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New York Times, Monday, January 22, 2018

Author:
Paolo Pasco
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
127/17/20151/22/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1300053
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63011
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
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A
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M
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D
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F
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O
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O
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Q
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V
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O
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M
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© 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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