NYT Crossword for Thursday, November 24, 2022 by Pao Roy
In the spirit of the day, thank you to the editors and constructors who actively create space for representation — both in terms of whose puzzles get published and what people, places, and parts of language get featured in those puzzles. Thank you to the bloggers, commenters, and solvers who actively encourage dialogue around how we, as a crossword community, can continue supporting the voices of the marginalized.
First, I want to acknowledge that the 2/10/22 NYT puzzle has an identical revealer to this one. My puzzle was submitted in 2020 and accepted in 2021, so I felt shaken up and disheartened to see such a similar puzzle published, knowing mine was to follow. Now, I can appreciate each puzzle's unique flavor and understand the editors' choice to run both. I hope enough time has passed, and folks can still enjoy this one for what it is.
This puzzle was challenging to make! The theme's premise prevented me from using the (very helpful) letter "I" anywhere else in the grid outside the themed entries. Also, the editors and I wanted every dot in the puzzle to represent the actual word "DOT," so many other potential themers like DO THE RIGHT THING were off-limits.
The most complicated constraint to navigate was the way that each dot spelled the letters "D-O-T" going horizontally, but was essentially a blank space going vertically. Long story short: after solving the 3/18/21 NYT puzzle, I asked its constructor Tom McCoy for guidance since it had a similar use of "blank" squares. Without getting too nerdy, Tom was incredibly supportive in helping develop a Python script and custom word lists that made filling the grid a lot less impossible. Thank you, Tom.
Favorite clues that were kept: CHAOS, IMAC, ELOPE, SYMBOLS, ALOE, PANGAEA, SUNS, TSO, BDAY, and EMO.
Jim Horne and I worked up a DOT THE IS puzzle about a decade ago and sent it to Peter Gordon at Fireball Crosswords. Peter quickly replied that the concept was okay, but having an O represent a DOT didn't feel amazing. Additionally, restricting the grid so that every I had an O above it caused too many trade-offs. We certainly didn't DOT THE IS with that submission!
Pao did so much better today. Novel twist on the old concept: DOTs as rebuses in the Across direction and ignored in the Downs (see grid below for clarification). I thought I had everything all figured out when I realized PALE BLUE DOT was doing something funky with POP () IDOL, and more so when () IONS had to answer the Large Hadron Collider clue. Who's brilliant?
Devilishly delightful twist to include DOT DOT DOT in the upper right corner. Rebus or special squares are almost always featured within the longest theme entries — Will Shortz usually requires this — so to have not one, not two, but three extra DOTs tucked in was a stroke of genius. DOT DOT DOT is such an evocative entry, and it was a perfect bow on the grid.
A lot of constructors have riffed on dotting Is or crossing Ts. August Miller gave us his own execution earlier this year, for instance. That one was much more complicated, solvers having to write in DOT one way and I in the other, and we saw a lot WTF?! mail for that one. I bet we'll field some of that today, but I'll also wager that there's a heavy amount of praise for this enjoyable and creative concept that still keeps it relatively easy to fill in all the special squares.
* This article was originally published here