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New York Times, Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Author:
Michael Dewey
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
61/9/201210/5/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0303000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.73000
Michael Dewey

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQX} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Dewey. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael Dewey notes:
This puzzle is my sixth publication in the New York Times. The initial version of the grid was completed some three years ago, but it ... read more

This puzzle is my sixth publication in the New York Times. The initial version of the grid was completed some three years ago, but it was a deficient draft to say the least. The puzzle sat dormant for a few years before I resurrected it from my crossword puzzle wasteland and performed some reconstructive surgery on it. The operation was a success. With eight theme entries, it is the first puzzle of mine Will has accepted without the need for further editing on my part.

"Bear Down, Arizona!" ARIZONAWILDCATS served as my seed entry and a form of homage to Tucson, where I met and married my wife. Our first date was a Wildcats basketball game during their NCAA championship season. Initially, I considered constructing a themeless puzzle, but the A & W theme emerged quite readily so I ran with it.

ABIGAILWILLIAMS made for a solid, 15-letter, vertical anchor in the center of the grid. Discovering a home for APPIANWAY and ALTARWINE as symmetrical crossings was serendipitous and somewhat of a coup. At that point, I knew I was on to something (OK NOW!). ACIDWASH and AIRWAVES worked nicely for the northeast and southwest corners, making for five theme entries crossing the central down entry. Finally, I placed ADWAR to offset the reveal, AANDW, as a bonus entry and clincher in opposite corners.

Jeff Chen notes:
Interesting take on an initialisms puzzle, this one based on A* W*, tied together by the A AND W revealer. Some nice theme entries, ... read more

Interesting take on an initialisms puzzle, this one based on A* W*, tied together by the A AND W revealer. Some nice theme entries, centered on ARIZONA WILDCATS crossing ABIGAIL WILLIAMS. That latter one wasn't familiar to me, but it was interesting to learn about her role in the Salem witch trials. If you thought your teenager was a problem child, at least he/she didn't start a mass witch hunt! Crazy that she might not have been even a teen when she helped instigate it.

Kind of curious that AFIRE and WICCA are toward the bottom of the grid, where the kindling would go. Making a bit of a statement, hmmmmm, Mike?

For such an interlocked, theme-packed grid — with wide-open corners — it's amazingly smooth. I kept expecting SWEE, ASA type bits to pop up everywhere, but besides those and a RENT A, it came off well. Yes, ATIVAN and GRAZ (second-largest city in Austria) are toughies, and some people complain about random popes like ST LEO I, but all are legit. And I bet ATIVAN is much more common than most solvers might think.

It would have been nice to get a few sizzling long entries in the fill, but getting a couple of BARRETTE, IMMOBILE, MAGNOLIA entries was good. Reasonable trade-off to keep the grid on the smoother side, at the price of not very much jazz.

There's an interesting mismatch in play today. Almost any initialism puzzle is going to be early-weekish, since once you get the gist of it, it gets a bit repetitive. But the grid layout and construction is so late-weekish, given those big upper right and lower left corners. Along with the GRAZ and ATIVAN toughies, I couldn't figure out if I thought this was an interesting mix, averaging out to run on Wednesday, or if it would have been better as an earlier-week puzzle with an easier-to-solve grid.

Not the most mind-blowing theme, but I sure enjoyed learning more about ABIGAIL WILLIAMS. My daughter will be about that age in a decade — maybe I better hide my copy of "The Crucible" before she gets any ideas.

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D
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1005 ( 24,438 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
*Mac-vs.-PC during the early 2000s, e.g. : ADWAR
6
*Give a worn appearance to, as jeans : ACIDWASH
14
Not neutral : BIASED
16
Securer of locks : BARRETTE
17
Verdi work that was the first opera to be recorded in its entirety : ERNANI
18
Going nowhere : IMMOBILE
19
New York rail and bus inits. : MTA
20
Austrian city where Kepler taught : GRAZ
21
Distance ÷ time: Abbr. : VEL
22
*Road to ancient Rome : APPIANWAY
26
Villainous "Get Smart" group : KAOS
27
26-Across, to Maxwell Smart : FOE
28
Sushi bar tuna : AHI
29
Islam's largest branch : SUNNI
31
Brouhahas : TODOS
34
Pacific Ocean phenomenon : ELNINO
36
*Tucson collegians : ARIZONAWILDCATS
41
How police may investigate : ONATIP
42
"Alrighty then ..." : OKNOW
43
Dirty-looking : DINGY
45
A GPS coordinate: Abbr. : LAT
47
Turf ___ (football ailment) : TOE
48
"Me too" : SAME
49
*Holy Communion drink : ALTARWINE
52
Cool ___ cucumber : ASA
53
Former U.N. secretary general ___ Annan : KOFI
55
"Bali ___" : HAI
56
Mississippi's state tree : MAGNOLIA
58
Oldest entertainment awards ceremony : OSCARS
62
Like barely spicy chili : ONEALARM
63
Makes a lasting impression? : ETCHES
64
*Radio medium : AIRWAVES
65
Classic root beer brand ... or a hint to the answers to this puzzle's starred clues : AANDW
Down
1
Broadway's Burrows : ABE
2
Co. board member : DIR
3
Sickly-looking : WAN
4
"Me too" : ASAMI
5
Lead-in to cop or car : RENTA
6
*Salem witch trials accuser : ABIGAILWILLIAMS
7
Altima or Accord alternative : CAMRY
8
Rombauer of cookery : IRMA
9
Health adviser on talk TV : DROZ
10
Where to use a browser : WEB
11
Anxiety-treating medication : ATIVAN
12
Canonized fifth-century pope : STLEOI
13
Formal footwear : HEELS
15
Roman goddess of the hunt : DIANA
22
Mennen product : AFTA
23
D-worthy : POOR
24
Lead-in to cab : PEDI
25
Bread choice : WHEAT
26
Sound eliciting a "Who's there?" : KNOCK
29
R.S.V.P. part : SIL
30
Word processing command : UNDO
32
A greenhouse gas : OZONE
33
Spotify selection : SONG
35
Bite playfully : NIPAT
37
Roll-call call : NAY
38
37-Down caller : ANTI
39
Animator's creation : TOON
40
___'Pea : SWEE
43
Aquafina competitor : DASANI
44
Graphics-capturing device : IMAGER
46
Chevy model : TAHOE
48
Pago Pago's locale : SAMOA
49
Flambé, say : AFIRE
50
Dreads sporter : RASTA
51
Religion with pentagrams : WICCA
53
Caffeine-laden nut : KOLA
54
Norway's patron saint : OLAV
57
Rustic denial : NAW
59
"Kung Fu" actor Philip : AHN
60
Visibly abashed : RED
61
202.5° : SSW

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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