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New York Times, Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Author:
Peter Koetters
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
210/17/20123/27/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0011000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54010
Peter Koetters

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 36 Missing: {BKQZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Koetters. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter Koetters notes:
HEAD DOVER HEELS? BOISE GONNA BE MAD? ANNAPOLIS TASTY? HELENA HANDBASKET? A LINCOLN THE CHAIN? RALEIGH FINGERS? RICHMOND POORMAN? ... read more

HEAD DOVER HEELS? BOISE GONNA BE MAD? ANNAPOLIS TASTY? HELENA HANDBASKET? A LINCOLN THE CHAIN? RALEIGH FINGERS? RICHMOND POORMAN?

All rejected ideas for my "capital punishment" puzzle. Yes, that would have been the title. Maybe it's best there are no titles in a weekday puzzle as there are enough groaners here already. I do like HELENA HANDBASKET, but it has too many letters, sadly.

Only my second time in the New York Times, and I am already resorting to puns. Sad but true. As for state capitals, Mrs. Wickersham, my fifth-grade teacher, would be pleased. I can still remember studying with Emily Williams who, every time the word "Harrisburg" was uttered would cry out "Harrisburg to you too!" It made no sense at all, but somehow I still remember the capital of Pennsylvania that way. Nonsensical word associations of that ilk, when puns were unavailable, got me through all the memorization I had to do to survive medical school. Thank you, Emily, and Harrisburg to you too!

Jeff Chen notes:
During my MBA, we finance types constantly made fun of the marketing wannabes. Those who can't do math make up ridiculous slogans! ... read more

During my MBA, we finance types constantly made fun of the marketing wannabes. Those who can't do math make up ridiculous slogans! These days, I appreciate marketing much more, so the idea of state capitals coming up with punny ad slogans made me laugh. I loved Michigan trying to attract writers by offering FREE LANSING (freelancing) opportunities.

Not as sure about blowing into Maine on AUGUSTA WIND (a gust of wind). Is Maine windy? Seemed odd.

And the come-on to Alaska, that it's MORE THAN JUNEAU (more than you know). Wouldn't a more effective slogan involve bears? Glaciers?

This is probably why I didn't (couldn't) go into marketing.

Finally, CONCORD MY FEARS took me forever to figure out. CONCORD = conquered? Really?

This is probably why I've had so few pun themes accepted.

The allure of a low-word-count grid beckons to many constructors; a siren song. It usually shouldn't be heeded, because it almost always requires trade-offs that make the solving experience less pleasurable. This is especially important in an early-week puzzle, aimed at less experienced solvers.

It is kind of cool to have SNO CONE and TUTORED next to each other, both fine mid-length entries. But the cost of NEGRI ("you have to know these kinds of esoteric things to do crosswords?" – and crossing a tough European capital)? Granted, I think all world capitals are fair game for educated solvers. RIGA isn't OSLO or LONDON, though.

Check out MALAYSIA, too. Love it as fill usually, but it sure makes that NE region big and tough to fill. ELYSE is another esoteric name (see: ELAM), and ENTO ain't great. Unfortunately, there's no quick fix, so the grid would have had to be redone with a completely different block pattern (aiming at 76 or 78 words). That's probably what should have happened.

I like the notion of a bunch of slick marketers brainstorming ad campaigns. I had some problems with the overall execution, though.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0327 ( 24,976 )
Across
1
Fellows : CHAPS
6
Mystic in a turban : SWAMI
11
Fixer at a horse race? : VET
14
Leader in a turban : RAJAH
15
Less risqué : TAMER
16
"Black-___" (ABC sitcom) : ISH
17
Alternative to National or Enterprise : ALAMO
18
Luxury handbag maker : PRADA
19
Magpie relative : JAY
20
"Explore Alaska! It's ___!" : MORETHANJUNEAU
23
Sack : LOOT
24
A fleur-de-lis is a stylized one : LILY
25
Wine server : CARAFE
28
Kuala Lumpur's home : MALAYSIA
32
Like : ALA
33
"Writers and photographers will find Michigan a great place for ___!" : FREELANSING
35
Shipped : SENT
37
Drawn straw, say : LOT
38
Within: Prefix : ENTO
39
"Blow into Maine on ___!" : AUGUSTAWIND
44
___-X : GEN
45
Breastbones : STERNUMS
46
In a mischievous manner : ARCHLY
48
Hoot : RIOT
49
Kind of fixation : ORAL
50
"I was afraid to ski, but in New Hampshire I ___!" : CONCORDMYFEARS
56
John : LAV
57
Belted one out of this world? : ORION
58
Implied : TACIT
59
It goes before beauty, in a saying : AGE
60
Pola ___ of the silents : NEGRI
61
Other side : ENEMY
62
Each : PER
63
Red-jacketed cheeses : EDAMS
64
Southend-on-Sea's county : ESSEX
Down
1
Finally hit the books : CRAM
2
Xbox space-war franchise : HALO
3
Nearly closed : AJAR
4
Actress Anderson : PAMELA
5
Launched, as a missile : SHOTOFF
6
Green party honoree, briefly? : STPAT
7
Put on guard : WARN
8
Key with three sharps: Abbr. : AMAJ
9
Section of the brain : MEDULLA
10
Citizen of a theocratic republic : IRANIAN
11
Fijian-born golf Hall-of-Famer : VIJAYSINGH
12
Isaac's firstborn : ESAU
13
Possessive in the Ten Commandments : THY
21
Gardener, often : HOER
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"Family Ties" mom : ELYSE
25
Parts of barrios : CASAS
26
Northern archipelago dweller : ALEUT
27
Luxury S.U.V. import : RANGEROVER
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Alley sounds : MEOWS
29
Harmonizers with soprani and bassi : ALTI
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What drones collect : INTEL
31
What waiting for overdue results can be : AGONY
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Ancient civilization around Susa : ELAM
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Shroud of ___ : TURIN
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Treat with one's choice of syrup : SNOCONE
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Taught privately : TUTORED
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___ a one : NARY
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Conscript : DRAFTEE
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What a janitor does : CLEANS
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Some upscale chain hotels : OMNIS
50
Protection for a shark diver : CAGE
51
Baltic city where Baryshnikov was born : RIGA
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Housing that's often empty in the summer : DORM
53
The best, in slang : ACES
54
Hoarfrost : RIME
55
River to Hades : STYX
56
Baby sitter? : LAP

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle.

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