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New York Times, Monday, November 4, 2013

Author: John Lieb
Editor: Will Shortz
John Lieb
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This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQV} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Lieb. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Lieb notes: This puzzle came about when, for no particular reason, I was considering songs that start with 'It's' (It's Not Unusual, It's So ... more
John Lieb notes: This puzzle came about when, for no particular reason, I was considering songs that start with "It's" (It's Not Unusual, It's So Easy, It's Tricky…). When I got to "It's Raining Men", Finn Vigeland's January 2012 Sunday puzzle "Weather Report" sprang to mind, and I thought it might be fun to have various men's names running vertically in the grid. Of course, "men" is a bit of a broad category, so there had to be something unifying the names. The RAIN/REIGN homophone then hit me and things were off and running.

The word "reign" makes me think of kings and queens, so I wanted to use four well-known historical names, rather than modern rulers like Obama and Putin, and these four rulers fit the bill (and fit symmetrically!). I liked the contrast between a gimmicky 80's song (co-written by Late Night's Paul Shaffer, by the way) and these old-time rulers. In terms of construction, getting two entries to cross through three theme answers was helpful to make what I thought was a fairly open, interconnected grid pattern. I also like how RICHARD III looks vertically in the grid. I enjoy doing and trying to make Monday puzzles, so I hope people have fun with this one.

Will Shortz notes: I don't usually run punny themes on Mondays, but this one felt simple enough to still be appropriate for the easiest day of the ... more
Will Shortz notes: I don't usually run punny themes on Mondays, but this one felt simple enough to still be appropriate for the easiest day of the week. Apparently, John Lieb expected this puzzle to appear later in the week, because the clues he submitted tended to be on the hard side. As a result, most of the clues here are mine.

The Monday-Thursday puzzles this week appeared last Saturday at the Arlington Puzzle Festival in Arlington, Va. The 2013 results should be posted soon.

Jeff Chen notes: Hilarious theme today. Took me a while to figure out what was going on, especially for a Monday, but when I finally uncovered ITS ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Hilarious theme today. Took me a while to figure out what was going on, especially for a Monday, but when I finally uncovered ITS RAINING MEN I chuckled. Neat idea and I really appreciate the image of CHARLEMAGNE dancing to the song. Bravo!

Nice change of pace to have theme answers run in the vertical direction, and I really like it when there's a real reason to do so (evoking the image of falling rain). Very cool. This type of arrangement can be tricky because long fill in the across direction can muddy up the theme, making the solver think that any long across answers are thematic. John does well in this regard, only using two long across answers, ALCATRAZ and PARMESAN. Even though there isn't any other long fill, I appreciate how John incorporated the fun KALKAN and DEAR ME. Fun 6's.

In terms of short fill, there's a touch too much crunchiness for my taste. As with every five-theme answer puzzle, smoothness can be an issue, and the inclusion of AROO, OSO, BEI, ESTOP, and ASCAP are a lot of any day of the week. I don't usually mind a smattering of the lesser offenders, but I SHOT, AMER, plus the pile-up of acronyms and abbreviations (MSU, INT, NATO, ECON, MSRP, etc.) detracted from my solving enjoyment.

Finally, although I really liked the cleverness of the theme, I would have loved to see four reigning men who were related in some way. Perhaps it's just having watched The Tudors that made me wonder why HENRY VIII didn't get his props? And apparently dusk has set on the poor Sun King, LOUIS XIV.

Anyway, enjoyable start to the week. I'm still giggling, imagining KING ARTHUR and CHARLEMAGNE prancing about together.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1104 ( 23,372 )
Across Down
1. Tree with acorns : OAK
4. Garment under a blouse : BRA
7. Expresses derision : SCOFFS
13. "___ Mir Bist Du Schön" (1938 hit) : BEI
14. Dress that covers the ankles : MAXI
16. Lassie, for one : COLLIE
17. ___ and tonic : GIN
18. Droop in the heat : WILT
19. Set off from the margin : INDENT
20. Lead-in to Bear or Berra : YOGI
22. Post-monologue spot for Jay Leno : DESK
24. Male and female : SEXES
25. Shade of meaning : NUANCE
27. Diatribes : RANTS
29. German coal region : RUHR
30. Former penitentiary in San Francisco Bay : ALCATRAZ
34. "___ luck!" : LOTSA
36. Japanese camera : NIKON
37. Anger : IRE
38. One with a leading role? : USHER
39. Santa ___ winds : ANA
40. Tex-Mex fare with shells : TACOS
42. East Lansing sch. : MSU
43. Get access, as to a protected site : LOGIN
45. "___ the Sheriff" (Eric Clapton #1 hit) : ISHOT
46. Grated cheese : PARMESAN
48. Ancient Peruvian : INCA
49. In the midst of : AMONG
50. "Oh my stars!" : DEARME
53. Miata maker : MAZDA
56. Prefix with present : OMNI
58. BlackBerrys and Palms, for short : PDAS
59. Mark that might be left with greasy fingers : SMUDGE
61. Supply-and-demand subj. : ECON
63. Monthly entry on a bank statement: Abbr. : INT
64. Say O.K., begrudgingly : RELENT
65. Western mil. alliance : NATO
66. Wedding words : IDO
67. Dried plums : PRUNES
68. Imbecile : ASS
69. Prankster : IMP
1. Maternity ward doc : OBGYN
2. Group to which "Y" is sometimes added : AEIOU
3. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" protagonist : KINGARTHUR
4. Mini Cooper maker : BMW
5. Oakland N.F.L.'er : RAIDER
6. Wheel turner : AXLE
7. Astron., e.g. : SCI
8. Eponym of the city now known as Istanbul : CONSTANTINE
9. Like St. Augustine vis-à-vis all U.S. cities : OLDEST
10. Show off at Muscle Beach : FLEX
11. Alternative to a jail sentence : FINE
12. Tennis units : SETS
15. Camp classic by the Weather Girls ... or a homophonic hint to 3-, 8-, 26- and 31-Down : ITSRAININGMEN
21. Occupied, as a bathroom : INUSE
23. Alpo alternative : KALKAN
26. So-called "Father of Europe" : CHARLEMAGNE
28. Sgt., e.g. : NCO
31. Shakespeare play that begins "Now is the winter of our discontent" : RICHARDIII
32. Suffix with buck : AROO
33. Joie de vivre : ZEST
34. "One ___ or two?" : LUMP
35. Greece's Mount ___ : OSSA
36. 1998 Winter Olympics host : NAGANO
41. Musical alternative to B.M.I. : ASCAP
44. Bear: Sp. : OSO
47. Infuriate : MADDEN
48. Imbeciles : IDIOTS
51. Bit of candy that "melts in your mouth, not in your hand" : MANDM
52. Legally prevent : ESTOP
53. Car showroom sticker inits. : MSRP
54. The "A" in U.S.A.: Abbr. : AMER
55. South African native : ZULU
57. Sweet 16 org. : NCAA
60. Many "Star Trek" extras, for short : ETS
62. 1, 2, 3, etc.: Abbr. : NOS

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle.

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