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New York Times, Monday, January 22, 2018

Author:
Paolo Pasco
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
147/17/20155/25/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1300055
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62011
Paolo Pasco

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JWZ} This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Pasco. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
EROSION wearing away at the last words of themers today, STONE to TONE to TON to ON to O. Neat how well this works, always shaving off ... read more

EROSION wearing away at the last words of themers today, STONE to TONE to TON to ON to O. Neat how well this works, always shaving off a letter from one of the sides (not from the middle). And the EROSION revealer, so appropriate! Great Monday theme.

I debated whether this should get the POW! or not. Simple theme, just right for a Monday, but also clever and interesting. Pretty strong themers, too, I MEAN, COME ON delightful and STANDING O just as good. Not a lot of crossword glue, either.

And the clues! Loved the one for ERNIE, hinting at the possibility that they're more than just roommates. APT giving an example of "Robin Banks" for a criminal? Paolo's "Seinfeld" obsession showing through again, with details on ELAINE's job at J. Peterman? Delightful!

So why did I pause? While I think the fill is ultimately all fair — I don't see any squares that might seem equally plausible if filled with a different letter — CHALUPA is a toughie. Educated solvers ought to have heard of CATO before, so entering COTO / CHALUPO or CETO / CHALUPE feels like it'd be the solver's fault, not Paolo's. But it's close.

OBLASTS, too. OCTAD is inferable given the OCT- beginning, so no ambiguous squares.

But along with SCROD, the RIAL, LILA Wallace, the grid left me hesitating as to whether I'd give this one to a novice, attempting to get them hooked on crosswords. Didn't pass that test for me, so I felt like I couldn't give it the POW!

Overall though, strong work in the theme idea, themer selections, even in the bonuses like CLAPTON, SPECTRE, FLOOR IT! So close to earning my nod.

1
S
2
C
3
A
4
M
5
S
6
D
7
A
8
M
9
E
10
A
11
F
12
T
13
S
14
O
H
F
U
N
15
R
I
A
L
16
C
L
A
P
17
X
A
C
T
O
18
E
M
M
A
19
S
T
O
N
E
20
L
E
E
R
21
S
22
A
B
I
T
23
O
L
E
24
Q
U
A
R
T
E
25
R
T
O
N
E
26
R
I
D
27
V
P
S
28
S
T
E
29
E
L
30
N
I
N
O
31
C
A
T
32
O
33
A
T
34
M
35
S
36
M
A
T
E
S
37
M
38
E
T
R
I
C
39
T
O
N
40
O
41
C
42
T
A
D
43
O
D
O
R
44
A
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S
46
E
47
A
48
B
L
O
N
D
49
E
50
R
I
51
G
52
P
R
Y
53
L
A
S
54
I
M
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E
56
A
N
C
O
57
M
E
O
N
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A
P
T
59
E
A
R
N
60
E
P
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C
S
61
S
T
A
62
N
D
I
N
G
63
O
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A
N
T
I
65
C
66
T
O
D
O
67
L
I
L
A
68
S
C
R
O
D
69
S
N
A
G
70
S
E
E
K
71
T
E
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N
S
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0122 ( 24,912 )
Across
1
Ponzi schemes, e.g. : SCAMS
6
Agatha Christie or Maggie Smith : DAME
10
Times past noon, informally : AFTS
14
"Sounds exciting ..." : OHFUN
15
Iranian currency : RIAL
16
Applaud : CLAP
17
Cutting-edge brand? : XACTO
18
2016 Best Actress Oscar winner for "La La Land" : EMMASTONE
20
Unwelcome looks : LEERS
22
Somewhat : ABIT
23
Encouragement for a matador : OLE
24
Half of a half step in music : QUARTERTONE
26
Relieved (of) : RID
27
Biden and Pence, informally : VPS
28
Abbr. in an office address : STE
29
Pacific source of unusual weather : ELNINO
31
Stoic politician of ancient Rome : CATO
33
Places to get quick cash : ATMS
36
Chess endings : MATES
37
Weight unit equal to about 2,205 pounds : METRICTON
40
Group of eight : OCTAD
43
Gym locker emanation : ODOR
44
On the briny : ASEA
48
"Legally ___" (Reese Witherspoon film) : BLONDE
50
Fix, as an election : RIG
52
Be nosy : PRY
53
"Leaving ___ Vegas" : LAS
54
"Puh-LEEZE!" : IMEANCOMEON
58
Like the name "Robin Banks" for a criminal : APT
59
Make, as money : EARN
60
Grand stories : EPICS
61
Enthusiastic audience response, informally : STANDINGO
64
Bit of clowning around : ANTIC
66
Title of a list of errands : TODO
67
___ Wallace, co-founder of Reader's Digest : LILA
68
Fish typically split before cooking : SCROD
69
Sudden problem in a plan : SNAG
70
Look for : SEEK
71
Ariana Grande's fan base, mostly : TEENS
Down
1
"Red" or "White" baseball team : SOX
2
Deep-fried Mexican dish : CHALUPA
3
Div. for the N.F.L.'s Jets : AFCEAST
4
Less talkative : MUTER
5
Laughs through the nose : SNORTS
6
"Forgot About ___" (2000 rap hit) : DRE
7
Put in the cross hairs : AIMAT
8
Caribbean ballroom dance : MAMBO
9
"Seinfeld" character who wrote for the J. Peterman catalog : ELAINE
10
One of two in "Hamilton" : ACT
11
Go from 0 to 60, say : FLOORIT
12
What sunning in a swimsuit leaves : TANLINE
13
Racer's swimwear : SPEEDOS
19
Sailor's patron : STELMO
21
Start to attack : SETAT
24
Home shopping inits. : QVC
25
Back in style : RETRO
30
Grandmother, affectionately : NANA
32
Muscat is its capital : OMAN
34
Prefix with life or wife : MID
35
Look down on : SCORN
38
Swirled : EDDIED
39
Jiffy : TRICE
40
Administrative regions in Russia : OBLASTS
41
Eric who sang "Layla" : CLAPTON
42
Deep-fried Mexican dish : TOSTADA
45
Bond film after "Skyfall" : SPECTRE
46
Natural process illustrated by the last words of 18-, 24-, 37-, 54- and 61-Across : EROSION
47
Novelist Rand : AYN
49
Inbox buildup : EMAILS
51
Exceed : GOPAST
55
"Sesame Street" character long rumored to be Bert's lover : ERNIE
56
Something acute or obtuse : ANGLE
57
Chop finely : MINCE
62
Holiday drink : NOG
63
Tree with acorns : OAK
65
Successors to LPs : CDS

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle.

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