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New York Times, Thursday, September 19, 2013

Author: Michael Blake
Editor: Will Shortz
Michael Blake
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
121/28/20085/5/20158
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0731100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65003

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQVXZ} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Blake. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael Blake notes: In San Francisco, I'm overshadowed by cruciverbalists who are known by their first names. But when I see Manny, Byron, Andrea, ... more
Michael Blake notes: In San Francisco, I'm overshadowed by cruciverbalists who are known by their first names. But when I see Manny, Byron, Andrea, Tyler and their ilk, I like to remind them of this puzzle I made in 2008. Because the Times chose to produce this as a set of granite coasters, I believe my puzzle will be the only one to survive a global nuclear holocaust, and thus may be a Rosetta Stone explaining crosswords to future archaeologists. Today's puzzle has a similar theme, with four transformations and a reveal that involves parsing a two-word phrase as four words. I think it might be nice for the NYT to reproduce it as a microdot on the back of a cockroach, since that, too, would survive a firestorm.
Will Shortz notes: A theme like this lives or dies on the naturalness and humor of the theme examples. I thought these were pretty good.
Jeff Chen notes: A nice twist on the 'add-a-letter' type theme with a cool revealer, C AND Y COATED, meaning the theme answers have C and Y on their ... more
Jeff Chen notes: A nice twist on the "add-a-letter" type theme with a cool revealer, C AND Y COATED, meaning the theme answers have C and Y on their ends. It's difficult to come up with a new spin on a traditional crossword themes, so kudos to Michael.

Check out the NW and SE corners, big white L-shapes often difficult to fill, similar to yesterday's grid. The big difference is that yesterday's had theme answers running both horizontally and vertically into those L-corners, while today's only has horizontal themers intersecting them. This freedom allows Michael to toss in such goodies as TWEEDLE, CASABA, and LACEUPS. Sure, OGDENS and CII are blemishes, and the MONTELL/ARNE crossing is going to cause some consternation, but almost every tough-to-fill space is going to have some trade-offs. The clue for OGDENS is nearly crazy enough to redeem a strange plural. Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake? Really? Okay, I'm smiling now at its sheer insanity.

Will's point about the themers is well taken. It's elegant if the themers are consistent, either all being natural or all being wacky. CART FAIRY and COLD MASTERY have that smile-inducing je ne sais quoi, but CHOSE DOWNY is much more straightforward. Luckily, the base phrase, HOSE DOWN, evoked images in my head of Animal House-like shenanigans.

Finally, nice job on the sheer quantity of snazzy fill. Incorporating ALLOW ME, MARTYRS, APOGEES, LACOSTE, EAT CROW, SKI CAP, EROTICA, and BACK END without major compromises enhances the solving experience.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,326
Across Down
1. Sports star who lent his name to a clothing line : LACOSTE
8. Rental car extra, for short : GPS
11. Flipper, say : ARM
14. Culminations : APOGEES
15. Mauna ___ : LOA
16. Bucolic setting : LEA
17. Ability to survive freezing temperatures? : COLDMASTERY
19. Copier page size: Abbr. : LTR
20. Cette fille, e.g. : ELLE
21. Con : ANTI
22. "Shoo!" : OUT
23. ___ Bator : ULAN
24. Selected a certain fabric softener? : CHOSEDOWNY
27. 911 maker : PORSCHE
29. Roof window : DORMER
30. Family pet name : SIS
31. Beauty : PEACH
34. Tests that consist of five subjects, for short : GEDS
35. Sprite who helps you find a shopping vehicle? : CARTFAIRY
38. One shouldn't have a big head : BEER
41. Posthumous inductee into the Poker Hall of Fame, 1979 : HOYLE
42. Lifesaver, briefly : EMT
45. Opposite (from) : ACROSS
48. Lose face : EATCROW
50. Super-choosy about timepieces? : CLOCKPICKY
53. English composer Thomas : ARNE
54. Help for a do-it-yourselfer : KIT
55. ___ Pince, librarian at Hogwarts : IRMA
56. Fill : SATE
57. Anesthesia option, for short : EPI
58. Like M&M's ... or four words to describe 17-, 24-, 35- and 50-Across? : CANDYCOATED
62. Grp. advising the president : NSC
63. "From ___ Zinc" (vitamin slogan) : ATO
64. FedEx form : AIRBILL
65. Narcs' org. : DEA
66. S.F. hours : PST
67. Basis of the Hanukkah story : MIRACLE
1. Sneakers, typically : LACEUPS
2. Ill-fated mission of 1967 : APOLLOI
3. Arrests : COLLARS
4. "___ Nut Gone Flake," celebrated 1968 Small Faces album : OGDENS
5. You might get credit for this period of work: Abbr. : SEM
6. ___ rose : TEA
7. Series opener? : ESS
8. Secluded spots : GLENS
9. Modified, as software for a different platform : PORTED
10. Get hitched : SAYIDO
11. "Here, you needn't do that" : ALLOWME
12. Like pianos, periodically : RETUNED
13. Ones making sacrifices : MARTYRS
18. Way of the East : TAO
24. Lead role in "Clueless" : CHER
25. Toffee bar brand : HEATH
26. Bacchanalia : ORGY
28. One concerned with co. money : CPA
32. One concerned with co. money : CFO
33. Salma of "Frida" : HAYEK
35. Swamp denizen, briefly : CROC
36. Bedtime prayer words after "Now" : ILAY
37. Abbr. in many a military title : RET
38. Caboose : BACKEND
39. Shadow maker : ECLIPSE
40. "Fifty Shades of Grey" genre : EROTICA
42. All over the place : ERRATIC
43. R&B singer Jordan : MONTELL
44. Entice with music : TWEEDLE
46. Winter Olympics wear : SKICAP
47. Nursery rhyme couple : SPRATS
49. Certain melon : CASABA
51. "___ Rappaport" (1986 Tony winner for Best Play) : IMNOT
52. Blackguard : CAD
59. Starchy vegetable : YAM
60. Early second-century year : CII
61. Hockey's Bobby : ORR

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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