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New York Times, Monday, October 19, 2015

Author:
Bruce Venzke and Victor Fleming
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
198/26/200410/19/201518
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2264320
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61002
Bruce Venzke
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
463/29/20055/12/201724
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
75106666
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55023
Victor Fleming

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 35 Missing: {JQVZ} This is puzzle # 19 for Mr. Venzke. This is puzzle # 44 for Mr. Fleming. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Vic: Bruce and I have collaborated off and on for many years, starting back when he and Stella Zawistowski (then Daily) were a ... read more

Vic: Bruce and I have collaborated off and on for many years, starting back when he and Stella Zawistowski (then Daily) were a prolific team.

Bruce: That's right. And continuing on through the period that Vic and Bonnie Gentry were doing great work together. Every so often, we just think of something we'd both like. We've maybe done about 50 so far. So, late last year I sent Vic a grid with a theme inserted that I thought he'd go for. I like the challenge of interlocking theme entries, and I knew that Vic did, too. I already had it filled, but knew that Vic might very well improve on it.

Vic: That's right. Bruce had done a fill, and I tweaked it some, And then he tweaked my tweaking. But the grid, the theme, and the fill was excellent from the get-go, as always. You want to see some fine Venzke grid work, look at the 1/28/2007 Sunday Times puzzle, "Having Pull," and a 2007 Schrödinger we did for Simon & Schuster called "You Be the Judge" — I forget which volume it's in.

Bruce: Vic is far too generous in his compliments regarding my contribution. Especially on that Schrödinger—Vic had a great gimmick on that one. On this current puzzle, yes, I did the grid, but a puzzle — especially a NYT puzzle — without good clues is like a two-legged stool. And I enjoy consulting with Vic on clueing puzzles like this one. He recommended we clue it to a Tuesday, I think ...

Vic: Maybe even a Wednesday?

Bruce: ... and took the lead by drafting a first set of clues.

Vic: Which Bruce tweaked.

Bruce: I doubt if I changed diddly squat. Maybe three! Anyway, Will liked the puzzle and accepted it as a Monday, which he said would get it into print within a year. So, Vic wrote another set of "Monday clues" ...

Vic: And I sent those first to Bruce, and he tweaked ‘em ...

Bruce: This time I changed two!

Vic: ... and I sent ‘em to Will. And, true to form, it looks as though Will may have used a third of them or so.

Bruce: The long and short of it is that we are always glad to be on the right side of a New York Times byline.

Vic: Right, Bruce!

Jeff Chen notes:
Synonyms of TIES: CABLE, WIRE, LINE, STRING, CHAIN, and ROPE. Impressive theme density, with not just six themers but a revealer in ... read more

Synonyms of TIES: CABLE, WIRE, LINE, STRING, CHAIN, and ROPE. Impressive theme density, with not just six themers but a revealer in the last across slot.

Come to Ravenna Park in Seattle to see crazy Medieval fights (seriously)!

With six themers, I usually expect a few of them to fall flat, since it's tough to pack so much in without a few compromises. I was pleasantly surprised that five of them were solid gold. ROPE A DOPE is such a great phrase, WIRE FRAUD cues colorful images, and CHAIN MAIL gets me smiling (there are a surprising number of secret Medieval cosplay fights in Seattle parks). I wasn't hot on CABLE OUTLET, which is a real and fine answer — to me, it pales in comparison to the others, though. Nice job of packing, Bruce!

The high density does come with a couple of compromises — check out where LINE DANCE and STRING BEANS overlap. The never-seen-in-real-life TER (I've only used TID in pharma dev; my doctor wife confirms this) is a big price to pay. I'm not sure why constructors/editors allow it.

The symmetrical spot exhibits similar strain. Having to resort to an old-timey SST is reasonable, but next to the arbitrary ONE MEG, it's harder for me to look past. Those two sections are tough to get perfectly smooth and clean as I like a Monday to be — so many black squares had to be deployed elsewhere around all the themers, that the north and south end up being relatively big, tough-to-cleanly-fill chunks of white space.

Overall, it would have been nice for the theme to be tighter, as there are all sorts of things that can TIE: twine, cord, ribbon, belt, etc. It'd be one thing if it were limited to direct synonyms for "string," but once you throw in CHAIN, it gets pretty loosey-goosey. This might have been a case for "less is more" for me.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1019 ( 24,086 )
Across
1
Heart tests, for short : EKGS
5
Los ___, N.M. : ALAMOS
11
"Go team!" : RAH
14
Sci-fi princess who appears as a hologram : LEIA
15
Nincompoops : MORONS
16
Poem of praise : ODE
17
*TV installation not requiring an antenna : CABLEOUTLET
19
Singer Zadora : PIA
20
How warehouse stores buy : INBULK
21
Dad, mom, bro and sis : FAM
22
___ Xing (road sign) : DEER
23
Does a little housekeeping : DUSTS
24
*Crime involving a Nigerian prince, maybe : WIREFRAUD
26
List-ending abbr. : ETAL
28
Comment like "Come on, you know you want to" : GOAD
29
Nafta, for one : PACT
33
Intends (to) : AIMS
35
Cry from a petulant child : IWONT
38
Urges on : EXHORTS
40
Rollerblader's protection : KNEEPAD
42
Make fun of : TEASE
43
Diggs of "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" : TAYE
45
Yanks' Civil War foe : REBS
46
"That ___ funny" : ISNT
48
Product detail, briefly : SPEC
50
*Electric Slide or Cotton-Eyed Joe : LINEDANCE
53
Completely puzzled : ATSEA
58
Vests don't cover them : ARMS
59
Three times, in a prescription : TER
60
The "E" on a baseball scoreboard : ERRORS
61
Popeye's Swee'___ : PEA
62
*Tall, skinny sorts : STRINGBEANS
64
Commercial prefix with vision : UNI
65
Hag : OLDBAG
66
French girlfriend : AMIE
67
Friend : PAL
68
Attacks from all sides : BESETS
69
Binds ... or a hint to the starts of the answers to the six starred clues : TIES
Down
1
Legendary Spanish hero : ELCID
2
Reeves of "The Matrix" : KEANU
3
Barry, Robin and Maurice of the Bee Gees : GIBBS
4
"Here's to you!," in Toulouse : SALUT
5
Running ___ : AMOK
6
"Skip to My ___" : LOU
7
Movie that's not likely to be shown in a multiplex : ARTFILM
8
Bicuspid neighbor : MOLAR
9
Smallish computer storage unit, for short : ONEMEG
10
Concorde, e.g., for short : SST
11
*Signature Muhammad Ali ploy : ROPEADOPE
12
French goodbye : ADIEU
13
Listened to : HEARD
18
"Nothing ___ will do" : ELSE
22
Bureau compartment : DRAWER
24
What a belt encircles : WAIST
25
Pâté de ___ gras : FOIE
27
Parlor ink, for short : TAT
29
Responsibility of many a house sitter : PET
30
Firefighter's tool : AXE
31
*Protective medieval gear : CHAINMAIL
32
Chucks out : TOSSES
34
Modern alternative to the telephone : SKYPE
36
Snatch : NAB
37
Scores in the end zone, for short : TDS
39
Pull apart : REND
41
Born: Fr. : NEE
44
Attribute : ASCRIBE
47
Rat (on) : TATTLE
49
Nutrition unit in pasta, informally : CARB
50
Enjoy immensely : LAPUP
51
"The Faerie Queene" woman whose name means "peace" : IRENA
52
Poindexters : NERDS
54
Halloween option : TREAT
55
"Same goes for me" : SOAMI
56
Bert's bud on "Sesame Street" : ERNIE
57
Nincompoops : ASSES
60
"Sunny-side up" order : EGGS
62
Weep aloud : SOB
63
Singer ___ King Cole : NAT

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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