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New York Times, Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Author:
Tom Pepper
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
82/6/20122/12/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0321200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64011
Tom Pepper

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {KQX} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Pepper. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tom Pepper notes:
VA_MOOSE got me started on this silliness. My mind wants to reparse words and phrases like there's no TOM_OR_ROW. Many thanks to ... read more

VA_MOOSE got me started on this silliness. My mind wants to reparse words and phrases like there's no TOM_OR_ROW.

Many thanks to Will, Joel, and Sam for the encouraging words in the rejection letter I received with the first version of the puzzle. I'm grateful they opened the door for a second chance.

I smiled a lot in my search for theme answers. I hope some part of the solve brought a smile to your face as well!

Bonus round for anyone who enjoyed the first set:

  • Kilt wearers who've moved to the Bay State? (7)
  • 100-meter dash in the Wolverine State? (8)
  • One-level home in the Palmetto State? (9)
  • Posting inflammatory comments online in the Quaker State? (10)
  • Talking out loud in the Sunshine State? (10)
  • Any place in the Heart of Dixie? (10)
  • Pink flower from the Hoosier State? (11)
Jeff Chen notes:
Such fun finds, words parsed to form state abbreviations + extra word for kookiness. Being an Emerald Stater, I loved kicking off with ... read more

Such fun finds, words parsed to form state abbreviations + extra word for kookiness. Being an Emerald Stater, I loved kicking off with WASHROOMS = WA SHROOMS. I can't believe I've never thought of that! They were all solid, with VA MOOSE and CA NOODLES as highlights. VAMOOSE and CANOODLES are amusing words in themselves, and to parse them for even more entertainment was lovely.

At first, NEW AGER -> NE WAGER stuck out as the only phrase. But it's a neat find. I do wish that one or two others had been of this style, so it felt like more a mixture of words and phrases undergoing reparsation.

A ton of great fill, especially considering that Tom had to work around seven themers. Most of the juice came from the two parallel downs, ECHOLOCATE / WELCOME MAT + SCREEN SHOT / SEE IF I CARE. That's four out of four, perfectly chosen for snazziness.

Parallel downs almost always come at a price, though, because you have so many constraining pairs of letters jammed together. Was it worth AHL in the SW, and EIN / INI in the NE? I'm mixed. The crosses for AHL are all fair, but AHL will be tough (and weird-looking) for newer solvers.

Maybe it would have been better to put a black square at the L of ECHOLOCATE? You'd still have the juicy VENDETTA, and you'd also likely be able to squeeze more out of the PROTRUDE slot on the other side.

Tough call. I respect Tom's choice, even if it's not the call I'd have made.

It's so difficult to entertain a wide audience with an early-week puzzle. The theme has to be accessible but fresh-feeling, and the grid has to contain some pepper (appropriate for the author) but also allow newer solvers to complete the grid in a fair manner. I thought Tom hit all those marks.

1
M
2
O
3
P
4
S
5
C
6
H
7
A
8
I
9
P
10
A
11
S
12
S
13
E
P
I
C
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F
O
R
T
15
R
I
C
E
16
S
17
W
A
S
H
18
R
O
O
M
S
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O
G
R
E
S
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L
L
A
M
A
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T
E
M
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P
T
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E
I
N
24
E
N
25
D
26
D
E
B
R
27
I
E
F
S
28
N
29
E
30
W
A
G
E
31
R
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S
U
N
N
I
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A
C
E
R
34
J
U
35
L
36
Y
37
D
I
S
C
38
O
39
A
H
L
40
V
A
M
O
O
41
S
E
42
H
A
D
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N
O
C
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H
E
45
P
O
G
O
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T
O
R
O
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L
O
O
N
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S
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A
R
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B
I
T
E
R
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C
O
M
E
D
I
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A
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N
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T
O
M
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I
C
E
56
E
L
S
E
57
S
58
Z
I
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P
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P
61
Y
62
G
A
M
63
U
T
64
C
A
N
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O
O
D
L
E
S
66
S
T
A
R
T
67
A
T
I
T
68
L
I
T
E
69
E
T
N
A
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P
O
P
S
71
Y
E
A
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0212 ( 25,298 )
Across
1
Fab Four hairdos : MOPS
5
Spiced tea variety : CHAI
9
Hail Mary, for one : PASS
13
Totally awesome : EPIC
14
Defense in a snowball fight : FORT
15
Chops finely : RICES
17
Psychedelic stuff from the Evergreen State? : WASHROOMS
19
Shrek and Fiona : OGRES
20
Nash's "two-l" beast : LLAMA
21
Lure : TEMPT
23
A, to Beethoven : EIN
24
Inning : baseball :: ___ : curling : END
26
Underwear from the First State? : DEBRIEFS
28
Gambler's action in the Cornhusker State? : NEWAGER
32
Member of Islam's largest branch : SUNNI
33
Tennis serving whiz : ACER
34
National Hot Dog Month : JULY
37
Music genre for the Village People : DISCO
39
Calder Cup rink org. : AHL
40
Forest animal in the state nicknamed Old Dominion? : VAMOOSE
42
Ate : HAD
43
Opposite of día : NOCHE
45
___ stick : POGO
46
Snow blower maker : TORO
47
Birds on Canadian dollar coins : LOONS
49
Mosquito from the state nicknamed Land of Opportunity? : ARBITER
51
Highway divider in the Centennial State? : COMEDIAN
54
Mr. Turkey : TOM
55
Diamonds, slangily : ICE
56
Someone ___ (not mine or yours) : ELSES
58
Moving around fast : ZIPPY
62
Entire range : GAMUT
64
Pasta from the Golden State? : CANOODLES
66
Word next to an arrow on a maze : START
67
Hard ___ (toiling away) : ATIT
68
Lo-cal : LITE
69
Frequent Sicilian erupter : ETNA
70
Daddy-o : POPS
71
Copyright symbol follower, typically : YEAR
Down
1
Whimper : MEWL
2
October birthstone : OPAL
3
Tuscany tower site : PISA
4
Amount of cream cheese : SCHMEAR
5
Corporate $$$ overseer : CFO
6
Hilarious type : HOOT
7
Ready for battle : ARMED
8
Reply to "Who's there?" : ITSME
9
Jut out : PROTRUDE
10
Bailed-out insurance giant : AIG
11
Attachment you might send to a tech person when you have a computer problem : SCREENSHOT
12
"Whatever!" : SEEIFICARE
16
Some Form 1040 data, for short : SSNS
18
"You ___?" (butler's response) : RANG
22
"Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" airer : PBS
25
___ vu : DEJA
27
Magician's name suffix : INI
28
Palindromic bread : NAAN
29
Navigate like a whale : ECHOLOCATE
30
Sign of hospitality : WELCOMEMAT
31
Backside : RUMP
35
British throne? : LOO
36
Popular fitness class : YOGA
38
Dumpster output : ODOR
40
Blood feud : VENDETTA
41
Put in proper piles : SORT
44
Something a tired gardener might lean on : HOE
46
How wallflowers act : TIMIDLY
48
The "S" of R.S.V.P. : SIL
50
Doofus : BOZO
51
Pack of butts : CIGS
52
Music copyright org. : ASCAP
53
Old-fashioned "Cool!" : NEATO
57
Salon sound : SNIP
59
Ballet bend : PLIE
60
"I'd rather go naked than wear fur" grp. : PETA
61
Belgian river to the North Sea : YSER
63
Coffee dispenser : URN
65
Tiebreaker periods, for short : OTS

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

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