desert : GOBI
54. Settings for "Grey's Anatomy" and "House," for short : ERS
55. "I don't really know the employees in the tech store anymore because there's been a lot of ___" : APPLETURNOVER
60. Down Under dweller : KOALA
61. Major source of online revenue : BANNERADS
64. Declined, with "out" : OPTED
65. Woman's name that sounds like its first two letters : EVIE
66. Farm feed : SLOP
67. Down-and-out : NEEDY
68. Clarinetist's need : REED
69. Risqué, say : EDGY
1. Email add-on : BCC
2. 1970s political cause, for short : ERA
3. "Psycho" character who is (spoiler alert!) actually a corpse : NORMABATES
4. Two, in German : ZWEI
5. Like a bog : MARSHY
6. Some : ABITOF
7. Bygone game show filmed in a moving vehicle : CASHCAB
8. ___-watch : HATE
9. Quarrel : SCRAP
10. Soup or dessert : COURSE
11. Tobaccoless smoke, informally : ECIG
12. What the fourth little piggy had : NONE
13. Jet stream's heading : EAST
18. Got away : ESCAPED
21. See 22-Across : THETA
22. A lot of rich people? : ESTATE
23. Castle part : TURRET
27. Iraq war subj. : WMD
28. Gym unit : REP
30. "Tales of the Jazz Age" writer : FITZGERALD
31. Vehicle clearing a no-parking zone : TOWCAR
32. Pries : SNOOPS
35. Record holder : ARCHIVE
38. One of Santa's reindeer : COMET
39. Egg: Prefix : OVI
41. Calendar abbr. : TUE
44. Etch : ENGRAVE
47. Cried : YELLED
49. One of the Wahlbergs : DONNIE
50. Crashed into the side of : TBONED
52. "Shall we?" : READY
55. "I Wanna Love You" singer, 2006 : AKON
56. John or Paul, but not Ringo : POPE
57. Savory spread : PATE
58. Transportation competitor of Lyft : UBER
59. Old World language : ERSE
62. Pursue : DOG
63. 2015 Melissa McCarthy comedy : SPY

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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