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New York Times, Monday, December 29, 2014

Author: Peter A. Collins
Editor: Will Shortz
Peter A. Collins
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1.564313

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FJQV} This is puzzle # 84 for Mr. Collins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter A. Collins notes: For those of you who care about such things, I mailed this puzzle in on November 13, 2013, and it was accepted on February 5, ... more
Peter A. Collins notes: For those of you who care about such things, I mailed this puzzle in on November 13, 2013, and it was accepted on February 5, 2014.

Every time I look over the grid, I want to read TEA CHEST as one word — the bizarro superlative TEACHEST. You know: teach, teacher, teachest.

When I submitted this puzzle, I didn't think it would be a Monday — possibly a Tuesday or Wednesday. But it seems that lately Monday themes are getting a little less straightforward and predictable. I think that's a good thing. I like a Monday with a little bit of a twist.

In looking over the grid, I guess there is nothing that really prevents this puzzle from being a Monday. The proper nouns MARTI, NIMITZ, HENSON, and MOTT might give some solvers pause. Possibly even BOB MARLEY, who makes his NYT debut today (and I think it's high time).

Speaking of Bob Marley and high times, I see that his family wants to lend his name to some kind of commercial marijuana venture. His daughter, Cedella Marley, said "My dad would be so happy to see people understanding the healing power of the herb". I think the Marley family might have an easier time touting the "healing power of the herb" if Bob hadn't died at 36. But who knows — without the ganja, maybe he would've died at 26.

Fill-wise, the only thing that really bugs me is ERO. TOS is a little hard to take, too.

Happy New Year to one and all!

Jeff Chen notes: Super fun punchline, playing on the old joke of 'spelling it out' as I T O U T. Hits my 4th grade funny bone right on the spot. And ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Super fun punchline, playing on the old joke of "spelling it out" as I T O U T. Hits my 4th grade funny bone right on the spot. And what better to accompany it than the next installment of Pete's "Benjamin Button" photo act? Hello, John-John!

Great clues today, a wonderful bonus for a Monday. READS gets a witty one, playing on (James) Joyce, (Lewis) Carroll, and (Joyce Carroll) Oates. (I'm sensing a theme in there somewhere.) MOUSE made smile — a real squeaker indeed. And my favorite — being a bit of a math nut, I froze, trying to figure out what sort of higher-level polynomial expression 2n + 1 referred to. Wiped my brow (and smiled) after realizing it's simply a way of expressing ODD numbers.

Lychees at a market

Six themers in a 15x puzzle causes all sorts of difficulties. So many areas where down answers cross at least two themers. Thankfully, there wasn't one hot spot with a myriad of gluey bits, but they did crop up enough that I noticed them as a whole: the odd LITCHI (I gorge on LYCHEE whenever I can), ON IN, STE / MLLE / ETE, SOPPY, etc. Notice that many of these unsightly bits sit in an area where two themers cause high constraints.

I often find that a better way to incorporate six themers is to stack pairs on top of each other when the letter combinations allow. Take EYE CONTACT and TEE TIMES in rows 3 and 5, for example. It's doable to squeeze those two answers next to each other (in rows 3 and 4), because the letter pairs where they would overlap — *AT*, *CE*, and *TE* — are all friendly. This abutment allows the constructor to effectively treat two themers as one, giving a lot more flexibility in black square placement.

It would take away the nice "every other row" pattern currently in the themers, but I'd take silky-smooth fill over that. Personal preference.

Overall though, a punchline giving me a laugh, along with some nice long fill in BOB MARLEY and LOW IMPACT and STYMIES. There's nothing more important to me in a crossword solving experience than getting a smile.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1229 ( 23,792 )
Across Down
1. Titanic victim John Jacob ___ : ASTOR
6. Diner's card : MENU
10. Put-down : SLUR
14. Havana hero José : MARTI
15. Getting ___ years : ONIN
16. Musical pitch : TONE
17. *What a good speaker maintains with the audience : EYECONTACT
19. Female org. since the 1850s : YWCA
20. U.S. intelligence org. : NSA
21. ___ nut (Chinese fruit) : LITCHI
22. Opposite of spicy : MILD
23. Internet business : DOTCOM
25. *Golfers' bookings : TEETIMES
27. Somewhat : ABIT
29. Fox News anchor Smith : SHEP
30. *"Man!" : OHBROTHER
35. "August: ___ County" (2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning play) : OSAGE
38. Twosome : DUO
39. Weightless state, informally : ZEROG
41. Director's end-of-scene cry : CUT
42. What i.o.u.'s represent : DEBTS
45. *"Wait, wait ... go back" : YOULOSTME
48. Lansing's home: Abbr. : MICH
50. Cross through : XOUT
51. *Bit of Boston Harbor debris in 1773 : TEACHEST
55. Second-stringers : BTEAMS
59. "___! The Herald Angels Sing" : HARK
60. Regular : NORMAL
62. ___ constrictor : BOA
63. ___ of Wight : ISLE
64. Leave no room for misinterpretation ... or what the first words of the answers to the five starred clues do, literally : SPELLITOUT
66. Putin's refusal : NYET
67. German automaker : OPEL
68. Vikings, e.g. : NORSE
69. Letters between jays and ells : KAYS
70. Wall Street inits. : NYSE
71. ___ Park, Colo. : ESTES
1. Change, as the Constitution : AMEND
2. Final approval : SAYSO
3. October 31 option : TREAT
4. Needing no Rx : OTC
5. 1970 John Wayne film : RIOLOBO
6. Glam rock band ___ the Hoople : MOTT
7. Put into law : ENACT
8. Small recess : NICHE
9. Loosens, as laces : UNTIES
10. Thwarts : STYMIES
11. Not joint-pounding, as aerobics : LOWIMPACT
12. Title for Sam or Ben : UNCLE
13. Enjoys Joyce, Carroll or Oates : READS
18. U.S.S. ___ (aircraft carrier named for a former admiral) : NIMITZ
24. Pace or race follower : CAR
26. Howe'er : THO
28. Unnamed others : THEY
30. Like integers of the form 2n + 1 : ODD
31. Shade : HUE
32. "One Love" singer : BOBMARLEY
33. Suffix with ranch : ERO
34. Sauce thickener : ROUX
36. Doublemint, for one : GUM
37. Juillet's season : ETE
40. Worldwide : GLOBAL
43. Lottery buys : TICKETS
44. Univ., e.g. : SCH
46. Writer's plan : OUTLINE
47. Jeanne d'Arc, for one: Abbr. : STE
49. Muppet maker Jim : HENSON
51. "Use your head!" : THINK
52. Course for which you hardly need to 51-Down : EASYA
53. Maudlin : SOPPY
54. Forest units : TREES
56. Call off, as a mission : ABORT
57. One just squeaking by? : MOUSE
58. Fills up : SATES
61. Fr. girl : MLLE
65. Lean-___ (rude shelters) : TOS

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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