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New York Times, Monday, September 29, 2014

Author:
Eric Sydney Phillips
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
19/29/20140
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.73000
Eric Sydney Phillips

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 81, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FQVX} Spans: 1 This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Phillips. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Eric Sydney Phillips notes:
I work on and sometimes appear in the television show 'Comedy Bang! Bang!' on IFC. I have the stop-start nature of TV production to thank for ... read more

I work on and sometimes appear in the television show "Comedy Bang! Bang!" on IFC. I have the stop-start nature of TV production to thank for my New York Times debut — this puzzle was created in between seasons two and three of the show. In the past few years, it has been a total joy to have gotten to work on so many labors of love and see them at completion.

The idea for this puzzle came from watching a player spotlight package during ESPN's coverage of the World Series of Poker. "I Knew You When" was in my head probably only because it's the title of a "Friday Night Lights" episode.

Will Shortz notes:
I made two small grid changes in Eric's fine puzzle today. He had CREEL, a fishing basket, at 34A. It's a hardish word. I wouldn't have minded ... read more

I made two small grid changes in Eric's fine puzzle today. He had CREEL, a fishing basket, at 34A. It's a hardish word. I wouldn't have minded it, actually, even for a Monday, but my 22-year-old assistant, Joel, was not familiar with H. R. HALDEMAN, which intersected it. He suggested STEEL instead, and I agreed. No one should have trouble now.

Another issue was the constructor's answer TEN-K at 67A. That could have been tricky for beginners, as the number in the race name is usually rendered in digits and the hyphen is unexpected. Of course, not everything in a Monday puzzle has to be easy, as long as the crossings are fair. I don't want to baby everyone. But all in all PECK seemed like a better choice.

Jeff Chen notes:
It seems only appropriate that a debut constructor would debut a theme that's novel to me. A slice of Americana today, the HOMETOWN HERO MAKES ... read more

It seems only appropriate that a debut constructor would debut a theme that's novel to me. A slice of Americana today, the HOMETOWN HERO MAKES GOOD out of HUMBLE BEGINNINGS. Quintessential Midwest spirit; excellent NYT crossword material.

The theme spoke to me, as I recently wrote to a guy out of this mold, Joe Moravsky, as part of my send-a-fan-letter-a-month goal. As some of you know, I'm obsessed with American Ninja Warrior, and seeing Joe go so far this year on a nearly impossible obstacle course inspired me. He wrote back to me within hours (awesome!) with a funny rejoinder to my comment about the difficulties of climbing in tennis shoes. His response:

LOL, next time rock climbing shoes WILL BE COMING WITH ME.

This is an audacious first puzzle. With five themers, typically newer constructors shy away from incorporating very much longer fill. It was a treat to see HR HALDEMAN and NINE MONTHS appear, but we're also treated with ALL TOLD and CLIP ART. That's a lot of snazzy stuff packed into a grid already dense with constraints. Excellent use of those two 7-letter slots.

The trade-offs. I can never decide if I love or detest YEGGS, appearing in a spot that's somewhat highly constrained (once you fix the snappy OLD MEN). I'm okay with YEGGS when crosses are fair, but I wonder if newer solvers will be turned off by the ESME crossing. I think I was supposed to read ESME in college (along with many other things I skimmed). Or was that OMOO? The SER / PEALE crossing might cause similar dissatisfaction (can someone tell me if church programs really have SER. on them?). I feel it very important to make the Monday puzzle a satisfying entryway into the NYT crossword.

Otherwise though, just a TRY A here, an ANO and an APACE there, not bad. I really like Will's change, as TEN-K always seems so odd to me. I know quite a few constructors who strive for TENK, ONED, etc. but I'm personally not a fan. The 10-K of running and the 10-K of SEC filings are never written TEN-K, so I find it odd.

Nice way to start the week.

1
M
2
P
3
H
4
A
5
G
6
H
7
A
8
S
9
T
10
S
11
I
12
B
13
S
14
S
E
R
15
L
O
I
T
E
R
16
J
A
M
I
E
17
N
A
H
18
I
K
N
E
W
Y
19
O
U
W
H
E
N
20
B
L
A
21
H
22
A
D
A
23
A
L
L
T
O
L
D
24
C
E
L
E
25
B
R
I
T
26
Y
27
D
I
O
28
D
R
A
T
29
E
30
S
M
E
31
N
32
A
33
B
34
S
35
T
E
E
L
36
A
37
R
G
U
E
38
M
I
R
E
39
H
U
M
B
L
40
E
B
E
G
I
N
41
N
I
N
G
S
42
E
B
A
Y
43
L
E
A
S
T
44
O
R
E
O
S
45
P
A
N
46
I
T
L
L
47
G
U
A
M
48
S
R
O
49
M
50
A
51
K
E
S
G
O
52
O
53
D
54
C
55
L
56
I
P
A
R
57
T
58
A
N
O
59
E
N
Z
O
60
H
O
M
E
T
O
W
61
N
H
E
R
62
O
63
T
A
P
64
A
P
A
C
E
65
I
C
E
A
G
E
66
H
R
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67
P
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C
K
68
N
O
D
D
E
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69
S
K
Y
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0929 ( 23,701 )
Across
1. Hwy. speed : MPH
4. Shocked ... SHOCKED! : AGHAST
10. Brothers and sisters, for short : SIBS
14. Sun. talk : SER
15. Hang around a public place : LOITER
16. Actor/stand-up comic Foxx : JAMIE
17. Opposite of yeah : NAH
18. Words to a local success story : IKNEWYOUWHEN
20. Unexciting : BLAH
22. Org. on a toothpaste tube : ADA
23. After everything's been said and done : ALLTOLD
24. What a local success story achieves : CELEBRITY
27. Italian "god" : DIO
28. "Darn it!" : DRAT
29. Salinger girl : ESME
31. Catch in the act : NAB
34. Longtime Pittsburgh product : STEEL
36. Dispute : ARGUE
38. Mud : MIRE
39. What a local success story comes from : HUMBLEBEGINNINGS
42. Website with a "Buy It Now" button : EBAY
43. Not in the ___ : LEAST
44. Cookies that can be twisted apart : OREOS
45. Zero-star review : PAN
46. "___ have to wait" : ITLL
47. Pacific island "where America's day begins" : GUAM
48. Sign of a sellout : SRO
49. What a local success story does : MAKESGOOD
54. Copy-and-paste illustrations : CLIPART
58. Year, in Mexico : ANO
59. Automaker Ferrari : ENZO
60. Local success story : HOMETOWNHERO
63. Dance often done with top hat and cane : TAP
64. With speed : APACE
65. Hit 2002 film with talking sloths : ICEAGE
66. Charlemagne's domain: Abbr. : HRE
67. 1/4 bushel : PECK
68. O.K.'d silently : NODDED
69. Wild blue yonder : SKY
Down
1. Rachel Maddow's channel : MSNBC
2. Norman Vincent ___, author of "The Power of Positive Thinking" : PEALE
3. Nixon White House chief of staff : HRHALDEMAN
4. Foreman opponent : ALI
5. Racing vehicle on a small track : GOKART
6. Delhi language : HINDI
7. Greatly bothered : ATEAT
8. Use needle and thread : SEW
9. "___ Little Tenderness" (1960s hit) : TRYA
10. Dealt with : SAWTO
11. Start of a web address? : IMHO
12. Actress Jessica : BIEL
13. Bad thing to hit if one didn't mean to "reply all" : SEND
16. Andrews of "Mary Poppins" : JULIE
19. Geezers : OLDMEN
21. As a result, in formal language : HEREBY
25. Event attended by Cinderella : BALL
26. Safecrackers : YEGGS
30. Hearts or clubs : SUIT
31. Pregnant pause? : NINEMONTHS
32. 2012 Best Picture with Ben Affleck : ARGO
33. Mrs. Truman : BESS
34. Herding dog, informally : SHEP
35. Big instrument in a marching band : TUBA
36. Brother of Cain : ABEL
37. Kingdom : REALM
38. Vision of a distant oasis, maybe : MIRAGE
40. Six Flags coaster whose name is Spanish for "The Bull" : ELTORO
41. Entre ___ : NOUS
46. Livid : IRATE
47. First name of three U.S. presidents : GEORGE
48. Bit of dust : SPECK
50. Oohed and ___ : AAHED
51. Work, as dough : KNEAD
52. Arkansas's ___ Mountains : OZARK
53. Idiotic : DOPEY
54. Fellow : CHAP
55. Horse's run : LOPE
56. Computer whose second letter is capitalized : IMAC
57. Romulus or Remus : TWIN
61. Sgt., for one : NCO
62. Word ref. started in 1857 : OED

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?