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New York Times, Thursday, December 18, 2014

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4912/11/20111/3/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
74962102
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626140
Timothy Polin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QWZ} This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Timothy Polin notes:
I have a chronic tendency to underestimate puzzle difficulty. This one I tried to gear towards a typical Wednesday; my guess is it ... read more

I have a chronic tendency to underestimate puzzle difficulty. This one I tried to gear towards a typical Wednesday; my guess is it will turn out to be a hard Thursday. Fortunately, I also have a chronic tendency to write harder-than-average clues, so these mistakes often balance each other out. One clue that was really toughened up, though, was PIG LATIN's. My submitted clue was [Secret language the constructor has disguised the five italicized clues using], which you can readily see is pretty explicit, and a bit verbose. The published clue still indicates that there's something amiss with the theme clues, but it does so without giving away too much information about the trick. And in fewer words.

Jeff Chen notes:
Nice sound changes, 'X-ray' the PIG LATIN of 'wrecks' = a real winner. Took me a while to figure that one out, and it gave me a strong ... read more

Nice sound changes, "X-ray" the PIG LATIN of "wrecks" = a real winner. Took me a while to figure that one out, and it gave me a strong "hey, that's cool!" moment. The others didn't quite have the same effect as the pig latinizations weren't as surprising, but figuring out "airway" into "wear" was also pretty rewarding.

Loved the cluing touches today. There were several that heightened my solving experience. Go back and study the clues for SNOG, DOJO, IRS, EDEN, EXTRAS, and darn you if you're not amused. DOJO as a place to "kick back"? Yes! Even the IRS brought me a smile when I realized the clue was referring to a tax shelter, not a homeless shelter. Each one of those little moments brings me such pleasure.

I've noticed I favor late-week puzzles. It's taken me a while to figure out why that is specifically. And a big reason is because there are more of these clever clues usually included. I assume this is because the more experienced solving audience is more likely to appreciate the wordplay? Well, I say pish tosh, sir! Here's hoping that we get more of these gems in early-week puzzles too. Why deprive novice solvers of the associated joy?

Cool knuckle-dragger logo!

Sort of a "definitional" puzzle today, usually not my favorite as the clues and answers kind of appear switched. I really like this type of theme when the "definitional" entries are colorful, like KNUCKLE DRAGGER and JALOPIES. But RIP TO PIECES ... RIP TO SHREDS yes, RIP TO PIECES ... maybe. (Also, "trash" doesn't seem like it accurately matches RIP TO PIECES to me — I wrestled with that one because I couldn't equate them in my mind.) Finally, LIVE AND BREATHE doesn't sing to me. AS I LIVE AND BREATHE = yes! LIVE AND BREATHE = a definition out of Merriam-Webster.

A nice balance at 74 words, open enough to be more challenging than a 78-worder, but still allowing for some good long fill like ON THE STAGE, REDUCED FAT, and STODGY. I also appreciated the relative cleanliness of the grid, just a few minor MHO, OYE, A DEAL (can't fool me, partial!) kind of things. Always a balance when five themers are involved.

1
D
2
I
3
P
4
S
5
A
6
S
7
P
8
S
9
T
10
O
11
D
12
G
13
Y
14
O
M
E
N
15
M
H
O
16
T
I
N
O
R
E
17
J
A
L
O
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P
I
E
S
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E
X
T
R
A
S
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O
M
E
G
A
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M
I
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M
E
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H
I
V
E
24
R
25
I
P
T
O
P
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I
E
C
E
S
27
T
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H
29
E
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R
M
O
31
O
L
D
S
32
L
I
V
E
A
N
33
D
34
B
R
E
A
T
35
H
36
E
37
C
C
E
D
38
O
Y
E
39
A
U
D
40
I
41
K
N
U
42
C
43
K
L
E
D
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R
45
A
G
G
E
R
46
C
U
R
L
47
O
D
E
O
N
S
48
D
49
E
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T
E
R
I
O
51
R
52
A
T
E
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R
E
I
D
54
S
P
A
N
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A
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M
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I
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N
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O
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A
R
A
F
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A
T
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P
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G
L
A
T
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N
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M
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A
G
E
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R
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L
Y
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S
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A
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N
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D
A
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A
M
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X
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1218 ( 23,781 )
Across
1
Nincompoops : DIPS
5
Pharaonic symbol : ASP
8
Opposite of hip : STODGY
14
A butterfly flying into a house is said to be a good one : OMEN
15
Former name of the physics unit siemens : MHO
16
Stannite or cassiterite : TINORE
17
*X-ray : JALOPIES
19
Ones who are never billed? : EXTRAS
20
15-Across's symbol, when turned upside down : OMEGA
21
Go without saying? : MIME
23
It's all abuzz : HIVE
24
*Ashtray : RIPTOPIECES
27
___ King (big name in cooling) : THERMO
31
Defunct G.M. division : OLDS
32
*eBay : LIVEANDBREATHE
37
Included on an email : CCED
38
"___ Como Va" : OYE
39
Ingolstadt-based automaker : AUDI
41
*Outlay : KNUCKLEDRAGGER
46
Cheese ___ : CURL
47
Classical concert halls : ODEONS
48
*Airway : DETERIORATE
53
Frist's successor as Senate majority leader : REID
54
Part of an engineering project : SPAN
55
Important acid : AMINO
60
Palestinian guest at Camp David : ARAFAT
62
Hint to interpreting the five starred clues : PIGLATIN
64
Rival of Caesars : MIRAGE
65
With 45-Down, phrase accompanying a handshake : ITS
66
Bank : RELY
67
George who directed "Miracle on 34th Street" : SEATON
68
Roseanne's man on "Roseanne" : DAN
69
Green card distributor, informally : AMEX
Down
1
Good place to kick back? : DOJO
2
Muslim scholar : IMAM
3
The King of Football : PELE
4
French, e.g., to Brits : SNOG
5
"___ missing something here?" : AMI
6
One of the original Stooges : SHEMP
7
Propose as fact : POSIT
8
Carillon holder : STEEPLE
9
B'way purchases : TIX
10
Performing, say : ONTHESTAGE
11
Dialect in ancient Greece : DORIC
12
Serious : GRAVE
13
Acceptances : YESES
18
Italian city known for its cheese : PARMA
22
At anchor : MOORED
25
Kind of exchange : ION
26
Nez Perce Natl. Forest locale : IDA
27
Something Nurse Ratched did not dispense : TLC
28
Rube : HICK
29
Square : EVEN
30
Attribute of the 1%? : REDUCEDFAT
33
Spoonful, say : DOLLOP
34
What a seed often has : BYE
35
Black on the Supreme Court : HUGO
36
Location of a bad apple? : EDEN
40
Shelter investigator, for short : IRS
42
Skunk : CUR
43
Actress Wiig : KRISTEN
44
Codswallop : ROT
45
See 65-Across : ADEAL
48
1/8 ounces : DRAMS
49
Otherworldly : EERIE
50
Diadem : TIARA
51
Allegro : RAPID
52
Santa ___ Derby : ANITA
56
Rooney ___, star of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" : MARA
57
Thing : ITEM
58
Lotus-laden waterway : NILE
59
Inky : ONYX
61
Long ___ : AGO
63
TV channel with the slogan "Get Smarter Now" : GSN

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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