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New York Times, Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Author: Peter Koetters
Editor: Will Shortz
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210/17/20123/27/20180
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0011000
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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 ... more
Peter Koetters notes:

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! ... more
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! 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 Down
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
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
22. "Family Ties" mom : ELYSE
25. Parts of barrios : CASAS
26. Northern archipelago dweller : ALEUT
27. Luxury S.U.V. import : RANGEROVER
28. Alley sounds : MEOWS
29. Harmonizers with soprani and bassi : ALTI
30. What drones collect : INTEL
31. What waiting for overdue results can be : AGONY
34. Ancient civilization around Susa : ELAM
36. Shroud of ___ : TURIN
40. Treat with one's choice of syrup : SNOCONE
41. Taught privately : TUTORED
42. ___ a one : NARY
43. Conscript : DRAFTEE
47. What a janitor does : CLEANS
49. Some upscale chain hotels : OMNIS
50. Protection for a shark diver : CAGE
51. Baltic city where Baryshnikov was born : RIGA
52. 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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