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New York Times, Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Author:
Peter A. Collins
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1095/2/20069/14/201912
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ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.565313
Peter A. Collins

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQX} Spans: 2 Grid has mirror symmetry. There are unchecked squares This is puzzle # 74 for Mr. Collins. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter A. Collins notes:
A couple of weeks ago I was at a dinner engagement where I struck up a conversation with the gentleman across the table. He was quite ... read more

A couple of weeks ago I was at a dinner engagement where I struck up a conversation with the gentleman across the table. He was quite interested in the fact that I constructed crossword puzzles. We had a nice chat, but at the end he said "I don't like it when they put that crazy stuff in there — like circles." At that point, I stared down at my plate and started pushing the peas around with my fork. I think I changed the subject to baseball.

Needless to say, I'm sure that guy is not too happy today. To add to the "crazy stuff", I threw in a couple of unchecked letters. The fact that the grid has left-right symmetry (as opposed to the usual rotational) might just throw him over the edge.

I wonder how many solvers will be confused by the two 15-letter down entries, thinking that they must be thematic. Well ... they aren't.

Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty" was a big album back in my college days. I can still hear the songs bouncing off the walls of my dormitory (as I pulled my pillow over my head trying to get some sleep).

Will Shortz notes:
Peter's puzzle fits into a whole lot of special categories: Puzzles with circles, Puzzles with unusual symmetry (in this case, ... read more

Peter's puzzle fits into a whole lot of special categories: Puzzles with circles, Puzzles with unusual symmetry (in this case, left/right), and Puzzles with unchecked squares (although, technically, "E" and "F" here aren't really unchecked, because they're part of the theme). Maybe a new category should be added — Puzzles that form pictures when they're done. Besides the theme, which I love, the fillers OLD GLORY, CORN SILK, MOONBEAM, and SLOW ON THE UPTAKE are particularly nice.

Jeff Chen notes:
Man oh man I loved this one. I realize some people are going to hate it because it breaks all kinds of rules and it's light on theme ... read more

Man oh man I loved this one. I realize some people are going to hate it because it breaks all kinds of rules and it's light on theme density (or simply because they like to be a contrarian), but I'm a sucker for a puzzle with a good visual. Everyone's entitled to their opinion.

What a cool image, using a couple of well-placed circles to suggest a gas gauge. Sure, the dial doesn't really have an ARROW, but what would be better? NEEDLE? POINTER? Not sure. I really liked how Peter used mirror symmetry in order to place the revealer close to the bottom, so it didn't give away the trick halfway through the puzzle. When I finally uncovered RUNNING / ON EMPTY I smiled at his use of the unchecked squares E and F to represent empty and full. Very cool.

And I really like having so much good long fill. Stuff like OLD GLORY, EARSHOT, MOONBEAM (clued to Governor MOONBEAM would have been even better!), etc. If this is what Will means when he says he's looking for some puzzles with less theme density but more good long fill, I wholeheartedly agree.

And saving the best for last, being an electromechanical dork I loved seeing ELECTROMAGNETIC and FEYNMAN in the grid. Some people believe FEYNMAN was kind of arrogant and/or a jerk (if you haven't read "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" you owe it to yourself to do so) but he was both brilliant and extremely entertaining. I got a lot of pleasure out of uncovering these entries.

Very well done, Pete. Sure, there's some of ugly-looking ASSOC, ALG, TOR, and people might complain that they shouldn't have to know Ndamukong SUH, but overall, what a giant serving of win for me today.

1
A
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H
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E
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D
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G
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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1120 ( 23,388 )

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Across
1
Leading : AHEAD
6
Class-ranking stat : GPA
9
N.C.A.A. part: Abbr. : ASSOC
14
Ravel's "La ___" : VALSE
15
Designer's major : ART
16
Lincoln Center's Alice ___ Hall : TULLY
17
Division signs : OBELI
18
Chaotic scene : ZOO
19
Valerie Harper title role : RHODA
20
W.W. II female : WAC
21
"No kidding!" : GEE
23
Islands finger food : POI
25
Chicago Cubs' station : WGN
26
Have in mind : INTEND
28
Third-largest city in Italia : NAPOLI
30
Stereotypical Mensan : NERD
31
Most athletes are in it : SHAPE
35
"And giving ___, up the chimney ..." : ANOD
36
Privateer's potation : GROG
37
Boot one : ERR
38
To be, in Québec : ETRE
39
Org. criticized in "Sicko" : AMA
40
Software package medium : CDROM
42
Owing the pot : SHY
44
Direction indicator : ARROW
46
Like some checking accounts : NOFEE
49
Typical prerequisite to geom. : ALG
51
Celebrity groom in '68 headlines : ARI
52
Blue Jays, on scoreboards : TOR
53
Put into play : USE
55
With 57-Across, 1977 Jackson Browne album ... or a hint to what's depicted in this puzzle's grid : RUNNING
57
See 55-Across : ONEMPTY
59
Hightails it : SPEEDS
60
Like eggs in omelets : BEATEN
61
Pete Rose's 4,256 : HITS
62
Mental picture : IMAGE
66
Many hands may be found on it : FARM
67
Tending to the matter : ONIT
68
Someone born on Columbus Day, e.g. : LIBRA
69
Chain that sells Borgsjö bookcases : IKEA
70
P.I.'s : TECS
71
Casey with a countdown : KASEM
72
"___ Flux" (Charlize Theron movie) : AEON
Down
1
Stating firmly : AVOWING
2
Cuban dance : HABANERA
3
Kind of force that affects charged particles : ELECTROMAGNETIC
4
Handy way of communicating?: Abbr. : ASL
5
Lower oneself : DEIGN
6
Steady look : GAZE
7
Moneymaker? : PRO
8
On : ATOP
9
Lobbies with trees, maybe : ATRIA
10
Ndamukong ___, 2010 N.F.L. Defensive Rookie of the Year : SUH
11
A bit dense : SLOWONTHEUPTAKE
12
American flag : OLDGLORY
13
Poison pill contents : CYANIDE
22
Mag. staffers : EDS
24
Number on a foam finger : ONE
27
Musician Johnny Winter's musician brother : EDGAR
29
Bel ___ cheese : PAESE
32
Harry Potter's owl : HEDWIG
33
Opposite of dep. : ARR
34
On the double : PRONTO
40
Shucker's debris : CORNSILK
41
Night ray : MOONBEAM
43
Eavesdropping distance : EARSHOT
45
A bust may come of it : RAID
47
Not busy : FREE
48
1965 Physics Nobelist Richard : FEYNMAN
50
Wolflike : LUPINE
54
LP introduction of 1957 : STEREO
56
Exterminators' targets : NESTS
58
Omertà group : MAFIA
63
Unaccounted for, briefly : MIA
64
Six-pack ___ : ABS
65
College sr.'s test : GRE

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 6 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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