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New York Times, Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4912/11/20111/3/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
74962102
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626140
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 ... read more

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.

1
A
2
G
3
A
4
V
5
E
6
S
7
S
8
P
9
A
10
A
11
L
12
L
13
A
14
I
O
M
O
T
H
15
E
D
U
16
T
E
A
R
17
D
R
Y
I
C
E
18
A
F
R
19
O
P
I
C
K
20
A
P
P
L
E
P
21
I
E
22
A
R
R
A
Y
S
23
O
A
T
24
L
E
25
S
S
E
E
26
I
27
V
E
28
C
29
E
L
L
O
30
L
S
31
A
32
T
33
S
34
D
O
H
35
A
36
A
S
S
T
37
S
E
T
U
P
38
E
L
L
I
39
O
T
40
K
E
N
O
B
I
41
S
T
E
R
N
42
P
43
T
44
U
I
45
T
M
E
N
46
T
A
R
P
S
47
R
U
S
T
48
S
49
I
D
S
50
I
P
51
H
O
N
E
52
O
53
T
C
54
D
55
C
56
A
R
E
A
57
A
R
58
T
P
A
P
59
E
60
R
61
A
L
P
A
C
I
62
N
O
63
O
S
C
I
N
E
64
F
O
O
T
65
K
O
I
66
G
U
I
L
D
S
67
T
Y
P
E
68
U
R
L
69
A
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T
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0221 ( 24,577 )
Across
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
Down
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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