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New York Times, Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Author:
Kyle T. Dolan
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
95/22/20124/26/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1021122
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58120
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
2
I
3
L
4
B
5
O
6
A
7
T
8
A
9
N
10
U
11
K
12
E
13
S
14
A
D
O
R
E
15
D
O
W
16
B
R
A
V
O
17
R
O
V
E
R
18
D
R
E
19
W
C
A
R
E
Y
20
B
L
E
W
21
P
O
I
S
E
22
N
A
N
A
23
B
E
24
G
I
N
25
A
26
B
U
T
S
27
M
I
D
A
S
28
S
29
A
V
E
S
30
P
O
T
U
S
31
S
P
R
E
E
32
P
33
S
34
A
35
T
H
E
P
R
36
I
C
E
I
S
R
37
I
G
H
T
38
A
S
S
39
I
N
T
E
L
40
C
D
R
O
M
41
O
N
D
V
D
42
S
A
L
A
D
43
M
44
A
N
G
O
45
T
E
N
E
T
46
T
O
B
E
47
O
48
O
49
Z
E
S
50
W
I
51
L
52
T
53
B
O
B
B
54
A
R
K
E
R
55
M
I
N
E
O
56
S
L
A
I
N
57
S
A
C
58
E
L
G
I
N
59
P
A
S
T
Y
60
O
L
E
61
I
D
S
A
Y
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0930 ( 23,702 )

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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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