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New York Times, Monday, February 19, 2018

Author:
Bruce Haight
Editor:
Will Shortz
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441/3/201310/31/20184
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312128450
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1.58042
Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 36 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Bruce Haight notes:
I did an anagrams +1 puzzle on 5/16/17 with state names, so I decided to try one with president's names. There are some sites online ... read more

I did an anagrams +1 puzzle on 5/16/17 with state names, so I decided to try one with president's names. There are some sites online that do this kind of thing, but most of them only give you single word anagrams — it took me quite a bit of digging to find multiple word phrase options.

My submitted puzzle had IMPEL at 55-Down and LSTS at 72-Across. I think that latter entry did not sit well with the editors because they were willing to put I.M. PEI in there even on a Monday to get rid of it. I still think every entry in the puzzle is reasonable for a Monday.

I remember getting all done and realizing I had FORD in the grid — ouch — I found out that even when you know he needs to go, it's sometimes not that easy to remove a president!

Last time one of the reviewers (Jeff Chen) dinged me for not finding added letters that spelled something interesting. This time I went all out and came up with add-on letters (U,A,V,P,P) that anagram to "V.A. pup", which is of course closely related to a POLICE DOG. For some reason, Will left that piece of info out of the cluing...

Jeff Chen notes:
It's the second time around for Bruce's '+letter then anagram' concept, and I still don't get it. I mean, I get it – toss in a ... read more

It's the second time around for Bruce's "+letter then anagram" concept, and I still don't get it. I mean, I get it – toss in a random letter along with a word and anagram to form a valid phrase – but why? It feels related to "randomgramming," a term constructors use, meaning "jumble up the letters because REASONS, that's why." So, same qualms as last time.

How awesome would it have been for the extra letters to spell out US OF A! I think this might be a real possibility. But looking through combinations of 44 different presidents x 26 extra letters is not something I'm willing to do just to answer that question.

Anyhoo, one aspect of Bruce's gridwork I'm digging these days is his usage of seven-letter slots. Often, these get filled with neutral stuff, placeholders that solvers skim over as they go. But ME FIRST / EVIL EYE, LA SCALA / DREAM ON, HAN SOLO — that's a ton of great mid-length bonus material!

It does come at a small price, with a bit of AYS, BALDS (odd verb usage) to make those corners work. Totally worth the cost.

I wish there had at least been more time between Bruce's states + letter randomgramming puzzle and this one. The first time at least felt unique. To get another instance so quickly, with no real change in ideology, wasn't great.

Still, what is great is the phrase POLICE DOG. Love it. And I'll go ahead and choose to believe that GARFIELD (plus you, or U) were both LIFEGUARDs.

Or something like that.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0219 ( 24,940 )
Across
1. Skirt bottoms : HEMS
5. Ticklish Muppet : ELMO
9. Gets thin on top : BALDS
14. With: Fr. : AVEC
15. Banquet : MEAL
16. Lewis and ___ Expedition : CLARK
17. GARFIELD + U = Beach V.I.P. : LIFEGUARD
19. "___ at the Bat" : CASEY
20. City NW of Detroit : FLINT
21. "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi," e.g. : PLEA
23. Home for Nixon and Reagan: Abbr. : CAL
24. "It's a date!" : WEREON
26. MADISON + A = "Me, too!" : ANDSOAMI
29. Shakespearean cries : AYS
30. Bounding main : SEA
32. Pathetic group : SADLOT
33. Mysterious sighting in the Himalayas : YETI
35. Some rulings on PolitiFact : LIES
38. Mortgage, e.g. : LOAN
39. FILLMORE + V = Movie buff : FILMLOVER
42. Like racehorses' feet : SHOD
44. Who asks "What can I help you with?" on an iPhone : SIRI
45. Author Silverstein : SHEL
49. Soccer blocker : GOALIE
51. President pro ___ : TEM
53. Lab eggs : OVA
54. HARDING + P = Squeezable exercise tool : HANDGRIP
57. Actor Snipes of "White Men Can't Jump" : WESLEY
59. Approves : OKS
60. Famous ___ cookies : AMOS
62. River of Cologne : RHINE
63. Uncle Sam's land, for short : USOFA
66. COOLIDGE + P = Narc's four-footed helper : POLICEDOG
68. Humdingers : LULUS
69. Panache : ELAN
70. Pistol sound : BANG
71. Hybrid picnic utensil : SPORK
72. Philosophies : ISMS
73. First half of a Senate vote : AYES
Down
1. Two-year mark, in a presidential term : HALFWAY
2. Wicked look : EVILEYE
3. Egoistic demand : MEFIRST
4. National Mall, for a presidential inauguration : SCENE
5. Six-foot bird : EMU
6. ___ years (when presidents are elected) : LEAP
7. Maples formerly married to Donald Trump : MARLA
8. Like the days of yore : OLDEN
9. Send covertly, as an email : BCC
10. Leader in a state roll call: Abbr. : ALA
11. Milan opera house : LASCALA
12. "You wish!" : DREAMON
13. Like atria : SKYLIT
18. Onetime Pontiac muscle cars : GTOS
22. What a majority of campaign spending goes toward : ADS
25. Dickens's Little ___ : NELL
27. Store sign on Presidents' Day : SALE
28. Aromas : ODORS
31. Gets ready to shoot : AIMS
34. "Too rich for my blood" : IFOLD
36. QB Manning : ELI
37. Separate, as whites from colors : SORT
40. "Got it!," beatnik-style : IDIG
41. ABC show on weekday mornings, with "The" : VIEW
42. Absorbs : SOAKSUP
43. "Star Wars" pilot : HANSOLO
46. There's one to honor presidents every February : HOLIDAY
47. The slightest amount : EVENONE
48. What hens do : LAYEGGS
49. Grave robbers : GHOULS
50. Word after many presidents' names : ERA
52. Bygone Ford make, briefly : MERC
55. Celebrated Chinese-born architect : IMPEI
56. Diving venues : POOLS
58. Queen of ___ (visitor of King Solomon, in the Bible) : SHEBA
61. Poetry competition : SLAM
64. Mink or sable : FUR
65. Query : ASK
67. Political connections : INS

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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