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New York Times, Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Author:
Alan Southworth and Yacob Yonas
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
21/18/201811/6/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0010100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56000
Alan Southworth
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
211/6/20186/17/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0110000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59000
Yacob Yonas

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 83, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Southworth. This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Yonas. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
One of the first theme answers we thought of was 16-letters, so you'll notice that the grid is not square today (16x15). Given that we didn't ... read more

One of the first theme answers we thought of was 16-letters, so you'll notice that the grid is not square today (16x15). Given that we didn't have any other theme answers that long, we realized two things: 1) we needed five theme answers (the longest across the entire middle row, two above, two below) and 2) the revealer was going to be tricky to place. We placed our five symmetrical themers fairly quickly, but struggled with the revealer, even debating whether or not to split it between two answers with cross-referenced clues. Finally, Yacob came up with a heroic solution and found a Down answer where our revealer could cross 3 of the Across theme answers, et voila! We had all of the thematic material placed, and the rest of the grid fell into place.

Jeff Chen notes:
I love me some superheroes. I'm not quite to the level of dorkitude as my twin brother, who can not only name all four people who have been the ... read more

I love me some superheroes. I'm not quite to the level of dorkitude as my twin brother, who can not only name all four people who have been the Flash, but who can also list off all the alternate Flashes in the DC Multiverse. (I'm not-so-secretly in awe of him, although sometimes I wonder if his brain cells could be used for better purposes.)

I wish I had that level of ability when it came to pop culture! I stared and stared at FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE, sure that it must be some play on words or a kooky phrase formed from a solid base phrase. My realization that it's a real band was alas, far from Flash-quick. They had a hit called "Stacy's Mom"? I watched the video and was amused.

I had a similar issue with DUKE OF KENT. That band's hit was …

Wait, that's the person, the Duke of Kent?

You're saying he's Superman?

No?

WELL HE SHOULD BE.

Thankfully STARK NAKED, NOSY PARKER, and BANNER YEAR worked perfectly for me. I especially liked the first, so apt for playboy billionaire Tony STARK. Ten years ago, I would have worried that no one would have recognized these alter egos, but thankfully the "Avengers" movies have brought them more into popular consciousness.

Theme concerns aside, such solid gridwork coming from two newer constructors! Five themers, including a 16-letter one, is rarely easy to build around. I hardly noticed a blip during my solve. Even going back for a second look, the only thing I picked up was a stray OTRO. That's a much better than many established constructors can produce.

Working in IN ANY CASE, HEAT MAP, and especially ALTER EGO? That's dynamite. Notice how carefully they deployed their black squares in the middle of the grid? They separate all the long slots so well.

Neat idea and superb craftsmanship. If all the themers had worked for me – I think it'd be tough to argue for FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE being something educated solvers ought to know – this could have been in POW! territory.

1
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1106 ( 25,200 )
Across
1
Like many internships : UNPAID
7
Place for a massage : SPA
10
Hybrid citrus fruits : UGLIS
15
"Just my luck!" : POORME
16
Ripken with a record 2,632 consecutive games played : CAL
17
Identify someone without speaking : POINT
18
Superman's fist? : DUKEOFKENT
20
Wee : EENSY
21
Forever and a day : AGES
22
Yang's opposite : YIN
23
Forever and a day : EONS
25
Fortuneteller's deck : TAROT
27
Iron Man without any clothes? : STARKNAKED
32
U.F.O. pilots : ETS
33
Sounds at doctors' checkups : AHS
35
Shape of a plunging neckline : VEE
36
Symbol of saintliness : HALO
37
Finish, as a cake : ICE
38
Profoundly wise : SAGE
39
List-ending abbr. : ETAL
40
Batman's water springs? : FOUNTAINSOFWAYNE
45
Lead-in to girl : ATTA
46
Fastener named for its shape : TNUT
47
Placed coins in, as a parking meter : FED
48
Carolina ___ (state bird) : WREN
49
Bub : MAC
50
Something an apiphobe fears : BEE
51
Faux ___ : PAS
54
Spider-Man not minding his own business? : NOSYPARKER
57
"The Lord is my Shepherd" begins the 23rd one : PSALM
59
Famed N.Y.C. nightclub, with "the" : COPA
60
Untrustworthy sort : RAT
62
Sailing : ASEA
63
What a low-carb diet may ban : BREAD
66
When the Hulk was born? : BANNERYEAR
69
Indian yogurt drink : LASSI
70
Things requested by bouncers : IDS
71
Partner on a talk show : COHOST
72
Highly competitive, say : TYPEA
73
No-frills bed : COT
74
Raises, as a flag : HOISTS
Down
1
New edition of software : UPDATE
2
Snickers bar filling : NOUGAT
3
Hot rods? : POKERS
4
"Am not!" reply : ARESO
5
Text message qualifier : IMO
6
Go against : DEFY
7
Aroma : SCENT
8
Scathing review : PAN
9
Secondary identity ... or what can be found in 18-, 27-, 40-, 54- and 66-Across : ALTEREGO
10
Wharton's school, familiarly : UPENN
11
Proceeds : GOESAHEAD
12
Broadway's ___-Manuel Miranda : LIN
13
Networkers' goals : INS
14
Digs for pigs : STY
19
Meet face to face? : KISS
24
"Cow's Skull: Red, White and Blue" artist : OKEEFFE
26
Phrasing so as not to offend, say : TACT
28
Nautical "Stop!" : AVAST
29
Perry with the 2010 hit "Firework" : KATY
30
Flair : ELAN
31
Loser to Clinton in 1996 : DOLE
34
Colorful image in a weather report : HEATMAP
37
No matter what : INANYCASE
38
Crept (out), informally : SNUCK
40
Baby deer : FAWN
41
Spanish "other" : OTRO
42
Pac-12 team about 625 miles from the Pacific : UTES
43
How the Quran is written : INARABIC
44
Cry : WEEP
50
Kellogg's Raisin ___ : BRAN
51
Leisurely strolls : PASEOS
52
Yankees' division, in brief : ALEAST
53
Savviness : SMARTS
55
Lecterns : PODIA
56
Young's partner in accounting : ERNST
58
Greet someone cordially : SAYHI
61
Silicon Valley specialty : TECH
63
Lunch order that might be grilled : BLT
64
Title role for which Jamie Foxx won an Oscar for Best Actor : RAY
65
Paranormal ability, for short : ESP
67
Hoopla : ADO
68
Aussie animal : ROO

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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