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New York Times, Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Author:
Ori Brian and Zachary Spitz
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
35/23/20165/8/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0111000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.72100
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.

Found bugs or have suggestions?