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New York Times, Monday, February 10, 2014

Author: C. W. Stewart
Editor: Will Shortz
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2112/26/20068/10/20151
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11072100
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1.56100
Carolyn W. Stewart

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {GJQVX} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 20 for Ms. Stewart. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Carolyn W. Stewart notes: As many constructors will tell you, certain words and phrases simply suggest themes for crossword puzzles. Today's theme ... more
Carolyn W. Stewart notes: As many constructors will tell you, certain words and phrases simply suggest themes for crossword puzzles. Today's theme stemmed from talking with my sister who mentioned the REC CENTER in her area. The plan was to make sure REC was positioned exactly in the center of the theme entry and for REC to span from one word to the next. I wrote this puzzle quite a while ago, so I don't remember much about the construction. It did seem like it would probably be slotted for a Monday so I tried to make the words and clues appropriate for Monday solvers.
Jeff Chen notes: Nice way to start out a week, an easy-breezy theme: phrases with REC smack dab in the middle. C.W. chose some nice themers, SPARE ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Nice way to start out a week, an easy-breezy theme: phrases with REC smack dab in the middle. C.W. chose some nice themers, SPARE CASH and CREATURE COMFORT being my favorites. I always like hearing constructors' stories of how they came up with the idea, and C.W. doesn't disappoint. I imagine her listening to her sister until REC CENTER gets mentioned, followed by a lot of "uh huh" and "you don't say" while madly thinking of theme entries. And if you're wondering, no, I NEVER ignore people when I have a crossword theme idea... huh? Oh, sorry. I was listening to you. Really.

Good consistency, as each REC always breaks RE/C. I suppose it would be hard to find R/EC breaks anyway. A quick search over at onelook.com gives a heck of a lot of options for the RE/C split, many more than the R/EC. And when you add the constraint that REC be right in the middle of the phrase, the only entry I could find was BARTER ECONOMY. Being a finance and econ junkie, I love that phrase, but I can see how other (read: normal) people would start swearing up a blue streak.

One small issue did give me a slight pause. One was that I was expecting some sort of S* C* initials puzzle because of SCORECARD and SPARE CASH, and then SCARECROW only reinforced the idea (I mentally added an S to make it SCREATURE COMFORT — my brain does weird things). So it would have been nice to have one of those swapped out for a phrase not starting with an S. Maybe work in PRESSURE CHAMBER and/or VIGENERE CIPHERS? What, you don't like VIGENERE CIPHERS? I am a dork, ao euh av!

Now who's sorry they don't know their Vigenere ciphers. (insert smug look here)

Lovely NE corner up there, C.W. working in SOUS CHEF, KAHUNA, AZALEA, and HYDRA all in one region. Totally makes the SSS worth it for me.

A final note on our crossword friend, ORTS. I remember the first time I ran into ORTS in a puzzle. I said "I gotta know what an ORT is to do a crossword?" and didn't do another one for a while. So I try to keep that in mind with every construction I do, often scrapping an entire grid if I'm forced to use an ORT or ADIT or ANOA. Opinions will vary of course, some people enjoying learning esoterica for its own sake, some reflecting fondly on the Maleska days. To each their own, but I'd so much rather have a couple of five-letter partials and plurals than a single ORT.

Anyway, an enjoyable diversion.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0210 ( 23,470 )
Across Down
1. Period just before dark : DUSK
5. Sprint : DASH
9. Barnyard brayers : ASSES
14. "Do ___ others as ..." : UNTO
15. ___-bitty : ITTY
16. Goes like a racecar : ZOOMS
17. Item accompanying a pencil in miniature golf : SCORECARD
19. Em and Jemima : AUNTS
20. Judging component at a beauty pageant : TALENT
21. Face-to-face exams : ORALS
23. Hurled weapon : SPEAR
24. Money available for nonessentials : SPARECASH
28. Poet Ogden : NASH
30. Hawaiian medicine man : KAHUNA
31. C.I.O.'s partner : AFL
34. Lifeguard areas : POOLS
37. When flights are due in, for short : ETAS
38. Food, warmth or a cozy bed : CREATURECOMFORT
42. See 33-Down : HAND
43. Hotel robe material : TERRY
44. Cloud's place : SKY
45. Samantha's mother on "Bewitched" : ENDORA
48. ___ of Sandwich : EARL
50. Stuffed figure in a cornfield : SCARECROW
53. Make sport of : TEASE
57. Native of 58-Across : ALEUT
58. The Last Frontier state : ALASKA
59. Beginning of a Flintstones cry : YABBA
62. Gym locale ... or feature of 17-, 24-, 38- and 50-Across : RECCENTER
64. Premature : EARLY
65. Elvis's middle name : ARON
66. Many a new driver : TEEN
67. High heels, e.g. : SHOES
68. It's often long at Disneyland : LINE
69. Dinner scraps : ORTS
1. Does some light housework : DUSTS
2. Take the lid off : UNCAP
3. Embezzled, e.g. : STOLE
4. Like Hyundais or Kias : KOREAN
5. Place to find wds. : DICT
6. One thing ___ time : ATA
7. Barber's sharpener : STROP
8. Nine-headed serpent of myth : HYDRA
9. Red or pink bloom : AZALEA
10. Second-in-command in a kitchen : SOUSCHEF
11. Junior, to Senior : SON
12. CPR expert : EMT
13. Leaky tire sound : SSS
18. Mesmerized : ENRAPT
22. Noah's construction : ARK
24. Position between second and third, informally : SHORT
25. Hyundai and Kia : AUTOS
26. Cattiness : SNARK
27. Quickly made, as a decision : HASTY
29. Not worth a ___ : SOU
31. Symptoms of rheumatism : ACHES
32. Swiss currency : FRANC
33. With 42-Across, help out : LENDA
35. "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper : LEE
36. Item in the hardware department with a "+" or "-" on its head : SCREW
39. So darned cute : ADORABLE
40. ___ pro nobis : ORA
41. ___ Beach, S.C. : MYRTLE
46. Pass-the-baton events : RELAYS
47. Fortunate card to have with a queen or king in blackjack : ACE
49. Makeshift shelter : LEANTO
51. Out of town? : RURAL
52. Cheri formerly of "S.N.L." : OTERI
54. Fall bloomer : ASTER
55. Sport with clay pigeons : SKEET
56. Makes, as wages : EARNS
58. Proactiv target : ACNE
59. "You betcha!" : YES
60. Response to a massage : AAH
61. Preppy, party-loving, egotistical male, in modern lingo : BRO
63. Swindle : CON

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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