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New York Times, Monday, February 5, 2018

Author: Alan Arbesfeld
Editor: Will Shortz
Alan Arbesfeld
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1218/27/19814/10/20180
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25724342515
ScrabRebusCirclePangrampre-WS
1.605099

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {XZ} This is puzzle # 120 for Mr. Arbesfeld. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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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? ... more
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? 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
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A
9
L
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L
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M
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V
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Q
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0205 ( 24,926 )
Across Down
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
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.

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