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New York Times, Saturday, November 4, 2017

Author: Michael Shteyman
Editor: Will Shortz
Michael Shteyman
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This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 32 Missing: {Z} Spans: 4 This is puzzle # 54 for Mr. Shteyman. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael Shteyman notes: This is not a concept you haven't seen before, but I think it's a perfect way to illustrate the literal T-R-U-T-H stretching. ... more
Michael Shteyman notes:

This is not a concept you haven't seen before, but I think it's a perfect way to illustrate the literal T-R-U-T-H stretching. Some theme entries that were left on the cutting room floor include AT RISK YOUTH, TRUSTWORTHY, MOTORMOUTH / MELT IN YOUR MOUTH, CULTURAL OUTREACH and MYSTERY AUTHOR, among others.

I got lucky to a). find a number of crossworthy fifteen-letter answers that fit the theme and b). discover that, after some trial and error, they neatly lent themselves to a nice crisscrossing pattern.

Hope this mid-week offering in Saturday's clothes provides both a formidable challenge and a welcome change of pace to start off your weekend.

Jeff Chen notes: THROUGH THE YEARS, BUTTERNUT SQUASH, DON'T ARGUE WITH ME all share the fact that they STRETCH THE TRUTH, i.e., they contain the ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

THROUGH THE YEARS, BUTTERNUT SQUASH, DON'T ARGUE WITH ME all share the fact that they STRETCH THE TRUTH, i.e., they contain the letters T R U T H, (quasi) spread out.

Interesting choice to run a themed puzzle on a Saturday. The theme entries are all colorful phrases, so that was good. Toss in a BASS SOLO and a PASS RUSH, and you have the start of a delightful themeless. But it's tough to work in many other memorable feature entries when you seed a grid with four 15-letter ones — they take up so much real estate.

I often debate if I'm too focused on quantity over quality in themelesses. Sometimes a fantastic 15-letter entry is all it takes for an entire puzzle to stand out in my mind. Heck, even a shorter one like BABY GOT BACK can do it for me.

But it's so tough for me to lavish praise over a themeless with just six great entries. Yes, some MOJO, LIMBO, MOHAWK, the ORPHAN trope in young adult books, that's helpful. And I did like learning what LOUCHE means. I'm going to start using it! (Probably incorrectly. Or I'll misremember it and accidentally insult someone. At least that'll be my story.)

But then when you factor in some ANET, OPEL, PASO, POLA, RCPT, STN … hmm.

Overall, it's a good starting idea to stretch letters across phrases. I can see how it wouldn't work great as a themed puzzle though, as repetitively finding the letters T R U T H — with two letters always stuck together — didn't create a great a-ha moment for me.

Will has a tough job. Not sure what I would have done with this one. Wouldn't quite work as a themed puzzle, nor does it soar as a themeless.

1
M
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1104 ( 24,833 )
Across Down
1. Spelling aid? : MOJO
5. Band of warriors : CADRE
10. Cavil : CARP
14. One of the Twelve Olympians : ARES
15. Undercover lover : AMOUR
16. Grandmother of 14-Across : RHEA
17. Automaker with the slogan "Wir leben Autos" : OPEL
18. Goes on ... and goes off : RANTS
19. They may respond for the unresponsive, for short : EMTS
20. Over time : THROUGHTHEYEARS
23. Big tower letters : AAA
24. Actress Negri of the silents : POLA
25. Tribal V.I.P. : ELDER
26. Split down the middle : INTWO
28. Rebate requirement, at times: Abbr. : RCPT
31. Fraternity letter : TAU
32. Island on which Mount Obama is the highest point : ANTIGUA
35. Strong sprays : JETS
36. Garden fruit that tastes pumpkin-y : BUTTERNUTSQUASH
40. Working without ___ : ANET
41. Just manages : EKESOUT
42. RR stop : STN
43. Annual music and film festival founded in 1987, briefly : SXSW
44. "___ is about finding your own space": Kareem Abdul-Jabbar : ISLAM
48. One who can't keep a secret : SIEVE
50. Setting for many shipwreck movies : ISLE
53. Co-director and co-star of the 2011 film "Bed Peace" : ONO
54. Exaggerate ... or a hint to five nonconsecutive letters in 20-Across, 36-Across and 7-Down : STRETCHTHETRUTH
58. Engineering college in Needham, Mass. : OLIN
59. Was amazed by, with "at" : AAHED
60. Home to the Ronald Reagan Med. Ctr. : UCLA
61. It's just not right : LEFT
62. Bad state to be in : LIMBO
63. "That wasn't easy at all!" : PHEW
64. Dryden's "Alexander's Feast" and others : ODES
65. Like renewable energy : CLEAN
66. Brighten (up) : PERK
1. Strong Chinese liquor : MAOTAI
2. Tom Sawyer or Oliver Twist : ORPHAN
3. Mock : JEERAT
4. Capital situated on the same latitude as St. Petersburg, Russia : OSLO
5. Hold things : CARGO
6. Menotti's "___ and the Night Visitors" : AMAHL
7. "Because I said so!" : DONTARGUEWITHME
8. Compassion for the misery of others : RUTH
9. Scot's tongue : ERSE
10. Bit of fishing gear : CREEL
11. Alternative to Twinings : AHMADTEA
12. Camp David and others : RETREATS
13. Defensive football tactic : PASSRUSH
21. Winning, but barely : UPONE
22. So far : YET
27. One joule per second : WATT
29. Salon jobs : CUTS
30. ___ Robles, Calif. : PASO
33. Museum of natural history attraction, in brief : TREX
34. Signs : INKS
35. What a cape does : JUTS
36. Certain rock concert improvisation : BASSSOLO
37. No-name? : UNTITLED
38. Largest of the Canaries : TENERIFE
39. Need to sleep, maybe : QUIET
43. Fix : SET
45. Disreputable : LOUCHE
46. Improvised place to hang a hat, say : ANTLER
47. Hiawatha, for one : MOHAWK
49. Doesn't keep one's emotions pent up : VENTS
51. Biblical land on the Arabian Peninsula : SHEBA
52. Deceived, in a way : LEDON
55. Advanced H.S. class : CALC
56. Greet rapturously : HAIL
57. Kentucky's ___ Arena : RUPP

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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