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New York Times, Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Author:
Alex Eaton-Salners
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
142/2/201710/22/20180
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0232700
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54210
Alex Eaton-Salners

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 79, Blocks: 34 Missing: {FQZ} This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Eaton-Salners. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Alex Eaton-Salners notes:
This puzzle began life as a different piece of music. And the solfège notes came at the end instead of the beginning. That iteration, ... read more

This puzzle began life as a different piece of music. And the solfège notes came at the end instead of the beginning. That iteration, however, had a problem. The solfège notes in one of the theme entries were (despite orthographic identity) pronounced differently in the base phrase. It was tough to let that version go, but the resulting consistency in pronunciation makes the theme a lot stronger. Good thing that DODO, SOSO, LALA, and SO sound the way they do!

This puzzle's revealer could also have come from "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," which shares the same first seven notes as "The Alphabet Song." Both (along with "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep") derive from the French children's song "Ah! vous dirai-je, maman."

I hope the non-thematic music-related entries, RIHANNA, ONO, BASSI, TURNTABLE, EAR, LES [Misérables], and SXSW are a nice plus for solvers. It's fun to sprinkle theme-adjacent material into a grid, but sometimes I worry that it might be a distraction. Hopefully I struck a good balance here.

Jeff Chen notes:
Jim and I play the 'what will annoy Jeff game' most weeks. It's super fun — Jim simply tries to predict which puzzles will make me gnash ... read more

Jim and I play the "what will annoy Jeff game" most weeks. It's super fun — Jim simply tries to predict which puzzles will make me gnash my teeth. He thought today's would be one of those because the knowledge required is pretty specific.

Wrong! Score one for The U S of Murica, score negative eight for Canadiana!

I imagine there will be some who don't get what's going on. You do need some background to figure it out:

- Notes of the major scale can be sung DO RE MI FA SO LA TI DO.

- The ALPHABET song (same tune as "Twinkle, Twinkle") on a C major scale starts with C C G G A A G.

- You can thus translate that to DO DO SO SO LA LA SO.

The theme is demystified! Apologies to those who are rolling their eyes, saying, "Thanks, Captain Obvious!"

Well, it wasn't at all obvious to me what was going on, anyway. I liked that aspect of it – felt like a couple of interesting ideas merged creatively together. Not a jump-out-of-my-seat-a-ha-that's-brilliant-moment! But my curiosity was piqued enough to want to figure out what was going on.

I liked a lot of the gridwork, strong efforts to work in long bonuses like TURNTABLE, TODO LISTS, LINKED IN, ASHPLUME. That's ON ONE HAND.

On the other, some oddballs in OKRAS ADEPTS (such strange plurals), SANDP (that's the S&P 500, of course, never written out as AND except in crosswords), and the trio of IN STIR, IN SPOTS, IN TOW. I usually don't mind duplication of short words INside grids, but that gave the solve a repetitive feel.

Overall, it's not the incredibly memorable musical puzzle to which I hold every other, but it's a novel, interesting take. I'd be curious to see what percentage of solvers actually understood what was going on, or went back to figure it out.

1
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1010 ( 25,173 )
Across
1. Quickly take down : JOT
4. UV rays, to the skin : AGER
8. Alternative to paper : PLASTIC
15. Singer whose name sounds like a cry of dismay : ONO
16. Highlands hillside : BRAE
17. One-named singer whose real first name is Robyn : RIHANNA
18. Onetime resident of Mauritius : DODOBIRD
20. Here and there : INSPOTS
21. Former Hawaiian senator Daniel : INOUYE
22. "Um, sure" : OHOK
24. Pant-leg tugger, perhaps : TOT
25. Sea cave dwellers : EELS
26. They might have 2 1/2 or 3 stars : SOSOREVIEWS
30. Partner of yon : HITHER
32. YouTube offering : VIDEO
33. Deep voices : BASSI
34. Suffix with cannon or block : ADE
36. Behind bars : INSTIR
40. Pantry pest : ANT
41. 2016 Best Picture "winner" (for about two minutes) : LALALAND
44. Thurman of "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" : UMA
45. 1950s Corsairs, e.g. : EDSELS
47. Fashionable letters : YSL
48. Podded plants : OKRAS
50. An addict may go into this : REHAB
52. Summer cover-up : SARONG
54. Swear words? : SOHELPMEGOD
58. Elisha in the National Inventors Hall of Fame : OTIS
60. Gasteyer of "Mean Girls" : ANA
61. Put on board : LADE
62. Part of la península ibérica : ESPANA
64. Carpenter's tool : NAILGUN
67. Series whose first seven members are sung to the starts of 18-, 26-, 41- and 54-Across : ALPHABET
69. To eat a late lunch or wait until dinner, say : DILEMMA
70. ___-tiller : ROTO
71. Majors in film : LEE
72. Gets the wrinkles out : PRESSES
73. Annual Austin music-and-media festival, briefly : SXSW
74. Settings for some TV dramas, for short : ERS
Down
1. ___ Whittaker, player of the first female Doctor on "Doctor Who" : JODIE
2. How you can count up to five : ONONEHAND
3. Sheets that might have check boxes : TODOLISTS
4. "Dear" one : ABBY
5. Super Bowl-winning QB Bob : GRIESE
6. Canal zone? : EAR
7. Second chances : REDOS
8. A ___ (independent of experience) : PRIORI
9. Networking site : LINKEDIN
10. Cries of surprise : AHS
11. Drain : SAP
12. U.S. govt. security : TNOTE
13. Getting pulled along : INTOW
14. Finds a part for : CASTS
19. Dethrones : OUSTS
23. Squalid shelters : HOVELS
27. Unwritten : ORAL
28. One setting up at a flea market : VENDOR
29. Apple creation : IOS
31. Jewish campus group : HILLEL
33. Sweetheart, in modern lingo : BAE
35. Piece of multifunctional furniture : DAYBED
37. Record holder : TURNTABLE
38. Designer of attractions at Walt Disney theme parks : IMAGINEER
39. Dorm watchers, in brief : RAS
42. Volcanic discharge : ASHPLUME
43. Plus : ALSO
46. 'Fore : ERE
49. ___ Troopa (Mario foe) : KOOPA
51. Some stoves : AMANAS
53. Skilled sorts : ADEPTS
54. ___ 500 : SANDP
55. Live : ONAIR
56. Selassie of Ethiopia : HAILE
57. The ten of a ten-speed : GEARS
59. Leaves full : SATES
63. Finish third : SHOW
65. "___ Misérables" : LES
66. Diamond V.I.P.s : GMS
68. Jewish deli supply : LOX

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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