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New York Times, Thursday, December 18, 2014

Author: Timothy Polin
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4612/11/20116/24/20182
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74852002
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626130
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

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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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 "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
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P
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A
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S
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P
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T
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X
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1218 ( 23,781 )
Across Down
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
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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