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New York Times, Thursday, October 10, 2019

Author:
Tracy Gray
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
289/8/201010/10/20196
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
7445710
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61451
Tracy Gray

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQVXZ} This is puzzle # 28 for Ms. Gray. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tracy Gray notes:
The email response from the editorial team on this puzzle came as an 'Almost Yes!' due to the obscurity of one of my phrases – ... read more

The email response from the editorial team on this puzzle came as an "Almost Yes!" due to the obscurity of one of my phrases – ALCO(HOLE)NGINE. Except for the fun phrase W(HOLE)TTHEDOGSOUT, which would've required an entire grid redo, I struggled to find another phrase with the letters H-O-L-E spanning two words, so Joel agreed that a phrase containing C(HOLE)STEROL would be an acceptable replacement.

After a quick revision, my puzzle was accepted on 1/22/19 – the same day that John E. Bennett and Jeff Chen had their clever puzzle published with the EXACT SAME REVEALER – with my interpretation being different enough (thankfully!), to not be rejected for its similarity to their puzzle.

Regarding similar ideas and scooping, Sam Ezersky recently wrote to me and simply said "lotsa constructors think alike"… and I have to agree. Talking shop with other constructors at the ACPT every year, I am always amazed to hear myself and others saying over and over "I had the exact same idea as you!"

Hope you enjoy my concept!

Jeff Chen notes:
When Jeb approached me with the WATCH YOUR STEP revealer Tracy mentioned, I was underwhelmed. Isn't WATCH YOUR STEP too general, ... read more

When Jeb approached me with the WATCH YOUR STEP revealer Tracy mentioned, I was underwhelmed. Isn't WATCH YOUR STEP too general, covering everything from potholes to stones to curbs to dog poop? I had a similar issue today, although I like Tracy's interpretation better. WATCH YOUR STEP has a much stronger link to holes than to snakes.

I usually get a ton of questions on these "sticking up" or "sticking down" puzzles – Tracy's last one, unfortunately from just a few weeks ago, was a prime example – so we now err on the side of highlighting in bright colors (see grid below). Hopefully, that makes the HOLE, DITCH, PIT, and GAP stand out.

I enjoyed the themers where the drop-down word spanned the words of the phrase, i.e., CREDIT CHECK. Usually, Will Shortz tells constructors to avoid ones like NO CHOLESTEROL and HOSPITAL STAY because the other words (NO and STAY) come across as superfluous. I used to think this was bunk, but I've come to see the wisdom in that opinion.

These "drop down" puzzles are so hard to build because every themer must be expressed in a T shape. Filling around each intersection is often a bear, and when you have four of them, you're bound to run into severe trade-offs. Toss in a long central revealer – crossing one of the themers! – and stuff like ACEH, AOKI, NEBS, ETAT, ICI are gonna be prices to pay.

I enjoyed a lot of the extras, though, DEMO CREWS, FANNIE MAE, BAD RAP, BEER BONGS, SPOT OF TEA helping to make up for some of the rough patches. Strong work in the two big corners.

Overall, a solid Thursday idea that's a little different than usual "drop down" themes. I'd have liked MIND THE GAP as the revealer, though – spot on for this concept — and one fewer themer, with more smoothness, would have been ideal.

(Publishing this in early 2020 would have been nice, too, considering how close it is to both Jeb's puzzle, as well as to Tracy's last similar one.)

1
P
2
D
3
F
4
S
5
K
6
O
7
I
8
B
9
A
10
D
11
R
12
A
13
P
14
H
E
A
L
15
I
N
N
16
A
R
O
U
S
E
17
O
M
N
I
18
N
O
C
19
H
S
T
E
R
O
L
20
N
O
N
P
21
C
22
A
O
K
I
23
A
N
T
24
I
C
I
25
H
26
A
27
S
S
L
E
S
28
L
E
S
29
C
R
E
30
D
E
C
K
31
E
T
A
32
T
33
S
E
M
I
34
E
Y
35
E
36
N
E
37
B
38
S
39
W
A
T
40
C
H
Y
O
41
U
42
R
S
T
E
P
43
S
E
C
S
44
S
L
O
45
R
E
O
46
S
47
H
I
48
T
49
E
50
T
O
51
G
A
R
T
Y
52
S
53
A
54
P
55
M
O
M
56
B
A
S
A
57
B
O
O
58
A
L
E
59
I
O
T
A
60
P
61
R
O
F
S
62
H
O
S
63
P
A
L
S
T
64
A
65
Y
66
E
N
T
S
67
I
N
T
I
M
E
68
I
K
E
69
A
G
E
E
70
B
E
S
T
I
R
71
N
A
P
72
L
S
A
T
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 1010 ( 25,538 )
Across
1
Acrobat displays : PDFS
5
Fish in a Japanese pond : KOI
8
Unjustified criticism, in slang : BADRAP
14
Make well : HEAL
15
Part of the Nativity story : INN
16
Light a fire under : AROUSE
17
Luxury hotel brand : OMNI
18
What margarine has, unlike butter : NOCHOLESTEROL
20
Potentially offensive : NONPC
22
World Golf Hall-of-Famer Isao : AOKI
23
Morsel for a toad : ANT
24
It's here, on the Champs-Élysées : ICI
25
Hounds : HASSLES
28
Paul in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame : LES
29
Part of a tenant screening report : CREDITCHECK
31
Conseil d'___ (adviser to un président) : ETAT
33
One of two for four : SEMI
34
Lasik target : EYE
36
Birds' bills : NEBS
39
"Tread carefully!" ... or a hint to four dangers in this puzzle : WATCHYOURSTEP
43
Jiffies : SECS
44
___ Poke (caramel candy) : SLO
45
Old cars with wings in their logo : REOS
47
Sexologist Shere : HITE
50
Classic "Animal House" scene : TOGAPARTY
52
Fool : SAP
55
Kenya's second-largest city : MOMBASA
57
"Are you blind, ref?!" : BOO
58
Part of I.P.A. : ALE
59
Speck : IOTA
60
Authors of many sch. textbooks : PROFS
62
Requirement after a surgery, perhaps : HOSPITALSTAY
66
Apnea-treating M.D.s : ENTS
67
Before it's too late : INTIME
68
Nickname in 1950s politics : IKE
69
Pulitzer-winning James : AGEE
70
Get moving : BESTIR
71
Suede feature : NAP
72
Exam with two logical reasoning sects. : LSAT
Down
1
Sound system? : PHONICS
2
Opposite of builders : DEMOCREWS
3
Aid for prospective homeowners : FANNIEMAE
4
Berth place : SLIP
5
Relations : KIN
6
Cry of horror, quaintly : ONO
7
Cuzco residents : INCAS
8
Online shopping icon : BASKET
9
Sellers on Etsy, e.g. : ARTISANS
10
Jane or John, in unsolved cases : DOE
11
Like scenes in Grant Wood paintings : RURAL
12
Last two words of John Lennon's "Imagine" : ASONE
13
Pummels with paintballs, say : PELTS
19
Metaphor for indebtedness : HOLE
21
Michael of "Weekend Update" on "S.N.L." : CHE
26
Banda ___ (2004 Indonesian tsunami site) : ACEH
27
Blue-bottled vodka brand : SKYY
30
Abandon : DITCH
32
Colorful aquarium swimmer : TETRA
35
Sister of Helios and Selene : EOS
37
Aids in getting drunk fast : BEERBONGS
38
Brit's afternoon refreshment : SPOTOFTEA
40
Long-running series whose lead role was Lt. Horatio Caine : CSIMIAMI
41
Beauty supply chain : ULTA
42
Down Under jumpers, informally : ROOS
46
Long Island community bordering Oyster Bay : SYOSSET
48
Certain leathercrafter : TOOLER
49
CPR givers : EMTS
51
Parent company of Athleta and Old Navy : GAP
52
Master, in Hindi : SAHIB
53
Singly : ALONE
54
Gnats, rats and brats : PESTS
56
Bring home, as a runner : BATIN
61
"Let's get ___!" : REAL
63
Mango's center : PIT
64
Shawn Corey Carter ___ Jay-Z : AKA
65
"Indeedy" : YEP

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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