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New York Times, Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Author: Ed Sessa
Editor: Will Shortz
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369/10/200711/12/20170
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4957452
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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 ... more
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 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 ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

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 )
Across Down
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
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: 6 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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