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New York Times, Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Author: Peter A. Collins
Editor: Will Shortz
Peter A. Collins
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1045/2/20064/18/201812
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
51225361394
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.564313

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QW} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 102 for Mr. Collins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Peter A. Collins notes: Puzzle ideas can pop up in the strangest places. This idea for one puzzle was generated a little less than a year ago while ... more
Peter A. Collins notes:

Puzzle ideas can pop up in the strangest places. This idea for one puzzle was generated a little less than a year ago while doing the January 25, 2017 Los Angeles Times puzzle by my friend and sometimes co-constructor Bruce Haight. The first two themed answers I got in Bruce's puzzle were LIVE A LITTLE and MEET IN THE MIDDLE. For some reason the VEAL inside LIVE A LITTLE jumped out at me, so I thought to myself, "I see where you're going, Bruce!". I figured there would be various meats (like VEAL) hidden inside longer phrases, with MEET IN THE MIDDLE as the revealer.

As it turned out, Bruce's theme was entirely different. It consisted of five phrases that ended in the five fingers on one's hand: LITTLE, INDEX, MIDDLE, RING, and THUMB. So I took what I thought was Bruce's concept and turned it into this puzzle.

My original submission didn't have circles or shaded squares, but I guess on a Tuesday they're probably necessary.

Jeff Chen notes: MEAT IN THE MIDDLE really ought to be a thing. A restaurant chain specializing in turduckens? A couple of good finds, BEEF in ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

MEAT IN THE MIDDLE really ought to be a thing. A restaurant chain specializing in turduckens?

A couple of good finds, BEEF in the middle of STROBE EFFECT particularly strong. Always neat to see longer words with rare(ish) letters smack dab in the middle of snazzy phrases. VEAL inside LIVE A LIE was good too.

I wasn't as hot on LAMB inside CLAMBAKE as 1.) it's not as interesting to me to have a word hidden completely inside a single word (across two words feels more fun), and 2.) isn't CLAM another type of meat? Sort of? The other, other white meat? Felt a little odd to have the double meatiness.

And HAM is easier to find within phrases like FIFTH AMENDMENT, LAUGH A MINUTE, ALPHA MALE, etc. Three-letter hidden words don't catch my attention as much since they're easier to uncover.

I loved ANTI TANK and ZOOT SUIT! Great bonuses. Typically I'd be worried about them laid out in the across direction since that could muddy up theme vs. fill. But since there aren't any shaded letters in these guys, it's fine.

Other goodies in SPRAY CAN, SKORTS, and SPACE X. Excellent bonuses for all the vegetarian solvers out there!

Not as smooth as I'd like in an early-week puzzle, though. I hitched early on with ARPEL, but thank goodness all the crossings were easy. I'm okay to learn a new brand name. Not as okay to run into OTB, SDS (I think it's a fine entry, but many newer solvers might not be familiar with Students for a Democratic Society), IT OFF, SNO, ITE, SKED. Two or three of these and a puzzle loses its feeling of elegance and craftsmanship.

It's hard to say what might have helped. Maybe not stacking NORTH AMERICA and LIVE A LIE? Putting LIVE A LIE in row 3 and NORTH AMERICA in row 5 might have spaced things out better.

Overall, a solid hidden-word theme using a fun reVEALer, but I would have liked some rework to improve smoothness, even if it meant reducing some of the snazziness.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0109 ( 24,899 )
Across Down
1. Perennial campaign issue : JOBS
5. Airplane wing feature : SLAT
9. Cool, giant sun : SSTAR
14. Taken by mouth : ORAL
15. Sweat spot : PORE
16. Remote control button : PAUSE
17. Grinder : HERO
18. Totally focused : RAPT
19. Brooding worry : ANGST
20. Big part of the New World : NORTHAMERICA
23. It's pitched with a pitchfork : HAY
24. Present oneself falsely : LIVEALIE
28. Greek island in the Aegean Sea : IOS
31. Common supply for a party : ICE
33. One cause for an R rating : SEX
34. Wagering venue, briefly : OTB
35. Like some missiles : ANTITANK
38. Onetime Volvo competitor : SAAB
39. Compromise ... or a phonetic hint to this puzzle's shaded squares : MEETINTHEMIDDLE
43. Bad temper : BILE
44. Flashy 1940s men's attire : ZOOTSUIT
45. Lead-in to bred or behaved : ILL
46. Channel for "Conan" : TBS
49. ___-Caps (theater candy) : SNO
50. Faux ___ : PAS
51. Seaside cookout : CLAMBAKE
54. Fast-food chain with a goateed spokesman : KFC
56. Flashing light phenomenon : STROBEEFFECT
61. Ridiculous : INANE
64. Pink : ROSY
65. Humdinger : LULU
66. Arms and legs : LIMBS
67. "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare," e.g. : TOME
68. 10-Down resident : ARAB
69. On the nose : EXACT
70. What's happening and when, informally : SKED
71. Recorded message prompt : TONE
1. Donald ___ Trump : JOHN
2. ___ Blizzard (Dairy Queen offering) : OREO
3. Roseanne of "Roseanne" : BARR
4. Animal that hangs upside down in trees : SLOTH
5. Graffiti artist's tool : SPRAYCAN
6. Rich soil : LOAM
7. Big name in beauty products : ARPEL
8. Game craze of the late 1980s and '90s : TETRIS
9. Falcon rocket launcher : SPACEX
10. Yemen's capital : SANAA
11. Pull : TUG
12. Nativity scene figure : ASS
13. Emeritus: Abbr. : RET
21. Country to which Frederick Douglass was a U.S. ambassador : HAITI
22. Natalie Cole's "___ Got Love on My Mind" : IVE
25. Pack, as a car for travel : LOADUP
26. Napoli's nation : ITALIA
27. Field where Jackie Robinson played : EBBETS
28. Like the meter in sonnets : IAMBIC
29. Ed of "Modern Family" : ONEILL
30. Popular Belgian beer, for short : STELLA
32. Fictional tree creature : ENT
36. Carmel finish? : ITE
37. Letters on an AM dial : KHZ
38. 1960s radical grp. : SDS
40. Canon model : EOS
41. Tinkered (with) : MONKEYED
42. "Knock ___!" : ITOFF
46. Intradermal diagnostic, for short : TBTEST
47. Many a lounge : BAR
48. Some tennis wear : SKORTS
52. "___ Live" (daytime news program) : MSNBC
53. Kindle material : EBOOK
55. B equivalent : CFLAT
57. Salinger dedicatee : ESME
58. Tip of France? : EURO
59. Family : CLAN
60. Idiot box : TUBE
61. ___-de-France : ILE
62. Put the kibosh on : NIX
63. Operator's org.? : AMA

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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