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Rachel Fabi author page

4 puzzles by Rachel Fabi with Jeff Chen comments

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49/25/202012/29/20222
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Constructor (4)Jeff Chen (4)Jim Horne (1)Hide comments
 N O R P A W N S A L M A I V E E L I O T A D I O S L A T E R A L L Y T E M P S T O A D T I V O I I I C I R C U S E M U L A T E S H O T H E A D R O B E R T I N S L E A S A I D L A T E S H I F T G O L T H E M C S I S T A L L S D A B B L E D C O L L A T E D C L E A N S Y U P S A R I A L M A T R A N S V E N T I L A T E H E L E N E A S E S T O Y E D S E L D O N E O R E

★ There are so many "entries that need some chunk removed to make sense of their clues" themes these days. To attract any attention, you have to do something different. Claire and Rachel did just that, neatly pairing up themers within rows and using LATE SHIFT. Row 3 has such a strong example: LATERALLY and TEMPS have to be interpreted as LATERALLY and TEMP(LATE)S. See how the LATE shifted from left to right?

There are many possibilities for this theme — you can use our Replacement Finder to see others — but Claire and Rachel picked great examples:

CIRCU(LATE)S <- EMULATES

COLLATED -> CLEAN S(LATE)

TRANS(LATE) <- VENTILATE

It was difficult to see some of these shifts, since LATE moved from any part of the first word to any part within the second. As much as I love trickiness on Thursdays, having some like this would be ideal:

TRANS(LATE) <- LATERALLY

Note how much easier it is to see that LATE shift, when it's simply jumping over one block, and not a random number of letters.

Gridding around five full rows is much harder than gridding around five long themers. That may be counterintuitive, but being forced into a couple of black square placements right off the bat takes away so much flexibility. Great use of diagonal slashes in the middle of the grid to separate the themers as much as possible. A bit of GOL is inevitable, but having the World Cup so recently behind us helps save that entry.

Ticky-tacky complaints aside, I loved this solving experience. I felt so smug thinking that I had it figured out at LATERALLY to RALLY, only to be slapped upside the head by TEMPS not making sense. Such a wonderful way to interpret LATE SHIFT for Thursday trickery.

 A T O M A L G A A R U B A L A C E P E L T S I P O N T U T T U T T U T K A P U T A P A R T S T A R E E T S R E D I A L C E D A R C H O W C H O W C H O W C M A S B A H H E A V E H O T L E D A W A Y N I B E N N U I R I P A D D S Z O O M Z O O M Z O O M P A L E R P R O F I T B I O E R A S E C U O C O I D I O M C A N C A N C A N K E N D O L I D S T A R O E A T E N E L S A S L E W

Third time's a charm!

Crosswords have featured repeated words in a multitude of ways, over many decades. Some have been basic, featuring repeated word titles or double doubles, while others have taken more creative liberties, employing words that have different meanings as different parts of speech, or rebus-like implementations, or even wilder thinking that blew my mind.

These days, not every repeated words theme has to be groundbreaking, although without some extra level, they can feel awfully repetitive (sorry, I had to). Rebecca and Rachel did well today to present triplets that fit a consistent pattern, where the first two instances are separated by a hyphen, and the last is a stand-alone word: TUT-TUT TUT, CHOW-CHOW CHOW, ZOOM-ZOOM ZOOM, and CAN-CAN CAN.

I appreciated that even though I knew what was going on after the first themer, I still had to think about some of the clues. How could the plural "glutes" refer to the singular CAN-CAN CAN? Ah, that's CAN, as the slang for "butt," made up of two glutes.

Will Shortz generally doesn't like initialisms that aren't known by virtually everyone, since if you don't know them, they're a string of random letters. For instance, CMAS and CSA might be obvious to Western farmers, but Country Music Awards and Community-supported Agriculture might never come to others. Thankfully, the crossings were all unambiguous, and now you know what they stand for!

(Until you forget them, roughly by the end of this sentence.)

A couple of zingy bonus entries for those who got tired of the theme: AT NO POINT, LIZ LEMON, and UPPER HAND sounds like a classic 30 Rock scene.

It's hard for me to get excited about repeated words, but I admired the creative thought behind that X-X X pattern.

 F I F T H S M A D A M U N R E A L O X E Y E S J O A N N E R E L E N T S I T T A K E S A L L S O R T S N E P A L A I R I E R S T R O L L S R A V E S R I S E N Y U M H E L L M I D D I D M E H F E Y S T E P T A G T U D O R N A D A L D E J A G E R B O O Y A H T O P U P C R O S S O F F T H E L I S T A R T S I E R O N E S I E S U I S S E R O T A T E B E T T E S T E W E D

Second 64-worder in two days! Although this one uses more black squares (41 vs. 38), this grid is so aesthetically pleasing. Something about those black pyramids that piques the Egyptologist in me.

IT TAKES ALL SORTS is such a fantastic headliner. It's a meta answer, too, given how the NYT crossword has been working to pull in constructors from different backgrounds. Neat to read about their first group of fellows.

I get hooked on too many YouTube channels. Please, no one mention Nikkie DE JAGER's to my makeup-obsessed daughter. Yes, some tutorials would soften the "deranged rodeo clown" my daughter favors, but still ….

A couple of amazing clues:

• [Lesser-used passages] had this writer thinking about quotations. Amazing misdirect away from physical passages, in SIDE DOORS.
• I get worried any time a clue refers to a 1950s star. A long-haired one? What a genius way to clue LASSIE.
• Interesting factoid, that Tina Fey's nickname derives from her middle name, Stamatina. My (Chinese) middle name means "full of destiny," after which people usually say, "yeah, full of something."
• I'm out of the ONESIE years, thankfully, and I can almost laugh now about [Outfit with flaps and snaps]. Those years were hardly a snap, with many a flap.

Beautiful grid pattern, and some excellent clues. Not as much long grid material as I like — only eight entries of 8+ letters — but those delightful clues gave me so many smiles.

 C R E M E U M P S K P O P L A T E X N A R C R O V E A C R O P H O B I A I S A W P E E W E E D L I S T R E D B E A N E L S T R I O O P T A R E S T H E M A N D A L O R I A N C U R R E N T R A T I O N S O C E A N O G R A P H E R S S C E N T E N D E S S T I S A C T A E O N C O L I C W I S H E S A T O M T U R I N G T E S T P O R E E T O N H A R P Y T E E N D E N S T B O N E

★ Rachel! It was such a pleasure to work with her on her debut puzzle (for Universal). She's open-minded, hard-working, and not willing to say "good enough." I have a strong feeling that this will be just the first in a long line of NYT puzzles with her byline.

I wasn't a fan of THE MANDALORIAN (the show). I had issues with the pacing, unable to connect with a fully-masked protagonist, and the seemingly endless supply of minor characters who didn't play into the storyline. But how can you resist baby Yoda? Even better, the return of Carl Weathers! His portrayal of Apollo Creed was amazing, but it's his comedic role in "Arrested Development" I appreciate most. There's still plenty of meat on that bone!

I wondered if non-dorks should have heard of the TURING TEST. I've managed to fool everyone so far … whoops. I mean, I'm a totally regular, non-robotic human being organism who likes normal hominid activities such as ball sports and intake of a variety of alcoholic liquid consumables.

And that clue for ACROPHOBIA! It's such a clever play on the different definitions of the word "high." Here in Seattle, we have a third definition of "high anxiety": worry about Feds coming in and busting up our pot shops.

I did hitch at a few ESS, ELS clued as letter Ls, and TARES shorties. And THREE SCORE is an oddball. But there was the great DON'T GET CUTE, plus that amusing "plum pudding" reference in ATOM's clue and a Monty Python classic, "TIS but a scratch!"

Non-nerds might not enjoy the puzzle as much as I did, especially if they haven't heard of THE MANDALORIAN or familiarized themselves with Alan Turing through "The Imitation Game." But this dork had a ton of fun today.