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New York Times, Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Author:
Lynn Lempel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
8512/9/197912/3/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
660132130
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.610812

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QX} This is puzzle # 73 for Ms. Lempel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Another fun early-week puzzle from Lynn. She takes single-word entries and interprets them as double words for kooky results. Really ... read more

Another fun early-week puzzle from Lynn. She takes single-word entries and interprets them as double words for kooky results. Really neat to start and end with related themers: BOMBS HELL and EYES HADES. Great find! I've seen a lot of puzzles involving a shifting of the letter S, but this one had a fresh feel to it. As I would expect from Lynn, the themers are consistent, all one word splitting into a kooky two-worders.

Bonus to get six themers. With shortish ones (8-9 letters), it's not so bad to pack six of them in, and Lynn shows us a smart method to do so. She takes her shortest answers (8 and 9 letters) and stacks them in rows 3 and 4 — this lets you treat the grid kind of like you're working with four themers, not six. You just have to be careful about those few overlapping letters — in the top case, the LL of BOMBSHELL and the UP of UPSTARTS — but as long as those letter pairs aren't really weird, like XU or JN or something, that little of an overlap isn't usually a problem.

Making the construction akin to one having only four themers also allows for a bit of long fill. Lynn does well to give us PIRATE SHIP (or is that PIRATE'S HIP?) and RED HERRING (ah, I guess not then).

Lynn's grids are usually so impressively clean that see AGUE and ETTE was unusual. These would be minor blips in most anyone else's grids — although some would argue that AGUE is perfectly fine since it's used in historical writing — but I put the bar quite high for Lynn.

Since that north section is somewhat flexible, I think the allure of the Z in ZULU must have been high. As much as I like rare letters in a grid, I would personally have preferred not including AGUE, favoring something like NOSY/TRUE. Given that Lynn has expertly worked in a J (JUDEA/JAB) so cleanly, that would have been enough in terms of rare letters for me.

Consistent, fun theme with grid execution well above average.

 1T 2A 3L 4C 5H 6A 7Z 8Y 9A 10P 11O 12L 13O 14O D I N 15A G U E 16V I D A L 17B O M B 18S H E L L 19A R O S E 20E R E C T 21U P 22S T A R T S 23Y E S 24R 25A 26H 27S E A T 28R E S E 29T 30W R E 31C 32K 33S 34T 35I 36M E S H A R 37E S 38S H I A 39R O A D S 40T I M 41S H I N S 42I T C H 43C H O P 44S T I C K S 45M A K E 46D O 47S T R A P 48R O O 49F 50Y O N 51J 52A 53B 54B 55E 56A R S K I 57N 58C 59R U D E 60A T R I A 61E Y 62E 63S H A D E S 64S T I N G 65N A P A 66K E P T 67H E D G E 68D D A Y 69E A T S
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0209 ( 24,199 )
Across
1. Soapy powder mineral : TALC
5. Vague : HAZY
9. Ohno on skates : APOLO
14. Valhalla's ruling god : ODIN
15. Malarial fever : AGUE
16. Gore who wrote "Lincoln" : VIDAL
17. Detonates a weapon in the underworld? : BOMBSHELL
20. Construct : ERECT
21. Raises the price of some pastries? : UPSTARTS
23. "By all means!" : YES
24. Pep rally shout : RAH
27. Candidate's quest : SEAT
28. Adjust, as a watch : RESET
30. Junkyard jalopies : WRECKS
34. Clocks trainees for a fabled race rematch? : TIMESHARES
38. Branch of Islam : SHIA
40. With 43-Down, Apple C.E.O. beginning in 2011 : TIM
41. Where some athletes need guards : SHINS
42. Something calamine lotion alleviates : ITCH
43. Cuts up little bloodsuckers? : CHOPSTICKS
45. Get along : MAKEDO
47. Camera attachment, often : STRAP
48. Landing spot for Santa : ROOF
50. Over there, quaintly : YON
51. Poke : JAB
54. Puts up with one's family? : BEARSKIN
58. Vulgar : CRUDE
60. Parts of hearts : ATRIA
61. Scrutinizes the underworld? : EYESHADES
64. Cops' crook-catching hoax : STING
65. Beringer Vineyards' county : NAPA
66. Saved for later : KEPT
67. Equivocate : HEDGE
68. W.W. II turning point : DDAY
69. Vittles : EATS
Down
1. Maguire of "The Great Gatsby" : TOBEY
3. Citrus supply at a bar : LIMES
4. Network for market monitors : CNBC
5. "I told ya!" : HAH
6. Wine or cheese concern : AGE
7. Bantu speaker of southern Africa : ZULU
8. Sounds from pounds : YELPS
9. James Cameron megahit of 2009 : AVATAR
10. Transport for William Kidd or Jack Sparrow : PIRATESHIP
11. Skunk's defense : ODOR
12. Hold out : LAST
13. Exuberant flamenco cries : OLES
18. Emphasize : STRESS
22. Takes part in a bee : SEWS
25. Mount Etna emission : ASH
26. Moor : HEATH
28. Purposeful misdirection : REDHERRING
29. Musketeers and blind mice : TRIOS
31. Stylish : CHIC
32. Glitch : KINK
33. Bratty retort : SASS
34. Clip or snip : TRIM
35. Teeny bit : IOTA
36. Big name in trucks : MACK
37. Unoccupied : EMPTY
41. Stop the flow of : STANCH
43. See 40-Across : COOK
44. Unwelcome sign for latecomers : SRO
46. Proper medicine amount : DOSAGE
49. Diabolical sort : FIEND
51. Southern region of ancient Palestine : JUDEA