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New York Times, Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Author:
Tom McCoy
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3211/14/201310/7/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
17815100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61362
Tom McCoy

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. McCoy. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tom McCoy notes:
It came as quite a (pleasant) surprise when this puzzle was accepted because I worried that too few solvers would enjoy both aspects ... read more

It came as quite a (pleasant) surprise when this puzzle was accepted because I worried that too few solvers would enjoy both aspects of the theme (the chemistry and the literature). My original submission had the theme answers THORIUM WHITE, MERCURY WELLS, CESIUM LEWIS, and OXYGEN HENRY, but Will asked for a revision because O. Henry only uses one initial while the other authors use two, and the result is what you see here!

I was glad for the chance to revise the grid. Although I like the original theme set and the new theme set roughly the same, the original submission only had two long non-theme slots, which were filled by the somewhat boring entries PATHLESS and SALT LICK. In my revision, I tried to work in more interesting long downs so that solvers could still enjoy the puzzle even if the theme did not strike their fancy.

Jeff Chen notes:
Timely theme, what with the recent passing of P.D. James. I've never read any of her work, but all the news stories about her makes ... read more

P. D. James Timely theme, what with the recent passing of P.D. James. I've never read any of her work, but all the news stories about her makes me want to explore. And a nice concept, using symbols from the periodic table, switched out for famous writers known by their first two initials.

The periodic table has been mined for crossword Au over the years, so we went through a spell where this had become overdone. It's nice to see a little chemistry back into the NYT xw (said the chemistry dork). I found it a little odd that the chemical symbols didn't typographically match the initials — Cs is not the same as C. S. — but I was able to suspend my hitch and enjoy the puzzle. Cool that Tom found 1.) enough authors that share this feature (I really like the consistency there), and 2.) matching pairs. A nice discovery.

When you don't have much flexibility in themers, the gridwork sometimes gets tough. I can't imagine Tom had many (if any) alternate name pairs ready to use, so a 12/14/14/12 pattern it was. These "unfortunate lengths" are tough to incorporate, because the themers have to be squished together to the middle of the grid due to black square issues. I quite like what Tom's done in the difficult middle of the puzzle, needing only a SOCIO and a STOA to connect the central two themers. Puzzles with themers so close together often come out with globs of EPOXY holding the middle entries together, so this turned out well.

And especially given that it's a relatively tough grid, it's great that Tom worked in a few long pieces of fill. (I always love reading about a constructor's solver-first mentality.) The proximity of DEBRIEFED and DRAWERS made the fourth-grader in me laugh. Along with some ROUND EYED awe at the cool extra chemistry content in LIQUEFY and INERT, I felt like the fill added to my solving experience.

Some excellent clues, too. It just takes two or three to make me notice and appreciate, so SHIH TZU (I triumphantly plunked down SHAR PEI), ONE A (way to make a normally blah entry interesting through the use of wordplay!), TESLA, DOT, all did the trick. If only TESLA were alive still, he'd be a current current researcher.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1210 ( 23,773 )
Across
1
Rocker Huey : LEWIS
6
Nascar ___ : DAD
9
Bonsai, e.g. : DWARF
14
Like many residents of Lancaster County, Pa. : AMISH
15
QB Manning : ELI
16
One in a love triangle, maybe : RIVAL
17
Like a majority of Muslims : SUNNI
18
Word before Mac or cheese : BIG
19
Make amends : ATONE
20
"The Sword in the Stone" author, to a chemist? : THORIUMWHITE
23
Feedbag morsel : OAT
26
Prefix that sounds like 67-Down : TRI
27
Pizza, for one : PIE
28
Colon part : DOT
29
Western Indian : UTE
30
Snoozers catch them : ZEES
32
New title for a 53-Down : MRS
34
"The African Queen" author, to a chemist? : CESIUMFORESTER
39
Part of a 23-Across : HULL
40
Modern prefix with warrior : ECO
41
U.S. island with a royal palace : OAHU
43
"The Children of Men" author, to a chemist? : PALLADIUMJAMES
48
Word often in brackets : SIC
49
Highly draftable ... or a feature of the word "draft" : ONEA
50
Season after printemps : ETE
51
U.S.S.R. security org. : KGB
54
Relative of "Voilà!" : QED
56
Margery of rhyme : DAW
57
Some Garmin displays: Abbr. : STS
58
"The Island of Dr. Moreau" author, to a chemist? : MERCURYWELLS
62
Television genre : ANIME
63
Put down, as track : LAY
64
Like radon : INERT
68
Having done away with : RIDOF
69
Improve, as cheese : AGE
70
Land bordering Lake Chad : NIGER
71
Minuscule : TEENY
72
TV neighbor of Homer : NED
73
Hobbyist's adhesive : EPOXY
Down
1
Word in Spanish place names : LAS
2
Avian source of red meat : EMU
3
Prevail : WIN
4
"___ it, though?" : ISNT
5
Chinese toy : SHIHTZU
6
Followed up with after recon : DEBRIEFED
7
Et ___ (and others) : ALII
8
Find, as attack ad fodder : DIGUP
9
BVDs, e.g. : DRAWERS
10
Accompanying : WITH
11
Steer clear of : AVOID
12
Made a dash for : RANTO
13
___ Street (British journalism) : FLEET
21
City near a 29-Across reservation : OREM
22
Street performer in an "invisible box" : MIME
23
Reaction to a pun or a punch : OUCH
24
Believed gullibly : ATEUP
25
Notable current researcher : TESLA
31
Prefix with -path : SOCIO
33
Greek walkway : STOA
35
Things to cure : ILLS
36
Full of innocent wonder : ROUNDEYED
37
Chair designer Charles : EAMES
38
Butler in fiction : RHETT
42
Takes habitually : USES
44
What gallium will do at about 86 degrees F : LIQUEFY
45
Taiwanese PC maker : ACER
46
Ground-up fare : MEAL
47
Important feature for a male model : JAWLINE
51
Blue Light Special offerer : KMART
52
Something to be rubbed out? : GENIE
53
Figurine on a certain cake : BRIDE
55
About whom Obama said "There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music" : DYLAN
59
"You have gotta be kidding me!" : CMON
60
Conduct : WAGE
61
Bit of barbering : SNIP
65
Latin I : EGO
66
Title for Tarquinius Superbus : REX
67
Give it a go : TRY

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle.

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