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New York Times, Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Author:
Daniel Raymon
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
229/23/200712/16/20180
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ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61110
Daniel Raymon

This puzzle:

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

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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
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
Down
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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