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New York Times, Thursday, October 16, 2014

Author:
John Farmer
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
331/25/20061/29/20150
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21361083
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64275
John Farmer

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 32 for Mr. Farmer. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Farmer notes:
My soccer-playing, Landon Donovan-jersey-wearing son, Donovan, will be happy when he sees his name in the paper. That said, 57-Across ... read more

My soccer-playing, Landon Donovan-jersey-wearing son, Donovan, will be happy when he sees his name in the paper. That said, 57-Across was not the seed for the puzzle but actually the last of the themes answers I found. At first I just looked for answers with repeating letters, not sure where it would lead. Three-letter strings seemed promising and from there I narrowed the choices, eliminating repeats within single words (e.g., Chihuahua) and ones that didn't break evenly across separate words (e.g., atom bombs). By then it was down to a short list of candidates. Adding another angle — e.g., using all names, spelling something with the combined letter strings — was a bit much to ask, so after a final cut (and one close call) I went with this selection. The theme answers felt like a good mix and worked well in the grid.

FYI, the "close call" in my final cut was PIPER PERABO. In her favor: I've seen her on TV and she seems lovely. On the other hand: (a) She's only lovely if you know her and her fame is probably marginal for a theme answer, especially one using word play; (b) The PER in her name and in Percy Shelley's name seemed like a repeat better to avoid; and (c) I didn't want the theme to be too name-heavy and preferred using no more than two names if possible. Another Hollywood name left on the cutting room floor was IRWIN WINKLER. My regrets to his fans and to Piper's.

Happy hunting! Hope you enjoy the puzzle.

Will Shortz notes:
John's manuscript had the overlapping three-letter parts indicated by circles. I thought that made the puzzle too easy. Anyway, I'm ... read more

John's manuscript had the overlapping three-letter parts indicated by circles. I thought that made the puzzle too easy. Anyway, I'm always in need of fresh Thursday-ish gimmicks, so the circles are gone, and — voilà — a Thursday!

Jeff Chen notes:
Tricksy stuff today, REPEAT hinting at the fact that certain three-letter words do double-duty. Took me a while to cotton to the ... read more

Tricksy stuff today, REPEAT hinting at the fact that certain three-letter words do double-duty. Took me a while to cotton to the gimmick, but PERCY BYSSHE (SHE)LLY cleared it up. Nice find there! I liked how the overlaps were all actual quality three-letter words: PIE, LET, SHE, DON, PAL.

Interesting point to me today was the placement of the revealer — it's so hard to get a six-letter word down in the last across answer. Seems like an odd statement, doesn't it? How hard could that be, considering many, many puzzles use five-letter revealers in that location without a hitch? But when you have a five-entry theme, the addition of that sixth letter on the revealer makes for a huge change in difficulty.

Why? With five themers, you're almost always going to have some overlap between one of your themers and your revealer. Look at how much real estate there is between the end of LANDONOVAN and REPEAT. That 6x4 SE corner is no joke. John does well to make it a 6x4 block rather than a 6x3 (as he could have by moving LANDONOVAN down one row), since the extra space gives him more flexibility in that SE corner. Impressive that John nailed it.

Whoopie pie

I found it a little odd that WHOOPIE PIES turned into WHOOPIES was included. The others have three-letter words unrelated to the base phrase, so to see PIES and PIE felt odd. Consistency is something I find elegant in a puzzle, and WHOOPIES felt like the one that didn't seem like the others. I do like how hilarious the term sounds (yes, I'm a fourth-grader at heart) and how delicious it looks, though.

Smooth offering today, with just NEBS making me scratch my head (but apparently it's a real thing!), and a couple of nice variations on clever clues for short answers (ANODE the favorite for this physics junkie). I would have loved if the beautiful PRIME RIB and CORNUCOPIA could have gotten clever clues as well, since devilishly hard clues for those nice long entries make them even better.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1016 ( 23,718 )
Across
1. City with a view of the White Cliffs of Dover : CALAIS
7. "David," e.g. : NUDE
11. "L'Amore dei ___ Re" (Montemezzi opera) : TRE
14. Certain homecoming attendee : ALUMNA
15. Some Michelin Guide readers : EPICURES
17. Bonkers : MENTAL
18. Cream-filled chocolate treats : WHOOPIEPIES
19. Mark of dishonor : SCARLETLETTER
21. Place for a saint's image, maybe : APSE
22. ___ Reville, Hitchcock's wife and collaborator : ALMA
23. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" drug : LSD
25. Villainous Luthor : LEX
26. Defeat : LICK
29. Iraq war issue, for short : WMD
31. Fall guy's partner? : EVE
33. Bustle : ADO
34. Walker alternative : CANE
36. Chilled coffee drink : FRAPPE
39. "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" poet : PERCYBYSSHESHELLEY
42. Inspiration for Johann Strauss II : DANUBE
43. Deer John? : STAG
44. Great ___ : APE
45. "Land of the sun" native : UTE
46. Science advocate with a bow tie : NYE
47. Tournament passes : BYES
48. Efron of "Neighbors" : ZAC
50. What you get for bringing someone home : RBI
52. Edomite patriarch : ESAU
55. One taking an unscheduled flight? : AWOL
57. All-time scoring leader for the U.S. men's soccer team : LANDONDONOVAN
62. Official residence at the Vatican : PAPALPALACE
64. The Ramblers of the N.C.A.A. : LOYOLA
65. Dish often served au jus : PRIMERIB
66. R-rated movie attendees : ADULTS
67. Computer language named for Lord Byron's daughter : ADA
68. Studies : DENS
69. What three-letter words do in five answers in this puzzle : REPEAT
Down
1. Home security devices, for short : CAMS
2. ___ Trevelyan, Agent 006 in "GoldenEye" : ALEC
3. "Two-horned queen of the stars," per Horace : LUNA
4. Pacific Surfliner operator : AMTRAK
5. Collectively : INALL
6. "Days of Our Lives" town : SALEM
7. Pond dweller : NEWT
8. Maintained : UPHELD
9. Some haute couture designs : DIORS
10. "The Island of the Day Before" novelist : ECO
11. Ultimate rally-killer : TRIPLEPLAY
12. He wears #1 in "42" : REESE
13. Earl of ___ a.k.a. Robert Devereux : ESSEX
16. Put ___ fight : UPA
20. Golden brown : TAWNY
24. Goal of some industry lobbyists, for short : DEREG
26. Hollywood force, in brief : LAPD
27. "Whose ___ was this?" : IDEA
28. Abundant supply : CORNUCOPIA
30. Convoluted : MESSY
32. ___ d'Orcia (Tuscan region) : VAL
34. Relative of e- : CYBER
35. Fiver : ABE
36. Govt. mortgage insurer : FHA
37. Penelope's pursuer in Looney Tunes toons : PEPE
38. Sightseers? : EYES
40. Share : CUT
41. Cavalry mount : STEED
46. Vitamin B3 : NIACIN
47. Bolster : BUOYUP
48. "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" rocker : ZAPPA
49. Hope for a nominee : AWARD
51. Trumpet : BLARE
53. Renewable option : SOLAR
54. Point of contact in the automotive industry? : ANODE
56. Getaway : LAM
58. Bird bills : NEBS
59. Burrowing rodent : VOLE
60. Opposite of baja : ALTA
61. Father of the American Cartoon : NAST
63. Had followers : LED

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?