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New York Times, Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Author:
Ed Sessa
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
379/10/200710/16/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4967452
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64251
Edward Sessa

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JX} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 28 for Mr. Sessa. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Edward Sessa notes:
This theme required entries in which each beginning/ending word in every phrase could function as both a noun and a verb, and when ... read more

This theme required entries in which each beginning/ending word in every phrase could function as both a noun and a verb, and when reversed, the resulting noun had to be some person or animal. In addition, the lengths had to work out for crossword symmetry. It took a while to think up a fifth entry.

I was asked to redo part of the fill, which required some major changes throughout, as is often the case. Although familiar with the term "payables" from business experience I did try to find a replacement entry but couldn't come up with one better.

Don't like the puzzle? Blame the bear.

Jeff Chen notes:
'X the Y' phrases changed into 'Y the X' with amusing results. I love the image of a poor duck sitting inside a holding cell, the ... read more

Duck the question, duck! "X the Y" phrases changed into "Y the X" with amusing results. I love the image of a poor duck sitting inside a holding cell, the light bulb swinging over him as the detective demands to know what happened to the stolen diamonds. After some light questioning, he pulls out THE DUCK FEATHER FOUND INSIDE THE BANK VAULT.

Movie rights available.

Ed did a nice job of picking phrases that amuse. Even though BOOKS THE COOK was the only one where the first word was inconsistent (no other themers have a first word ending in S), I loved the turnabout — COOK THE BOOKS being the crime, BOOKS THE COOK the resolution.

These five themers are pretty consistent (aside from COOK THE BOOKS), but I would have loved more tightness/specificity. It's not absolutely necessary, but adding another level such as "all starting words are animals" would be bang-up. BADGER THE WITNESS -> WITNESS THE BADGER might be a little too close to QUESTION THE DUCK, but there's something hilarious about a poor badger sworn in on the witness stand.

That type of "extra level" is so elegant, but it is awfully difficult to achieve. I brainstormed FLY, GOOSE, SNAKE, but that's about it.

An impressive construction, especially considering the five long themers. The only oddball entry that jumped out at me was STANDEE, which is no surprise given that it stands (it's a literal standee!) in the most constrained section, crossing three themers. The S??N??E pattern has limited selection— SURNAME, STAN LEE, SWINDLE among them — but given how big that middle section is, I'm sure the common letters within STANDEE made filling much smoother.

Finally, yay for chemistry! Teflon has such a neat structure, the strength of those fluorine-carbon bonds making it very non-reactive. I'm sure this clue made many solvers shiver with bad memories of organic chem, but I like these little touches reminding us how deeply basic technology affects our lives.

1
C
2
C
3
C
4
P
5
A
6
S
7
S
8
I
9
S
10
I
11
B
12
P
13
S
14
U
L
N
A
15
S
P
I
D
E
R
16
R
I
P
17
B
A
B
Y
18
T
H
E
R
O
C
K
19
U
N
O
20
E
N
C
A
R
T
A
21
I
N
T
O
22
B
O
O
K
23
S
24
T
25
H
26
E
C
O
O
K
27
E
28
V
29
E
L
Y
N
30
T
R
I
P
E
31
S
O
R
E
32
P
A
I
G
E
33
D
34
E
35
S
36
Q
U
E
S
37
T
38
I
O
N
T
H
E
39
D
U
C
K
40
S
S
S
41
A
N
O
D
E
42
E
L
H
I
43
A
L
I
C
E
44
T
45
E
F
L
O
N
46
B
47
L
48
A
M
E
T
H
E
49
B
E
A
R
50
L
I
L
T
51
E
T
V
O
52
I
53
L
54
A
55
A
F
T
56
D
57
E
58
C
59
K
T
H
E
S
W
A
B
60
Z
E
E
61
A
V
I
A
T
E
62
T
O
N
I
63
E
R
R
64
B
A
T
T
E
R
65
S
N
I
T
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0218 ( 23,843 )

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Across
1
Letters on Soyuz rockets : CCCP
5
St. Francis' home : ASSISI
11
Some gas stations : BPS
14
Fifth-longest bone in the human body : ULNA
15
One navigating the web? : SPIDER
16
Problem on the red carpet, maybe : RIP
17
Mollycoddle Dwayne Johnson? : BABYTHEROCK
19
108-card game : UNO
20
Onetime Microsoft encyclopedia : ENCARTA
21
Really digging : INTO
22
Enters charges against a restaurant employee? : BOOKSTHECOOK
27
One of the Waughs : EVELYN
30
Worthless stuff : TRIPE
31
Miffed : SORE
32
Major League Baseball's oldest-ever rookie (age 42) : PAIGE
33
French surname starter : DES
36
Try to find out what's what at a pond? : QUESTIONTHEDUCK
40
Sound of a lit fuse : SSS
41
Battery terminal : ANODE
42
Thru 12th grade : ELHI
43
Tea party crasher of fiction : ALICE
44
Polytetrafluoroethylene, commercially : TEFLON
46
Shift responsibility for some missing campsite food? : BLAMETHEBEAR
50
Cheery air : LILT
51
Cry at an unveiling : ETVOILA
55
Back, to Popeye : AFT
56
Kayo Popeye? : DECKTHESWAB
60
Letter after wye : ZEE
61
Fly : AVIATE
62
"Beloved" author Morrison : TONI
63
Foul up : ERR
64
Betty Crocker bowlful : BATTER
65
Sulky mood : SNIT
Down
1
21-Down unit : CUBE
2
Kiltie's group : CLAN
3
"Closing Bell" channel : CNBC
4
Balance sheet heading : PAYABLES
5
Kutcher who hosted "Punk'd" : ASHTON
6
Command to Rover : SPEAK
7
Round Table title : SIR
8
Answer to a judge : IDO
9
Instant : SEC
10
Tee off : IRK
11
Musical Mars : BRUNO
12
Piebald horse : PINTO
13
Bogeyman : SPOOK
18
Priam's domain : TROY
21
Motel freebie : ICE
23
One who can't find a seat, say : STANDEE
24
Hackneyed : TRITE
25
Dow Jones extreme : HIGH
26
Weapon with a bell guard : EPEE
27
Attys.' titles : ESQS
28
R.S.V.P. part : VOUS
29
"___ Tu" (1974 hit) : ERES
32
Bowwow : POOCH
33
Dimwitted : DULL
34
Empty hall phenomenon : ECHO
35
It's all around you : SKIN
37
Campfire story : TALE
38
Rolling ___ (rich) : INIT
39
Gets out of the freezer, say : DEFROSTS
43
Oz. or qt. : AMT
44
Leash : TETHER
45
Mansard part : EAVE
46
Five-alarmer, e.g. : BLAZE
47
One who never changes jobs : LIFER
48
Take up or let out : ALTER
49
Midler of "The Rose" : BETTE
52
Victor's boast : IWON
53
Legal scholar Guinier : LANI
54
To some degree : ABIT
56
Apply sparingly : DAB
57
A Gabor : EVA
58
Op. ___ : CIT
59
Kit ___ bar : KAT

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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