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New York Times, Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Author:
Adam G. Perl
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3012/28/19984/25/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
18108300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.50020
Adam G. Perl

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JKQVXZ} This is puzzle # 26 for Mr. Perl. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Adam G. Perl notes:
The inspiration for this puzzle was Bob Dylan's classic song of 1964, 'The Times They Are A-Changin',' and the realization that the ... read more

The inspiration for this puzzle was Bob Dylan's classic song of 1964, "The Times They Are A-Changin'," and the realization that the title could be split into three seven-letter sections. I knew that there were four common anagrams for TIMES (SMITE, EMITS, MITES and ITEMS), but I set out to find all the possible permutations and discovered the additional pair of two-word phrases, IT'S ME and I'M SET.

So, despite no long themed entries, the puzzle has a total of nine theme-related answers. This makes getting interesting non-thematic words in the grid a larger-than-usual challenge. I was very pleased to have been able to include IN THE MOMENT and INDIGO GIRLS (who appeared as NY Times crossword fans in the wonderful documentary "Wordplay") as the two long down words as well as the secondary entries of SEE PAST, TUNA SUB, CIA GATE, I AM SAM, SO I SEE, and A AND E.

There are a few crosswordese bits in the fill, but on balance, I feel the theme density and the many interesting side entries more than compensate for them.

Jeff Chen notes:
THE TIMES / THEY ARE / A CHANGIN tying this puzzle together, featuring six (!) fine anagrams for TIMES. They're starred in the clues, ... read more

THE TIMES / THEY ARE / A CHANGIN tying this puzzle together, featuring six (!) fine anagrams for TIMES. They're starred in the clues, but I highlighted them below in blue so they stand out better. (I must admit, I missed two of them at first.)

Bob Dylan's album

I felt like I ran into a lot of crossword glue as I solved — ALIT, APO, SMOOT, ATNOS just to start along the left-hand side. And given that at first glance, there didn't seem to be a huge amount of longer theme material, I stopped to consider why this was.

A normal weekday puzzle has roughly 50 theme squares, something like four themers of 12ish letters, or five themers of 10ish letters. This one, at 53 squares doesn't seem to be much different. But it's much, much harder to work with a bunch of short answers than it is just a few long answers. This might be counterintuitive, but every time you place a word, no matter how long, it reduces your flexibility. Now consider that Adam had nine (!) entries to place. That fixes so much of your grid into rigidity.

The next problem is adhering to the 78-word maximum. Because every theme answer is relatively short, you must work in some long fill. I really like INDIGO GIRLS, IN THE MOMENT, even TWITTER, SANCTUM, TUNA SUB, CIAGATE. But every time you place one of those, it further chokes down your flexibility, forcing so many little areas that require crossword glue to hold them together.

Now, I still didn't love running into IM AT, REOIL, I GO, TEM, etc. during my solve, but at least thinking about the construction challenge made me better appreciate it. I do wonder if it might have gone a bit smoother if two of the six anagrams had been placed on the west and east (roughly ,where ALIT and ESOS are). That might have helped them to stand out, as well.

It is pretty cool to have six different anagrams that all work just fine — quite a nice find. That plus a perfect revealer splitting up just right for symmetry made it an interesting theme idea for me.

1
S
2
M
3
I
4
T
5
E
6
F
7
E
8
D
9
I
10
T
11
E
12
M
13
S
14
M
A
N
I
A
15
T
R
E
16
A
W
A
R
D
17
O
T
T
E
R
18
L
I
E
19
M
I
T
E
S
20
O
C
H
S
21
S
E
E
P
22
A
S
T
23
T
H
E
T
24
I
M
E
S
25
R
A
T
26
I
27
O
28
M
O
M
A
29
I
M
M
E
N
S
30
E
31
A
32
P
O
33
A
S
34
H
35
E
S
36
R
D
A
S
37
L
A
M
38
T
H
E
Y
A
39
R
40
E
41
I
G
O
42
I
D
E
43
S
44
R
E
O
I
L
45
G
E
S
46
T
U
N
A
47
S
48
U
B
49
C
I
50
A
O
51
A
T
N
O
S
52
A
53
C
H
A
N
G
54
I
55
N
56
C
I
A
57
G
A
T
E
58
T
I
L
T
59
E
60
M
61
I
T
S
62
O
N
E
63
T
H
R
E
E
64
L
A
R
U
E
65
A
D
A
66
M
E
L
D
S
67
I
T
S
M
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68
T
E
M
69
I
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0127 ( 24,186 )
Across
1
*Do in, old-style : SMITE
6
Org. for Janet Yellen, with "the" : FED
9
*Grocery line count : ITEMS
14
Suffix with Obama, once : MANIA
15
One more than due : TRE
16
Judge's determination : AWARD
17
SeaWorld frolicker : OTTER
18
Club selection factor : LIE
19
*Tiny biters : MITES
20
Phil who sang "Draft Dodger Rag" : OCHS
21
Overlook, as a fault : SEEPAST
23
With 38- and 52-Across, 1964 Bob Dylan song ... or a hint to the answers to this puzzle's starred clues : THETIMES
25
Sine, for example : RATIO
28
Midtown Manhattan cultural attraction, for short : MOMA
29
Bigger than big : IMMENSE
31
G.I. address : APO
33
Symbol of penance : ASHES
36
Nutritional figs. : RDAS
37
Make a run for it : LAM
38
See 23-Across : THEYARE
41
"Need ___ on?" : IGO
42
When Brutus struck : IDES
44
Make even slicker : REOIL
45
Some refrigerators : GES
46
Foot-long sandwich option : TUNASUB
49
"See ya!" : CIAO
51
5 for B and 6 for C : ATNOS
52
See 23-Across : ACHANGIN
56
Affair that led to Scooter Libby's 2007 conviction, informally : CIAGATE
58
Steering wheel option : TILT
59
*Gives off : EMITS
62
You, impersonally : ONE
63
Number of strikes in a turkey : THREE
64
Lash of old westerns : LARUE
65
Nabokov heroine : ADA
66
Canasta plays : MELDS
67
*Answer to "Who's there?" : ITSME
68
Pro ___ (for now) : TEM
69
*"No more, thanks" : IMSET
Down
1
___-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 : SMOOT
2
One of 20 in a book : MATCH
3
How Buddhists strive to live : INTHEMOMENT
4
Connects with : TIESTO
5
Musical gift : EAR
6
N.J. town next to Palisades Park : FTLEE
7
Great Lakes tribesmen : ERIES
8
How a daring quarterback may throw : DEEP
9
2001 Sean Penn movie : IAMSAM
10
Service with a bird logo : TWITTER
11
The "E" of 12-Down : EAT
12
Army fare, for short : MRE
13
1960s antiwar org. : SDS
21
Flop's opposite : SMASH
22
Place for a shot : ARM
24
"___ my wit's end!" : IMAT
26
"Colorful" folk duo : INDIGOGIRLS
27
River to the Missouri : OSAGE
29
Golf's Aoki : ISAO
30
Those, in Taxco : ESOS
31
Touched down : ALIT
32
"The Taming of the Shrew" setting : PADUA
34
Rosemary, for one : HERB
35
Part of a Masonic symbol : EYE
39
Nouveau ___ : RICHE
40
Director Kazan : ELIA
43
Place of privacy : SANCTUM
47
"Obviously" : SOISEE
48
2015 FIFA Women's World Cup champs : USA
50
Reason to take off one's hat : ANTHEM
52
"Hoarders" airer : AANDE
53
Third-stringers : CTEAM
54
___-France (region including Paris) : ILEDE
55
Bikini blast, briefly : NTEST
57
Target of blame : GOAT
59
"Y"-sporting collegian : ELI
60
Antislip protection : MAT
61
Recipient of much Apr. mail : IRS
63
Texter's "Didn't need to know that" : TMI

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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