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New York Times, Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Author:
Fred Piscop
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
15111/22/19936/6/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
1424262552946
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55102
Fred Piscop

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 42 Missing: {FJQXY} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 149 for Mr. Piscop. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Pasta puns! Being quite the idiot when it comes to punnery, it's tough for me to judge the quality of puns. I really liked these ... read more

Pasta puns! Being quite the idiot when it comes to punnery, it's tough for me to judge the quality of puns. I really liked these though, as each of the modifications seemed consistent — all changes which warped the sound but just a little. ORZO IT WOULD SEEM was really fun, and the idea of a COUNCILMAN in charge of ZITI is humorous. Playing POKER for PENNE pasta is also amusing.

Asimov's robots follow the three laws of motion AND the three laws of robotics!

Given that there are only three theme answers, I would have liked more long fill. A grid with such low theme density — which I don't mind in itself — has so much potential for great fill, but it's tough to make anything less than seven letters long really sing. I do like METIER, as it's a neat word describing something someone really excels at. It's so fun to see people shine in whatever field they really delve into. And TORERO is pretty good too. But other than that, there's not much that I find memorable.

A fourth themer would have been fun, but with only three, I would have loved to see some black squares taken out — perhaps the one between ALTO and LOT, or the one between ALUM and DAS. I applaud Fred's impressive smooth fill, but I do want at least a little long bonus fill in every crossword, especially ones with low theme density. A lot of lost potential.

Some fun cluing:

  • David Steinberg recently finished his audacious Pre-Shorztian Puzzle Project, and it's fun to see OREO clued all those years as "Mountain: Comb. form." Just ridiculous!
  • EL AL gets way more press in crosswords than in general American life, but it's cool to learn that President Chaim Weizmann was on its first flight. Talk about a PR coup!
  • There are indeed (Newton's) three LAWS of motion in physics. I always smile at the parallel between Newton's three laws of motion and Asimov's three laws of robotics.
  • ERIE is "The Gem City"? ERIE ripped off Seattle, the Emerald City, if you ask me. Harrumph.
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0302 ( 24,221 )
Across
1
"Beg pardon ..." : AHEM
5
Help in a heist : ABET
9
Looked slack-jawed : GAPED
14
Like a neat bed : MADE
15
King noted for saying "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is / To have a thankless child!" : LEAR
16
Still in the running : ALIVE
17
"This won't hurt ___!" : ABIT
18
Setting for the highest-grossing movie of 1939 : TARA
19
George whose name is a lead-in to "film" : LUCAS
20
Politician in charge of pasta? : ZITICOUNCILMAN
23
Early anesthetic : ETHER
24
___-Drive, popular light-powered watch : ECO
25
Dice tosses : ROLLS
29
Hang in there : ENDURE
34
Comfy shoe : MOC
37
Means of transportation in "Cinderella" : COACH
39
"Am I my brother's keeper?" brother : ABEL
40
Pasta, apparently? : ORZOITWOULDSEEM
44
Circus horn honker : SEAL
45
Cotton candy, mostly : SUGAR
46
Original "King Kong" studio : RKO
47
Corrida combatant : TORERO
50
Some used cars, informally : REPOS
52
Hole maker : AWL
54
Orchard Field, today : OHARE
58
Card game with pasta for stakes? : PENNEANTEPOKER
64
Philip Morris brand : MERIT
65
Word said with a handshake : DEAL
66
Latvia's capital : RIGA
67
In the same way : ALIKE
68
1996 Gwyneth Paltrow title role : EMMA
69
H H H : ETAS
70
Knight's mount : STEED
71
"Angels We Have Heard on High," e.g. : NOEL
72
Mentally together : SANE
Down
1
Wow : AMAZE
2
Something to kick or break : HABIT
3
British poet/critic Sitwell : EDITH
4
Job at which one excels : METIER
5
Certain sax : ALTO
6
Lover boy : BEAU
7
Yield, as interest : EARN
8
Tiny amount : TRACE
9
Tank unit : GALLON
10
Reunion attendee, briefly : ALUM
11
12-point type : PICA
12
Hunter who wrote "The Blackboard Jungle" : EVAN
13
___ Moines : DES
21
Spring blooms : CROCI
22
Cap material? : ICE
26
Sotheby's collection : LOT
27
There are three for motion : LAWS
28
Search all over : SCOUR
30
Court figures, briefly : DAS
31
Foe of the taxi industry : UBER
32
Stink to high heaven : REEK
33
Muppet who speaks in a falsetto : ELMO
34
Ending with second or upper : MOST
35
Dessert item that was clued as "Mountain: Comb. form" in old crosswords : OREO
36
White House policy chief : CZAR
38
Donald Trump catchword : HUGE
41
Bullring cheer : OLE
42
Cat's seat, maybe : LAP
43
Show exhaustion : DROOP
48
Went on a tirade : RANTED
49
Be in hock : OWE
51
Beach resort locales : SHORES
53
Filled with cargo : LADEN
55
Muscular Japanese dog : AKITA
56
Daughter of 15-Across : REGAN
57
Expunge : ERASE
58
Clobber with snowballs, say : PELT
59
The Gem City, so-called because of its sparkling lake : ERIE
60
Greek figure on many a trophy : NIKE
61
Jules Verne captain : NEMO
62
Broken, as a bronco : TAME
63
President Chaim Weizmann was on its first flight : ELAL
64
Some postgrad degrees : MAS

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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