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New York Times, Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Author: Fred Piscop
Editor: Will Shortz
Fred Piscop
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
15011/22/19936/22/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
1424262542946
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55102

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

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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 ... more
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 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 Down
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
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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