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New York Times, Thursday, August 21, 2014

Author: Jules P. Markey
Editor: Will Shortz
Jules P. Markey
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
125/10/20127/5/20160
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0042600
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58321

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 7 for Mr. Markey. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jules P. Markey notes: This puzzle was originally submitted in February of this year, and it received a rejection with a proviso. Will liked the theme ... more
Jules P. Markey notes: This puzzle was originally submitted in February of this year, and it received a rejection with a proviso. Will liked the theme but not POLAR OPPOSITES because the PO didn't occur at the start of the second word as it did in all the others . Having a foot in the door, so to speak, I focused more intently on improving the puzzle. I replaced the offending entry with POLE POSITIONS but the resulting grid had all plural theme entries, which Will would not go for. To make the revised puzzle work I was forced to remove my favorite entry, POTENT POTABLE(S).

The original grid had all the themers running horizontally, I then realized that if I switched two of the them to the vertical they each serendipitously crossed the reveal symmetrically. The one remaining issue was a SW theme entry to balance POLE POSITION in the NE. After a few tries and some back and forth emails, Will accepted POISON POWDER in July, resulting in a surprisingly quick turn around for a rebus puzzle.

My favorite clues are 25-Across which is a newbie for a well-worn 3-letter word (LEI), and 44-Across. My favorite clue which didn't make the cut and admittedly was a bit of a stretch of the old "?", was 21-across clued as "Feathered friend?" as in "tarred and feathered". Will greatly improved on my cluing, especially for the theme entries, as usual.

A word on the "sausage making". I do not use any crossword compiler software to create my grids (I can hear the snark already: "Yeah we can tell"). I'm not of the graph paper and stacks of reference books school though, I do use an Excel spreadsheet for my grids and clues, and I use XWord Info and OneLook as helpers in weaving the words together.

I hope you like this puzzle, my seventh with a few more in the pipeline.

Jeff Chen notes: Rebuses have come a long way. Browse the huge list to get a sense for this genre's evolution (mouse over the dates to get a thumbnail ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Rebuses have come a long way. Browse the huge list to get a sense for this genre's evolution (mouse over the dates to get a thumbnail view!). At first it was simply any set of letters without any reason. People then made shapes out of rebus squares, and even tied them to revealers. These days, rebi with rationale for why there are rebus squares are de rigueur — today, the rebus squares are literally PO "boxes." Neat idea, similar to CRUSHED ICE, etc.

I hadn't even noticed that the four rebus containers all 1.) use two words and 2.) start each word with a PO box. Now that's nice consistency and elegance. Sometimes I prefer less order in my rebuses, so I have to work at sussing out where they are, but in this case, I liked seeing the order afterward.

I did find POISON POWDER less compelling than the other themers, which all pop (warning, bad joke ahead), especially POPCORN POPPER. Do schemers put POISON POWDER in wine, or just poison? Methinks the latter, but I could easily be wrong. Now if it had been IOCAINE POWDER...

And as much as I liked the consistency factor, I could do without some of the glue that this constraint necessitated. MESNE and ITER are just two entries in a 76 word grid, but they're pretty old school. One is pretty easy to overlook, two feels crunchy. And having A MERE and A LAW near two of those PO boxes makes me wonder if removing the consistency to produce a smoother fill would have been better. Tough call.

Where will rebuses go next? Tough to say, but I'm looking forward to the next evolutionary step in their development. Evolve or bust!

JimH notes: For me, AMERE is saved by an outstanding clue. Bravo!
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,662
Across Down
1. Pace : TEMPO
5. Serfs, e.g. : CLASS
10. Absorbed : RAPT
14. Is ___ unto oneself : ALAW
15. American ___ : SAMOA
16. 26-Across of a North Carolina "-ville" : ASHE
17. Clump up : CAKE
18. First place : POLEPOSITION
20. Roman road : ITER
21. Besmirched : TARRED
22. Carrier to Tokyo : ANA
23. Cozy thing? : TEAPOT
25. One that's HI-strung? : LEI
26. See 16-Across : EPONYM
28. Biota part : FLORA
30. To-do : FLAP
32. Ayatollah Khomeini, e.g. : SHIITE
34. Super Mario Galaxy platform : WII
35. Mickey Mouse pics, e.g. : CELS
39. Mail conveniences ... or a hint to eight squares in this puzzle : POSTOFFICEBOXES
42. Cryptozoological beast : YETI
43. Many, many moons : EON
44. Hose attachment : GARTER
45. Friend of Homer on "The Simpsons" : CARL
47. Intermediate, in law : MESNE
48. Mark Twain's belief : DEISM
51. John of Liverpool : LOO
53. Freeloader : SPONGE
56. Legal borders? : ELS
57. Wagnerian heroine : ISOLDE
60. H.S. exam : PSAT
61. Means of murder in some Agatha Christie novels : POISONPOWDER
63. Core : PITH
64. Cocktail order : SOUR
65. Knightley of "Pirates of the Caribbean" : KEIRA
66. Like Olympic years : EVEN
67. Seasons in Lyon : ETES
68. Utopian settings : EDENS
69. Edit menu command : REDO
1. Left unsaid : TACIT
2. Send : ELATE
3. Prepare to give blood, perhaps : MAKEAFIST
4. Throwing one's weight around, in international relations : POWERPOLITICS
5. Benjamin : CSPOT
6. [I'm not listening ... I can't he-e-ear you!] : LALALA
7. "___ bag of shells" (Ralph Kramden malapropism) : AMERE
8. Sleep-inducing : SOPORIFIC
9. Return mailer, for short : SASE
10. Mobster's "canary" : RAT
11. ___-American : ASIAN
12. Impostor : PHONY
13. Common break time : TENAM
19. Bean product? : IDEA
24. Film pooch : TOTO
27. Feature of many a movie house : POPCORNPOPPER
29. Direct : REFER
31. Feudal lord : LIEGE
32. Plant, maybe : SPY
33. Aid in weed control : HOE
34. ___ big : WIN
36. Large-scale : EXTENSIVE
37. Spike in movie sales? : LEE
38. Byelorussian ___: Abbr. : SSR
40. Succeeded : FOLLOWED
41. Stereo control : BASS
46. Last name in despotism : AMIN
47. Hip : MODERN
48. Testify : DEPOSE
49. 1948 Literature Nobelist : ELIOT
50. Offspring : ISSUE
52. Almost any hit by Prince or Queen : OLDIE
54. Like some retirement communities : GATED
55. Prefix with botany : ETHNO
58. Umbrella part : SPOKE
59. Pitching stats : ERAS
62. Choice connections : ORS

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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