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New York Times, Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Author:
Jim Hilger
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1412/11/20087/4/20190
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0115700
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62320
Jim Hilger

This puzzle:

Rows: 16, Columns: 15 Words: 80, Blocks: 44 Missing: {VYZ} Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Hilger. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jim Hilger notes:
It's always my pleasure to have a puzzle published in the Times. I like to kid myself that my purely accidental inclusion of the 'MR. ... read more

It's always my pleasure to have a puzzle published in the Times. I like to kid myself that my purely accidental inclusion of the "MR. T" entry in this puzzle's fill is what earned it a "yes" vote, on the third submission try.

My vision for this puzzle was originally as a hardish Thursday, where the ten-letter T-shaped themers were a little more resistant to discovery. But I think the more whimsical approach employed here is a good one. Quite a few of my Thursday-level clues didn't make the cut this time, however.

I am a big fan of left-right symmetry. It's great for drawing giant T's, and other stuff, with black squares. That smaller, upside-down T is just a reflection, by the way.

Jeff Chen notes:
Neat concept; I almost missed a layer. Once I uncovered FORMATION, I stared at it, trying to parse the revealer as 'form a T ion.' ... read more

Neat concept; I almost missed a layer. Once I uncovered FORMATION, I stared at it, trying to parse the revealer as "form a T ion." That would explain the T-shaped pairs (highlighted), yeah? Now, I'm not as well versed in chemistry as others, but I have a reasonable background. So I struggled to remember what the heck a "T ion" was.

A common T formation. (Yes, I know it doesn't really look like a T.)

Thankfully I (finally) figured out that the T of black squares in the middle of the puzzle precedes FORMATION, to make T FORMATION the revealer. Makes a whole lot more sense! Nice idea, the missing T of T FORMATION (a common football offensive configuration) not really missing at all.

And very cool to have the added touch of each pair of themers cross with the letter T. Nice touch.

So many constraints today, resulting in some gluey fill. I can ABIDE by A BOAT in the north section, as that area would be rough to fill smoothly. Once you fix WATER and TIGHT in place and need a long piece of fill with PAST TENSE, that area become terribly inflexible. I don't like EDILE much at all, but I'm willing to put up with a bit of ugly stuff for a neat idea.

Similar issues abound, around the other T pairs, especially those ones in the bottom corners. I absolutely loved [Something in brackets], a brilliant clue for TAX RATE, as well as [Hacker's need] for AXE, having nothing at all to do with a computer hacker. Love it! I didn't love TRS or BESTIR or ABAB, though. Tough trade-offs with this type of crossing answers theme.

Where I would have liked a bit more finesse was in the top two corners. Since those sections are so isolated, they could have been executed without ANON and AGUE (while still keeping the J and Q). As much as I like the Shakespeare reference in ANON, that could have been changed easily to AVON. And AGUE could have been ACT I, when Romeo and Juliet meet!

Overall, a strong idea requiring a lot of constraints, with a bit too much INUTILE stuff. Aw(n)!

1
J
2
U
3
T
4
S
5
W
6
A
7
T
8
E
9
R
10
F
11
A
12
Q
13
S
14
A
N
O
N
15
A
B
I
D
E
16
A
G
U
E
17
W
I
K
I
18
L
O
G
I
C
19
R
U
I
N
20
S
T
E
P
21
K
A
H
L
O
22
L
A
P
D
23
P
24
A
S
T
T
E
N
25
S
E
26
A
27
F
28
T
E
R
29
O
F
30
T
31
E
32
N
33
B
L
A
T
A
34
N
35
T
36
I
37
N
U
T
I
L
E
38
O
A
S
39
P
E
I
40
M
O
L
41
M
E
W
42
M
R
T
43
A
W
N
44
P
U
F
45
E
N
E
46
B
E
E
47
C
H
E
S
48
A
R
O
49
U
S
A
L
50
F
O
R
M
51
A
T
I
O
N
52
T
53
I
54
T
L
E
55
I
D
I
56
D
U
57
T
58
C
59
H
60
O
R
R
61
A
T
S
E
62
A
63
R
O
O
64
L
E
A
65
D
66
E
T
H
67
N
B
68
A
69
T
E
A
M
70
E
N
C
O
R
E
S
71
T
A
X
R
A
T
E
72
T
A
K
E
I
N
73
B
E
S
T
I
R
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0121 ( 23,815 )
Across
1
Protrudes, with "out" : JUTS
5
With 7-Down, incapable of leaking : WATER
10
Online info sources : FAQS
14
When Juliet tells the Nurse she will come in from the balcony : ANON
15
Stand : ABIDE
16
Chill producer : AGUE
17
Popular online reference, for short : WIKI
18
Mr. Spock's forte : LOGIC
19
Wreck : RUIN
20
Flight component : STEP
21
Self-portraitist Frida : KAHLO
22
"Lethal Weapon" force, briefly : LAPD
23
History is recorded in it : PASTTENSE
26
With 28-Down, disagreeable quality of diet sodas : AFTER
29
With 30-Down, frequently : OFTEN
33
Not at all hidden : BLATANT
36
Pointless : INUTILE
38
Defense grp. since 1948 : OAS
39
J.F.K. Library architect : PEI
40
Chem. unit : MOL
41
Catty remark? : MEW
42
"Rocky III" actor (and an apt answer in this puzzle) : MRT
43
Wheat bristle : AWN
44
Sta-___ fabric softener : PUF
45
Suffix with ethyl : ENE
46
Trees with triangular nuts : BEECHES
48
Alarm clock's purpose : AROUSAL
50
Following the nine black squares in the center of the grid, a hint to five pairs of answers in this puzzle : FORMATION
52
With 54-Down, song with the same name as its album : TITLE
55
Exiled Amin : IDI
56
With 57-Down, meal for which everyone pays his or her own way : DUTCH
60
Bruins legend Bobby : ORR
61
Totally befuddled : ATSEA
63
A. A. Milne hopper : ROO
64
Shows the way, biblically : LEADETH
67
Heat or Thunder : NBATEAM
70
Performance extras : ENCORES
71
Something in brackets : TAXRATE
72
Adopt, as a stray : TAKEIN
73
Incite to action : BESTIR
Down
1
Thriller set on Amity Island : JAWS
2
College course part : UNIT
3
Joint action : TOKE
4
Small excerpt : SNIPPET
5
Beats the rap : WALKS
6
"Three Men in ___" (Jerome K. Jerome novel) : ABOAT
7
See 5-Across : TIGHT
8
Roman magistrate : EDILE
9
Scout's mission, for short : RECON
10
Socialists, on the political spectrum : FARLEFT
11
Lago or río contents : AGUA
12
Witty bit : QUIP
13
Texter's button : SEND
24
Ally of the Cheyenne: Var. : ARAPAHOE
25
Chitlins, ham hocks, etc. : SOULFOOD
26
Enola Gay's payload, in brief : ABOMB
27
Roadside attention-getter : FLARE
28
See 26-Across : TASTE
30
See 29-Across : TIMES
31
Justice Kagan : ELENA
32
Handrail support : NEWEL
34
Built later : NEWER
35
Some sheet metal workers : TINSMITHS
36
Fidgety : IMPATIENT
37
Michael of "Flashdance" : NOURI
47
North-of-the-border grid org. : CFL
49
First Burmese prime minister : UNU
51
YouTube video lead-ins : ADS
52
Sign of availability : TOLET
53
"The Faerie Queene" woman : IRENA
54
See 52-Across : TRACK
57
See 56-Across : TREAT
58
Kinkajou cousin : COATI
59
Go yard, in baseball slang : HOMER
61
"... ___-foot pole!" : ATEN
62
Simple quatrain pattern : ABAB
65
Buck passer, maybe : DOE
66
Verdi aria "___ tu" : ERI
68
Hacker's need : AXE
69
___-80 (classic computer) : TRS

Answer summary: 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?