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New York Times, Thursday, November 23, 2017

Author: Howard Barkin
Editor: Will Shortz
Howard Barkin
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57/23/201411/23/20170
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1.66100

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FQZ} This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Barkin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Howard Barkin notes: Hello solvers, hope that this one wasn't too rough on you. All comments on my puzzles are welcomed, in any forum that you choose. ... more
Howard Barkin notes:

Hello solvers, hope that this one wasn't too rough on you. All comments on my puzzles are welcomed, in any forum that you choose.

The phrase "halftime show" combined with "60 minutes" was the seed for this puzzle; it took much longer to decide upon the actual theme, combining a mathematical multiplication/division with some form or reference to a creative work.

Bonus note: I did initially seek a "quarter" clue instead of "fourth", but I could not really find an appropriate "quarter" phrase that met the full theme.

Someone may likely find a perfect fit for this, but in the end I decided that "fourth estate" was the best and most cluable option, if slightly inelegant for "one-fourth".

Jeff Chen notes: Mathplay! Some beautiful finds, like [Double feature?] interpreted as 'double the number in a feature film,' turning 'Three Amigos' ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Mathplay! Some beautiful finds, like [Double feature?] interpreted as "double the number in a feature film," turning "Three Amigos" into SIX AMIGOS. And [Halftime show] as "halve the time in a show," creating THIRTY MINUTES out of "60 Minutes." THIRTY MINUTES would be much more appropriate for us short-attention span people LOOK, SOMETHING SHINY!

Ahem. I was proud of myself for getting RICHARD … something. IX? IV? Okay fine, I didn't read "Richard II" when I was supposed to.

What, it's "Richard III"?

I knew that.

It took me a while to figure out THE JACKSON ONE. What's a "fifth act," I wondered? The … fifth act of a play? Is it like a third wheel, in that final act of a play that JUST WON'T END?

Maybe "Richard II"?

But that "fifth act" business was the only one that didn't play on a common, in-the-language phrase, so some good finds overall.

Okay, I was still confused on [Fourth estate?] hours after solving. Did that mean … fourth in a series of estates? Is there something called "Zero Oaks," so THREE OAKS is the 4th, using zero-based indexing? (Man, I'm a nerd.) Or take one-fourth of something called "Twelve Oaks"? Huh.

Ah, right. There's something called "Twelve Oaks" in "Gone with the Wind." Huh.

I didn't notice until the very end that Howard formed a sequence with his themers! Well. Kinda. Sorta. If you squint. It's 1/2, x2, x3, 1/4, 1/5.

*squinting harder*

Oh, 13-letter themers, you pains in constructors' patooties. Notice how Howard had to put the first and last themers in rows 4 / 12 instead of the usual 3 / 13? Crunches things up, but good! And with that central 9 splitting the puzzle in half, forcing big corners … oof, that's so tough to construct around. It's no wonder there's a bunch of OCTO, HEA, ANET, AMAS, ESE, etc.

Too much crossword glue to feel like an elegant product, but I can understand the decision to achieve the sequence(ish) of themers, which forces a terribly difficult arrangement of themers. I might have chosen to go more randomly, thus opening up more themer possibilities, especially with the movie and the play. And maybe dropping THREE OAKS.

Overall, a bit kooky with some blips in most aspects of puzzle design, but an interesting idea that made me think.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1123 ( 24,852 )
Across Down
1. Completion of filming : WRAP
5. "Se7en," "Nine" or "10" : MOVIE
10. Phony talk : JIVE
14. "My ___!" : HERO
15. Onetime reviewer of 5-Acrosses : EBERT
16. Kind of argument : ORAL
17. : : ISTO
18. Rushed : RANAT
19. Set of 108 for Uno : DECK
20. Halftime show? : THIRTYMINUTES
23. Bringer of light, in myth : EOS
24. Start of a well-known roll call: Abbr. : ALA
25. A little sharp : ACIDY
28. Unacceptable : NOTOK
30. Double feature? : SIXAMIGOS
34. What plays to both sides? : STEREO
36. Booker or Tester: Abbr. : SEN
37. Toronto and Ottawa are in it, for short : NHL
38. Triple play? : RICHARDIX
42. Radioed info, for short : APB
45. After-dinner option : TEA
46. Looked favorably (upon) : SMILED
50. Fourth estate? : THREEOAKS
54. "Me too," more formally : ASAMI
55. Things thsi cluee needs sevaral of : EDITS
56. "Wow!" : OMG
58. Unhealthy-looking : WAN
59. Fifth act? : THEJACKSONONE
64. Smallpox victims of the 1500s : INCA
66. Sharp : ACRID
67. Good word to know if you love Latin? : AMAS
68. A new one is nearly invisible : MOON
69. The star Mars : BRUNO
70. ___ point : DATA
71. Words of generosity : ONME
72. Sometimes they're the pits : SEEDS
73. Work without ___ : ANET
1. Bleaches : WHITENS
2. Do another take : RESHOOT
3. Virtuoso : ARTISTE
4. D : POOR
5. Actress Streep : MERYL
6. Former White House family : OBAMAS
7. Start of a Julius Caesar quote : VENI
8. Locale of 10% of the world's oil reserves : IRAN
9. Start of a Julius Caesar quote : ETTU
10. Group with five #1 R&B hits in the 1990s : JODECI
11. Declaration at the end of a chess game : IRESIGN
12. Closet item, for short : VAC
13. Higher-priced burger meat : ELK
21. Original "Star Trek" cast member : TAKEI
22. Bit of doctoral graduation regalia : TAM
26. "Silly me!" : DOH
27. Fashion inits. : YSL
29. Youngest player ever to win the Calder Memorial Trophy : ORR
31. Singer Chris : ISAAK
32. Many a fortysomething, for short : XER
33. Extra conditions : ANDS
35. Numerical prefix : OCTO
39. "Wasn't ___ most peculiar man?" (Simon & Garfunkel lyric) : HEA
40. Stage after pupa : IMAGO
41. They follow the nus : XIS
42. Broke fast? : ATE
43. High degree : PHD
44. "The Office," originally : BRITCOM
47. 1971 double-platinum album for the Doors : LAWOMAN
48. Flow (from) : EMANATE
49. Patronizes, in a way : DINESAT
51. C2H6, familiarly : ETHANE
52. Suffix with journal : ESE
53. Extremely considerate : SOKIND
57. Precursor to Windows : MSDOS
60. Quick hits : JABS
61. 4,046.86 square meters : ACRE
62. Rock's Mötley ___ : CRUE
63. Nothin' : NADA
64. Opening for a personal view : IMO
65. Prefix with G.M.O. : NON

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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