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New York Times, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Author:
Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1211/13/20129/19/201712
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3151200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58131
Don Gagliardo
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6411/13/20126/26/201919
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
620187472
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56281
Zhouqin Burnikel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 79, Blocks: 37 Missing: none – this is a pangram. Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Gagliardo. This is puzzle # 28 for Ms. Burnikel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Don: There is no memorable inspiration for this puzzle. It probably grew out of thinking about alphabetic order. Why not just order ... read more

Don: There is no memorable inspiration for this puzzle. It probably grew out of thinking about alphabetic order. Why not just order the consonants? The "how" of it proved to be more challenging than one might first imagine.

It was decided to confine alphabetically-ordered letters in sequences of words that fill entire rows. We did not know how many rows this would take. It turns out that three were enough. Designing a grid was a challenge. We ended up having to use a grid with right-left symmetry.

An experienced solver can tell just looking at the grid that we're up to something difficult, since there are not many long answers and the top corners are very simple in design. The word ALPHABETIZATION worked well as a reveal answer for the theme, a nice 15 to cross the grid.

C.C.: We accidentally put SRS in 44-Across spot (where ORS is) in our submitted grid. Thankfully Will & Joel caught our goof and redid that section of the grid.

Jeff Chen notes:
I highlighted the appropriate letters below, to make this puzzle's theme stand out — the consonants in rows three, six, and nine ... read more

I highlighted the appropriate letters below, to make this puzzle's theme stand out — the consonants in rows three, six, and nine appear in alphabetical order, reading from left to right and top to bottom. Like Don mentioned, I had an inkling something was up when I saw HOJO, and then again when running into the awkward abbreviation ELIZ. Given the very tough theme constraints, having just those two rough spots is pretty darn good.

PELLA? Sure, why not.

I got stuck in the bottom, having plunked in ALPHABETIC ORDER. That seemed not as perfect as ALPHABETICAL ORDER, but the former is too long for a 15x15 grid. When I finally ripped out ALPHABETIC ORDER, I sorely wanted ALPHABETIZED. ALPHABETIZATION is a word, to be sure, but it felt awkward as a revealer.

I went back and stared at the 21 critical letters after I finished. There is something interesting about the concept, although it feels somewhat inelegant, given the random vowels strewn about to make it work.

Perhaps it would have seemed nicer if all those consonants were spaced in exactly every other column? As it was, it felt like those consonants were placed wherever they needed to be to make it work. Granted, it's a tough constraint to get those consonants in ALPHABETIZATION order, but I would have liked some extra layer of elegance.

Still, I enjoy seeing concepts I haven't seen before, and I definitely had not seen something quite like this.

Some notable clues:

  • PELLA appears to be a big name in windows. Perhaps it'll be a gimme to homeowners who have redone their windows?
  • Loved the clue for COOK, [Pan handler] repurposing "panhandler" so innocently.
1
B
2
O
3
M
4
B
5
A
6
T
7
A
8
L
9
L
10
A
11
T
12
M
13
S
14
O
D
I
E
15
D
E
T
O
O
16
C
O
O
K
17
B
O
C
A
18
D
E
F
O
G
19
H
O
J
O
20
O
N
A
D
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I
E
T
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S
I
23
S
E
N
O
R
24
T
R
I
25
B
E
C
A
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K
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O
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A
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L
A
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M
E
N
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P
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I
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Q
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U
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E
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A
M
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S
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N
S
38
E
39
D
U
L
L
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T
A
R
G
41
E
T
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D
43
A
S
A
N
I
44
O
R
S
45
T
O
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V
47
W
A
X
48
Y
A
Z
49
H
O
M
E
50
G
A
M
E
51
S
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S
53
P
54
C
A
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P
S
A
T
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56
A
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M
58
F
59
M
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L
E
A
S
61
T
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P
I
K
63
F
L
O
R
A
64
A
L
P
H
A
65
B
E
T
I
66
Z
A
T
I
O
N
67
S
L
E
E
P
E
R
68
N
O
W
O
R
S
E
69
H
A
R
D
E
E
S
70
S
O
N
N
E
T
S
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0322 ( 24,241 )
Across
1
Fail big-time : BOMB
5
To any degree : ATALL
10
Cash caches, briefly : ATMS
14
"Garfield" drooler : ODIE
15
Artoo-___ : DETOO
16
Pan handler : COOK
17
___ Raton, Fla. : BOCA
18
Clear, in a way : DEFOG
19
Once-popular roadside chain, familiarly : HOJO
20
Losing some love handles, say : ONADIET
22
"Yes sir" overseas : SISENOR
24
Manhattan neighborhood next to SoHo : TRIBECA
26
___ bear : KOALA
30
Maxim magazine's intended audience : MEN
31
Arouse, as curiosity : PIQUE
36
French female friend : AMIE
37
The "common" sort is said to be not so common : SENSE
39
Yawn-provoking : DULL
40
Walmart competitor : TARGET
42
Fiji competitor : DASANI
44
Where scrubs are worn, for short : ORS
45
"Mazel ___!" : TOV
47
Floor coat : WAX
48
Bosox great Carl, familiarly : YAZ
49
They're never away : HOMEGAMES
52
Pet lovers' org. : SPCA
55
Precollege exams : PSATS
56
Car radio button : AMFM
60
Tiniest bit : LEAST
62
Commercial ending with Water : PIK
63
Botanist's specialty : FLORA
64
One way of ordering things, like all the consonants in rows three, six and nine : ALPHABETIZATION
67
Unexpected hit : SLEEPER
68
Just as good : NOWORSE
69
Sister fast-food chain of Carl's Jr. : HARDEES
70
Browning's "How Do I Love Thee?" and others : SONNETS
Down
1
Common clown name : BOBO
2
Consume too much of, in brief : ODON
3
Sheet rock? : MICA
4
Rosary part : BEAD
5
Puff ___ : ADDER
6
Golf reservation : TEETIME
7
Org. shifted to the Dept. of Justice in 2003 : ATF
8
Eases : LOOSENS
9
Sudoku solver's need : LOGIC
10
Arthritis symptom : ACHE
11
SpongeBob or Scooby-Doo : TOON
12
Self-confidence, slangily : MOJO
13
Hershey toffee bar : SKOR
21
"Give ___ rest!" : ITA
23
Easy mark : SAP
25
Title rat of a 1972 film : BEN
26
Bruce Lee's role in TV's "The Green Hornet" : KATO
27
Longtime Sudanese president ___ al-Bashir : OMAR
28
Puts on TV : AIRS
29
One of six for an insect : LEG
32
Fingers, as a perp : IDS
33
Where ships get loaded : QUAY
34
Bone below the elbow : ULNA
35
Part of QE2: Abbr. : ELIZ
37
Defeat soundly : STOMP
38
Red-coated cheeses : EDAMS
41
D.D.E.'s charge in W.W. II : ETO
43
Timber feller : AXE
46
Sunset prayer service : VESPERS
47
New York's ___ Glen State Park : WATKINS
49
Discussed, with "out" : HASHED
50
Trot or canter : GAIT
51
California's ___ Sea : SALTON
52
Cut drastically, as prices : SLASH
53
Big name in windows : PELLA
54
Lark : CAPER
57
Wavy-patterned fabric : MOIRE
58
Concern for a fall gardener : FROST
59
Thick locks : MANES
61
3M product : TAPE
63
Be a toady : FAWN
65
Stinger : BEE
66
Workplace for some veterinarians : ZOO

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?