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New York Times, Thursday, March 20, 2014

Author:
Victor Barocas
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
122/9/20116/23/20197
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6012300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62032
Victor Barocas

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 42 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Barocas. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Victor Barocas notes:
The inspiration for this puzzle came from Matt Gaffney's meta-puzzles, which I enjoy very much. Every so often, he addresses the ... read more

The inspiration for this puzzle came from Matt Gaffney's meta-puzzles, which I enjoy very much. Every so often, he addresses the solver directly in the puzzle as part of the meta, and although at first I found it strange, it kind of grew on me, so I decided to make a non-meta puzzle that included direct address. I was rather pleased when I realized that the different GET phrases all exist. The big challenge, though, was that GET up and GET down aren't as symmetric as they feel like they should be, making it quite hard to construct a symmetric grid.

In spite of the initial difficulty, the fill came out okay, and I enjoyed the cluing. 10-A, 52-A, and 28-D were my favorite clues, along with the matched pair at 39-A and 34-D. Solvers might be interested to know that my original version was a bit more difficult, with the GET phrases not given but clued, so 18-A would have been clued as "Gripping read ['Don't stand so close']," 24-A would have been "Oil containers ['Show us your funky dance moves!']," etc. I guess that Will decided that it would be too difficult or weird that way.

As always, I hope that solvers enjoyed the puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes:
Just a few days ago, I suggested to a prospective constructor that Will doesn't often run puzzles with entries that look crazy. Shows ... read more

Just a few days ago, I suggested to a prospective constructor that Will doesn't often run puzzles with entries that look crazy. Shows what I know! ABRIDOOFAR is A BRIDGE TOO FAR + "Get lost!" (an instruction to lose GET) = ABRIDOOFAR. GET is treated differently in the other three themers, which I've highlighted. Tricky theme! PATEGURNER took me forever to uncover because of how weird it looks. Good a-ha moment when I realized how it fit with the theme (GET is literally entered in "Get back!" fashion, or TEG).

I always appreciate getting something I've never seen before, and the mechanics of this theme was pretty cool. I wish the phrases in parentheses ("Get back!", for example) had been tied to the clues or the answers somehow though, like if instead of PAGE TURNER, Victor had found a themer which had the *TEG* sequence which meant "Get back!" That's likely way too much to ask for, but it would have made a pretty cool idea the bomb dot com.

What a wild looking layout today, eh? Any time you have themers "bending," the fill becomes more difficult, and since two of the themers "bend" twice, it becomes even more difficult. Victor does go over the 78-word limit (80 slots today, although four get melded into others for a total of 76 entries), but he still manages to give us a couple of really nice pieces of long fill, CONGOLESE, JEZEBEL and WRIT LARGE being my favorite. What a neat phrase, that last one.

One issue I had was the segmented nature of the north and south regions. It's usually best if the puzzle has a more connected, flowing feel (more than just one way into a section), because if a solver gets stuck, he/she really gets stuck. That's what happened to me in the south today, unable to see AFORE what with the opaque cluing for the crossing answers. It also seemed to me that with such a closed-off section with little constraint, a better answer than AFORE could have been used. Who knows though, often times a constructor has a particular affinity for a particular word, and that's okay by me as long as it's intentional.

It sure is nice to get the Thursday workout. Will tends to switch things up so there are some easier ones (with more straightforward themes but difficult cluing) and there are some harder ones (mind-bending or rule-breaking themes). I'll almost always favor the latter, but I do appreciate the variety.

Jim Horne notes:

80 words? You'd think that by looking at the grid but it depends how you count. There are 76 sets of clues and answers. Some bend.

1
T
2
A
3
L
4
E
5
S
6
Q
7
U
8
A
9
B
10
A
11
C
12
D
13
C
14
A
L
E
X
15
O
U
N
C
E
16
D
O
R
A
17
P
I
N
T
18
P
A
T
E
G
19
U
R
N
E
R
20
A
S
T
O
21
R
22
D
O
S
23
R
E
G
A
L
24
S
T
O
R
A
G
26
I
G
N
O
R
E
27
T
H
E
28
M
29
S
T
E
A
L
30
B
31
M
32
W
S
T
A
34
N
K
S
35
L
E
36
A
37
K
38
A
I
R
39
Y
O
U
40
S
K
I
41
A
X
I
42
S
T
O
W
N
44
S
45
J
E
A
N
46
T
A
47
S
E
R
48
K
A
49
L
E
50
C
51
O
L
L
E
G
52
G
A
Z
53
E
54
B
55
O
56
O
R
A
T
E
57
T
58
U
59
B
60
S
E
V
E
R
61
A
B
R
I
D
62
O
O
F
A
63
R
64
B
I
G
A
65
T
I
G
E
66
A
F
O
R
E
67
E
T
A
L
68
S
T
E
R
69
F
U
S
E
D
70
L
E
N
S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0320 ( 23,508 )
Across
1
"Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox," e.g. : TALE
5
Alternative to a game hen : SQUAB
10
Young brothers' band : ACDC
14
"A Clockwork Orange" protagonist : ALEX
15
1/16 of a 17-Across : OUNCE
16
Explorer with a friend named Boots : DORA
17
See 15-Across : PINT
18
Gripping read ["Get back!"] : PAGETURNER
20
New York City's ___ Place : ASTOR
22
Two in Toledo : DOS
23
Fit for a king : REGAL
24
Oil containers ["Get down!"] : STORAGETANKS
26
Slight : IGNORE
27
The opposing side : THEM
29
Super bargain : STEAL
30
6 Series cars : BMWS
35
Hiss cause : LEAK
38
Make public : AIR
39
First word of "Huckleberry Finn" : YOU
40
One passing a gate : SKI
41
Pole connector : AXIS
45
Actress Stapleton : JEAN
46
Mall cop weapon : TASER
48
Vegetable rich in calcium and vitamin K : KALE
50
Amherst and Orono, for two ["Get up!"] : COLLEGETOWNS
52
Where Maria and the Captain have their first kiss in "The Sound of Music" : GAZEBO
56
Speak to the people? : ORATE
57
Economy-size container : TUB
60
Lop off : SEVER
61
1977 W.W. II film ["Get lost!] : ABRIDGETOOFAR
64
Nickname for Anaheim's Angel Stadium : BIGA
65
Buster Brown's dog : TIGE
66
In front of, old-style : AFORE
67
Name series condenser : ETAL
68
Suffix with mob : STER
69
Stuck together : FUSED
70
Perspective provider : LENS
Down
1
Spanish starters : TAPAS
2
Those with no problem getting in : ALIST
3
Slowly : LENTO
4
Makes pay, in a bad way : EXTORTS
5
Concession : SOP
6
Campus area : QUAD
7
Golden rule word : UNTO
8
Superb, in slang : ACES
9
Ask for a biscuit, say : BEG
10
___ gland : ADRENAL
11
Brazzaville inhabitants : CONGOLESE
12
Gloomy, in poetry : DREAR
13
Eric who wrote "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" : CARLE
19
Press : URGE
21
Cousin of "Olé!" : RAH
26
"___ over" : ITS
28
Cleveland was one in Buffalo : MAYOR
29
Leave scoreless : SKUNK
30
When repeated, a nursery rhyme call : BAA
31
Mingle : MIX
32
Presented prominently : WRITLARGE
34
First word of "Richard III" : NOW
36
Alias : AKA
37
Blood : KIN
42
More like sailors' talk, stereotypically : SALTIER
44
Have a dip : SAG
45
Prominent feminist blog : JEZEBEL
47
Assigned position : SEED
49
Velázquez's "___ Meninas" : LAS
50
Covers : COATS
51
What an astronaut may be in : ORBIT
53
What you might get for a party nowadays : EVITE
54
Founded : BEGAN
55
Stage in a Ph.D. program : ORALS
57
Tasteless stuff : TOFU
58
Subjects of some 911 calls : UFOS
59
Uncovered : BARE
62
Clodhopper : OAF
63
Like cherry-flavored things : RED

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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