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New York Times, Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Author:
Ori Brian and Zachary Spitz
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
45/23/20162/1/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0111010
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.71100
Ori Brian
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
511/18/20152/21/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0012101
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63200
Zachary Spitz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JKQVYZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Brian. This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Spitz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
This one came together pretty quickly. Once we came up with the theme, we filled the grid together one night over a year ago. We ... read more

This one came together pretty quickly. Once we came up with the theme, we filled the grid together one night over a year ago.

We wanted to challenge ourselves to include as many PO squares as possible, so hopefully the fill didn't suffer too much! Our original OPOSSUM clue referenced President Benjamin Harrison's pets — he had two, named Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection. We're very happy that Will kept our SATAN and CAPO clues!

If any UChicago first years are reading this, try making a puzzle! If you're in Linn-Mathews House, this puzzle was written in room 630, so go sit there for inspiration. And if you're in Wallace House, ask your RA Ori for help.

Jeff Chen notes:
PO BOX giving rationale as to why PO are smashed together into rebus squares = solid concept. I like it when rebus puzzles do a ... read more

PO BOX giving rationale as to why PO are smashed together into rebus squares = solid concept.

I like it when rebus puzzles do a little something extra to get noticed, and this one did that — so many entries contained two POs. POLAR OPPOSITES, SPORTS REPORTER were great, but to get PORPOISE, POMPOUS, HOP ON POP, and even POMPOM was pretty cool.

Especially neat to see the two POs in PORPOISE straddle SPORTS REPORTER. Such a tight job of packing!

Made me wonder – PO is a common enough letter combination, is there any phrase that contains three of them? The only one I could come up with was HIPPOPOTAMUS POOL. I *think* it's a real thing. But I'd have enough hesitation about it that I certainly wouldn't anchor a puzzle with it.

Well executed grid. Stuffing 14 instances of a rebus square is tough, no matter how common the letters are. I like Ori and Zach's decision to use the max allowable word count (78), to deliver a grid that's super clean. I picked out the LALA and SOTO gluey bits as I solved, and LOLO felt a bit esoteric (AMAL too), but that's a nice and low tally for this level of construction difficulty.

It's hard to blow minds with rebuses these days, considering how many have been done over the years, but I appreciated the craftsmanship in packing so many POs in today.

FYI, 14 is nowhere near the record for sheer quantity of rebus squares. But if you did a histogram, I'm fairly sure it'd be on the high side of average.

1
T
2
O
3
T
4
A
5
L
6
B
7
A
8
S
9
H
10
PO
11
M
12
PO
13
M
14
E
R
I
C
A
15
A
L
T
O
16
L
O
L
O
17
M
A
L
T
S
18
H
A
R
PO
19
I
N
I
T
20
PO
L
L
U
T
21
E
22
M
A
N
23
T
E
C
H
24
PO
L
A
25
R
O
P
PO
26
S
I
T
E
S
27
M
28
A
29
G
N
E
T
O
30
P
I
C
31
E
R
S
32
G
U
L
33
A
34
G
35
T
A
36
R
37
PO
38
N
39
D
E
PO
40
T
41
P
O
B
O
42
X
43
L
A
L
A
44
S
A
T
A
45
N
46
S
O
F
A
47
S
48
N
I
A
49
C
A
50
PO
51
O
C
T
52
A
G
O
N
53
S
54
PO
55
R
T
S
R
56
E
57
PO
R
T
E
R
58
A
M
A
L
59
PO
L
L
60
O
PO
S
61
S
62
U
63
M
64
U
PO
N
E
65
I
B
I
66
S
67
N
O
O
S
E
68
D
U
D
S
69
S
O
T
O
70
I
N
S
E
T
71
I
S
I
S
72
E
W
E
S
73
T
S
A
R
S
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0221 ( 24,942 )
Across
1
Damage beyond repair : TOTAL
6
Talk trash about : BASH
10
Cheerleader's handful : POMPOM
14
Jong who wrote "Fear of Flying" : ERICA
15
Amy Winehouse, vocally : ALTO
16
Obama's stepfather ___ Soetoro : LOLO
17
Ice cream parlor orders : MALTS
18
Marx with a curly wig : HARPO
19
Still competitive : INIT
20
Belch fumes, say : POLLUTE
22
"Holy smokes!" : MAN
23
Genius Bar staffer : TECH
24
Ultraliberals, to ultraconservatives : POLAROPPOSITES
27
Ian McKellen's role in "X-Men" movies : MAGNETO
30
Instagram upload, for short : PIC
31
Busy hosp. sites : ERS
32
Soviet labor camp : GULAG
35
Game fish that can breathe air : TARPON
39
Place to board a bus or train : DEPOT
41
Certain mailing address, for short ... or a hint to 14 squares in this puzzle : POBOX
43
"___ Means I Love You" (1968 top 10 hit by the Delfonics) : LALA
44
Underworld boss? : SATAN
46
Places for channel surfers : SOFAS
48
Long of "Alfie," 2004 : NIA
49
Underworld boss : CAPO
51
Mixed martial arts cage shape : OCTAGON
53
One doing a locker room interview : SPORTSREPORTER
58
___ Clooney, human rights lawyer : AMAL
59
Survey : POLL
60
Marsupial with a grasping tail : OPOSSUM
64
Barely ahead : UPONE
65
Bird in Egyptian hieroglyphics : IBIS
67
It may be at the end of one's rope : NOOSE
68
Fizzling fireworks : DUDS
69
Explorer Hernando de ___ : SOTO
70
Atlas close-up : INSET
71
Goddess with cow's horns : ISIS
72
Merino mothers : EWES
73
Pre-1917 autocrats : TSARS
Down
1
Something to keep in a band? : TEMPO
2
Taken in tablet form, say : ORAL
3
Work with a plow : TILL
4
Do something about : ACTUPON
5
End of a relay race : LASTLEG
6
Scroogian exclamation : BAH
7
Alternative to Dollar or Budget : ALAMO
8
Leave in financial difficulty : STRAP
9
Dr. Seuss book that introduces phonics : HOPONPOP
10
Like cartoons on the editorial page : POLITICAL
11
Claude who painted water lilies : MONET
12
Coppers : POLICE
13
Clothes closet pests : MOTHS
21
"Dig in!" : EATUP
25
Hershey's caramel candies : ROLOS
26
Take a load off : SIT
27
Rx items : MEDS
28
Geometry calculation : AREA
29
Woman's erogenous zone : GSPOT
33
Blood-typing letters : ABO
34
Like a lot : GOFOR
36
Summoned, as a butler : RANG
37
Salk vaccine target : POLIO
38
Tandoor-baked bread : NAAN
40
Like boorish behavior : TACTLESS
42
Craft knife brand : XACTO
45
"Street Dreams" rapper : NAS
47
"Hurry up!" : STEPONIT
50
Relative of a dolphin : PORPOISE
52
Firebugs' felonies : ARSONS
53
Mecca native : SAUDI
54
Self-important, as an ass : POMPOUS
55
"Amazing" magician : RANDI
56
Nudge rudely : ELBOW
57
Always saying "please," say : POLITE
61
Baseball's Slammin' Sammy : SOSA
62
___-friendly : USER
63
"Miracle" team of 1969 : METS
66
Call to the Coast Guard : SOS

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

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