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New York Times, Monday, December 5, 2016

Author:
Ned White
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
221/16/20106/27/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1105258
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59010
Ned White

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 17 for Mr. White. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ned White notes:
My goal here was to make something very simple with five theme answers and no revealer, and I was lucky that this particular theme ... read more

My goal here was to make something very simple with five theme answers and no revealer, and I was lucky that this particular theme hadn't been tried before. Who knew?

Will, Joel and I had a bit of back-and-forth over TORCH BEARER, because of its similarity to the theme answers, at least in appearance. I submitted a few alternatives for the SW, but in the end they decided to keep it. In hindsight, I wonder if GUT WRENCHER at 38-Across would've been a better choice, since CHEST BEATER is the only answer where the person is "acting on their own body part." (Note the singular "their" here! It's now legit!) With all the others, this isn't the case.

Thanks to Will et al. for a fresh clue for D'ANGELO. For me, it'll always been Beverly of the Lampoon's "Vacation" franchise, but that's a bit musty with age and now I know otherwise. I also think there may have been a way to avoid the TEE UP and UPTILTS clash, but darned if I could find it. Tried, failed.

Jeff Chen notes:
You know that kids' song 'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes'? No? Be glad you don't. As a parent to two youngsters, my head is nearing ... read more

You know that kids' song "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes"? No? Be glad you don't. As a parent to two youngsters, my head is nearing explosive detonation what with the unfortunate earworms. Someone help me!

Ah right, the puzzle. Ned does a nice job keeping an ordered progression, from HEAD to NECK to CHEST to KNEE to TOES. (I'm SO thankful "shoulders" wasn't in there!) Paints an organized picture of the human body. Very consistent in his themers, too, the second word always ending in -ER.

I liked KNEE SLAPPER and ANKLE BITER a lot. The former is a bit old-timey, but I like quaint terms. (Thankfully I haven't gotten bitten on the ankle yet. Several fingers, yes, ankle, no.)

I wasn't sure about HAIR RAISER (I tried to put in HAIR RAISING first). And NECK SNAPPER felt odd — HEAD TURNER is better, but obviously doesn't fit with this theme. I tried to put in CHEST THUMPER for CHEST BEATER. Hmm. So although I appreciated the consistency of the -ER endings, it forced some unfortunate phrases that didn't quite hit for me.

Five longish themers are tough to work with, and here, Ned doesn't have any flexibility to swap pairs because of the ordering. There are some unfortunate gluey bits here and there, starting with OTRA and OTIC in the north, the outdated STENS (so crossword-friendly, so novice solver-unfriendly), a tough D'ANGELO / AGA crossing, LDS (Latter Day Saints) …

… and the realization that I finished with an error at OTRA. My fault — I probably should know that TARINO is not a city — but yikes, that's going to be tough for novices. I'd say it's borderline unfair, with high potential for dissatisfaction.

Overall though, I did appreciate the consistency of the theme and the proper order from HEAD to TOES. Thank goodness there's no such thing as a SHOULDER BUMPER. (If there is, please don't tell me.)

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1205 ( 24,499 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1. Sounds like a dog : BARKS
6. Schism : RIFT
10. "What have you been ___?" : UPTO
14. Playwright Edward : ALBEE
15. Spanish "other" : OTRO
16. Feudal worker : SERF
17. Something scary : HAIRRAISER
19. Some Maidenform products : BRAS
20. Rock band fronted by Michael Stipe : REM
21. Suffix with narc- : OTIC
23. Words exchanged at the altar : IDO
24. "Welcome" thing at the front door : MAT
27. It grabs one's attention : NECKSNAPPER
30. Like a standard highway : TWOLANE
32. ___ wonder (musical artist without a repeated success) : ONEHIT
33. Aloe ___ : VERA
34. "Dagnabbit!" : DRAT
37. 1940s British guns : STENS
38. Boastful sort : CHESTBEATER
41. Like some short-lived committees : ADHOC
43. Appear : SEEM
44. Impulsive : RASH
47. Native Israelis : SABRAS
49. Positions higher, as a camera angle : UPTILTS
51. Really good joke : KNEESLAPPER
54. "Ready, ___, go!" : SET
55. ___ Khan (Islamic title) : AGA
56. Vagrant : HOBO
57. Soccer official, for short : REF
59. "As you ___" : WERE
61. Rug rat : ANKLEBITER
66. "Jeopardy!" host Trebek : ALEX
67. Food, shelter or clothing : NEED
68. Source of Peruvian wool : LLAMA
69. Days of old : YORE
70. Makes a boo-boo : ERRS
71. Something it's not mannerly to put on a dinner table : ELBOW
Down
1. Cry with "humbug!" : BAH
2. Chicken ___ king : ALA
3. Baseball hitter's stat : RBI
4. Deborah of "The King and I" : KERR
5. One of tennis's Williams sisters : SERENA
6. "Vive le ___!" (old French cry) : ROI
7. "No worries" : ITSOK
8. Worries : FRETS
9. 2006 Winter Olympics city : TORINO
10. Kind of port on a computer : USB
11. Keyboard, monitor, mouse and other devices : PERIPHERALS
12. Exchange, as an older model : TRADEIN
13. After a fashion : OFSORTS
18. Make ___ (set things right) : AMENDS
22. Are able, biblically : CANST
24. "The Real World" cable channel : MTV
25. Wonderment : AWE
26. Muhammad Ali, for the 1996 Olympics : TORCHBEARER
28. Candy that's "two mints in one" : CERTS
29. Czar called "the Great" : PETERI
31. After Karachi, the most populous city in Pakistan : LAHORE
35. Honest ___ (presidential moniker) : ABE
36. Get ready for a golf drive : TEEUP
39. Bitcoins, for example : ECASH
40. Electrical unit : AMPERE
41. Invitation to a questioner : ASKAWAY
42. One-named R&B singer who won a Grammy for his 2014 album "Black Messiah" : DANGELO
45. Sault ___ Marie, Mich. : STE
46. Successor to F.D.R. : HST
48. "Miss ___" (2016 thriller) : SLOANE
50. Knob next to "bass" : TREBLE
52. "Li'l" guy of old comics : ABNER
53. Game with straights and flushes : POKER
58. Complete, as a crossword grid : FILL
60. Program file suffix : EXE
62. Mormon Church, for short : LDS
63. File folder projection : TAB
64. Rock genre : EMO
65. Uncooked : RAW

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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