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New York Times, Thursday, September 26, 2013

Author: Tom Pepper and Victor Barocas
Editor: Will Shortz
Tom Pepper
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
72/6/201210/19/20163
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0311200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64011
Victor Barocas
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
92/9/20115/22/20165
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3012300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62022
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Pepper. This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Barocas. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: TOM: In the original version, six of the eight black bars coming in from the edge of the puzzle were four deep, and the other two ... more
Constructor notes:

TOM: In the original version, six of the eight black bars coming in from the edge of the puzzle were four deep, and the other two were three deep. Just looking at the puzzle would make you start choking. It was like nine little 4x4 puzzles. I tried to rewrite it to give it some air, but just couldn't get it to work. Those pesky edge-themers are so uncooperative! So I did what any reasonable constructor would do: I called a friend. Victor fixed the grid and offered some new theme answers that opened up better fill possibilities. The end result was a much, much better grid.

You can thank Victor for NINE WEST — I had no clue. In our final iterations, adding a black square to change TWO-FACED to TWO-FACE (and EIGHT HOURS to EIGHT DAYS) got us over the hump with only AMAD and APIE to really grumble about. At one point we had DIRTY POOL crossing SMARTASS in the SW, and I was sad to give that up, but I love DEATH STAR.

VICTOR: This was a great project — Tom did most of the work, and I got half the credit! For those interested in the process, I think that 66-A is a marvelous illustration of how things evolve. Before the black-square change, it had NUDIST CAMP, and then in the revised version (final grid structure), it was SANTA CLARA, COMIC OPERA, and END OF AN ERA before settling on I AM A CAMERA. I hope that people enjoyed the puzzle — life is a cabaret!

Will Shortz notes: I met Tom Pepper and Victor Barocas when I was in Minneapolis two weeks ago. There is a surprisingly large crossword-constructing community there. This puzzle's theme is first-rate, I think.
Jeff Chen notes: Clever WITT (Wish I'd Thought of That) idea and clean execution; a winner of a puzzle. CLOCK is incorporated in the center of the ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Clever WITT (Wish I'd Thought of That) idea and clean execution; a winner of a puzzle. CLOCK is incorporated in the center of the puzzle, and the clock number (in the proper position) needs to be added for the clue to make sense (DOZEN becomes TWELVE DOZEN, for example). Perhaps a touch on the easy side for a Thursday puzzle, but what an enjoyable five minutes of solving. Kudos to Tom and Victor.

The difficulty of the construction might not jump out at you because of the excellent execution, but this perimeter theme arrangement is a bear. Most recently, the legendary Liz Gorski did it on a Sunday puzzle and commented on the challenge. Such degree of interlock in the corners places high constraints on the grid, making each corner an individual nightmare to fill.

But Tom and Victor have done it well, even incorporating such great long stuff as SIAMESE CAT, SHIPSHAPE, DEATH STAR, and GO TO SLEEP. The SW corner is especially smooth, I appreciate how much care they've put into it. If AGRI is your only blip (and it's an awfully minor one) I call that a giant success.

To be sure, there are signs of the construction challenge in the AMIGA/GALOP area and the obsolete GMAC, but those are very small prices to pay. And I would bet Tom and Victor tried many other entries in place of I AM A CAMERA before settling on it. Note the alternating vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant (repeat) pattern, which often makes construction easier, especially when surrounding fill like SIDED exhibits the same pattern. I AM A CAMERA not a first-rate answer, but it does its job. Such is the difficulty in incorporating long fill with this sort of perimeter themed puzzle.

There are more nice puzzles coming up this week, but this innovative and beautifully executed xw gets my POW!

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,333
Across Down
1. It has a red stripe in pool : ELEVENBALL
5. A gross : TWELVEDOZEN
10. 50% : ONEHALF
14. Modern pentathlon event : EPEE
15. Fuming : IRATE
16. Potential solution : IDEA
17. Blue-eyed pet : SIAMESECAT
19. Former car-financing co. : GMAC
20. It sticks out in some joints : TENON
21. Neat : SHIPSHAPE
23. See 18-Down : INTO
25. Not obvious : LATENT
26. Earned : WON
28. "Slow Churned" brand : EDYS
31. "___ durn tootin'!" : YER
32. With 29-Down, "golden treasure" in a Bilbo Baggins riddle : EGG
33. Wild scenes : RIOTS
35. Bob in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame : SEGER
39. Neatnik's opposite : SLOB
41. Instrument that hints at the missing parts of certain answers in this puzzle : CLOCK
43. ___ Fayed, last romantic partner of Princess Diana : DODI
44. Kind of sax : TENOR
46. Down Under climber : KOALA
48. Certain shoe shade : TAN
49. Cutesy-wutesy affection : LUV
51. Oil container : DRUM
52. Texter's exclamation : OMG
53. Part of the British Isles, poetically : SCOTIA
56. Thickness measures : MILS
58. Darth Vader locale : DEATHSTAR
61. Dance reminiscent of a horse's gait : GALOP
64. Business opening? : AGRI
65. Play that was the basis for "Cabaret" : IAMACAMERA
67. Caroling time : YULE
68. "30 Rock" character, or the first name of his portrayer : TRACY
69. Look intently : PEER
70. Sailors' domain : SEVENSEAS
71. Like a die : SIXSIDED
72. Fin : FIVESPOT
1. Annual Car and Driver list : TENBEST
2. "... baked in ___" : APIE
3. Using for support : LEANINGON
4. Car that leaves you with a sour taste? : LEMON
5. Slam : DIS
6. Some tram loads : ORES
7. Galifianakis of "The Hangover" : ZACH
8. Amazon business : ETAIL
9. Take-home : NETPAY
10. Colleges and universities, informally : HIGHERED
11. Marketing pro : ADMAN
12. Vaulted : LEAPT
13. Acid-burned Bat-villain : TWOFACE
18. With 23-Across, sign, as a contract : ENTER
22. Marie et Thérèse: Abbr. : STES
24. Like much of Horace's poetry : ODIC
26. Popular women's shoe seller : NINEWEST
27. Check out : OGLE
29. See 32-Across : YOLK
30. Left the bench, say : STOOD
34. Appendectomy memento : SCAR
36. Drift off : GOTOSLEEP
37. Cheese with a red coat : EDAM
38. Like some circuses : THREERING
40. Western party wear : BOLOTIES
42. Model/TV host Heidi : KLUM
45. "Whither thou goest, I will go" speaker : RUTH
47. Guadalajara girlfriend : AMIGA
50. Calls on : VISITS
53. Transition : SEGUE
54. Head nurse on "Scrubs" : CARLA
55. Creator of Asteroids : ATARI
57. Lanterns, e.g. : LAMPS
58. Length of a Beatles "week" : EIGHTDAYS
59. In ___ rush : AMAD
60. Hustle : RACE
62. Twistable treat : OREO
63. Like barbershop harmony : FOURPART
66. Dancer Charisse : CYD

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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