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New York Times, Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Author:
Victor Fleming and Bonnie L. Gentry
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
463/29/20055/12/201724
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
75106666
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55023
Victor Fleming
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
510/27/20059/25/20134
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1012100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53110
Bonnie L. Gentry

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 31 Missing: {FQZ} This is puzzle # 37 for Mr. Fleming. This is puzzle # 5 for Ms. Gentry. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Vic: 'Do you remember this puzzle?' I asked Bonnie. Bonnie: Not so much. Vic: So Jeff sent us a copy. I solved it in under an ... read more

Vic: "Do you remember this puzzle?" I asked Bonnie.

Bonnie: Not so much.

Vic: So Jeff sent us a copy. I solved it in under an hour. Bonnie and I concluded that some time back one of us said to the other, "We need to collaborate on another Times crossword." That's a statement each of us has made many times over the years. Since my name is listed first, we think it was I who then said, "I'm thinking of a theme with 2-unit ILSAs*, in which the first and last unit can be the first unit in 2-unit ILSAs with a common second unit." Or words to that effect.

*(An ILSA is an "in-the-language stand-alone." I hope no one coined this acronym before I did, about five years ago. Here's to its being admitted to the dictionary someday! But I digress.)

LINE being the second unit in many a two-unit ILSA, we made a list of those, then worked with the first units to find our theme answers. We wanted at least six, and we wanted two pairs to be crossing in the northwest and southeast corners. The puzzle was submitted in October 2010 and accepted in December that year. Perhaps not wanting to risk comments like "That's so 2010!," Will rewrote most of our clues, though a couple of dozen survived unscathed. As always, he made the puzzle better.

Bonnie: I approve this message.

Will Shortz notes:
'Word before' and 'word after' sorts of themes have become overdone, I think. This one, though, I think is particularly pretty because ... read more

"Word before" and "word after" sorts of themes have become overdone, I think. This one, though, I think is particularly pretty because the key word combines with both halves of the other theme entries ... and there are six of them, not four. Very impressive.

Jeff Chen notes:
Nice example of the 'both halves of the theme entries can follow a certain word' theme type. Judge Vic and Bonnie are seasoned ... read more

Nice example of the "both halves of the theme entries can follow a certain word" theme type. Judge Vic and Bonnie are seasoned constructors and pull off this ambitious grid. Not only do they utilize six long theme answers but they intersect them. And then to top it off, they leave wide-open corners in the NW and SE when they could have broken them up (going from 76 words to 78 words). Bravo!

This is a difficult genre in which to construct, because it's often tough to find snappy two-word theme answers where both halves fit the "word that can follow X word" criteria. HOT WATER (hotline, water line) is fantastic, as is HARD TIME and AIR SUPPLY — three beautiful entries I would gladly put in one of my own puzzles. DATE BREAD and BOTTOM LAND seem to be "things", all right (at least according to the Google), but neither feels like a great answer to me. BUS SERVICE is certainly familiar, but not nearly as snazzy as the first three.

I appreciate how the theme entries stand out just due to puzzle layout, especially relevant because I felt yesterday's puzzle suffered a bit from this issue. I've highlighted the theme entries as a point of reference but note how it's not really necessary, as there are no answers longer than the themers.

Nice clean construction with very few ugly entries; the mark of pros at work. I had to search to find answers that I didn't like, which is always a great sign. RECOOK feels like a "roll-your-own" and TABOOED...at first I groaned a little, but after verifying that it actually can be used as a verb, I think I like it. Maybe if enough of us use it, we can make it "a thing", like eating a candy bar with a knife and fork. Or has that been tabooed?

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0925 ( 23,332 )
Across
1
Coastal backflows : EBBTIDES
9
Strongly criticize : ASSAIL
15
Speed trap operators : TROOPERS
16
Staunton of Harry Potter movies : IMELDA
17
*Deep trouble, informally : HOTWATER
18
Prepare, as leftovers : RECOOK
19
Hobby farm creature : ANT
20
Girl in a ball gown : DEB
21
More often than not : ASARULE
22
M.Sgt. and others : NCOS
24
Burst, as a pipe : RUPTURE
26
Amiens's river : SOMME
28
Directive repeated in an aerobics class : STEP
29
Recipe amt. : TBSP
33
Work assignment : LOAD
35
Dines : SUPS
37
Luau instrument, informally : UKE
38
Hated to death, say? : ANAGRAM
41
Gets ready to use, an an appliance : PLUGSIN
43
Lion's place : DEN
44
Crash-probing agcy. : NTSB
46
Thumbs-ups : YEAS
47
Pop : SODA
49
Work on copy : EDIT
51
Wintry mix : SLEET
54
Made illicit : TABOOED
57
Puzzle inventor Rubik : ERNO
58
Kittens come in them : LITTERS
61
___ alai : JAI
63
Dyer's vessel : VAT
64
Arriver's announcement : IMHERE
65
*Felon's sentence, maybe : HARDTIME
67
Aslan's home : NARNIA
68
School sound system : INTERCOM
69
Radiated, as charm : EXUDED
70
F.B.I. files : DOSSIERS
Down
1
Frome and others : ETHANS
2
It's more useful when it's busted : BRONCO
3
*Low-lying acreage : BOTTOMLAND
4
Haul to an impound lot : TOW
5
Jobs announcement of 2010 : IPAD
6
Hold off : DETER
7
God of darkness : EREBUS
8
Pre-Yeltsin-era letters : SSR
9
*Deep-sea diver's concern : AIRSUPPLY
10
Campaigner's dirty trick : SMEAR
11
Under wraps : SECRET
12
Name of three Giants outfielders in 1963 : ALOU
13
Kelly Clarkson was the first "American" one : IDOL
14
The Caspian Sea, as often classified : LAKE
21
Thoroughly enjoyed : ATEUP
23
Urban haze : SMOG
25
Six for a TD : PTS
27
Yield as profit : EARN
30
*Campus transportation, maybe : BUSSERVICE
31
One of a biathlete's pair : SKI
32
Where to do 65-Across : PEN
34
*Fruity loaf : DATEBREAD
36
Seeks damages : SUES
38
Some are personal : ADS
39
Intro to conservatism? : NEO
40
Early I.B.M. PC standard : MSDOS
42
Sayers portrayed in "Brian's Song" : GALE
45
Life sketch : BIO
48
Not skip : ATTEND
50
Selena's music style : TEJANO
52
Captivate : ENAMOR
53
Tribal emblems : TOTEMS
55
Hawk's home : AERIE
56
Moves abruptly : DARTS
58
Word that can follow each part of the answers to the six starred clues : LINE
59
Immersive film format : IMAX
60
Drive-___ : THRU
62
Midmonth day : IDES
65
Camouflaged : HID
66
Prefix with centennial : TRI

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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