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New York Times, Monday, October 1, 2018

Author:
Chuck Deodene
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4111/16/199410/1/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
02398118
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58031
Chuck Deodene

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 78, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JKQVZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 41 for Mr. Deodene. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Welcome back to another week of 'Crossing Words, with Jeff and Jim!' We'll again alternate who leads off and who cleans up. Innovative ... read more

Welcome back to another week of "Crossing Words, with Jeff and Jim!" We'll again alternate who leads off and who cleans up.

Innovative idea today, THE END IS NIGH hinting at phrases ending with a "nigh" sound. Chuck did well to uncover BRUNEI, ILLINI, SINAI.

English is such an oddball language.

The idea interested me enough to go look for other "nigh" sounds. Besides Bill NYE – ooh, he's gotta feel snubbed today! – I could only think of DENY. Impossible to DENY that the theme set is pretty tight!

I struggled mightily with DRAMATIS PERSONAE. Turns out that 1.) I had no idea what this meant, which made for easily the hardest Monday puzzle this year, 2.) I've been pronouncing PERSONAE all wrong, apparently, and 3.) PERSONAE (long E) by itself is pronounced differently than when used in DRAMATIS PERSONAE (long I).

Who the *@$%! is responsible for our ridiculous language?

Putting this big theme qualm aside, I appreciated Chuck's efforts to incorporate some bonuses. I like trying to HANG TEN while surfing. FISH FRY? Don't mind if I do! And my favorite, WINGING IT — describes my life to a tee.

Speaking of WINGING IT though, sure was some winging it in the grid. I'm okay with a more somber puzzle, but NEAR FATAL / PISTOL ... crossing FIGHTING and BATTLE? So much for a pleasant solving experience!

And although Chuck did well to split THE END / IS NIGH – that makes for a much easier constructing job, compared to keeping it together as one centered entry – there's way too much IRISE AME GRO IRT LXI OBI. Not an elegant result; quite an unfriendly experience for newer solvers.

Overall, a novel idea lending itself to some neat ways of spelling the "nigh" sound. I would have been much happier if IMPOSSIBLE TO DENY had replaced DRAMATIS PERSONAE though, and if the the puzzle had been run on a Wednesday, where more experienced solvers probably wouldn't blink an eye at entries like ARRAU.

Jim Horne notes:
Crosswords are an unusual puzzle type because your experience as a solver depends so much on your life experience. Bloggers and other ... read more

Crosswords are an unusual puzzle type because your experience as a solver depends so much on your life experience. Bloggers and other crossword commentators have to be careful with their "this puzzle is running on the wrong day of the week" objections. It's a normal tendency to assume that "stuff I don't know isn't common knowledge" but that's a trap.

If you grow up loving Shakespeare, DRAMATIS PERSONAE is a gimme. If you love classical music, Claudio ARRAU drops right in. This puzzle is too easy for a Monday!

But, wait a second. 51-Across asks me about some random stupid American college team? How is anyone supposed to know that stuff? Put this disaster of a puzzle on Saturday where it belongs!

Seriously, though, FIGHTING ILLINI is the kind of answer I love. I didn't know the term, but it's inferable enough. Once you parse the theme and when enough crossing letters drop into place, it seems correct. It may well have been a gimme for you. That's how this game goes.

1
L
2
A
3
P
4
D
5
A
6
F
7
L
8
A
9
C
10
S
11
W
12
A
13
B
14
A
R
E
A
15
S
16
M
I
A
M
I
17
M
I
C
E
18
D
R
A
M
A
19
T
I
S
P
E
R
20
S
O
N
A
E
21
E
A
R
22
H
I
G
H
23
C
O
R
G
I
S
24
S
U
L
25
T
A
N
O
F
26
B
27
R
U
N
E
I
28
I
R
T
29
R
O
O
S
30
S
N
31
U
32
B
33
S
34
U
35
N
D
A
E
36
Y
A
W
37
G
R
O
38
T
H
E
E
N
D
39
I
40
S
41
N
I
G
H
42
A
N
A
43
D
44
O
45
H
46
N
E
A
T
E
R
47
G
O
R
48
P
49
S
O
B
A
50
L
X
I
51
F
I
52
G
H
T
I
N
53
G
I
L
L
54
I
55
N
56
I
57
A
58
S
A
S
E
T
59
G
E
N
E
60
X
E
R
61
B
A
T
T
L
E
62
O
63
F
T
H
E
S
64
I
N
A
I
65
L
M
A
O
66
T
R
U
E
R
67
S
O
A
R
S
68
Y
E
L
L
69
L
E
N
N
Y
70
N
Y
S
E
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1001 ( 25,164 )
Across
1
West Coast law force, for short : LAPD
5
Insurer whose name rhymes with "quack" : AFLAC
10
Q-tip, e.g. : SWAB
14
Regions : AREAS
16
Where the Dolphins play : MIAMI
17
Prey for cats : MICE
18
Characters in a play, formally : DRAMATISPERSONAE
21
Unit of corn : EAR
22
Loopy from drugs : HIGH
23
Some herding dogs : CORGIS
24
Monarch renowned for his wealth : SULTANOFBRUNEI
28
N.Y.C. subway inits. : IRT
29
Down Under hoppers, informally : ROOS
30
Overlook rudely : SNUB
33
Ice cream treat : SUNDAE
36
Veer, as a ship : YAW
37
Miracle-___ (garden brand) : GRO
38
With 39-Across, doomsayer's assertion ... or a phonetic hint to 18-, 24-, 51- and 61-Across : THEEND
39
See 38-Across : ISNIGH
42
Santa ___ winds : ANA
43
"How stupid of me!" : DOH
46
More tidy : NEATER
47
Trail mix : GORP
49
Japanese noodle : SOBA
50
61, in old Rome : LXI
51
College team from the land of Lincoln : FIGHTINGILLINI
57
How TV series DVDs may be sold : ASASET
59
DNA sequence : GENE
60
Gen ___ (millennial forerunner) : XER
61
Yom Kippur War clash : BATTLEOFTHESINAI
65
Response from a greatly amused texter : LMAO
66
Better aligned : TRUER
67
Goes way, way up : SOARS
68
Bellow : YELL
69
Comic Bruce with a foul mouth : LENNY
70
Big Board inits. : NYSE
Down
1
Stows, as cargo : LADES
2
Pianist Claudio : ARRAU
3
Gem strung on a necklace : PEARL
4
Beaver's construction : DAM
5
Mexican friend : AMIGO
6
Popular Friday feast : FISHFRY
7
Once around the track : LAP
8
Soul: Fr. : AME
9
Ringling Brothers offering, once : CIRCUS
10
Round-the-campfire treats : SMORES
11
Going off script : WINGINGIT
12
Smoothie "superfruit" : ACAI
13
"Subjects" of a queen, not a king : BEES
15
Like the climate of the African desert : SAHARAN
19
Like some auto windows : TINTED
20
"Like father, like ___" : SON
25
Beach washer : TIDE
26
Breath-taking snake : BOA
27
Specification on an airline ticket : ROW
31
Desire : URGE
32
Physics Nobelist Niels : BOHR
33
Without a date : STAG
34
"You might think so, but ..." : UHNO
35
Grave, as injuries : NEARFATAL
39
Queued : INLINE
40
Strictly platonic : SEXLESS
41
Hammer's target : NAIL
43
Bit of an ellipsis : DOT
44
Japanese sash : OBI
45
Do a surfing maneuver : HANGTEN
48
Glock, for one : PISTOL
49
Jewish village of old : SHTETL
52
Dr. Scholl's padding : GEL
53
Architect Frank : GEHRY
54
No, in pig Latin : IXNAY
55
Comes closer : NEARS
56
"And Still ___" (Angelou volume) : IRISE
57
With competence : ABLY
58
Uncreative bar order, with "the" : SAME
62
Metal before refinement : ORE
63
When said three times, a Beach Boys hit : FUN
64
Charged particle : ION

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?