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New York Times, Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Author:
Kyle T. Dolan
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
85/22/201211/16/20180
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1021112
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1.55120
Kyle T. Dolan

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FJQX} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Dolan. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kyle T. Dolan notes:
I began making this puzzle on January 12, 2013, two days after Kevan Choset's 'Wheel of Fortune'-themed puzzle appeared in the Times. ... read more

I began making this puzzle on January 12, 2013, two days after Kevan Choset's "Wheel of Fortune"-themed puzzle appeared in the Times. I'm a big fan of "The Price Is Right", and like other classic game shows, I thought its cross-generational appeal would make for a good pop culture theme. I discovered that THE PRICE IS RIGHT, BOB BARKER, and DREW CAREY could make a nice 9/15/9 scaffold, and I started designing potential grids.

In my earliest draft, "Showcase Showdown" filled two symmetric 8-letter entries; however, I soon embraced the idea of making the "wheel" shape that you see in the puzzle, which somewhat resembles the 20-sided wheel they use for this game on the show. (If you draw straight lines to connect the letter sequence, you'll see what I mean.) The best visual approximation I could come up with required breaking the 16-letter phrase into 3-letter pieces connected by single letters. It was very fortuitous that the triplets at 15A, 33D, 57A, and 27D didn't require iffy fill.

I completed the first draft in 15 days — at the time a record pace for me — and sent it to Will. He liked the theme and asked me to revise some less desirable fill. The second draft was accepted in July 2013. Will made a few cosmetic improvements, particularly the lower-right corner, where I had NCAA and EERY(???) at neighboring Downs. Today, I'd certainly spend some extra time to smooth over little rough patches like that.

I'm especially happy with the longer Down answers I found I could fit in — LOVE BITES, BREWED UP, GAS RING, BEER CAN, IDLEWILD, and PG RATINGS were all part of my original draft. Getting the double stacks in the top-left and bottom-right corners was especially satisfying because of the triple-checked letters in SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN.

I was happy to see that my clues for 39A, 56A, 10D, 26D, and several other entries made it through intact or with minor adjustments. I continue to learn from Will's clue editing, and this puzzle was a lesson in precise, vivid cluing. A perfect example is at 48D, where my original clue was [Nonplussed response]. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Will for making it possible for me to share all this with you!

Jeff Chen notes:
As a latchkey kid, I watched an embarrassing amount of terrible TV (which was *ahem* incredibly enjoyable). Sometimes I wonder what I ... read more

As a latchkey kid, I watched an embarrassing amount of terrible TV (which was *ahem* incredibly enjoyable). Sometimes I wonder what I could have done if I hadn't spent those three hours a day watching THE PRICE IS RIGHT. Sorry about that, world hunger, but the showcase showdown was on.

Is the show still popular? I sort of paid attention when DREW CAREY took over, but quickly forgot about it again. It seems a bit too niche to have an entire puzzle based around it, but then again, I do know a couple of die-hard fanatics. A few years back, a good friend of mine made it her mission to get her grandmother on the show (accomplished!), thus achieving the top line item on her grandmother's bucket list. Apparently ending world hunger was number two.

Neat representation of the showcase showdown wheel. I especially liked how it intersected THE PRICE IS RIGHT — so fortuitous to have those two H's in exactly the right spots. And I liked the symmetry of BOB BARKER on one side, representing the old guard, and DREW CAREY as the show's attempt to draw in another generation.

It would have been nice to have more theme density, as I was left with a sense of wanting more. I'm not sure what that would be — I'm sure I'm forgetting some catchy phrase related to the show? Also, I found the start position and direction of SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN odd. I tried to read it from the top, clockwise, but that gave the almost-making-sense DOWN SHOWCASE SHOW. The other natural orientation would be to start it where it is but go counter-clockwise, as is the standard with angular measurement. Either could have been possible, the former achieved by running THE PRICE IS RIGHT vertically.

Given only 47 letters of theme density, I'm glad Kyle made strong use of longer fill, giving us some great entries to give the puzzle more meat: LOVE BITES, BREWED UP, BEER CANS, even the kooky but great OK, SO… well done. The constraints are a little more difficult than usual, so Kyle does well to keep the glue bits to the esoteric TERCE and a bit of minor ATA MEI kind of stuff.

Rats, can't think of the catchy phrase. I have to come on down to the conclusion that my memory isn't what it used to be.

1
B
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A
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A
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0930 ( 23,702 )
Across
1. Friend of Gandalf : BILBO
6. Put ___ disadvantage : ATA
9. Microwaves, informally : NUKES
14. Like a whole lot : ADORE
15. ___ Chemical (Fortune 500 company) : DOW
16. NATO alphabet letter between Alfa and Charlie : BRAVO
17. Mars explorer : ROVER
18. Modern host of 35-Across : DREWCAREY
20. Erupted : BLEW
21. Aplomb : POISE
22. "Peter Pan" dog : NANA
23. Proctor's command : BEGIN
25. Touches : ABUTS
27. King with a golden touch : MIDAS
28. Reliever's stat : SAVES
30. Air Force One occupant, acronymically : POTUS
31. Shopping ___ : SPREE
32. Ad Council output, for short : PSA
35. Long-running game show with a feature spelled out clockwise by this puzzle's circled letters : THEPRICEISRIGHT
38. Dummkopf : ASS
39. Its chips aren't for eating : INTEL
40. Device read with a laser : CDROM
41. How some home videos are stored : ONDVD
42. Food that gets tossed? : SALAD
43. ___ Madness (Snapple flavor) : MANGO
45. Principle : TENET
46. Father-___ : TOBE
47. Exudes : OOZES
50. Crumble under pressure : WILT
53. Longtime host of 35-Across : BOBBARKER
55. Sal of "Exodus" : MINEO
56. "O, I am ___!" (Polonius's last words) : SLAIN
57. ___ fly (R.B.I. producer) : SAC
58. ___ Marbles (British Museum display) : ELGIN
59. Unhealthily pale-skinned : PASTY
60. Flamenco shout : OLE
61. "In my opinion ..." : IDSAY
Down
1. Zinger : BARB
2. Winner of a popular TV talent show : IDOL
3. Red marks of affection : LOVEBITES
4. Fomented, as trouble : BREWEDUP
5. Anthem preposition : OER
6. Append : ADDON
7. Doughnut shapes : TORI
8. Leaves slack-jawed : AWES
9. Jimmy Fallon's home : NBC
10. Planet with 27 moons : URANUS
11. One of 14 in a gold chain : KARAT
12. 18 of 38 roulette numbers : EVENS
13. ___ bean : SOYA
19. Drives recklessly : WEAVES
21. Rho preceders : PIS
24. Blue circle on a range : GASRING
26. Fraternity party detritus : BEERCAN
27. Mineralogist for whom a scale is named : MOHS
28. Drive recklessly, maybe : SPEED
29. Seed coat : ARIL
30. Bake sale grp., perhaps : PTA
31. Canadian comedy show of the 1970s-'80s : SCTV
32. They may be given for rude humor : PGRATINGS
33. Like many horses' feet : SHOD
34. Banking convenience, for short : ATM
36. Like many rainy-day activities : INDOOR
37. Original name for J.F.K. Airport : IDLEWILD
41. At all : ONEBIT
42. Parisian possessive : SES
43. Dinero : MOOLA
44. Palestinian leader Mahmoud ___ : ABBAS
45. Canonical hour before sext : TERCE
46. Recipe amt. : TBSP
48. "Your point being ...?" : OKSO
49. Enthusiasm : ZEAL
51. Luke Skywalker's twin : LEIA
52. Broadway honor : TONY
54. "___ questions?" : ANY
55. "Don't tell ___ can't!" : MEI

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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