Sales Spiel in 60 Seconds or Less

WEDNESDAY PUZZLE — I count myself lucky for never having had to apply for a job online (to date). By the time online applications became a thing, I was far along enough in my career so that word of mouth was sufficient.

But I sincerely empathize with those who are forging the strange and turbulent waters of online job applications, where I’ve heard that even a “Sorry, this position has been filled” response from a prospective employer is uncertain and the competition is fierce. As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, even riding in an elevator’s close quarters and delivering a 14D seems risky.

I don’t want to be a complete Debbie Downer, so I’ll move on to the puzzle, which is only tangentially related to the above. Margaret Seikel, an economics and history student at Ohio State University, makes her New York Times Crossword debut that contains an interesting twist in the revealer.

1A. This one was easy for me, as someone who works for a company that mandates unconscious BIAS(ES) training.

7A. My children have an oma and an OPA, so I knew that I could put in the O and the A. The trick was deciding on the middle letter. Once I got PENNILESS at 8D, the P fell into place.

16A. The song from “Grease” this clue refers to was “Summer Lovin’,” but it was about a SUMMER FLING.

43A. In the clue “Christian who said ‘Happiness is the secret to all beauty,’” we are not supposed to be thinking about a member of the Christian religion, but the designer Christian DIOR.

68A. Sometimes pepperoni goes on pizzas, and the informal name for pizzas is ‘ZAS.

9D. I laughed. The “kind of management” we are supposed to be thinking of is ANGER management.

35D. Clever wordplay. An “action figure?” is not a toy in this puzzle; it is someone who takes action. The answer is DOER.

Ms. Seikel offers us four phrases that have a synonym for “throw” as their second word. But just as you think you are getting a grasp on this theme, Ms. Seikel sends a curveball over the plate: The revealer is actually a popular expression whose first word is the opposite of the theme entries. Instead of accounting for the “throw” phrases, this revealer is CATCHPHRASE.

My favorite of the theme phrases was the central Down entry, ELEVATOR PITCH, which makes its debut. BRENNER PASS was a tough one for me.

The seed entry for this puzzle was ELEVATOR PITCH. As a college student who is interested in eventually landing a job, I keep the people in mind who emphasize the importance of being prepared, on the off chance you end up in an enclosed space with a chief executive or hiring manager.

While running into someone in an elevator is significantly less likely nowadays, here’s my quick intro: I’m a fourth year student at the Ohio State University, dual enrolled in a B.A. program in economics and history and a master’s program in applied economics.

I’ve been constructing for about a year and am so excited to have this puzzle go to print! This was the second puzzle I ever made and first accepted. Looking back, I realize how fortuitous it was that I could interlock the theme answers and revealer to fit a 13-letter word down the middle without too much trouble. Definitely some beginner’s luck.

Thanks to the editorial team for helping me through a revision of my initial fill and drastically improving the clues. “Grease” was one of my favorite movies as a kid, and I truly understood it only as an adult, so I love that they used that cluing angle for SUMMER FLING.

I hope people enjoy the puzzle!

Almost finished solving but need a bit more help? We’ve got you covered.

Warning: There be spoilers ahead, but subscribers can take a peek at the answer key.

Trying to get back to the puzzle page? Right here.

Your thoughts?

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