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New York Times, Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Author: Pamela Klawitter
Editor: Will Shortz
Pamela Amick Klawitter
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
73/6/20086/10/20140
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4011100
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1.42040

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FJQXZ} This is puzzle # 7 for Ms. Klawitter. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes: What a cool find, to discover that certain famous people's names can be anagrammed to form PASSING NOTES, i.e. obits. I have to admit ... more
Jeff Chen notes: What a cool find, to discover that certain famous people's names can be anagrammed to form PASSING NOTES, i.e. obits. I have to admit it took me a while to cotton to what was going on, but it was a neat a-ha moment when it came. MONROE NO MORE, NEWTON WENT ON, EDISON IS DONE... it's even neater now that I look back on it. Very cool to have a more complex theme than on an average Tuesday.

Really interesting grid design today. Instead of putting long fill in the down direction, Pam puts two long across answers into the grid, SIDESADDLE and CLOSE TO YOU. The reason we usually don't see this is that it can be much harder to incorporate these long across fillers without compromises in the short fill. Adding two extra ten-letter answers is effectively like upping the theme density. Not as hard of course, since you can change whatever those long fillers to whatever you want them to be. And Pam does a bang-up job with it, keeping all her crossings clean through those long fill entries, even giving us LEAN IN, the Sheryl Sandberg best seller. Very nice!

Those two long acrosses do produce the only offender to my own personal tastes, MDLI, though. The layout at that location results in the ?D?I pattern, which is awfully tough to fill. There's really nothing else but random Roman numerals possible, is there? I would have liked to seen black squares shifted around to avoid that dreaded pattern. I know it's just a single entry, but with only four theme entries, my OCD constructor's brain tells me that it could have been avoided. The CLOSE TO YOU entry makes that very difficult, however.

I really liked 1.) the anagramming find as well as 2.) the repurposing of the PASSING NOTES to tie the themers together. Ultimately, I felt those two ideas didn't quite mesh well enough for my taste to give it the POW, though. It could be telling that the clue for PASSING NOTES had to be super long as to almost be unreadable? Unfortunately, I can't think of a better way to weave these two ideas together. I might have preferred to see each of these ideas in a separate puzzle. Maybe one with a fourth anagram, and another with famous newspaper obit headlines?

Finally, the fill is pretty good today. Besides MDLI, there's only really SST, AER, EMS, OCTO, and WIS. None of those is bad, really. But it seems to me those isolated sections could be cleaned up, so as to have almost no glue-type entries. (I'll leave that as an exercise to the budding constructors out there. And yes, if for some reason SHANE is important to leave in, SST and AER are likely necessary.) I know it's me being picky and many solvers will gloss right over this point, but I find it difficult not to strive for absolute perfection.

Overall, two very nice theme ideas, perhaps not meshing quite as much to their potential as possible, but still producing a very enjoyable solve.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,590
Across Down
1. Alexander Graham Bell, for one : SCOT
5. Places to go fishing : LAKES
10. Asteroid ___ : BELT
14. Cay : ISLE
15. Harden (to) : ENURE
16. Region : AREA
17. One way to ride a horse : SIDESADDLE
19. Vegas hotel transport : TRAM
20. Brief 1831 headline? : MONROENOMORE
22. Museum's ends? : EMS
25. Golf ball's position : LIE
26. Mends, as socks : DARNS
27. Brief 1727 headline? : NEWTONWENTON
32. Goes fishing in go fish? : DRAWS
33. "I am woman, hear me ___" : ROAR
34. Jet that once made a boom, in brief : SST
37. Prefix with -genarian : OCTO
38. Alternative if things don't work out : PLANB
40. Home of Waikiki Beach : OAHU
41. Badger's home: Abbr. : WIS
42. Castle protection : MOAT
43. Employee of TV's Sterling Cooper & Partners : ADMAN
44. Brief 1931 headline? : EDISONISDONE
47. Take advantage (of) : AVAIL
50. Switch positions : ONS
51. ___ Lingus : AER
52. Secretive classroom activity ... or what 20-, 27- and 44-Across are anagrammatic examples of? : PASSINGNOTES
57. Rickman of the Harry Potter films : ALAN
58. Where the Carpenters "long to be" in a 1970 #1 hit : CLOSETOYOU
62. Ill-mannered : RUDE
63. "Funeral Blues" poet : AUDEN
64. Beaver projects : DAMS
65. Drop of melodrama? : TEAR
66. Historic event on Bikini atoll, briefly : ATEST
67. View from a pew, maybe : APSE
1. Beyoncé, to Solange, or vice versa : SIS
2. CBS drama with multiple spinoffs : CSI
3. Superannuated : OLD
4. Be overflowing : TEEM
5. 2013 Sheryl Sandberg best seller : LEANIN
6. Steel magnate Carnegie : ANDREW
7. Bit of praise, in modern usage : KUDO
8. Writer ___ Stanley Gardner : ERLE
9. Witnessed : SEEN
10. Gotham City V.I.P. : BATMAN
11. Bobble or fumble : ERROR
12. Get smart : LEARN
13. Busts, as broncos : TAMES
18. Arias, e.g. : SOLOS
21. Disinfectant target : ODOR
22. Set up, as a chair : ENDOW
23. Word of thanks overseas : MERCI
24. Hits a fly, say : SWATS
28. "Terrible" age : TWO
29. Clio : history :: ___ : lyric poetry : ERATO
30. Fictional opening? : NON
31. You might pick one up in a bar : TAB
34. Girl Scout cookie with toasted coconut : SAMOA
35. "The L Word" role for Katherine Moennig : SHANE
36. Piano man, maybe : TUNER
38. Luau dish : POI
39. Part of U.N.L.V. : LAS
40. Not even : ODD
42. The year 1551 : MDLI
43. It's a plus : ASSET
44. Onetime Disney chief : EISNER
45. Old West "neckties" : NOOSES
46. Something to be proven in a criminal case : INTENT
47. In different places : APART
48. Pawnshop estimate : VALUE
49. Carne ___ (Mexican dish) : ASADA
53. Org. with eligibility rules : NCAA
54. Fill to excess : GLUT
55. Lymph ___ : NODE
56. Root beer, e.g. : SODA
59. Chihuahua sound : YAP
60. Meditation syllables : OMS
61. Find a purpose for : USE

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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