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Jakob Weisblat author page

2 puzzles by Jakob Weisblat
with Jeff Chen comments

Jakob Weisblat
Puzzles constructed by Jakob Weisblat by year
Wed 9/9/2020

What an interesting exercise, taking a large number, and seeing what crossworthy themers relate to it. I wasn't aware of WAYNE GRETZKY playing until he was 99 years old. Wow, that's amazing!

What? That was his uniform number?

I knew that. I was just poking fun at XWord Info's resident Canadian, Jim Horne ... who was once at a bar with The Great One himself! Apparently, he didn't look a day over 98.

A few months ago, a Muslim reader emailed me, strenuously objecting to the inclusion of ALLAH in crosswords. I knew that it was forbidden to display images of ALLAH, but I had no idea that having the name in print could be offensive. I wonder how NAMES OF ALLAH will go over today.

Hopefully, this themer doesn't offend — if any readers are experts in this area, please let me know, and I'll relay info to the editing team.

I remember the old 99 LOVEBALLOONS song fondly — LOVEBALLOONS sounded so lewd to my 14-year old boy imagination. It was a sad day when I found out it was simply LUFTBALLONS, the German word for "air balloons." It might also be a sad day for solvers who stumble at the LUFTBALLONS / KEFIR cross. I'd be in an uproar if I didn't drink and love KEFIR.

I had a fun time brainstorming; what other themers could relate to 99? There's AGENT 99 from "Get Smart," but if you used GET SMART in the grid, the clue would have to be [Show that had Agent 99], and that's not as direct a 99 reference as the others.

Jim Horne suggested BOTTLES OF BEER. Clever! Those Canadians and their Labatt's.

It's kind of a CRAZY IDEA to relate four disparate people/things to a single, large number, and I enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed it even more without some dabs of DEP, DFC (distinguished flying cross), LLCS, NEB (a bird's ... beak?), but those (mostly) get a pass on a Wednesday, especially when they enable entries like COUNT ME IN and FORT KNOX.

Not so much DEATHBED, given the pandemic. Yikes! It'd be great to avoid these types of entries for a while, yeah?

Tue 11/12/2019

If you haven't seen "Schitt's Creek," stop reading this post and go binge. David, the BI-CURIOUS owner of the town, is one of my favorite sitcom characters in recent memory. Stroke of genius to get Eugene Levy's son, Dan Levy, to play his son on the show.

BYE BYE BYE … sort of rings a bell. From 2000? Wow, nearly twenty years ago? It's a sadly appropriate title for those non-Justin Timberlake guys. Uh … Lance something or other? Wasn't there a Jason in there?

Fun concept, but the grid execution had problems. A Tuesday puzzle ought to be welcoming to newer solvers, and entries like ARTE, DII, EIN, XYLO, and a singular TONG are not.

Crossing PHILOMENA with DOSAS is problematic as well. One might argue that an educated NYT solver ought to at least recognize one of these, but it's not fair to expect people to know their exact spellings, especially since any of the five vowels could look fine in that square.

One glance at the gigantic SW and NE corners, and I was sure this was a low-word count grid; almost impossible to get smooth enough for an early-week experience. In the NE, I love OVEN MITTS and VIDEO CHAT as bonuses. Trying to work those around BUY AMERICAN — plus the other bonuses of RIPENESS and ENLISTEE — is way too ambitious.

There's a ton of sparkly fill — LOOT BAG, GO BANANAS, STAMP TAX, TURBAN — but the balance is tilted too far away from smoothness. For a simple theme like this, increasing the word count to 76 or 78 would have decreased the filling difficulty and thus a better solving experience for newbs.

Looking forward to seeing what Gabi and Jake can do next with a grid layout more appropriate for early-week puzzles.

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