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New York Times, Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Author: Adam G. Perl
Editor: Will Shortz
Adam G. Perl
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2912/28/19988/29/20170
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18107300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.50010

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {KQZ} This is puzzle # 24 for Mr. Perl. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Adam G. Perl notes: The inspiration for this crossword came from another puzzle I was working on that had the word 'mustache' in it. That led to the ... more
Adam G. Perl notes: The inspiration for this crossword came from another puzzle I was working on that had the word "mustache" in it. That led to the word "handlebar" and then to the plural "handlebars" and I thought, "Aha!" (a favorite word with crossword constructors) — broken into two words, it becomes HANDLE BARS and I thought that would be an apt description for what a bouncer does. This led to the other three themed entries: TRADE SECRETS, PLOT POINTS, and COVER STORIES. The key was that the first part of the phrase had to be used as a noun in ordinary usage and a verb in the puzzle. I particularly like the double entries at 10 and 64 Across, even though they are not part of the puzzle's theme, and the clue for 54 down.

This article in Cornell's alumni magazine has a little more information about me.

Jeff Chen notes: Interpretations of common phrases as if they described a career; fun stuff. Being a former mathlete PLOT POINTS made me smile. And in ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Interpretations of common phrases as if they described a career; fun stuff. Being a former mathlete PLOT POINTS made me smile. And in my last career I had a lot of work in patents and copyrights, so seeing TRADE SECRETS repurposed in a kooky way also gave me a laugh.

Typically I'm not a fan of sectioning off parts of the grid, like the NE and SW today. I find that it often messes with grid flow, potentially stranding the solver in a tiny section with few ways of breaking in. But I like what Adam's done today — by separating those two little areas, he gives himself wide freedom to do most anything he wants in there. I like the little bonus of GIVE / AWAY and DOWN / EAST; something a little novel. Losing a little grid flow felt like a worthwhile trade-off to me.

One aspect that I found a little odd was that only one of the themers was a single word. HANDLEBARS sticks out in my mind, as TRADE SECRETS, PLOT POINTS, and COVER STORIES are all nice two-word entries. I do like how Adam made sure each resulting themer was a present tense verb plus a plural noun — that's the kind of consistency I like. If the theme concept were more constrained, that would be one thing. But it seems like there are enough phrases in this ilk that HANDLEBARS could have been something else that fit with the other three perfectly.

The grid felt fairly smooth to me, with one exception: the west, containing AMAIN, and AMANA crossing both LAHTI and ALERO. The latter three are perfectly reasonable answers, but proper names can be tricky (especially when they cross), potentially leaving the solver with a sense of malaise if he/she doesn't know both. I realize Christine LAHTI is pretty famous, and there are a lot of people who own AMANA appliances and old ALERO cars, but perhaps swapping out BANDSTANDS for something else would have produced a smoother experience for more subsets of solvers.

Entertaining Tuesday.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1014 ( 23,716 )
Across Down
1. Sign of healing : SCAB
5. Place to put a stethoscope : CHEST
10. With 16-Across, donate : GIVE
14. Doctor Zhivago's love : LARA
15. Pry bar : LEVER
16. See 10-Across : AWAY
17. Candid : OPEN
18. Midwest air hub : OHARE
19. Rib, e.g. : BONE
20. What gossip columnists do? : TRADESECRETS
23. Headache : HASSLE
24. One ___ time : ATA
25. Peep from a sheep : BAA
28. "Sucks to be you!" : TOUGH
31. Earth tones : OCHERS
33. Slow flow : LAVA
36. What mathematicians do? : PLOTPOINTS
38. Big name in appliances : AMANA
40. Producer of a tirade : IRE
41. Missouri city, familiarly : STJOE
42. What bouncers do? : HANDLEBARS
45. Madre's brothers : TIOS
46. Strands in December? : TINSEL
47. Squeeze, informally : SMUSH
49. ___ trice : INA
50. Hi-___ : RES
52. Starr of old comics : BRENDA
56. What literary critics do? : COVERSTORIES
59. Thomas ___ Edison : ALVA
62. "The Gentleman Is ___" (Rodgers and Hammerstein song) : ADOPE
63. Soul singer Redding : OTIS
64. With 67-Across, coastal Maine : DOWN
65. Bygone communication : TELEX
66. SeaWorld attraction : ORCA
67. See 64-Across : EAST
68. Put up : ERECT
69. Twitter ___ (news source) : FEED
1. It's a sin : SLOTH
2. Frank who directed "It Happened One Night" : CAPRA
3. Fields : AREAS
4. Outdoor concert sites : BANDSTANDS
5. Tight shot : CLOSEUP
6. Gleeful giggle : HEHE
7. Rescue mission, briefly : EVAC
8. Missionary Junípero ___ : SERRA
9. "Rock-a-bye, baby" location : TREETOP
10. Yaks : GABS
11. ___ Jima : IWO
12. Vehicle for a news team : VAN
13. Needle feature : EYE
21. "Evil Woman" band, for short : ELO
22. Food items that can be messy to eat : TACOS
25. Cinema canine : BENJI
26. "Star Wars" droid, informally : ARTOO
27. Total idiots : ASSES
29. Smooth-tongued : GLIB
30. Dances around a lifted chair, maybe : HORAS
32. Go ballistic : HITTHEROOF
33. Christine of "Chicago Hope" : LAHTI
34. How the Titanic was going before it struck an iceberg : AMAIN
35. Woman who has a way with words? : VANNA
37. Semester, e.g. : TERM
39. Old Olds : ALERO
43. Take to another level : ELEVATE
44. What lies between the lines : SUBTEXT
48. Hit sign : SRO
51. Meal that often includes matzo ball soup : SEDER
53. Saltpetre : NITRE
54. Clear for takeoff? : DEICE
55. Syrian strongman : ASSAD
56. "I ___ blame you" : CANT
57. Something to audition for : ROLE
58. Architect's detail, for short : SPEC
59. Citrus drink suffix : ADE
60. Mauna ___ : LOA
61. Golfs, e.g., informally : VWS

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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