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New York Times, Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Author:
Finn Vigeland
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1810/20/20109/1/20194
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
9123012
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64230
Finn Vigeland

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Vigeland. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Finn Vigeland notes:
The seed for this was the discovery that RUPAULSDRAGRACE was a grid-spanning 15 (hat tip to my fellow 20-something ... read more

The seed for this was the discovery that RUPAULSDRAGRACE was a grid-spanning 15 (hat tip to my fellow 20-something constructor/frequent board game buddy Natan Last). I was aiming to write an early-week puzzle, and the QUEEN(S) connection elucidated itself quickly and seemed like an apt way to approach an easyish theme.

Because ROCKANDROLL and HALLOFFAME had to be positioned one after the other, and the gimmick didn't work as well if that pair came first, the themers had to be positioned in this order. Even with that constraint, the grid came together quite easily. YALU is a bit of an outlier, but I'm glad Will kept my cutesy clue.

In general, nearly all of these clues are my originals, which is always a satisfying feeling. I wrote this puzzle in October when I thought cluing TWEET via Trump would be a relic of the past. I guess I wish that clue had been changed, given the world we now live in. :(

Jeff Chen notes:
Great puzzle. Finn gives us a twist in the 'definitional' theme type, i.e. a single word with multiple meanings. Entertaining to think ... read more

Great puzzle. Finn gives us a twist in the "definitional" theme type, i.e. a single word with multiple meanings. Entertaining to think about Queen or Queens in four different ways.

Will doesn't run this theme type often, since the grid entries tend to sound forced, as if from a dictionary. Finn does well to choose themers that can stand alone — CHESSBOARD, NEW YORK CITY, RUPAULS DRAG RACE, and ROCK AND ROLL / HALL OF FAME are all great entries. Much better than PIECE IN CHESS or FEMALE MONARCH or something.

Fantastic that Finn was able to divide up ROCK AND ROLL / HALL OF FAME in the most natural place. Cross-referenced answers are a pet peeve of mine since they break up my solving flow, but if you have to, do it this way. If Finn had required a 7 and a 14-letter themer and needed to pair them with ROCK AND / ROLL HALL OF FAME (7/14), that would have worked, but it would have been inelegant.

I enjoyed ARROWHEAD and BRUNO MARS (I didn't know who the latter is, but I've at least heard his name in the news). I'd have loved to get one more pair of bonus entries, perhaps by shifting NEW YORK CITY to the left and then trying for a nine-letter entry where MEAT and JOAD are. I'm sure it would have caused some problems, but a guy can wish.

This might have also solved the Y??U issue — a shame to have the one odd entry in an otherwise stellar grid. I did like the attempt to save it with a clue relating to the more recognizable YALE, but "random rivers" is one of those categories most constructors try hard to avoid.

There was one other spot I hitched on: the SXSW x NSFW crossing. I (mostly) knew these — South by Southwest and not safe for work — but there's no way for someone to infer these. I likely would have asked for a revision in this corner.

But these are minor issues. Overall, I dug the spin Finn put on the "definitional" theme type. Smooth, enjoyable solve.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0207 ( 24,563 )

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Across
1
Bear whose bed was too hard for Goldilocks : PAPA
5
With 15-Across, "Don't delay!" : ACT
8
First coat for a painter : PRIMER
14
At any point in history : EVER
15
See 5-Across : NOW
16
Chest of drawers : BUREAU
17
Repeated word before "pants on fire" : LIAR
18
Queen's place : CHESSBOARD
20
Mexican dish served in a shell : TACO
21
Villain's vanquisher : HERO
22
On edge : ANTSY
23
Queens' place : NEWYORKCITY
26
Loser to the tortoise, in fable : HARE
27
Lovey-dovey sound : COO
28
"Let's Get Loud" singer, affectionately : JLO
31
People often caution against reinventing it : WHEEL
34
"The ___, the Proud, the Marines" : FEW
35
Oafish sort : BOOR
36
Queens' place : RUPAULSDRAGRACE
40
In : AMID
41
Broadcast : AIR
42
Broadcast part : AUDIO
43
Muscle toned from push-ups, informally : PEC
44
Comic strip sound from a drunkard : HIC
45
Make bread : EARN
47
With 57-Across, Queen's place : ROCKANDROLL
51
Many a Donald Trump announcement : TWEET
54
Snowman in "Frozen" : OLAF
55
Common street name : MAIN
57
See 47-Across : HALLOFFAME
59
Off-roaders, for short : ATVS
60
Debonair : URBANE
61
Fish eggs : ROE
62
Place divers explore : REEF
63
Hung around : STAYED
64
Title for two Clue characters : MRS
65
Annual Austin festival, for short : SXSW
Down
1
Animal hide : PELT
2
Bird-related : AVIAN
3
"See ya" : PEACE
4
Pointy stone used in early Native American weaponry : ARROWHEAD
5
TV news deliverer : ANCHOR
6
Hold together : COHERE
7
Shake one's booty : TWERK
8
"Masterpiece Theatre" network : PBS
9
In a relaxed rhythm, musically : RUBATO
10
Twisted humor : IRONY
11
Heart of the matter : MEAT
12
Prominent Dumbo features : EARS
13
1993 football movie starring Sean Astin : RUDY
19
World Cup sport : SOCCER
24
Asian river whose name is one letter away from an Ivy League college : YALU
25
Site of the first-in-the-nation caucuses : IOWA
28
"The Grapes of Wrath" surname : JOAD
29
Central points : LOCI
30
Cookie that's often pulled apart : OREO
31
"That's a ___!" : WRAP
32
David ___, philosopher influenced by Locke : HUME
33
Grander than grand : EPIC
34
Four-term prez : FDR
35
2014 Super Bowl performer : BRUNOMARS
37
Secular : LAIC
38
So done with : SICKOF
39
Teri who played Phoebe's mother on "Friends" : GARR
44
Scorcher : HOTONE
45
Inflame with love : ENAMOR
46
Charges for some Madison Avenue firms : ADFEES
47
Track-and-field event : RELAY
48
Bedside buzzer : ALARM
49
Condom material : LATEX
50
A cat is said to have nine of them : LIVES
51
"Ergo ..." : THUS
52
Blemish : WART
53
First place where Napoleon was exiled : ELBA
56
Warning initials above an Internet link : NSFW
58
Interest rate setter, with "the" : FED

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

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