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New York Times, Monday, February 5, 2018

Author:
Alan Arbesfeld
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1268/27/198111/18/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
25824372615
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.595099
Alan Arbesfeld

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {XZ} This is puzzle # 120 for Mr. Arbesfeld. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
I was mystified at first — why wouldn't you use the proper ordering of the moon's phases: from NEW to CRESCENT to HALF to FULL? ... read more

I was mystified at first — why wouldn't you use the proper ordering of the moon's phases: from NEW to CRESCENT to HALF to FULL? And why on earth (or on the moon) would you separate out HALF from the series? Alan's decisions seemed bizarre.

How embarrassing to realize that I've had the sequence wrong all these years! It's actually NEW to CRESCENT to QUARTER to GIBBOUS to FULL.

Wait, you say, what about HALF? It's the kookiest thing. HALF is equal to QUARTER when it comes to the moon's phases.

Wha … ?

Well, QUARTER refers to the fact that it's a quarter of the way through the full lunar month cycle. So even though it looks like a HALF moon, it's a QUARTER moon. And both are correct.

Whoever named these is seriously messed up.

So you see Alan's dilemma? It's great that he strove to incorporate the sequence — I've seen plenty of "word that can precede MOON" puzzles, i.e. phrases with HARVEST, BLUE, BLOOD, etc., but that puzzle type is passé at this point.

However, there is no good phrase using the word GIBBOUS. Makes sense why he decided to skip it.

And how can you place QUARTER and HALF at the same grid entry? You can't! So I understand that decision to shove HALF off on its own. Reasonable choice to place it symmetrically with MOON.

All in all, too many compromises for my taste. Felt inelegant. I probably would have dropped the theme idea, after realizing what a mess these terms present.

But at least the grid is pretty good for a Monday, with just some ARNE, LIS, ORO. Not perfect, but passable for an early-week puzzle.

1
H
2
A
3
S
4
C
5
E
6
R
7
E
8
A
9
L
10
L
11
A
12
M
13
B
14
A
R
I
15
O
R
A
N
G
E
16
I
D
O
L
17
L
I
D
18
N
E
W
Y
E
A
19
R
S
E
V
E
20
F
A
C
21
E
T
22
A
R
N
E
23
P
I
N
24
A
L
A
25
M
26
O
27
T
A
28
S
T
E
D
29
C
30
R
E
S
C
E
N
31
T
32
R
O
L
L
33
L
O
S
E
34
W
E
R
E
35
M
Y
36
E
37
Y
38
E
39
A
L
A
40
S
L
E
U
T
41
H
S
42
V
A
L
43
M
E
R
44
I
T
45
A
S
I
A
46
L
I
N
K
47
Q
U
48
A
R
T
E
R
49
B
A
C
K
S
50
S
51
E
52
E
S
A
W
53
S
T
R
U
T
54
A
L
L
55
R
A
56
I
57
N
58
I
D
I
59
O
60
M
61
F
U
L
62
L
T
I
M
E
63
J
64
O
B
65
O
R
O
66
E
D
I
E
67
T
A
M
A
L
E
68
N
E
O
69
R
E
E
D
70
S
C
O
R
E
D
71
S
O
N
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0205 ( 24,926 )
Across
1
Possesses : HAS
4
Grape-Nuts or Apple Jacks : CEREAL
10
Ewe's offspring : LAMB
14
Man's name that's an investment spelled backward : ARI
15
Pumpkin color : ORANGE
16
Revered one : IDOL
17
Pot's cover : LID
18
Traditional night for partying : NEWYEARSEVE
20
Side of a diamond : FACET
22
Thomas ___, "Rule, Britannia" composer : ARNE
23
Bowling target : PIN
24
Texas landmark to "remember" : ALAMO
27
Sampled : TASTED
29
Curved Pillsbury item : CRESCENTROLL
33
Misplace : LOSE
34
"The Way We ___" : WERE
35
"Yeah, right!" : MYEYE
39
Pie ___ mode : ALA
40
Detectives : SLEUTHS
42
Batman portrayer Kilmer : VAL
43
Deserve : MERIT
45
___-Pacific (geopolitical region) : ASIA
46
Something to click online : LINK
47
Ones calling the plays : QUARTERBACKS
50
Teeter-totter : SEESAW
53
Walk with a swagger : STRUT
54
Every last drop : ALL
55
Parade spoiler : RAIN
58
"Piece of cake" or "easy as pie" : IDIOM
61
40-hour-a-week work : FULLTIMEJOB
65
Guadalajara gold : ORO
66
Actress Falco of "Nurse Jackie" : EDIE
67
"Hot" Mexican dish : TAMALE
68
Prefix with natal or classical : NEO
69
Clarinet or sax : REED
70
Crossed home plate, say : SCORED
71
One who might follow into a family business : SON
Down
1
50% : HALF
2
Song for a diva : ARIA
3
Early TV comic known for "Your Show of Shows" : SIDCAESAR
4
Popular cold and flu medicine : CONTAC
5
"But I heard him exclaim, ___ he drove out of sight ..." : ERE
6
Uncooked : RAW
7
One-named Irish singer : ENYA
8
Ending with golden or teen : AGER
9
Makeshift shelter : LEANTO
10
Fleur-de-___ : LIS
11
Highly capable : ADEPT
12
Multiplex offering : MOVIE
13
Mix : BLEND
19
Kingdoms : REALMS
21
"Anything ___?" : ELSE
25
Whimper like a baby : MEWL
26
Like most Bluetooth headsets : ONEEAR
28
Underhanded : SLY
29
Tight-lipped sort : CLAM
30
Part to play : ROLE
31
Be confident in : TRUST
32
Fixes, as shoelaces : RETIES
36
Forcible removals, as of tenants : EVICTIONS
37
Pull hard : YANK
38
Civic-minded group : ELKS
40
Fictional mouse ___ Little : STUART
41
Male deer : HART
44
Mensa stats : IQS
46
Lavish praise on : LAUD
48
Hangs around for : AWAITS
49
Gave some money under the table : BRIBED
50
More secure : SAFER
51
Give the slip : ELUDE
52
Actress Kemper of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" : ELLIE
56
Apple on a desk : IMAC
57
Pixar's "Finding ___" : NEMO
59
Nabisco snack since 1912 : OREO
60
It has phases that are represented by the starts of 18-, 29-, 47- and 61-Across ... and by 1-Down : MOON
62
Was in front : LED
63
Pickle holder : JAR
64
Bullfight cheer : OLE

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?