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New York Times, Monday, December 28, 2015

Author: Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Will Shortz
Zhouqin Burnikel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4811/13/201210/13/201717
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
517135332
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56281

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FJQYZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 25 for Ms. Burnikel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Zhouqin Burnikel notes: This is my oldest puzzle in Will's queue. It was made when the movie 'No Easy Day' was just released, and accepted in Feb. ... more
Zhouqin Burnikel notes:

This is my oldest puzzle in Will's queue. It was made when the movie "No Easy Day" was just released, and accepted in Feb. 2013. Thanks to SEAL TEAM SIX, I was able to get five entries with different middle words.

As you can see from my original grid, Will and Joel quietly did their job and removed a few crosswordese entries from a few spots, notably LST (31A), ENARM (43A) and HODS (71A).

Jeff Chen notes: S T S initialisms, the abbreviation for 'streets' serving as the revealer. We don't see a ton of initialism themes these days — ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

S T S initialisms, the abbreviation for "streets" serving as the revealer. We don't see a ton of initialism themes these days — I think it has to do with a combination of factors: there have been a lot of them, it's usually a little too easy to find examples that fit, and after two or three themers, the idea tends to get repetitive.

Dang, that's a cool-looking patch!

I like what C.C. (Zhouqin) has done today, picking a set of three initials (it's usually two) that are a little tricky to find good examples for. I thought of SEE THE SIGHTS, SET THE SCENE, STEAL THE SHOW right off the bat, but if you don't want to repeat "the" within themers, it becomes more difficult. SEAL TEAM SIX is a colorful phrase, and there's something nice about the connection between SINBAD THE SAILOR and STEM TO STERN. (Given that SEAL TEAM SIX is within the US Navy, it would have been cool to have all the phrases relate to the sea!)

Interesting short fill in HOMS. I can't remember seeing that before, in any crossword (it was used in the pre-Shortz era a handful of times). Upon some research, it seems perfectly legit to me, and perhaps even desirable, given its place in current events. I'm very glad C.C. made each of the crossings crystal clear — it's a great way to introduce a "new" proper noun in a way that likely won't irritate solvers, and might even get them to go learn something new.

Nice execution. With five long themers, many constructors would be happy to just come up with a mostly smooth grid. I love C.C.'s efforts to include TELLS TALES and ANNABEL LEE. There's a slight price to be paid in the south — given that this region has to work around two themers and is wider (at six letters) than usual, it's not surprising to get some ELO / OLEOS / OCS. Nothing that objectionable in itself, just a little more concentration than I'd like to see.

Fun clue for ATOM. "Small matter" feels more fun and in the language to me than "little matter," but I really like the idea.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1228 ( 24,156 )
Across Down
1. Breaks the Ten Commandments : SINS
5. Money and ID holder : WALLET
11. Faucet : TAP
14. Slender woodwind : OBOE
15. Aid in climbing a snowy peak : ICEAXE
16. Make a mistake : ERR
17. Navy special force in the bin Laden raid : SEALTEAMSIX
19. Airport alternative to JFK : LGA
20. "___ than that ..." : OTHER
21. Abril or mayo : MES
22. Oversupply : GLUT
23. Sterling service for an afternoon break : SILVERTEASET
27. Money set aside for later years, in brief : IRA
30. Honey maker : BEE
31. Allow : LET
32. Singer Del Rey : LANA
34. Little matter : ATOM
37. Group of candidates running together : SLATE
40. "Arabian Nights" voyager : SINBADTHESAILOR
43. Warner of danger : ALARM
44. Morales of "NYPD Blue" : ESAI
45. Dollar division : CENT
46. Ghost's cry : BOO
47. Mom's forte, briefly : TLC
49. "Told ya!" : SEE
50. Say something before immediately being proven wrong : SPEAKTOOSOON
56. Frigid : COLD
57. "Livin' Thing" band, 1976, informally : ELO
58. Pig out : GORGE
62. ___ and vinegar : OIL
63. Completely : STEMTOSTERN
66. Capitalize on : USE
67. ___ of Cancer : TROPIC
68. Dressed : CLAD
69. Gym shirt : TEE
70. Window frames : SASHES
71. War-torn Syrian city : HOMS
1. Just O.K. : SOSO
2. "Yeah, right" : IBET
3. Ark builder : NOAH
4. Monica ___, two-time U.S. Open champ : SELES
5. Golfer Michelle : WIE
6. Obama's signature health law, for short : ACA
7. "___ at 'em!" : LEMME
8. Tool with a beam : LASER
9. Live and breathe : EXIST
10. State below Okla. : TEX
11. What a raconteur does : TELLSTALES
12. Bicker : ARGUE
13. Chris of "Jurassic World" : PRATT
18. Chi-town daily : TRIB
22. Irish language family : GAELIC
24. Show the way : LEAD
25. Sporty Chevy : VETTE
26. 2013 film queen who sings "Let It Go" : ELSA
27. "Casablanca" woman : ILSA
28. Train transportation : RAIL
29. Poe poem that concludes "In her tomb by the sounding sea" : ANNABELLEE
33. Overseas : ABROAD
35. Excited cries : OHS
36. Turkey and roast beef : MEATS
38. Synonym and anagram of "note" : TONE
39. One-named Art Deco artist : ERTE
41. Run ___ (rampage) : AMOK
42. Farm tower : SILO
48. Gear teeth : COGS
50. One collecting merit badges : SCOUT
51. Aplomb : POISE
52. Four: Prefix : TETRA
53. Butter substitutes : OLEOS
54. Pizazz : OOMPH
55. V-shaped cut : NOTCH
59. Move, for short : RELO
60. Unit of fat : GRAM
61. Two slices of a loaf of bread : ENDS
63. Aves. ... or the initials of 17-, 23-, 40-, 50- and 63-Across : STS
64. Knot : TIE
65. Where Army brass is trained, in brief : OCS

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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