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New York Times, Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Author: Tom McCoy
Editor: Will Shortz
Tom McCoy
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3011/14/201311/19/20170
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ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61351

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 ... more
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 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 ... more
Jeff Chen notes: 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 Down
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
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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