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New York Times, Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Author: Peter A. Collins
Editor: Will Shortz
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1045/2/20064/18/201812
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51225361394
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1.564313
Peter A. Collins

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JKQ} This is puzzle # 103 for Mr. Collins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Peter A. Collins notes: Yep. I'm a math teacher. I hope the sight of the six trig functions didn't trigger PTSD (Post Trigonometric Stress Disorder) ... more
Peter A. Collins notes:
Yep. I'm a math teacher. I hope the sight of the six trig functions didn't trigger PTSD (Post Trigonometric Stress Disorder) in any solvers out there. Math seems to be the most visceral subject in the high school curriculum – even long after high school. When I meet adults for the first time and they find out what I do for a living, I usually get a response like "Oh, I really [past tense verb] math!". Your two Mad Lib choices for the past tense verb are "loved" or "hated". I'd say the ratio of those two verbs is about 10 to 1. I'll let you guess which way.

I like that the revealer is LEFT RIGHT, as the trig functions kind of march down the grid in a left-right manner. I even considered constructing the grid so that the trig functions were pushed up against the sides of the grid, but CSC wouldn't play along. I also considered taking out LEFT RIGHT altogether, as it made the fill in the center a little strained. That triple column of RETOW/VIRNA/ENIAC probably has a favorable/unfavorable rating of 200 to 1. Again, I'll let you guess which way.

After this puzzle was accepted, I found out that AXL ROSE anagrams into a rather salacious phrase. Am I the last person on the planet to learn this? I like that he's balanced out by YOYO MA in the opposite quadrant, as sort of a musical counterpoint. Also, YOYO MA anagrams into "Yo, mayo", but that's not nearly as exciting.

My favorite clue that made the cut is [Where S is …] for MORSE CODE. I hope some folks interpreted the dot-dot-dot as an ellipsis, and stopped to scratch their heads for a moment. I also like [Took out the junk?] for SAILED, but I have to admit I used essentially the same clue in an Orange County Register puzzle about a year ago.

Jeff Chen notes: Appropriate theme for a math teacher, the six TRIG functions hidden within phrases – in order! Not that there's an absolute ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Appropriate theme for a math teacher, the six TRIG functions hidden within phrases – in order! Not that there's an absolute right order in which to present the six, but SIN COS TAN, COT (cotangent) SEC (secant) CSC (cosecant) is how math books go over them.

(CSC is the inverse of SIN, SEC inverse of COS, COT inverse of TAN, in case you're interested. I know you're probably not, but I am. So there.)

On one hand, there's something impressive about packing in the seven themers. In order! I particularly like HIT A NERVE hiding TAN; great phrase. And there's something awesome about SEC hidden inside MORSE CODE. Feels like the plot of a Dan Brown book.

On the other, so many constraints producing so many compromises in the grid hit a nerve for me. I personally wouldn't allow THAN I (partial) crossing LENAS (plural name). Then you get ANS, LTR, DIAS, the oddly related seeming ECCE ESSO OSS, RETOW … that's not good at all.

And LEFT RIGHT … I get that you need a middle themer hiding TRIG. But LEFT RIGHT was last used in the Maleskan era. Is it a valid phrase? Dunno. At the very least, I had enough hesitations that I would have much preferred something different. JUST RIGHT would have been a lot better to me, but that J would have stressed the grid even more. PATENT RIGHT is better too, but it's more common in the plural.

Maybe even leaving out TRIG would have been better. SIN COS TAN tells the story pretty well without TRIG, anyway.

I did love the clue for TACO STAND. [Shell station?] hinting at the Shell gas stations, misdirecting from TACO shells = brilliant.

And that clue for MORSE CODE! I fell into Pete's trap with both feet. Part of me still wonders what that ellipsis is leading to!

The math-lover in me enjoyed seeing the TRIG functions in proper order. The crossword-lover in me had problems with the execution.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0228 ( 24,949 )
Across Down
1. Like recollections of people trying to avoid perjury? : HAZY
5. Bertolt who wrote "The Threepenny Opera" : BRECHT
11. Modern prefix with warrior : ECO
14. Cookie since 1912 : OREO
15. Teacher of Islamic law : MULLAH
16. Position in crew, informally : COX
17. Is a recluse : STAYSINSIDE
19. Sch. in the Ocean State : URI
20. Gear for going up hills : LOW
21. Shell station? : TACOSTAND
23. Marshall's successor on the Supreme Court : THOMAS
26. "Haven't the foggiest" : NOIDEA
27. Land close to home : HITANERVE
31. W.W. II menace : UBOAT
32. Y. A. Tittle passed for 33,070 of them: Abbr. : YDS
33. Restrain, with "in" : REIN
34. To the point : TERSE
35. When repeated, marching orders? : LEFTRIGHT
38. Throat affliction : STREP
41. Go ___ great length : ONAT
42. The Falcons, on a scoreboard : ATL
45. "You're a better man ___!" : THANI
46. City on the Brazos River : WACOTEXAS
49. Naval fleet : ARMADA
51. Took out the junk? : SAILED
52. Where S is ... : MORSECODE
56. Paper size option: Abbr. : LTR
57. ___ Jima : IWO
58. Place where students are graded on a scale? : MUSICSCHOOL
62. Sign of approval : NOD
63. Ivy League city : ITHACA
64. Canadian filling station : ESSO
65. A, B, C or D, in multiple choice: Abbr. : ANS
66. Came to an end : CEASED
67. Take five : REST
1. Sounds from a sleigh : HOS
2. Still life, e.g. : ART
3. Fanatics : ZEALOTS
4. Classical musician whose given name is a toy : YOYOMA
5. Fat stat : BMI
6. Small one : RUNT
7. Disney's Queen of Arendelle : ELSA
8. ___ Stic (ballpoint pen) : CLIC
9. Wore : HADON
10. Lee side : THESOUTH
11. Colombia neighbor : ECUADOR
12. Lens covers : CORNEAS
13. Become rusty : OXIDATE
18. Lake or dive preceder : SWAN
22. Lhasa's land : TIBET
23. Lord's Prayer possessive : THY
24. Holed up : HID
25. Lord's subject : SERF
28. Haul back to the auto pound : RETOW
29. Actress ___ Lisi of "How to Murder Your Wife" : VIRNA
30. Pioneering computer : ENIAC
35. Olin and Horne : LENAS
36. Uncontrolled outbreak : EPIDEMIC
37. Old muscle cars : GTOS
38. Marathoner's need : STAMINA
39. Don quickly : THROWON
40. Aids for muzzleloading firearms : RAMRODS
42. Rocker who sings "Welcome to the Jungle" : AXLROSE
43. ___ Bo (exercise system) : TAE
44. Subject of a repeated warning at Woodstock : LSD
47. Anti-rash powder : TALC
48. This or that : EITHER
50. Less than 90° : ACUTE
53. Dept. of Labor agcy. : OSHA
54. Mayo parts? : DIAS
55. "___ homo" : ECCE
59. Like this emoticon: :-( : SAD
60. Spy org. created by F.D.R. : OSS
61. Fate : LOT

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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