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New York Times, Thursday, September 26, 2013

Author:
Tom Pepper and Victor Barocas
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
82/6/20122/12/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0321200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64011
Tom Pepper
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
102/9/20111/21/20186
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4012300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62022
Victor Barocas

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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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P
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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0926 ( 23,333 )
Across
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
Down
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, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?