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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
TotalDebutCollabs
111/6/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60000
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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