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New York Times, Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Author:
Jules Markey
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
205/10/20125/29/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0166700
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58461
Jules P. Markey

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 80, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 19 for Mr. Markey. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jules P. Markey notes:
This crossword was accepted in July 2018, with the comment that these types of 'down' puzzles are becoming overdone lately, but ... read more

This crossword was accepted in July 2018, with the comment that these types of "down" puzzles are becoming overdone lately, but because I had chosen a snazzy theme set it got the nod. My two favorite clues which made the cut are 10-Down for the beauty of that equation, and 33-Across for … well, you know. Hope you liked the puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes:
Will Shortz isn't taking many 'words that can precede X' themes these days, as they've become done to death, and as Jules mentioned, ... read more

Will Shortz isn't taking many "words that can precede X" themes these days, as they've become done to death, and as Jules mentioned, "___ DOWN" puzzles are falling into that camp too. But there's still room for one that offers something extra. I appreciate the tight set – it's hard to think of more BUTTON types than SNOOZE, LIKE (think: Facebook), BELLY, PANIC.

I like to play the early-week "name that theme" game, and it took me a while to figure out what was going on. Partially in a good way, since it's tough to figure out what SNOOZE-FEST, LIKE YOU KNOW etc. have in common.

But partially in a confusing way, as I stared at TOOK A TOLL ON, UNGARBED, RETROFIT, and NIMBUS CLOUD for ages. There had to be a link! Who would use the word UNGARBED if it weren't necessary for some clever theme?

Will is much more lax about this "theme obfuscation" issue than other editors. Rich Norris over at the Los Angeles Times won't allow long acrosses (8+ letters) when themers are arranged in the down direction, because it confuses people. Mike Shenk at the Wall Street Journal is more lenient, but it's still frowned upon. I tend to side with them because regular solvers have been trained to look for theme in the longest across answers.

This can be a real problem when it comes to grid construction. Jules already went up to 80 words (two past the max allowable), so simply breaking up TOOK A TOLL ON and NIMBUS CLOUD isn't the answer. I have a feeling that including more long down fill would have been a good direction – perhaps taking out the block between TOOTED and IRE (after breaking up TOOK A TOLL ON), and similar strategies throughout the grid.

I think it's possible to retain all five themers, all of which were great phrases and made the theme meaty, while elevating the elegance. Cleanup in aisle AGA ASA OTOS EEKS! Tough to say for sure without rolling up my sleeves, though.

1
A
2
T
3
S
4
E
5
A
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B
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E
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E
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P
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Z
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A
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P
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C
O
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H
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L
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A
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E
V
E
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T
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K
A
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T
O
L
L
O
N
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O
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P
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N
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Z
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L
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A
C
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E
D
E
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N
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U
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N
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A
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B
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D
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F
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K
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P
E
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U
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S
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I
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G
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A
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N
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Y
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O
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R
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R
O
F
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A
C
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O
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S
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O
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H
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A
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N
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Y
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L
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N
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C
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A
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P
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P
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W
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L
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S
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0312 ( 25,326 )
Across
1
Clueless : ATSEA
6
After the ___ (when to leave a phone message) : BEEP
10
[Bzzt!] : ZAP
13
Some Dairy Queen orders : CONES
14
Frequent Andrew Wyeth model : HELGA
15
Palindromic woman's name : EVE
16
Affected adversely, physically or psychologically : TOOKATOLLON
18
Oil installation : RIG
19
Some Siouans : OTOS
20
Part to play : ROLE
21
Runaway best-selling Apple products of the 2000s : IPODS
23
Pince-___ (style of glasses) : NEZ
24
___ Godiva : LADY
25
Part of the upper deck? : ACE
26
Utopian : EDENIC
28
Naked : UNGARBED
33
Like an orange tan, say : FAKE
34
Content of a bog : PEAT
35
Western tribe member : UTE
36
Military operation that might last for months : SIEGE
38
Got chicken, say : ATE
39
Largest moon of Saturn : TITAN
41
Org. with a Form 1040 : IRS
42
Modern acronym for "seize the day" : YOLO
44
Play mates? : CAST
45
Supply with updated parts : RETROFIT
47
A puzzling direction : ACROSS
50
Asleep : OUT
51
"Listen!," quaintly : HARK
53
Fresh : NEW
54
Aerodynamic : SLEEK
57
Website with crowdsourced reviews : YELP
58
Lip : EDGE
59
Bagel go-with : LOX
60
Bringer of rain : NIMBUSCLOUD
63
The Cardinals, on scoreboards : ARI
64
Creator of a logical "razor" : OCCAM
65
Bird in the flycatcher family : PEWEE
66
Favorite : PET
67
Sport, as a sport coat : WEAR
68
Touches down : LANDS
Down
1
When a play's plot is set in motion : ACTONE
2
Honked : TOOTED
3
*Bo-o-o-ring event : SNOOZEFEST
4
Comics exclamations : EEKS
5
Happy ___ clam : ASA
6
*Go order a drink : BELLYUPTOTHEBAR
7
Fashion magazine with more than 40 international editions : ELLE
8
Psyche part : EGO
9
*Flop sweat producer : PANICATTACK
10
The "x" in Euler's Identity - e + 1 = x : ZERO
11
Gung-ho : AVID
12
Jumping pieces in a classic wooden puzzle : PEGS
14
Car part called a bonnet in England : HOOD
17
Slight vestige : TRACE
22
According to : PER
24
*Scoffing remark to an ignoramus : LIKEYOUKNOW
25
Old Turkish title : AGA
27
Ride, in two different senses : NAG
29
Born: Fr. : NEE
30
Very conventional ... or a hint to the starts of the answers to the four starred clues : BUTTONDOWN
31
H : ETA
32
Screening area? : DEN
36
Noble title : SIR
37
Rage : IRE
38
"Green Book" co-star Mahershala : ALI
40
Country on the Mediterranean: Abbr. : ISR
43
Many a time : OFT
44
Kvetches : CARPS
46
Jane ___, anonymous plaintiff : ROE
48
Transitioned : SEGUED
49
People who count to five by saying "ett, två, tre, fyra, fem" : SWEDES
52
Homecoming returnee, informally : ALUM
54
Nonverbal response to an insult : SLAP
55
Mythology : LORE
56
Way out : EXIT
57
Village People hit with a spelled-out title : YMCA
58
Philosopher Zeno of ___ : ELEA
61
What a "neat" drink is served without : ICE
62
An NCO : CPL

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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