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New York Times, Monday, January 13, 2020

Author:
Alan Arbesfeld
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1278/27/19811/13/20200
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
25924372615
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.595099
Alan Arbesfeld

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 35 Missing: {JKQVXZ} This is puzzle # 127 for Mr. Arbesfeld. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Hidden word themes can be judged by three criteria: How long (and/or interesting) is the hidden word? It's easy to find most ... read more

Hidden word themes can be judged by three criteria:

  1. How long (and/or interesting) is the hidden word? It's easy to find most three-letters words within a phrase, like PEW. It's much harder, and therefore more notable, to feature a seven-letter (!) word like OTTOMAN.
  2. Is the theme phrase in-the-language; natural-sounding? PIPE WRENCH, absolutely. COMES OF AGE, great! DUTCH AIRLINE made me pause, but in the end, I didn't mind, since KLM is, in fact, a DUTCH AIRLINE. A LOT TO MANAGE … I confidently filled in A LOT TO HANDLE, and it was a lot to handle to change that.
  3. Does the hidden word touch every word of the phrase? Not all editors care about this, but Will Shortz is strict about avoiding words that do no work. The initial A in A LOT TO MANAGE isn't part of OTTOMAN, for instance. (Since A is such a minor word, it's fine.)

None of Alan's findings are perfect — PEW in PIPE WRENCH is a shortie, CHAIR inside DUTCH AIRLINE is a neat finding but DUTCH AIRLINE isn't a great phrase — but overall, it's a crossworthy set with a perfect revealer in MIDDLE SEAT.

A lot to manage in the fill, though. (Okay, it's growing on me.) There's so much to turn off newer solvers, an OLEO (or is that an olio?) of toughies like EDY, GAI, NEN. These aren't nearly as overlookable as something more minor like DDE. Crossing NEN with MACNEIL makes it even worse.

Six themers are rarely easy to pull off, especially when you're building an early-week grid appropriate for newbs. I did like the variety of the themers, though, so I hesitate to suggest cutting one out. What might have helped produce a better overall product: stacking themers, like PIPE WRENCH and COMES OF AGE in subsequent rows, for example. That can require a lot of trial and error, arranging and rearranging themers to form friendly letter pairings, but it would have been well worth it.

1
M
2
E
3
A
4
T
5
Y
6
P
7
U
8
M
9
A
10
D
11
A
12
I
13
S
14
A
L
P
H
A
15
I
R
A
S
16
O
N
T
O
17
P
I
P
E
W
18
R
E
N
C
H
19
C
Y
S
T
20
E
E
L
E
R
21
N
E
22
N
23
W
A
H
24
S
25
P
A
26
C
O
27
M
E
S
O
28
F
A
G
E
29
A
L
L
30
O
31
T
32
G
A
I
33
T
R
Y
O
N
34
D
U
T
C
H
35
A
I
R
L
36
I
N
E
37
E
M
O
T
E
D
38
B
E
S
39
T
40
E
41
D
42
A
L
O
43
T
44
T
45
O
M
A
N
A
G
E
46
P
47
I
48
A
N
O
49
A
S
P
50
R
O
M
A
N
51
I
T
S
T
O
52
O
L
A
T
53
E
54
E
D
Y
55
L
A
W
56
P
O
L
57
E
L
58
F
59
I
N
60
O
L
E
61
O
62
M
I
63
D
D
L
E
S
E
64
A
65
T
66
T
I
L
L
67
P
E
D
I
68
E
L
S
I
E
69
S
A
L
E
70
A
D
E
N
71
T
E
S
L
A
© 2020, The New York TimesNo. 0113 ( 25,633 )

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Across
1
Suitable for sinking one's teeth into : MEATY
6
Mountain lion : PUMA
10
Speaker's platform : DAIS
14
Letter before beta : ALPHA
15
401(k) alternatives : IRAS
16
Latch ___ (grip) : ONTO
17
Plumber's tool : PIPEWRENCH
19
Dermatological sac : CYST
20
One catching morays : EELER
21
Three-time All-Star pitcher Robb ___ : NEN
23
Cry from a crib : WAH
24
Vacation relaxation destination : SPA
26
Reaches adulthood : COMESOFAGE
29
Apportion : ALLOT
32
Moo goo ___ pan (Chinese chicken dish) : GAI
33
Check for fit : TRYON
34
KLM is a "royal" one : DUTCHAIRLINE
37
Overdid it onstage : EMOTED
38
Defeated : BESTED
42
Too much on one's plate : ALOTTOMANAGE
46
Instrument for Billy Joel : PIANO
49
Snake in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" : ASP
50
Zeus : Greek :: Jupiter : ___ : ROMAN
51
"Oops, missed the deadline" : ITSTOOLATE
54
Big name in ice cream : EDY
55
Statute : LAW
56
D.C. insider : POL
57
Small, like Santa's helpers : ELFIN
60
Bread spread : OLEO
62
Cramped spot for an plane passenger ... or a hint to something hidden in 17-, 26-, 34-, 42- and 51-Across : MIDDLESEAT
66
Where a cashier puts money : TILL
67
Mani-___ (salon combo) : PEDI
68
Cow in classic Borden ads : ELSIE
69
Two-for-one event : SALE
70
Yemeni port : ADEN
71
Car company with so-called "Gigafactories" : TESLA
Down
1
Treasure hunter's aid : MAP
2
___ Lilly & Co. : ELI
3
Draw interest from : APPEALTO
4
"With this ring, I ___ wed" : THEE
5
Two-masted sailing vessel : YAWL
6
Polish dumpling : PIEROGI
7
Funerary receptacle : URN
8
Newsman Robert, former PBS partner of Jim Lehrer : MACNEIL
9
Contents of a funerary receptacle : ASHES
10
Disney dwarf with the shortest name : DOC
11
"Nevertheless ..." : ANYWAY
12
"The deal went through!" : ITSAGO
13
Storyteller's segue : SOTHEN
18
___ room (game site) : REC
22
Far : NOTNEAR
24
One-named hitmaker born in Nigeria : SADE
25
Desirable, as a job : PLUM
27
Spoil : MAR
28
San Joaquin Valley city : FRESNO
30
One-eighth portion : OCTANT
31
Business district in downtown Chicago : THELOOP
35
Commotion : ADO
36
Company behind the Watson project : IBM
39
Docility : TAMENESS
40
"Omigosh!" : EGAD
41
Gainsay : DENY
43
Added up, as a score : TALLIED
44
Passenger-screening org. : TSA
45
Chose to join : OPTEDIN
46
Their prospects are up in the air : PILOTS
47
Home of Milano and Firenze : ITALIA
48
In addition : ASWELL
52
___-Loompa (Willy Wonka worker) : OOMPA
53
Building wing : ELL
58
Pedal pushers : FEET
59
___ of Capri : ISLE
61
World Cup cheer : OLE
63
1950s presidential monogram : DDE
64
Be under the weather : AIL
65
Wimbledon service? : TEA

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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