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New York Times, Thursday, November 28, 2019

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5112/11/201111/28/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
74962302
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626140
Timothy Polin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 37 Missing: {V} This is puzzle # 51 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
A common constructor's nightmare: solvers missing the gist of a puzzle completely. I wonder how many people will think this was a ... read more

A common constructor's nightmare: solvers missing the gist of a puzzle completely. I wonder how many people will think this was a straight-up tribute puzzle, listing JOHNNY CASH, JOAQUIN / PHOENIX, and RING OF FIRE?

Or worse, not think about it at all?

We've done some animation (below) for those of you still with us. RING OF FIRE, get it? Four answers that require FIRE to be added on for the clue to match the answers?

Okay, it isn't a RING, more a square. Yes.

But!

Is not a boxing ring a square as well? What is also a ring?

A DUCK.

Before you write an angry email saying I'm a moron, wait! A duck is a bird. What else is a bird?

A PHOENIX.

A PHOENIX rising … OUT OF A FIRE!

If you can't recognize my genius, I feel sorry for you.

I'm hoping the NYT's app animates the RING OF FIRE similarly, as it'd be a neat effect, splashing upon victorious finishers' screens. Without it, though, I worry that the effect isn't strong enough to make an impact, or even be noticed.

Even if the concept is missed, the grid is a great piece of construction, as I always expect from Tim, such a pro. Fixing that block of FIRE – er, RING of fire – in place causes so many constraints, and it's that much more difficult when you need to work in four other themers. Amazingly smooth gridwork, along with some tasty bonuses in ST JAMES, ON A ROLL, CAB RIDE.

1
S
2
T
3
E
4
W
5
F
6
L
7
O
8
R
9
A
10
O
11
J
12
A
13
I
14
T
O
T
O
15
L
A
N
E
S
16
L
O
U
T
17
J
O
H
N
18
N
Y
C
A
S
H
19
G
A
G
S
20
A
L
I
K
E
21
A
R
T
Y
22
A
Q
U
A
23
M
A
C
A
W
24
S
O
Y
25
U
S
S
26
E
T
A
27
B
A
L
L
28
S
29
Z
I
T
I
30
S
E
L
31
L
32
E
R
33
L
E
T
34
S
I
N
O
N
35
A
L
A
36
S
37
S
O
H
O
38
R
39
I
40
P
S
I
N
T
41
O
42
N
O
N
43
C
44
O
45
M
46
A
C
H
E
47
D
A
N
48
C
E
49
A
N
A
50
C
E
O
51
G
E
O
52
R
53
O
B
E
D
54
E
W
E
55
S
56
C
L
O
D
57
A
F
R
I
N
58
F
I
N
I
59
R
I
N
G
60
O
F
F
I
R
E
61
A
N
I
L
62
A
N
T
E
D
63
A
D
O
S
64
N
E
X
T
65
B
E
A
R
D
66
L
E
N
S
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 1128 ( 25,587 )
Across
1
Be agitated : STEW
5
Nursery display : FLORA
10
California city whose name sounds like a surprised two-word greeting : OJAI
14
Film pooch : TOTO
15
Supermarket checkout choices : LANES
16
Oaf : LOUT
17
The Man in Black : JOHNNYCASH
19
Comedy bits : GAGS
20
Difficult to differentiate : ALIKE
21
Decidedly not lowbrow : ARTY
22
Light blue : AQUA
23
Tropical squawker : MACAW
24
___ milk : SOY
25
Inits. before some presidents' names : USS
26
GPS calculation, for short : ETA
27
Candies that make your mouth burn : FIREBALLS
29
Baked dish often served with tomato sauce : ZITI
30
Merchant : SELLER
33
Reveals to, as a secret : LETSINON
35
"We gave it a shot" : ALAS
37
"I met her in a club down in old ___" ("Lola" lyric) : SOHO
38
Excoriates : RIPSINTO
42
Sarge, e.g. : NONCOM
46
Feel the burn : ACHE
47
Performance with twirling torches : FIREDANCE
49
Santa ___ : ANA
50
Top suit : CEO
51
Cable TV's Nat ___ : GEO
52
Like many monks : ROBED
54
___ milk : EWES
56
Oaf : CLOD
57
Popular nasal spray : AFRIN
58
Done: Fr. : FINI
59
17-Across hit ... or a hint to four connected answers in this puzzle : RINGOFFIRE
61
Dark blue : ANIL
62
Threw in a chip, say : ANTED
63
Fusses : ADOS
64
On deck : NEXT
65
Common wizard feature : BEARD
66
What keeps things in focus? : LENS
Down
1
Place that's orange on a Monopoly board : STJAMES
2
"Missed your chance!" : TOOLATE
3
Fair : ETHICAL
4
Chocolatier of children's literature : WONKA
5
Cool-looking, in slang : FLY
6
The house of Felipe VI? : LACASA
7
Hot, hot, hot! : ONAROLL
8
Gives a makeover : RESTYLES
9
Visibly aghast : ASHY
10
First saint of the Russian Orthodox Church : OLGA
11
With 40-Down, Oscar-nominated player of 17-Across : JOAQUIN
12
Chilean dictator Pinochet : AUGUSTO
13
Moralizer's comment : ITSASIN
18
Inexperienced : NEW
27
Agitator seeking radical change : FIREBRAND
28
Big name in tires : FIRESTONE
29
National park NE of Las Vegas : ZION
31
Zap, in a way : LASE
32
Clockmaker ___ Terry : ELI
34
"Ray Donovan" channel, briefly : SHO
36
Bachelor contingent at a cotillion : STAGLINE
38
Nascar enthusiast, e.g. : RACEFAN
39
Dessert drink made with frozen grapes : ICEWINE
40
See 11-Down : PHOENIX
41
College town WSW of Albany : ONEONTA
43
Hack job? : CABRIDE
44
Club that few golfers carry : ONEIRON
45
Theme in "Hamlet" : MADNESS
48
Cantankerous sort : CODGER
52
Org. for W.W. II Hurricane pilots : RAF
53
Slaughterhouse scraps : OFFAL
55
It goes with the flow : SILT
56
Cantankerous sort : CRAB
60
Curious : ODD

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

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