It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge for best results.

New York Times, Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Author:
Peter A. Collins
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1065/2/20061/31/201912
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
512253614104
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.565313
Peter A. Collins
Peter, Will and Liane

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 34 Missing: {BQX} This is puzzle # 83 for Mr. Collins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter A. Collins notes:
To be completely honest, themes like the one in this puzzle (where all the first or last words in various phrases are synonyms for a ... read more

To be completely honest, themes like the one in this puzzle (where all the first or last words in various phrases are synonyms for a word in the revealer) have never really thrilled me too much. They just don't seem to have the level of wordplay I expect. I don't think I've ever had another one of these published.

So why did I write this one? There are a couple of reasons. First of all, about a year ago I saw a notice (I can't remember where) stating that Will Shortz was relatively low on Monday puzzles. I don't have very many Monday puzzles under my belt, and I really appreciate the skills of Lynn Lempel, Andrea Carla Michaels, and others who can make fun, interesting puzzles while working with the limited palette of Monday-friendly vocabulary. So this was my attempt at a Monday puzzle. I only missed by two days.

Second, about the same time I saw Will's message, I solved a Fireball contest puzzle by Peter Gordon with the title "Head Start." My immediate reaction upon seeing the title was to think that Peter's theme was similar to the theme of my puzzle. That idea didn't last long. If you know the Fireball at all, my kind of theme would be way too straight forward for Peter. Nonetheless, I thought it would make a good Monday theme, so I rounded up a few phrases with "head" starts, and went to work.

I do, however, like the sonic semblance of the symmetrically-placed ISAAC STERN and KAZAKHSTAN.

About the picture above: Will and Liane (Hansen) were on an NPR barnstorming tour — if you donated enough money to your local station, you could come and have a glass of wine with the Weekend Edition host and the Puzzlemaster. Even though this was from before my puzzle constructing days, I did slip Will a puzzle idea I had for the NPR Sunday Puzzle. I'm happy to report that he actually used it! That was the start of my puzzling career.

I guess you can take that last comment two ways.

Will Shortz notes:
This puzzle reminds me of a supposed 'themeless' crossword that Will Weng once ran, in which each of the long answers contained a ... read more

This puzzle reminds me of a supposed "themeless" crossword that Will Weng once ran, in which each of the long answers contained a synonym for "rear end." After publication, when the hidden theme was pointed out to him, the proper-minded Weng embarrassedly expressed regret about publishing it. I wonder what he would have thought about today's theme?!

Jeff Chen notes:
I've enjoyed getting to know Pete through these comments. Turns out that both of us are boys at heart, so I smiled at today's puzzle. ... read more

I've enjoyed getting to know Pete through these comments. Turns out that both of us are boys at heart, so I smiled at today's puzzle. I didn't know what was going on, and hitting HEAD STARTS made me laugh out loud. You'd think I'd be tired of potty humor by age 42, but no.

I'm impressed that Pete found such great theme phrases, given how constrained he must have been. Often you can find enough theme entries, but pairing them symmetrically can be another story. PRIVY COUNCIL is one of the few "PRIVY ___" phrases out there, and what can you make out of WC but WC HANDY and WC FIELDS? It is nice that CAN and JOHN both give good flexibility, but still, finding a theme set that follows crossword rules can often be problematic.

Does toilet humor belong in the NYT crossword? I'm not sure. As much as I enjoyed the theme, I was surprised to see it. Perhaps I'm being too much of a stickler — I'm sure there are many solvers who will have my heh-heh-heh boyish reaction as well — but there's something undignified about it appearing in the hallowed tradition of the NYT. I enjoyed the theme immensely and might have given this puzzle the POW! If it had been in a different venue.

I appreciate Pete's efforts to incorporate long fill. I was struggling to spell KAZAKHSTAN correctly during my solve, so I was amused when Pete spelled it KAZAHKSTAN too when he sent me his notes. There was a good amount of esoterica today, but I did enjoy learning LANTANA, a ROSCOE being a mob gun, and the mysterious (but what was probably many people's favorite show?) DAKTARI. Perhaps a tad much new info to glean out of one puzzle? Not sure.

BTW, hopefully people have noticed Pete's Benjamin Button act, his pictures gradually going back in time. By the time he hits his 100th puzzle, we'll need a baby pic. LOO-king sharp! (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)

1
D
2
E
3
P
4
P
5
D
6
E
7
C
8
O
9
R
10
M
11
I
12
C
13
A
14
O
V
E
R
15
O
C
U
L
O
16
A
S
A
N
17
C
A
N
O
18
F
W
O
R
M
S
19
G
A
N
G
20
S
C
H
M
O
21
R
E
C
22
R
E
A
T
E
23
P
R
24
I
25
V
Y
C
O
U
N
C
I
L
26
D
27
A
28
K
T
A
R
I
29
E
N
T
S
30
E
T
A
S
31
O
C
32
T
33
A
34
N
A
T
35
T
36
Y
37
L
I
Z
38
W
C
H
A
N
39
D
Y
40
E
R
A
41
I
T
A
42
L
O
43
Y
E
T
I
44
P
R
O
D
45
K
A
O
46
S
47
O
C
48
E
A
N
I
A
49
J
50
O
H
N
F
K
51
E
52
N
N
E
D
Y
53
E
A
S
T
S
I
D
E
54
I
D
55
O
56
S
57
O
58
S
R
T
A
59
H
E
A
60
D
61
S
T
A
R
T
S
62
S
E
A
N
63
A
M
P
E
D
64
Y
E
A
H
65
E
D
N
A
66
T
A
S
E
S
67
S
O
Y
A
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0903 ( 23,675 )
Across
1
2013 Tonto portrayer : DEPP
5
Artwork and furnishings : DECOR
10
Flaky mineral : MICA
14
Word at the bottom of a page, perhaps : OVER
15
Eye: Prefix : OCULO
16
Slippery ___ eel : ASAN
17
Metaphorical mess : CANOFWORMS
19
Bloods or Crips : GANG
20
Working stiff : SCHMO
21
Stage, say : RECREATE
23
Monarch's advisers : PRIVYCOUNCIL
26
1960s TV show featuring the cross-eyed lion Clarence : DAKTARI
29
Wizards of aahs, for short? : ENTS
30
Postings at LAX and ORD : ETAS
31
Twice tetra- : OCTA
34
Sharply dressed : NATTY
37
___ Lemon ("30 Rock" role) : LIZ
38
"St. Louis Blues" composer : WCHANDY
40
Period sometimes named after a president : ERA
41
Author Calvino : ITALO
43
Himalayan legend : YETI
44
Push : PROD
45
"Get Smart" adversary : KAOS
47
Micronesia's home : OCEANIA
49
Only president to win a Pulitzer : JOHNFKENNEDY
53
Manhattan region : EASTSIDE
54
"You're wrong about me!" : IDOSO
58
Mex. miss : SRTA
59
Race advantages ... or a hint to 17-, 23-, 38- and 49-Across : HEADSTARTS
62
___ Parker, first president of Facebook : SEAN
63
Fired up : AMPED
64
"Oh, why not?!" : YEAH
65
"Giant" novelist Ferber : EDNA
66
Jolts, in a way : TASES
67
Bean staple : SOYA
Down
1
Official paperwork, for short : DOCS
2
FEMA request, briefly : EVAC
3
Phnom ___ : PENH
4
Memory triggers : PROMPTS
5
Big name in chemicals : DOW
6
"The Name of the Rose" author : ECO
7
Rice spice : CURRY
8
Ancient Mexican : OLMEC
9
Mobster's gun : ROSCOE
10
Burgundy relative : MAGENTA
11
Musician with a Presidential Medal of Freedom : ISAACSTERN
12
"Ple-e-e-ease?" : CANTI
13
Guardian ___ : ANGEL
18
Words with time or song : FORA
22
Undercooked, as an egg : RUNNY
24
Old stock car inits. : IROC
25
French spa locale : VICHY
26
Place where people pick lox? : DELI
27
Bickering : ATIT
28
Former Soviet republic : KAZAKHSTAN
32
___ Bo : TAE
33
Chekhov or Bruckner : ANTON
35
"Star Trek: T.N.G." counselor : TROI
36
One-third of "et cetera"? : YADA
38
Scares a cat, in a way : WOOFS
39
Chop up : DICE
42
Showy flower : LANTANA
44
Biweekly occurrences, for many : PAYDAYS
46
Part of Waldo's wear in "Where's Waldo?" : SKIHAT
48
Shorten, say : EDIT
49
Track great Owens : JESSE
50
Worked on a trireme : OARED
51
Plant swelling : EDEMA
52
Minimum-range tides : NEAPS
55
Traditional ingredient in cookies and cream ice cream : OREO
56
Certain court order : STAY
57
Workplace rules setter, for short : OSHA
60
Joey ___ & the Starliters : DEE
61
1960s antiwar grp. : SDS

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?