Sunday, 3/15/15 & Behind The Puzzle

Add your times here.


Hey, it's my second Sunday crossword for The New York Times, and first solo effort!

This puzzle was submitted in October and accepted in January. Thank you to Patrick, Andrew, Doug, Jon, and Finn for test-solving!

See Wordplay and XWordInfo for constructor notes.

Down below I've got some more notes and details about today's puzzle...

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I conceived of a LINKEDIN theme probably a year and a half ago, but didn't actually investigate it until several months later. The theme development took place in April/May 2014. Then it took me frickin' forever to actually make the puzzle. I probably spent 10 hours on grid layout, 20 on fill, and at least 5 hours on cluing. My process is not, shall we say, optimally efficient.

I should have worked faster after I ended up with PROSPECT at 1-Across. Prospect Theater Company is my artistic home base in New York City, and I worked with them last fall on an off-Broadway show. It could have been cool (and a P.R. coup for all involved) to get the puzzle published on our opening night, a Sunday in November.

6-Across (FRISCO) is of course a shout-out to my hometown. Yes, it's true that San Franciscans don't like the moniker “Frisco”. Yes, it's true that FRESCO/ESS would be better fill. Oh well!

Clue stats: out of 138 clues, 77 (56%) were verbatim, 25 (18%) tweaked or re-worded, and only 36 (26%) all-new. My revealer clue for LINKEDIN referenced the puzzle title: [Site for making connections (and this puzzle's theme)]. And many of the theme clues were improved by Will and Joel, probably because I was getting too cute.

I was not responsible for the cleverest clues (25D EYEEXAM, 101A HYPHEN), nor the piano and Shakespeare (48A AFLAT, 119A FARCE) references. My VERSE clue was about song lyrics, not the Bible. The only clue I don't really care for is for 110D WINO, because the “fake radio station” clue is a cousin of the “apt name for” genre that I dislike.

My favorite clue is for 14D ONER. Feels great to be able to rehabilitate crosswordese! I hate the word in its usual crossword context, because it's not in the language. But I've been hearing “oner” for years on the Breaking Bad (and now (Better Call Saul) Insider Podcast. Showrunner Vince Gilligan, and his directors and editors, use the word “oner” all the time when talking about long or uncut shots in the show. I couldn't find much official attestation on the internet for that definition, but I begged Will to use my clue, and he did.

2 comments:

Joon said...

good stuff! i thought the theme and clues were unusually clever.

Jeanie Kenkel said...

Congrats, Dan!