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New York Times, Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Author: Neville Fogarty
Editor: Will Shortz
Neville Fogarty
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
65/3/20125/30/20171
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0131100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64020

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Fogarty. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Neville Fogarty notes: The grid I submitted to Will had a few differences. At 38- and 39-Down, I had ASICS and STEIN, respectively, and at 53-Down, I ... more
Neville Fogarty notes:

The grid I submitted to Will had a few differences. At 38- and 39-Down, I had ASICS and STEIN, respectively, and at 53-Down, I had ARRAY. I appreciate the change to OSAKA and STRAY, as I think that's cleaner than what I have. And while I feel bad for sticking Tuesday solvers with the crossing of RAO and ROBB, I'm a bit relieved to know that Will and his crack team couldn't get rid of that blemish either!

Will Shortz notes: [Continuing from yesterday] My assistant, Joel, taped us editing yesterday's and today's puzzle, and he transcribed a bit of our ... more
Will Shortz notes:

[Continuing from yesterday] My assistant, Joel, taped us editing yesterday's and today's puzzle, and he transcribed a bit of our discussion each day. It illustrates our process as well as our back-and-forth, which sometimes goes off on tangents. Below, we're working on the clue for 61-Across, BREAKFAST. The constructor's clue was "Morning meal ... or what this puzzle's theme entries do?"

Will: Hmm, well, that's awfully easy. Shouldn't we hide the revealer a little bit?

Joel: Right.

Joel: "IHOP speciality."

Will: "24-hour McDonald's offering, now."

Joel: That's kinda fun.

Will: Yeah. That's like an ad for McDonald's, though.

Joel: Well, I think they're doing okay.

Will: [laughs] You don't think they need us? Their stock price won't go up because of us?

[long pause]

Will: Morning ritual?

Joel: Ritual … hmm.

Will: Comb your hair, shower, breakfast.

Joel: I was looking up quotes about breakfast. Steven Wright: "I went to a restaurant that served 'Breakfast At Any Time.' So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance." [laughs]. All right, I thought there might be some quotes about breakfast, but, wasn't meant to be.

Will: Morning tradition? Morning staple?

Joel: Breakfast, breakfast, breakfast. Well … waffles, cereal, oatmeal, pancakes ...

Will: "Oatmeal or waffles, e.g." You think those equal breakfast?

Joel: Let's keep thinking. Breakfast … [pause] It's sometimes skipped in the morning?

Will: Rope.

Joel: Yeah, I don't know what the hell else that could be.

Will: I really don't mind "IHOP specialty," except it feels so commercial, especially because it's a theme answer. The whole puzzle hinges on this.

Joel: Hmm. This bothers you more than it bothers me. Because in my minis all the time, there's just brands left and right. I never feel like I'm selling out to them or doing them a favor or anything. It's just something me and the solver share in common. We both know what this thing is, so it's like a touchstone.

Will: There's a lot of brand names in the main crossword, too. I just try not to put too much attention on them. They should be incidental. And here, since it involves the key answer in the puzzle, it's sort of like throwing IHOP in your face.

Joel: That's why you don't like the McDonald's thing either?

Will: Yeah, even more so, 'cause that's new, so it's even more of an advertisement. "Hey guys, McDonald's has this new thing ..."

Joel: "After this commercial break, you can continue solving …"

Will: At least with IHOP, breakfast there is part of our long-standing culture.

Joel: Could say … "Coffee go-with"?

Will: "It follows a shower"?

Joel: It might not. I usually eat something before I shower.

Will: How's this for an ad … "Free Hampton Inn offering"! [laughs]

Joel: That's not a terrible idea, actually. We could do something like "Motel freebie."

Will: Uh-huh. "Motel freebie, nowadays." "Freebie" is weird, though. Freebie's like a mint on your pillow.

Joel: … "amenity"?

Will: That's better. O.K. … "Modern motel amenity." [scribbles it down]

Will: You know, when I started at the Times in '93, and I introduced commercial names into the puzzle, a lot of people really hated that. There were complaints for a couple of years, especially from older solvers. But I knew people would eventually come around. Either that ... or they'd die! Now maybe I'm on the conservative end of things.

Joel: Maybe it's just that brands are part of my … they're just everywhere, and they connect with people on Twitter and stuff. So I don't really think twice when I see one in the puzzle.

Will: Yeah, times have changed.

Jeff Chen notes: After a two year hiatus from the NYT puzzle, Neville's back! Standard theme type today, BREAKFAST interpreted as BREAK FAST, i.e. ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

After a two year hiatus from the NYT puzzle, Neville's back! Standard theme type today, BREAKFAST interpreted as BREAK FAST, i.e. phrases starting with FA and ending with ST. I liked the consistency of always doing it FA/ST, as well as the strong choice of themers — FAIRY DUST, FAMILY CREST, and FALSE ARREST are colorful answers. I'm not familiar with FATHER KNOWS BEST, but the clue made me want to go look it up. Kids named Princess, Bud, and Kitten = weirdly hilarious.

So — good news, I saw a dog today!

Great job of working in those Xs so smoothly. SEX TAPES is a nice answer as is IDEE FIXE, and the short stuff is all solid: XOXO, EXTRA, XENON, UNIX. I like seeing rare letters (JQXZ), but only if they're worked in fluidly, without resorting to ugly gluey answers. Neville does a great job of this.

Very nice long fill, too. Fun to get BLUE STATES and REDSHIRTS in symmetrical spots — Neville uses all four of his long slots so well. Even I CONCUR and LAB FEE are nice additions.

Pretty good short fill. NET WT is on many cereal boxes exactly like that, so that's not bad. DARER … okay, that's to be avoided. I also liked the clue echo with ABE and RAO prime ministers.

Ah, but that brings us to what I saw as the weak spot in the puzzle, the crossing of RAO and ROBB which Neville acknowledged to be troublesome. I think RAO is fair game — NYT solvers really ought to be able to piece together world leaders given fair crossings — but intersecting it with Charles ROBB is awfully rough. Just like Neville, Will, and Joel, I unfortunately can't see an easy fix. I'm really particular about this sort of thing in early-week puzzles, so I might have rebooted with a different grid skeleton if I had been forced into that RAO/ROBB crossing.

Love the ELF clue, referencing the "Sparklejollytwinklejingley" song. I loved the movie, and it's neat to see a musical made of it.

This standard theme type is getting a bit past its prime, but it's nice to see an example executed generally well.

1
R
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A
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B
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B
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I
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E
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D
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A
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M
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P
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N
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N
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P
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A
L
O
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17
M
A
U
V
E
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A
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Y
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E
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M
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B
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F
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H
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K
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W
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B
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C
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F
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1208 ( 24,136 )
Across Down
1. Yom Kippur service leader : RABBI
6. Dutch cheese : EDAM
10. Talkative half of a magic duo : PENN
14. Blanched : PALED
15. Former Italian currency : LIRA
16. Salve ingredient : ALOE
17. Light violet : MAUVE
18. Sprinkle from Tinker Bell : FAIRYDUST
20. Checked out : EYED
22. 20s dispenser : ATM
23. Mountain ___ : DEW
24. Car rental add-on : GPS
26. The one for the Kennedys has three knights' helmets on it : FAMILYCREST
30. Go bad : ROT
31. Classic Camaro : IROC
32. 1990s Indian P.M. : RAO
33. Chicken ___ king : ALA
34. Headlight gas : XENON
36. Surfer dudes, e.g. : BROS
40. Classic sitcom with kids called Princess, Bud and Kitten : FATHERKNOWSBEST
44. Genealogical drawing : TREE
45. 20 : SCORE
46. ___ es Salaam : DAR
47. Cardinal cap letters : STL
50. Operating system used since the 1970s : UNIX
51. Precursor to reggae : SKA
52. Potential charge against a bounty hunter : FALSEARREST
56. It's pitched with a pitchfork : HAY
57. Magnate Onassis : ARI
58. 2000s Japanese P.M. : ABE
59. Cry in place of a whistle, maybe : TAXI
61. Free motel offering nowadays ... or what 18-, 26-, 40- and 52-Across do? : BREAKFAST
65. Read carefully (over) : PORED
68. Journals : LOGS
69. Qatari bigwig : EMIR
70. Lagniappe : EXTRA
71. Lamb nursers : EWES
72. Award won by Tiger Woods 23 times : ESPY
73. "Oh, that's a shame" : SOSAD
1. Record stat : RPM
2. Small battery : AAA
3. Democratic stronghold : BLUESTATE
4. Group of quails : BEVY
5. Obsession : IDEEFIXE
6. 2010 hit Broadway musical with the song "Sparklejollytwinklejingley" : ELF
7. Sábado, por ejemplo : DIA
8. Popular computer typeface : ARIAL
9. Thomas Becket, e.g. : MARTYR
10. Bachelor ___ : PAD
11. Give the slip : ELUDE
12. Pokes (around) : NOSES
13. Fig. on a cereal box : NETWT
19. "Spirit, mind and body" org. : YMCA
21. Challenger : DARER
24. Bribery and such : GRAFT
25. Like some opposites : POLAR
27. Some frock wearers : MONKS
28. "Agreed" : ICONCUR
29. L.B.J. in-law Charles : ROBB
35. Who "knows what it's like to be the bad man," according to a 1971 hit by the Who : NOONE
37. Holds aside for a year, in college sports : REDSHIRTS
38. Where Sharp and Panasonic are headquartered : OSAKA
39. Back-alley cat, e.g. : STRAY
41. Big name in oil : HESS
42. Place for a watch : WRIST
43. Celebrity scandal fodder : SEXTAPES
48. Durable furniture wood : TEAK
49. Add-on cost for a science course : LABFEE
52. Offering from Aesop : FABLE
53. Classic shirt brand : ARROW
54. Feudal lord : LIEGE
55. Large quantities of paper : REAMS
60. Love letter letters : XOXO
62. Real blockhead : ASS
63. Drink with a straw : SIP
64. Make an effort : TRY
66. Notable time period : ERA
67. Mom's partner : DAD

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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