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New York Times, Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Author: Timothy Polin
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4712/11/20119/11/20182
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74952002
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626130
Timothy Polin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 35 Missing: {JQWXZ} This is puzzle # 33 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes: A* P* phrases, with AP TEST acting as a revealer. Initialism puzzles are a very common theme type, so it's important to have some ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

A* P* phrases, with AP TEST acting as a revealer. Initialism puzzles are a very common theme type, so it's important to have some element(s) to help distinguish them. I appreciated the high theme density — I didn't realize at first that AMY POEHLER and ATOMIC PILE were themers — and Tim sure picked some good phrases. In addition to the aforementioned, I loved AL PACINO in "The Godfather." And who doesn't love a good ol' fashioned APPLE PIE? (Answer: my wife. I promise, she's not a communist.)

AIR PIRATE … is that a thing? Some Googling says yes, but I've never heard of hijackers referred to this way.

But AIR PIRATE is a themer! Curious how I missed it at both first and second glances. I highlighted everything below to give you an idea of how much theme Tim packed in. Impressive.

Even more impressive was the smoothness of his short fill. Some will see PTUI as dicey, but I think it's at least funny, plus it's used in comics all the time. With such high theme density, there will usually be some price to pay, so Tim did well to finish with just a bit of minor ASST, OTC (over the counter), TMEN, PTUI.

Where I think the grid suffered a little is in some of the mid-length fill; enough oddballs that as a whole, I was left with a head-scratching sensation. AGAVES in the plural to kick off the puzzle. SEA EELS — is that different from EELS? (Apparently so!) TUNA OIL is a thing, different than the more common "fish oil"? I like learning a thing or two from my crossword, but more than that gets tiresome, especially in an early-week puzzle.

Overall, it felt like a Monday theme with Wednesday fill — I can see why Will ran it on a Tuesday. But I like my Tuesday puzzles to have a little more theme complexity than this, and a little easier grid fill.

Solid gridwork around impressively high theme density, though.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0221 ( 24,577 )
Across Down
1. Plants used to make tequila : AGAVES
7. Health resort amenity : SPA
10. Penne ___ vodka : ALLA
14. Flying insect with prominent eyespots : IOMOTH
15. University address ender : EDU
16. Painful muscle injury : TEAR
17. Frozen CO2, familiarly : DRYICE
18. Grooming accessory that may be stuck in the hair : AFROPICK
20. Classic American dessert : APPLEPIE
22. Lays out neatly : ARRAYS
23. Granola morsel : OAT
24. Tenant : LESSEE
26. "___ already said too much" : IVE
28. Smaller cousin of the double bass : CELLO
30. Would-be attorneys' hurdles, briefly : LSATS
34. Qatari capital : DOHA
36. Like some profs. : ASST
37. Frame job : SETUP
38. Cass of the Mamas & the Papas : ELLIOT
40. Obi-Wan ___ (Jedi knight) : KENOBI
41. Taking no guff : STERN
42. Spitting sound : PTUI
45. Federal tax agts. : TMEN
46. Rain delay covers : TARPS
47. Undergoes oxidation : RUSTS
49. Driver's licenses and such, for short : IDS
50. BlackBerry alternative : IPHONE
52. Sans prescription, in brief : OTC
54. Washington and environs, informally : DCAREA
57. Material to sketch on : ARTPAPER
61. Michael Corleone player in "The Godfather" : ALPACINO
63. Relating to songbirds : OSCINE
64. Take care of, as the bill : FOOT
65. Ornamental pond fish : KOI
66. Trade associations : GUILDS
67. Genre : TYPE
68. "www" address : URL
69. Exam for an ambitious H.S. student ... or what this puzzle has been? : APTEST
1. Opera set in Egypt : AIDA
2. Trail mix : GORP
3. "Parks and Recreation" star : AMYPOEHLER
4. "And there it is!" : VOILA
5. "And so on and so forth" : ETCETC
6. Generic name for a herding dog : SHEP
7. Congers, e.g. : SEAEELS
8. Sharable PC file : PDF
9. Invisible emanations : AURAS
10. Currently : ATPRESENT
11. ___ Organa ("Star Wars" princess) : LEIA
12. Having an open, delicate pattern : LACY
13. Chests in synagogues : ARKS
19. Ultimatum's end : ORELSE
21. Societal troubles : ILLS
25. Barfly : SOT
26. Explanatory Latin phrase : IDEST
27. Physicist Alessandro, inventor of the electric battery : VOLTA
29. Grab a bite : EAT
31. Nuclear reactor : ATOMICPILE
32. Went leisurely downriver, perhaps : TUBED
33. Recasts damaging information in a favorable light, say : SPINS
35. Plane hijacker : AIRPIRATE
39. How freelance work is typically done : ONSPEC
40. Pup : wolf :: ___ : fox : KIT
42. Expert : PRO
43. Source of healthful fatty acids in a StarKist can : TUNAOIL
44. Exploiter : USER
48. Absorbs, as gravy : SOPSUP
51. 5-7-5 verse : HAIKU
53. Wordlessly implied : TACIT
54. Batty : DAFT
55. Sicken with sentiment : CLOY
56. Per person : APOP
58. Garment draped over the shoulders : TOGA
59. Draws to a close : ENDS
60. Be at leisure : REST
62. Neither here ___ there : NOR

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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