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New York Times, Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Author: Daniel Raymon
Editor: Will Shortz
Daniel Raymon
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
189/23/20079/6/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
02341107
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61110

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {BFJ} This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Raymon. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Daniel Raymon notes: This theme is a pretty simple one — I just needed to find phrases that had a word starting with the SK sound, and switch it ... more
Daniel Raymon notes: This theme is a pretty simple one — I just needed to find phrases that had a word starting with the SK sound, and switch it to SQU. But easier said than done. I would've liked it if all four started with the SK/SQU word, rather than just the first three, but these were the only phrases I could find. I still like the phrases a lot, and I guess that's why the puzzle was accepted. I also like the northwest and southeast corners, as well as SENSITIZED, DR. OZ, and most of the seven-letter words, especially NEWSIES.
Will Shortz notes: In "Wordplay" Trip Payne remarks that "Q" is his favorite letter of the alphabet, and I agree. Q is a fun letter to build a theme around, and the Q-related puns here are all pretty good.
Jeff Chen notes: Nice theme, changing the SK to the SQU sound. I'm not sure why I found the theme answers so amusing, but I still giggle when I think ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Nice theme, changing the SK to the SQU sound. I'm not sure why I found the theme answers so amusing, but I still giggle when I think about SQUID MARKS. I recently read a middle-grade book about a young comedian who said K is the funniest sound in the alphabet, but I'd open that up to the SQU chunk any day.

The base phrases are so solid, too, more so than other sound-change puzzles from recent memory: SKID MARKS, SCARE TACTIC, SKIRT CHASER, GREAT SCOTT; each one an entry I'd be proud to include in a themeless grid. It's almost a shame to not include them into the puzzle as is, but luckily the morphed phrases are very amusing.

Dani* does something interesting with his grid today, including four 7-letter pieces of fill in the across direction. It's usually easier to break things up more, just counting on your downs for longer fill, but not always. Today, some mixed success. I really liked having TEASERS as a bonus, but the other three, OUTLAID, NEWSIES**, and THEISTS fell flat for me.

Let's look at NEWSIES and THEISTS. I'm sure a case could be made for both (if you're big into theater or religious studies), but I'd bet a majority of solvers would see both of them as average to lesser-than average entries. It's unfortunate that they sit in such constrained positions, giving few options at those locations. NEWSIES for example: it sits atop SQUARE TACTIC and intersects two nice long downs, GRADE A and MR SMITH. I'd almost rather it be broken up into two 3-letter entries, so it doesn't detract from the really good stuff around it.

And let me emphasize, there is a good amount of nice long stuff here. LANDSCAPER, SENSITIZED, Casey STENGEL, in addition to the aforementioned GRADE A and MR SMITH. But I tend to prefer when a high percentage of long fill is quality, even if that means that there isn't a huge quantity of it.

All in all, a funny sound-change puzzle that I much enjoyed. Often times, sound-change puzzles resulting in supposedly wacky phrases aren't nearly wacky enough for me, but this one did it for yours truly, still giggling like a wienerschnitzel at SQUID MARKS.

*Dani says his name is pronounced "Donnie" and is the Hebrew form of "Danny". Maybe I'll just go with "What up, D?"

**ADDED NOTE: Dani wrote that he loved NEWSIES (the movie) as a kid. I think good crosswords should elicit positive feelings from solvers, and this obviously does so for Dani. So perhaps I've underestimated NEWSIES. For any NEWSIES groupies out there, my apologies!

1
M
2
E
3
T
4
A
5
L
6
G
7
E
8
O
9
M
10
L
11
A
12
V
13
S
14
A
S
O
N
E
15
R
E
A
R
16
A
L
I
T
17
S
Q
U
I
D
18
M
A
R
K
S
19
N
O
V
A
20
O
U
T
L
A
I
D
21
M
22
Y
D
E
A
R
23
N
E
S
24
N
E
25
W
26
S
I
E
S
27
S
28
Q
U
A
R
E
T
A
C
29
T
30
I
31
C
32
H
33
I
34
R
E
E
S
35
E
T
H
36
A
R
N
O
37
G
R
A
N
D
38
L
A
S
39
A
P
E
R
S
40
T
A
G
S
41
S
O
T
42
A
L
E
X
E
I
43
S
Q
U
I
44
R
T
C
H
45
A
S
E
R
46
T
H
E
I
S
T
S
47
R
48
C
49
A
50
A
51
C
52
T
I
O
N
53
T
E
54
A
55
S
E
R
S
56
D
R
O
Z
57
G
58
R
59
E
A
T
S
Q
U
A
T
60
D
O
M
E
61
E
E
O
C
62
P
I
N
T
O
63
S
P
E
D
64
L
A
N
K
65
S
N
E
E
R
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1204 ( 23,402 )
Across Down
1. Lithium or iridium : METAL
6. Math subj. with proofs : GEOM
10. W.C.'s : LAVS
14. En masse : ASONE
15. Area jiggled while twerking : REAR
16. Touched down : ALIT
17. Food critic's assessments of calamari? : SQUIDMARKS
19. Brilliant 13-Down : NOVA
20. Disbursed : OUTLAID
21. Part of a Holmes comment to Watson : MYDEAR
23. Nintendo's Super ___ : NES
24. Tony-nominated musical based on a 1992 Disney movie : NEWSIES
27. Maneuver on a chessboard? : SQUARETACTIC
32. Ones coming on board : HIREES
35. Biblical verb ending : ETH
36. River under the Ponte Vecchio : ARNO
37. Steinway offering : GRAND
38. ___ Cruces, N.M. : LAS
39. Follow-the-leader sorts : APERS
40. Identifies, on Facebook : TAGS
41. One seeing pink elephants : SOT
42. Kosygin of Russia : ALEXEI
43. Rug rat pursuer? : SQUIRTCHASER
46. Believers in one god : THEISTS
47. Elvis's label : RCA
50. Stallone's genre : ACTION
53. The last 30 seconds of many TV shows : TEASERS
56. Talk show physician : DROZ
57. Outstanding posture for a catcher? : GREATSQUAT
60. AT&T Stadium feature : DOME
61. Antidiscrimination org. : EEOC
62. Horse with a patchy coat : PINTO
63. Floored it : SPED
64. Long and lean : LANK
65. Elvis's trademark look : SNEER
1. Perry who's on the case : MASON
2. Ending like "-like" : ESQUE
3. Sellers of tips : TOUTS
4. Dye-yielding shrub : ANIL
5. Helen of Troy's mother : LEDA
6. Dairy aisle rating : GRADEA
7. Suffix with sonnet : EER
8. Symbol of strength : OAK
9. James Stewart title role : MRSMITH
10. Topiary pro : LANDSCAPER
11. Burn application : ALOE
12. Cheer starter : VIVA
13. Southern Cross unit : STAR
18. Drawback : MINUS
22. One on the first side to vote, usually : YEA
25. Year-end decorations : WREATHS
26. Collections : SETS
27. Made more aware : SENSITIZED
28. Proof finale letters : QED
29. Cloned menace of film : TREX
30. About, on memos : INRE
31. "___ Fan Tutte" : COSI
32. Elevs. : HGTS
33. "The Hurt Locker" setting : IRAQ
34. Prego competitor : RAGU
38. Centers of attention : LOCI
39. The "A" of I.P.A. : ALE
41. Baseball's Old Professor : STENGEL
42. Strong point : ASSET
44. P on campus : RHO
45. Battle cry : ATTACK
47. Attend a homecoming, say : REUNE
48. Jalopy : CRATE
49. Tycoon on the Titanic : ASTOR
50. Puts in : ADDS
51. Trim, as a photo : CROP
52. "The Complete Works of Shakespeare," e.g. : TOME
54. Cobras of Egypt : ASPS
55. Newspaper ad meas. : SQIN
58. Mens ___ (criminal intent) : REA
59. Proterozoic ___ : EON

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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