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New York Times, Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Author:
Patrick Berry
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2297/11/199911/4/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
741241679512
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54980
Patrick Berry

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 80, Blocks: 39 Missing: {KQZ} This is puzzle # 204 for Mr. Berry. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: We asked some favorite Times crossword contributors, "What would you like to do in a daily Times crossword that has never been done before?" This week's puzzles, Monday to Saturday, are the result.
Patrick Berry notes:
The basic idea for this puzzle came from a wordplay list I'd compiled much earlier: two-word phrases where the words were the same ... read more

The basic idea for this puzzle came from a wordplay list I'd compiled much earlier: two-word phrases where the words were the same length and only differed by a few letters. (Actually, the original list was a little broader—it included phrases of three or more words that broke into equal pieces, like WARREN G / HARDING and THICK AS / THIEVES.) I compile a lot of lists like this, usually without knowing exactly what I'm going to do with them. In many cases, seeing the finished list helps me decide.

In this case, I finished compiling the list and didn't do anything with it. (I'm easily distracted sometimes.) Then Will asked me to make a puzzle for this twisty theme week, and I dug the list out of mothballs to see if I could get a 15x15 out of it. Overlapping the two parts and turning the nonmatching letters into two-letter rebus squares seemed like an interesting way to render the entries. For extra consistency, I limited myself to two-word entries of length 7. I also decided to nix entries with only one rebus square (like CULTURE VULTURE) or a hyphen between the words (like TRACTOR-TRAILER). My grid ended up slightly exceeding the usual black-square and word-count maximums, but I'd managed to sandwich in six theme entries, which seemed like an acceptable trade-off.

Jeff Chen notes:
Two-word phrases, where most of the letters in each word are the same at the corresponding spot. Beautiful example is CRAYOLA CRAYONS, ... read more

Two-word phrases, where most of the letters in each word are the same at the corresponding spot. Beautiful example is CRAYOLA CRAYONS, which only differ in their last two letters. Additionally, the crossing answers use both two of the differing letters, i.e. the final A and S of CRAYOLA and CRAYONS get integrated into CEASES.

(FL)(OE)GHORN

A picture explains the idea so much better. See the grid below for a visual representation.

I really liked Patrick's top two theme answers, CRAYOLA CRAYONS and FOGHORN LEGHORN. It's neat how the two special cells are right next to each other. I'm not sure why, but that seems elegant. Same goes for HERMANS HERMITS.

Patrick makes a good point about trying to tighten up the theme. The other themers still feel a little haphazard to me though, especially the ones with three special cells. Seems like it'd be much easier to find examples with three differing letters than with only two. Having only super-constrained ones like FOGHORN LEGHORN — only two special adjacent cells — would have been my preference.

Just like all of Patrick's work, it's ultra-smooth, adhering to his exacting standards. This is not at all an easy construction, especially in the bottom corners. Having three patterns fixed into place—the WM, the SC, and the GE special squares — highly constrains the area. That ??WM?? pattern especially … what else besides LAWMAN works? Only LAWMEN, BOWMAN, BOWMEN, NEWMAN. Talk about very little flexibility! To fill this crazy of a grid with virtually no gluey short entries is amazing.

As with great PB puzzles, his clever cluing shines:

  • SNOW gets the bizarre-looking [Fall in winter], not needing a giveaway question mark.
  • A little shout-out to Barbara Bush with [Barb in a bush] for THORN.
  • [You might put a fist through it] feels aggressively violent … except when it refers to an ARMHOLE.

We've seen concepts similar to this one before, so for a "breaking the mold" theme week, it didn't go as far as I would have liked. Still though, a well-executed puzzle.

1
S
2
E
3
I
4
S
5
M
6
I
7
C
8
M
9
A
10
N
11
E
12
T
13
S
14
A
R
M
H
O
L
E
15
C
L
O
T
H
E
16
S
17
C
R
A
Y
O
LN
AS
18
FL
OE
G
H
O
R
N
19
H
O
G
20
N
E
E
21
D
Y
22
E
R
G
O
23
A
R
E
24
S
25
S
S
E
26
A
27
L
L
N
E
W
28
H
29
I
S
30
J
31
A
N
E
32
A
33
S
34
W
A
N
35
P
A
S
T
E
36
B
37
O
38
A
39
C
H
A
RP
L
40
I
EN
41
H
E
R
42
M
AI
NT
S
43
T
E
X
44
O
R
A
45
T
E
46
A
U
T
O
S
47
V
I
L
E
48
E
T
C
49
D
50
O
51
W
52
S
E
S
53
A
54
L
T
55
H
56
A
57
M
58
S
59
E
R
I
E
60
O
M
A
H
61
A
62
M
I
A
63
LH
IE
L
L
64
IM
65
A
N
66
WM
A
SC
67
H
I
N
GE
68
I
N
C
L
U
D
E
69
A
N
O
I
N
T
S
70
T
O
S
S
E
S
71
N
E
T
C
O
S
T
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1013 ( 24,080 )
Across
1
Earthquake-related : SEISMIC
8
Some Impressionist paintings : MANETS
14
You might put a fist through it : ARMHOLE
15
Things to wear : CLOTHES
17
Art supplies since 1903 : CRAYOLACRAYONS
18
Looney Tunes character with a strong Southern accent : FOGHORNLEGHORN
19
Gluttonous sort : HOG
20
Requiring constant reassurance : NEEDY
22
As a result : ERGO
23
Belligerent son of Zeus : ARES
25
NNW's opposite : SSE
26
Never-before-seen : ALLNEW
28
"___ Last Bow" (Sherlock Holmes story) : HIS
30
Plain ___ : JANE
32
Egypt's ___ Dam : ASWAN
35
Kindergartner's stickum : PASTE
36
Flapper accessory : BOA
39
Director with three films on A.F.I.'s list of 100 greatest movies, all of them silent : CHARLIECHAPLIN
41
"I'm Henry VIII, I Am" band : HERMANSHERMITS
43
Cowboy nickname : TEX
44
Give a speech : ORATE
46
Coupes and sedans : AUTOS
47
Repulsive : VILE
48
List-ending abbr. : ETC
49
Uses a divining rod : DOWSES
53
PC key : ALT
55
Unsubtle performers : HAMS
59
Southernmost Great Lake : ERIE
60
Nebraska's largest city : OMAHA
62
Farrow of "Zelig" : MIA
63
"The Little Foxes" playwright : LILLIANHELLMAN
66
Laundromat fixture : WASHINGMACHINE
68
Make room for : INCLUDE
69
Sanctifies with oil : ANOINTS
70
Discards : TOSSES
71
Actual amount paid : NETCOST
Down
1
Ali G portrayer ___ Baron Cohen : SACHA
2
Ballgame bobble : ERROR
3
Public relations concern : IMAGE
4
Reticent : SHY
5
Project Apollo destination : MOON
6
Reason for missing work : ILLNESS
7
Stops : CEASES
8
"Back to the Future" hero Marty : MCFLY
9
Lotion ingredient : ALOE
10
Yuletide quaff : NOG
11
"I Love Lucy" role : ETHEL
12
Barb in a bush : THORN
13
Fabric used for suits : SERGE
16
Fall in winter : SNOW
21
___ vu : DEJA
24
Quick on the uptake : SHARP
26
Start the pot : ANTE
27
Ogle : LEERAT
29
Smitten : INLOVE
31
Arthur of tennis : ASHE
32
Parliamentary output : ACT
33
Ship, to its captain : SHE
34
Stuff rubbed on skis : WAX
35
"In the ___ Colony" (Kafka story) : PENAL
36
Fisherman's purchase : BAIT
37
Not fooled by : ONTO
38
Blockhead : ASS
40
Eye piece : IRIS
42
A lot : MUCH
45
Uniform-wearing group : TEAM
48
Component of natural gas : ETHANE
49
Indira Gandhi International Airport site : DELHI
50
Show the ropes to : ORIENT
51
Radioer's "I'll do it" : WILCO
52
Doesn't stay on the shelves : SELLS
54
Badge wearer : LAWMAN
56
___ acid : AMINO
57
Bowlful next to a restaurant's cashier : MINTS
58
Most prudent, as advice : SAGEST
60
Dollar bills : ONES
61
Foppish neckwear : ASCOT
64
"___ in the Morning" (radio show) : IMUS
65
Fruit drink suffix : ADE
67
Fruit drink brand : HIC

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?