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New York Times, Monday, September 8, 2014

Author: Dan Schoenholz
Editor: Will Shortz
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Dan Schoenholz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQUXZ} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Schoenholz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Dan Schoenholz notes: For some reason, the theme for this puzzle didn't jump out at me when I was actually getting the cards and gag gifts that ... more
Dan Schoenholz notes: For some reason, the theme for this puzzle didn't jump out at me when I was actually getting the cards and gag gifts that accompanied hitting the big five-oh: it wasn't until a few months later that the light bulb came on. My first version of the puzzle had FOOT LONG HOT DOGS as a central entry, but try as I might, I couldn't come up with a decent grid/fill with five theme answers included, so I had to settle for four. I was pleased, however, to hit on an alignment that allowed me to include what Matt Ginsberg has described as an Easter Egg (or maybe more appropriately for this puzzle, five Easter Eggs?): a hidden theme-related bonus that not all solvers would notice. If you are reading this, you probably are the type of solver that found the Easter Egg yourself, but if you didn't see it the first time through, take another look and see if you can spot it.

I was also glad that the end-product was smooth enough for a Monday — a first for me in the NYT.

Jeff Chen notes: Dan gives us theme entries each with five O's, tying it nicely together with THE BIG FIVE OH. Relatively smooth grid; a good start to ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Dan gives us theme entries each with five O's, tying it nicely together with THE BIG FIVE OH. Relatively smooth grid; a good start to the week.

How can you find theme entries like this, you might wonder? The old way is to try pulling it out of your memory banks, which still works just fine. But you can also try our Finder page, which gives you a quick way to search for a pattern such as "*O*O*O*O*O*". This will return all the matching strings that have ever been used in the NYT crossword as well as many from outside sources — if nothing else, it's a nice first pass, giving you possible entries such as:

  • A ROOM OF ONES OWN
  • BY HOOK OR BY CROOK
  • COME HOME TO ROOST
  • FOOT LONG HOT DOGS

A handy way to sort through possible themers. I tend to prefer ones that haven't seen much use, but the most important to me is to pick ones that are snappy and interesting to solvers. With so many choices available, it's important to be selective and pick only the best of the best. I like Dan's choices, BOOK OF MORMON and VOODOO DOLL in particular.

I did find it a bit odd that there weren't five themers, which somehow in my mind would have made more sense with THE BIG FIVE OH. Thinking about it some more, that doesn't necessarily exemplify THE BIG FIVE OH any more than three themers. Hmm. (I never claimed to be logical.) I also did find it a bit odd to have OOO at the central down spot and not have it tie into the theme somehow, especially since there are three themers with the five O's. It's not necessarily a bad thing; it just made me wonder if that was supposed to be part of the theme or not. It'd be one thing if the area were so constrained that OOO were the only option, but our old friend Yoko ONO could have fit there just as easily. Probably best to avoid such confusion on a Monday, methinks.

Finally, Dan does a great job of selecting single-word fill entries. Often, multiple-word entries are snazzier, but if you're careful about your choice of single words, they can be just as strong. SORORITY and HOOLIGAN are such fun words, ripe for imagery.

ADDED NOTE: aha, my spidey sense tingled for a reason! Dan let me know that the Easter Egg is the set of five "eggs" (the grouping of five O's) in the center of the puzzle. Fun!

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0908 ( 23,680 )
Across Down
1. Glasgow natives : SCOTS
6. Horse's feedbox fill : OATS
10. Spill the beans : BLAB
14. "Yippee!" : WAHOO
15. Get-out-of-jail money : BAIL
16. Toy construction piece : LEGO
17. Ann ___, Mich. : ARBOR
18. Long-distance callers' necessities : AREACODES
20. 2011 Tony-winning religious satire, with "The" : BOOKOFMORMON
22. Cunning : SLY
23. Speckled horse : ROAN
24. "___ Bovary" : MADAME
28. A toddler might throw one : FIT
29. Wager : BET
30. Hip, in the '60s : MOD
31. Hyperlocal way to campaign : DOORTODOOR
36. Barbecue fare : RIBS
37. Hall-of-Fame Broncos QB John : ELWAY
38. Charged particle : ION
39. Skater Sonja who won three Olympic gold medals : HENIE
40. Slight coloring : TINT
41. Black magic item : VOODOODOLL
43. Mother of Cain and Abel : EVE
44. ___ Lingus (Irish carrier) : AER
45. London lav : LOO
46. Edit : REDACT
48. Cutlet meat : VEAL
50. European peak : ALP
53. Milestone birthday, informally ... with a hint to 20-, 31- and 41-Across : THEBIGFIVEOH
56. Uncle Ben's offering : WHITERICE
59. Actress Greta who famously said "I want to be alone" : GARBO
60. Boingo service at airports : WIFI
61. Pub potables : ALES
62. Flying saucer occupant : ALIEN
63. Computer that runs OS X : IMAC
64. Where to get eggs : NEST
65. Destitute : NEEDY
1. Q-tips, e.g. : SWABS
2. Christmas song : CAROL
3. "Goody!" : OHBOY
4. Conned : TOOK
5. Campus sisterhood : SORORITY
6. First president born outside the continental U.S. : OBAMA
7. Boy's name that's almost always first alphabetically : AARON
8. Cake layer : TIER
9. Jail, slangily : SLAMMER
10. Golden-haired : BLOND
11. Was ahead : LED
12. "Act your ___!" : AGE
13. 2013 World Series winner, on scoreboards : BOS
19. Paint layer : COAT
21. Pic : FOTO
25. ___ acid (protein building block) : AMINO
26. Exxon merger partner : MOBIL
27. Famous auto flop : EDSEL
28. Campus brotherhood, briefly : FRAT
29. 007 : BOND
31. Discourage : DETER
32. ___ Oyl : OLIVE
33. Had possession of : OWNED
34. Christian of couture : DIOR
35. Tic-tac-toe winner : OOO
36. Start all over : REDO
39. Rowdy soccer fan, for one : HOOLIGAN
41. Purple Heart recipient, e.g. : VETERAN
42. Scandinavian saint : OLAF
44. Heartsickness, e.g. : ACHE
47. Place for a ghost : ATTIC
48. Drinking and gambling : VICES
49. Discharge : EGEST
50. Eagle's perch : AERIE
51. Like oak leaves and brains : LOBED
52. Insincere type : PHONY
54. Ill temper : BILE
55. Hollow between hills : VALE
56. 1910s conflict: Abbr. : WWI
57. That guy : HIM
58. "... woodchuck chuck, ___ woodchuck could chuck wood?" : IFA

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

Found bugs or have suggestions?