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New York Times, Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Author:
Olivia Mitra Framke
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
44/23/20173/24/20200
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2020000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57021
Olivia Mitra Framke

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 4 for Ms. Framke. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Olivia Mitra Framke notes:
As happens so often, the 'seed entry' for this puzzle didn't end up in the final product. This started with AVOCADO TOAST, clued as ... read more

As happens so often, the "seed entry" for this puzzle didn't end up in the final product. This started with AVOCADO TOAST, clued as "Celebration of a healthy fat source?" but as I found more puns in the celebratory area, it became clear that I needed to stay in a strict party-synonym place for the theme to work cleanly. Huge thanks to Andrea Carla Michaels for her advice on this theme set last summer! Great to see it come to fruition here.

Hope you enjoyed the puzzle, and got a kick out of the TRIED ON JEANS row :)

Jeff Chen notes:
Just because Jim Horne and I are both sheltering in place doesn't mean that we can't yell into our TV phones at each other! ... read more

Just because Jim Horne and I are both sheltering in place doesn't mean that we can't yell into our TV phones at each other!

Jim: (wincing) You don't have to yell into your computer from two inches away.

Jeff: Oh. Sorry. How'd you magically get inside my TV computer monitor, anyway? And what's with TV RECEPTION?

Jim: You might not remember, but a TV is an outdated device used to display programming such as sitcoms—

Jeff: I may be a moron, but I'm not that old. I mean … I'm not that young. Wait. (brain overheating) I'm trying to say that I remember TVs, but I'm also older than a lot of the kids these days, so what I meant to say was

Jeff: I'm a moron.

Once Jim and I got past the first theme entry, we both enjoyed the concept. My inner (and outer) nerd was delighted by a TRIG FUNCTION being a gathering of mathematicians. That entry won Olivia a POW! all by itself. I've used many a MEDICINE BALL but never thought of it as a party for doctors. And I'm married to one! A doctor, not a medicine ball. Just to be clear.

When an idea spurs me on to search for other examples, that's usually a sign it's a winner. I couldn't find many other theme options, which indicates that it's a tight theme. There was only one that could have worked: SOUND MIXER for us Puget Sound folks or CEMENT MIXER for construction workers.

There was JEFF SESSIONS, but no one may know about the top-secret society known as the Joint Jeffiez Jamz. This paragraph will self-destruct in five seconds.

It's a shame that TV RECEPTION wasn't buried in the middle of the grid. It didn't work as well as the others, because who besides me thinks about TV RECEPTION (the antenna I plug into my computer doesn't work as well as it used to) these days? Minor point, though.

I almost didn't give out the POW!, because the gridwork was far from smooth. It's tough to get past a pile-up of ENTR ETH GTE INE REL RRR TOI and the plural MARYS. And while EEG ENT and TSP are usually fine, they multiplied the feeling of this product still being in process. The root of the issue is in grid design, with the long acrosses mucking things up. TRIED ON, ALTER EGO, AGNOSTIC, I RECKON are all great bonuses, but they make gridding so challenging.

I appreciate Olivia's audacity, giving us STEROID, BRASSIERE, GENDER GAP, and BIG CAT as well. Trying to work in so much long fill — both across and down — is flying too close to the sun, though. It needed another round of revision, with major redesign, to better serve newer Tuesday solvers.

Overall, the theme was so delightful that my human side overcame my robot's technical analysis.

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© 2020, The New York TimesNo. 0324 ( 25,704 )
Across
1
Killer whale : ORCA
5
Radio noise : STATIC
11
Dude : BRO
14
"Awesome!" : COOL
15
City that shares an airport with Seattle : TACOMA
16
Uncooked : RAW
17
The sitcom writers met at a ... : TVRECEPTION
19
Point of no return? : ACE
20
I.C.U. test, maybe : EEG
21
MSNBC host Melber : ARI
22
Office or schoolroom furniture : DESKS
24
Tested, as 26-Across : TRIEDON
26
Casual Friday wear : JEANS
28
The mathematicians met at a ... : TRIGFUNCTION
32
Expressed exasperation ... or relief : SIGHED
35
Spider-Man, for Peter Parker : ALTEREGO
36
Suffix with serpent : INE
37
Like some humor : WRY
38
Trio in elem. school : RRR
39
Neither a believer nor a disbeliever : AGNOSTIC
43
Value highly : ESTEEM
46
The pharmacists met at a ... : MEDICINEBALL
48
Top-notch : ELITE
49
"Methinks" : IRECKON
53
"The Bells of St. ___" (Bing Crosby film and song) : MARYS
55
Telecom of old : GTE
56
Sports tiebreakers, for short : OTS
57
Shocked reaction, online : OMG
58
The Google employees met at a ... : SEARCHPARTY
63
Place for a sensory deprivation tank : SPA
64
Trying experience : ORDEAL
65
Many a TikTok user : TEEN
66
Recipe amt. : TSP
67
Property in buildings and land : REALTY
68
Designer Jacobs : MARC
Down
1
Maids a-milking, e.g. : OCTET
2
Explorer on Mars : ROVER
3
Welsh dog breed : CORGI
4
Ginger ___ (soft drink) : ALE
5
Many an anti-inflammatory medication : STEROID
6
Radio studio session : TAPING
7
Not just stand there : ACT
8
Informal "you," en français : TOI
9
"As I would say," in a text : IMO
10
Bushnell who wrote "Sex and the City" : CANDACE
11
Garment with a French name : BRASSIERE
12
Billiards accessory : RACK
13
Is shy, in a way : OWES
18
Group of officers : CADRE
23
___'acte : ENTR
25
Biblical verb ending : ETH
26
Part of the calendar named for Caesar : JULY
27
"The Lord of the Rings" tree creature : ENT
29
Wacky comedy : FARCE
30
Dungeons & Dragons monster : OGRE
31
Societal expectation : NORM
32
Setting for "The King and I" : SIAM
33
"Picnic" playwright William : INGE
34
Male/female pay differential, e.g. : GENDERGAP
37
"A constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy," per Benjamin Franklin : WINE
40
Lubricated : OILY
41
Word with kick or cut : SCISSOR
42
Palindromic bird : TIT
43
Terrestrial : EARTHLY
44
Undercover activity? : SLEEP
45
That special touch, for short : TLC
47
Lion or tiger : BIGCAT
50
Pyongyang's peninsula : KOREA
51
River frolicker : OTTER
52
Boy band with the 2000 hit "Bye Bye Bye" : NSYNC
53
___ likely to succeed : MOST
54
Roadies' equipment : AMPS
59
Bard's "before" : ERE
60
Mathematician Lovelace : ADA
61
Seminary subj. : REL
62
Dough dispenser : ATM

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle.

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