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New York Times, Thursday, December 3, 2015

Author:
Patrick Merrell
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
897/10/20018/1/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
21105123452
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61554
Patrick Merrell

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {KQ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 83 for Mr. Merrell. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Patrick Merrell notes:
It probably makes little difference, but my submitted clues for the five theme entries represented a multimedia smorgasbord: a ... read more

ZEP

  1. It probably makes little difference, but my submitted clues for the five theme entries represented a multimedia smorgasbord: a record album, movie, book, comic book and TV show.
  2. I like Will/Joel's clue for RADIO: Medium for Biggie Smalls.
  3. A Roman numeral bridges two words in each entry. It's a bit different for CATWOMAN, being just one word. But since it's a compound word with the Roman numeral bridging the two word parts, that felt the same to me.

And, for anyone who hasn't already heard me blab about it, here's a book I created for kids — with a super-tough puzzle hidden in it for adults!

Jeff Chen notes:
Neat idea, requiring two steps to figure out what was going on. After uncovering the IV in the central themer, I had a feeling Roman ... read more

Neat idea, requiring two steps to figure out what was going on. After uncovering the IV in the central themer, I had a feeling Roman numerals were somehow involved, but it was a neat a-ha to discover that IV was interpreted as FOUR, which is part of FLAGS O(F OUR) FATHERS. Sort of a multiple-square rebus in a way, but also sticking to the usual one-letter-per-square criterion. I can't remember seeing something quite like this since Francis Heaney's incredible FLAG DAY puzzle, so I really enjoyed the novelty.

AZIZ Ansari

I've fixed up the database entries below, so you can see exactly what the themers are, post-decoding.

Because the idea was so interesting, I liked getting five themers, each one a treat to figure out. It was nice that Patrick managed to work in a little bonus fill too, TRUE GRIT being an incredible movie (and book — highly recommended!) and PELICANS pretty colorful too.

I would have liked more order in the themers, though. While having a random set of numbers (not in sequence) does make the puzzle even more challenging, the idea of going from I to II to III to IV to V (in order) is so appealing. I suppose THREE is a pretty tough string to incorporate into a phrase, as is FIVE. Even having random numbers but going in ascending order would be nice.

I also would have liked the four corners to be less cut off from the rest of the puzzle. The NW and SE are better, since two answers flow into each, but the top right and the bottom left have only one entry in. Although I love AZIZ Ansari ("Master of None" was a surprisingly moving series), I can see how that corner, especially the crossing with ZZZ, might cause some solvers to get really stuck and frustrated. Interesting fact that [Last entry in the Random House Unabridged Dictionary] is ZZZ — "a representation of the sound made by somebody sleeping or snoring, often used in cartoons." Curious that it's actually recognized as a word!

Loved the concept here, and as with most all of Patrick's puzzle, strong execution. Very enjoyable trick to uncover.

ADDED NOTE: Patrick mentioned that he had a different "order" in mind — one "trick" square in the first themer, followed by one, two, two, and then three. Clever idea; lulling the solver into thinking that maybe there was just a normal rebus going on.

1
S
2
T
3
R
4
A
5
P
6
O
7
R
8
G
9
Y
10
L
11
U
12
T
13
Z
14
T
H
E
M
E
15
M
E
R
E
16
A
Z
I
Z
17
A
R
I
E
L
18
E
M
I
L
19
D
I
T
Z
20
R
U
N
N
I
21
N
G
I
M
P
22
T
Y
23
C
O
A
X
24
O
D
25
E
26
T
27
S
28
O
29
P
30
E
31
R
A
S
32
D
33
A
X
I
G
H
T
34
F
I
T
I
N
35
L
36
I
A
M
37
R
I
A
38
F
L
A
G
S
39
O
I
V
F
A
40
T
41
H
E
R
S
42
I
L
L
43
V
E
S
T
44
R
O
S
S
I
45
C
A
I
46
I
47
M
A
N
48
G
U
E
S
T
S
49
E
R
A
T
O
50
P
51
L
I
E
52
C
B
53
V
54
I
I
I
N
G
55
N
56
E
57
W
58
S
59
J
60
O
61
S
H
62
I
N
X
S
63
R
A
D
I
O
64
A
L
O
E
65
S
C
A
T
66
I
P
A
S
S
67
W
E
N
D
68
E
A
R
S
69
T
E
M
P
O
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1203 ( 24,131 )
Across
1
Tie that binds : STRAP
6
Occasion of overindulgence : ORGY
10
Skater's leap : LUTZ
14
Many a party has one : THEME
15
Plain and simple : MERE
16
___ Ansari of "Parks and Recreation" : AZIZ
17
Disney character who sings "Part of Your World" : ARIEL
18
Jannings who won the first-ever Oscar : EMIL
19
Airhead : DITZ
20
Almost out of energy : RUNNINGONEMPTY
23
Inveigle : COAX
24
Group Theatre playwright of the 1930s : ODETS
28
Works of Carl Maria von Weber : OPERAS
32
Time to get a babysitter, maybe : DATENIGHT
34
Conform : FITIN
35
One of the acting Hemsworths : LIAM
37
Shoreline opening : RIA
38
Patriotic Clint Eastwood movie : FLAGSOFOURFATHERS
42
Volunteer's first word : ILL
43
Bit of SWAT garb : VEST
44
Carlo ___ (wine brand) : ROSSI
45
DC Comics character with a whip : CATWOMAN
48
Hotel fillers : GUESTS
49
Lyre player of mythology : ERATO
50
Move often preceding a pirouette : PLIE
52
Rather informative program, once? : CBSEVENINGNEWS
59
Kid : JOSH
62
"Suicide Blonde" band, 1990 : INXS
63
Medium for Biggie Smalls : RADIO
64
First-aid gel : ALOE
65
"Out! I said out!" : SCAT
66
"That's not for me" : IPASS
67
Travel : WEND
68
Antennae, so to speak : EARS
69
Band director's concern : TEMPO
Down
1
One of 12 in the European Union logo : STAR
2
Kind of street, informally : THRU
3
It can pull a bit to one side : REIN
4
Emphatic agreement : AMEN
5
Expert divers : PELICANS
6
The end : OMEGA
7
D.J.'s play : REMIX
8
Not looking good : GRIM
9
Distress call : YELP
10
Part of the "wedding of the century" : LADYDI
11
Strong arm : UZI
12
Little bird : TIT
13
Last entry in the Random House Unabridged Dictionary : ZZZ
21
Rebuffs : NOS
22
Food safety subj. : TOX
25
Way out : EGRESS
26
Craving : THIRST
27
Equilibrium : STASIS
28
Microsoft product : OFFICE
29
Important member of a group : PILLAR
30
String substitute? : ETALIA
31
Fix : RIG
32
Loco : DAFT
33
Doc bloc : AMA
35
Financial claim : LIEN
36
They're often stuck in the I.C.U. : IVS
39
The origin of species? : OVA
40
Coen brothers Best Picture nominee : TRUEGRIT
41
Help with making the bed? : HOE
46
Hankered : ITCHED
47
Pitchfork wielders, perhaps : MOB
48
Certain spirit : GIN
50
"Cars" producer : PIXAR
51
Has a bias : LISTS
53
Clincher : VISE
54
Sun worshipers : INCA
55
It might get hot under the collar : NAPE
56
Town whose exports are waxed : EDAM
57
Bit of smoke : WISP
58
O.K. : SOSO
59
Part of a 53-Down : JAW
60
Charge call : OLE
61
___ of God : SON

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?