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New York Times, Thursday, October 19, 2017

Author:
Ned White
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
221/16/20106/27/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1105258
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59010
Ned White

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 20 for Mr. White. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ned White notes:
An earlier version of this puzzle went over the word limit, so was essentially DOA with the Times. It also crammed far too much theme ... read more

An earlier version of this puzzle went over the word limit, so was essentially DOA with the Times. It also crammed far too much theme material into the grid, forcing some pretty ugly fill in places. In short, it was a bucket of bolts. Solution? Rethink it, keep the same theme idea, but scale back on the theme material and keep things as clean as possible.

The main challenge, of course, was stacking good theme answers — and the central HEAD OVER HEELS revealer provided extra challenge since it doubled as a pair of theme entries in its own right, and needed its own set of accompanying head and heel. DIRTY RAT dovetailed nicely, but I struggled with 36-Across until I kept digging and chanced upon BIG WHEEL.

62-Across was originally POTOK, and I loved the curiosity that both author Potok and 47-Across actor TOPOL shared the same first name — CHAIM. But it forced some unwieldy and convoluted cluing, so I'm glad Will and company changed Potok to NOT OK, which was very OK to me. Another one: 31-Across was RUMI in my version (a debut), with MIR at 32-Down, but I noted to Will they could choose RUDI and the abbreviation DIR if they wanted. And they did. But RUMI, an oft-quoted 13th-century Sufi mystic (and a favorite of my wife), has to be acceptable in future puzzles. You think?

Jeff Chen notes:
Three literal HEADs OVER HEELS. Fun finds, NUMERO UNO, BIG WHEEL, TOP BANANA all snazzy synonyms for HEAD, and SCOUNDREL, DIRTY RAT, ... read more

Three literal HEADs OVER HEELS. Fun finds, NUMERO UNO, BIG WHEEL, TOP BANANA all snazzy synonyms for HEAD, and SCOUNDREL, DIRTY RAT, and NOGOODNIK juicy equivalents for HEEL. I'd happily use any of those six as fill in another crossword!

It's a shame the NYT hasn't caught the Wall Street Journal's meta contest madness. This would have made for a nice one: "What phrase is hinted at three times within this puzzle?" As much as I liked HEAD OVER HEELS in the center of the puzzle, it did make for a very easy Thursday solve. Would have been a neat a-ha moment, staring at the grid, wondering, wondering, wondering ... and then finally, ba-bam! HEAD OVER HEELS! Love those great moments of discovery.

Seven long themers? In one 15x15 puzzle? Man oh man, that's usually asking for serious trouble. And stacked pairs of answers as well? Along with three themers slammed up against each other in the center? Zoinks! I'd usually not even consider trying something like this.

Not a surprise to get so much crossword glue needed to hold everything together. I stopped keeping track after EUR, DIR, OLA, MTNS, STA, but then couldn't stop my OCD constructor's brain from pointing out OTYPE ("type O," yeah?), ETAT, IND, TOD, TSR, aaugh, stop it, you stupid brain and just enjoy the puzzle!

Luckily, that same annoying brain pointed out the fact that the slew of crossword glue was almost a necessary result if seven themers were to be used. And for the most part, I thought it was a reasonable trade-off, considering the fun pairs along with the revealer. The only part I didn't like much was that BIG WHEEL wasn't over DIRTY RAT like the others. But you'd need an off-size grid (maybe 16x15) to put that pair in the center (and you'd have to move HEAD OVER HEELS somewhere else — another reason to make it a meta puzzle!).

Overall, I thought it was a neat concept, even with the necessary flaws. I would have given it POW! consideration if it had been cleaner — maybe two pairs of longer answers and two pairs of shorter ones? — or if I'd had to work for my Thursday a-ha moment more.

ADDED NOTE: Astute reader Brian Greer pointed out that BIG WHEEL is over HEEL, and HEAD is over DIRTY RAT. Nice catch! It doesn't follow the same pattern of the other pairs, but it's pretty cool.

1
O
2
N
3
E
4
R
5
B
6
I
7
S
8
S
9
A
10
S
11
H
12
A
13
N
U
M
14
E
15
R
O
U
N
O
16
P
U
P
I
L
17
S
C
O
U
N
D
R
E
L
18
O
T
Y
P
E
19
E
L
T
R
A
I
N
20
E
21
F
R
O
N
22
T
E
E
23
N
E
24
T
25
R
E
S
O
26
R
27
T
28
S
I
D
29
E
30
B
31
R
U
32
D
I
33
V
U
E
34
T
O
35
D
36
B
I
G
37
W
38
H
E
E
L
39
H
40
E
A
D
O
41
V
E
R
H
E
E
L
S
42
D
I
R
T
Y
R
A
T
43
T
S
R
44
S
Y
D
45
E
N
O
46
S
47
T
O
48
P
49
O
50
L
51
T
A
O
52
I
53
S
M
54
P
T
55
A
56
A
P
U
57
C
H
A
I
58
M
59
O
B
60
L
61
I
G
E
S
62
N
63
O
T
O
K
64
T
65
O
P
B
A
N
A
N
A
66
E
L
O
P
E
67
N
O
G
O
O
D
N
I
K
68
W
A
R
E
S
69
S
H
O
T
70
S
T
A
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1019 ( 24,817 )
Across
1
First in an infinite line : ONE
4
They're usually not credited after errors, for short : RBIS
8
One of the Obamas : SASHA
13
*Honcho : NUMEROUNO
16
It grows in the dark : PUPIL
17
*Louse : SCOUNDREL
18
Common blood group : OTYPE
19
Loop sight : ELTRAIN
20
Zac of "Neighbors" : EFRON
22
Sports item often carried in a pocket : TEE
23
Lepidopterist's need : NET
25
Tahoe or Taos, e.g. : RESORT
28
"Rock Around the Clock," originally : SIDEB
31
Designer Gernreich who invented the monokini : RUDI
33
French scene : VUE
34
Fox in "The Fox and the Hound" : TOD
36
*Honcho : BIGWHEEL
39
**One way to fall in love ... or a hint to the answers to the starred clues : HEADOVERHEELS
42
*Louse : DIRTYRAT
43
Co. that launched Dungeons & Dragons : TSR
44
Hip-hop's ___ tha Kyd : SYD
45
1961 Project Mercury chimp : ENOS
47
See 57-Across : TOPOL
51
Eastern philosophy : TAOISM
54
Sch. backer : PTA
56
Kwik-E-Mart clerk : APU
57
With 47-Across, "Fiddler on the Roof" star : CHAIM
59
Makes morally bound : OBLIGES
62
Proscribed : NOTOK
64
*Honcho : TOPBANANA
66
Split to join : ELOPE
67
*Louse : NOGOODNIK
68
Things for sale : WARES
69
Kablooey : SHOT
70
Place with a platform: Abbr. : STA
Down
1
Starts : ONSETS
2
Atomic centers : NUCLEI
3
Chewed the scenery : EMOTED
4
Philadelphia's ___ Museum (art institution) : RODIN
5
Its home is on the range : BURNER
6
Suffix with elephant : INE
7
Lone : SOLE
8
One of billions in a puffball : SPORE
9
They're tired : AUTOS
10
John le Carré writing : SPYNOVEL
11
Au courant : HIP
12
Oktoberfest offering : ALE
14
Common Market market: Abbr. : EUR
15
Certain code carrier : RNA
21
Goose bumps cause : FRIGHT
24
Strapless summer wear : TUBETOP
26
French network : RUES
27
Hookup for a tenant: Abbr. : TEL
29
Entité politique française : ETAT
30
Evidence in a murder mystery : BODY
32
N, E, W or S : DIR
35
Moolah : DOREMI
37
Area with the last election results, with "the" : WEST
38
"Somebody who voluntarily walks into the unknown," per Tom Hanks : HERO
39
"Howdy" : HIYA
40
TV role for George Clooney or Noah Wyle : ERDOCTOR
41
Dutch surname starter : VAN
42
It ends in Nov. : DST
46
Like some traffic : STOPGO
48
Stonehenge worshipers, e.g. : PAGANS
49
Birthday party urging : OPENIT
50
Zambia's capital : LUSAKA
52
"Fingers crossed!" : IHOPE
53
"___ alive!" : SAKES
55
Superior's title : ABBOT
58
Range units: Abbr. : MTNS
60
Vietnamese neighbor : LAO
61
Mich. neighbor : IND
62
Unexplored : NEW
63
Greeting in Brazil : OLA
65
Shout at a circus : OOH

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle.

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