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New York Times, Monday, February 10, 2014

Author:
C. W. Stewart
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2112/26/20068/10/20151
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
11072100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
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 stemmed from ... read more

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 CASH ... read more

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 )

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Across
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
Down
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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