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New York Times, Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Author:
Ed Sessa
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
409/10/200712/3/20190
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41078452
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63361
Edward Sessa

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 40 for Mr. Sessa. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Edward Sessa notes:
Da Vinci described poetry as 'a painting which is heard but not seen.' POETRY was my initial revealer for this puzzle but was nixed. I ... read more

Da Vinci described poetry as "a painting which is heard but not seen." POETRY was my initial revealer for this puzzle but was nixed. I believe I tried again with MEL BLANC who was known for his cartoon voices before finally settling with VOICE ACTOR. Another revealer I thought of was THE VOICE, a TV show but also an instrument that fits the bill. In any case, the puzzle remains one in which the actual solution never appears in print.

Jeff Chen notes:
'Name That Theme' defeated me today, in a pleasing way. Maybe I should have been able to figure it out – HERD, BUTT, KNOT, and ... read more

"Name That Theme" defeated me today, in a pleasing way. Maybe I should have been able to figure it out – HERD, BUTT, KNOT, and SCENE are all common in homophone themes. Bravo to Ed for keeping me guessing until the very end.

I should say, guessing until the very end … and beyond. I eventually figured out that a VOICE / ACTOR is "heard but not seen." The phrase felt familiar but not right, though, so I focused on that nit for a while. (It's usually "children should be seen and not heard.") That distracted me enough that I glossed over the ultra-long clue, pointing to the real a-ha in the puzzle.

Read it again, I'll wait.

Again.

AGAIN!

"… like the words sounded out at the starts of the answers to the four starred clues."

That's a mouthful. Maybe shading those four words would have been better, so the clue could have read:

"like the shaded words, sounded out."

It's a great concept, that the four sounded-out words themselves – heard but not seen – are exactly that. The clue doesn't do it justice, though. Usually, I'm all for obfuscating a theme until the very end, but I doubt shading would have taken away from the impact since the concept is already complicated.

Curious placement of the VOICE / ACTOR revealer. It'd have been more elegant to drop those into the bottom row, but it's not easy to work STEALER and ACTOR into the same corner. I bet the SE corner wouldn't have been as smooth with ACTOR in the bottom row, so I'm okay with the decision.

I would have liked a smidge more smoothness, though. ELAND and STOAT are toughies for newbs, and coming from the same category — I'll take Crossword Animals for $400, Alex. Adding in SIBYL, ALB, BRAGG into one small region makes it even harder. Every one of these entries is fine in general, but it's too much as a whole.

So many Tuesdays tend to be forgettable, so I appreciate the extra layers Ed put into this concept. Made me think.

1
S
2
T
3
A
4
R
5
R
6
S
7
A
8
D
9
P
10
E
11
R
12
O
13
N
14
H
O
S
E
A
15
L
I
E
16
S
T
A
R
E
17
A
N
T
E
D
18
A
N
N
19
O
Y
A
N
C
E
20
H
E
R
D
I
21
N
S
T
I
N
C
T
22
S
R
O
23
O
O
H
24
M
E
H
25
A
26
L
27
B
28
E
A
T
M
29
E
30
L
E
31
S
T
E
R
32
B
33
U
34
T
T
D
I
A
L
35
S
36
D
I
A
N
A
37
A
S
O
U
38
T
R
A
P
39
S
40
B
R
I
G
41
R
H
O
D
42
E
43
K
N
O
T
44
T
Y
I
N
G
45
G
E
N
E
V
46
A
47
D
R
O
O
L
48
E
R
S
49
A
B
50
S
51
T
A
T
52
A
53
R
54
F
55
S
C
E
N
56
E
S
T
E
57
A
L
E
R
58
A
59
D
60
N
A
U
S
E
A
M
61
B
R
I
D
E
62
V
O
I
C
E
63
A
V
E
64
A
C
T
O
R
65
A
W
A
K
E
66
K
E
N
67
G
O
O
S
E
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 1203 ( 25,592 )
Across
1
Bart who was the first Super Bowl M.V.P. : STARR
6
In a funk : SAD
9
Evita who was played by Madonna : PERON
14
Civil rights leader Williams, who was an associate of Martin Luther King Jr. : HOSEA
15
Piece of fiction : LIE
16
Intent look : STARE
17
Started the kitty : ANTED
18
Pebble in one's shoe, e.g. : ANNOYANCE
20
*Inclination to follow the majority : HERDINSTINCT
22
Sign of a theatrical hit : SRO
23
Lead-in to "la-la" : OOH
24
"Couldn't care less" : MEH
25
Liturgical vestment : ALB
28
Wonderland cake words : EATME
30
News anchor Holt : LESTER
32
*Phones inadvertently : BUTTDIALS
36
Mother of Prince Harry : DIANA
37
Not worth ___ (valueless) : ASOU
38
Hazards on the links : TRAPS
40
Prison at sea : BRIG
41
___ Island Red (chicken) : RHODE
43
*Boy Scout handbook topic : KNOTTYING
45
League of Nations city : GENEVA
47
Soak one's bib : DROOL
48
Sounds of hesitation : ERS
49
"Six-pack" muscles : ABS
51
Bit of body art : TAT
52
Comics bark : ARF
55
*One upstaging a star, say : SCENESTEALER
58
On and on and on ... : ADNAUSEAM
61
One of two on some wedding cakes : BRIDE
62
With 64-Across, performer who is like the words sounded out at the starts of the answers to the four starred clues : VOICE
63
Greeting in old Rome : AVE
64
See 62-Across : ACTOR
65
No longer in dreamland : AWAKE
66
Barbie's beau : KEN
67
V-formation flier : GOOSE
Down
1
Persian rulers : SHAHS
2
Skin care product : TONER
3
N.L. pennant winner in 2005 and A.L. pennant winner in 2017 and 2019 : ASTRO
4
Marsh plant : REED
5
Commercial that might have a jingle : RADIOAD
6
Punctuation that may mean "or" : SLASHMARK
7
Nonstandard negative : AINT
8
Bib overalls material : DENIM
9
Pumped up, so to speak : PSYCHED
10
Florida, e.g., to the French : ETAT
11
Took to one's heels : RAN
12
"The Lord of the Rings" fiend : ORC
13
Born, in Bordeaux : NEE
19
Like Nash's lama : ONEL
21
Cry in a game of tag : NOTIT
25
Arcade game pioneer : ATARI
26
Leader on view in Red Square : LENIN
27
Fort ___, North Carolina : BRAGG
28
Chopin exercise : ETUDE
29
Serengeti antelope : ELAND
31
Seeress of ancient Greece : SIBYL
32
Erie Canal craft : BARGE
33
Helper at a wedding : USHER
34
Tweety and Sylvester, for two : TOONS
35
Guys who fish or hunt, say : SPORTSMEN
39
Ermine, by another name : STOAT
42
One fleeing a flood, perhaps : EVACUEE
44
Common promotional giveaway : TOTEBAG
46
$5 bills, slangily : ABES
50
Go furtively : SNEAK
52
Bush 43 Supreme Court appointee : ALITO
53
Second chances, casually : REDOS
54
"___ Jacques" : FRERE
55
Give the ax : SACK
56
Rain gutter site : EAVE
57
With the bow, musically : ARCO
58
"Selma" director DuVernay : AVA
59
Wall Street index, with "the" : DOW
60
Long of 2004's "Alfie" : NIA

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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