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New York Times, Thursday, March 30, 2017

Author:
Lewis Rothlein
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
36/11/20157/13/20170
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0000300
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1.63000
Lewis Rothlein

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 35 Missing: {JQVWX} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Rothlein. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Lewis Rothlein notes:
I hope that this puzzle brings a hearty aha to many solvers in the process of figuring out how six legitimate-looking answers could be ... read more

I hope that this puzzle brings a hearty aha to many solvers in the process of figuring out how six legitimate-looking answers could be clued so wrongly. I was able to spread things out in two ways. One, having the MIC start two words, end two words, and be in the middle of two. And second, having three horizontal and three vertical theme answers. Also, they are scattered haphazardly to make finding them more challenging. I was pleased to have the reveal actually drop.

After I submitted the puzzle but before I heard back about it, another puzzle on an independent site showed up with the same reveal, and my heart sank. But it turns out that the theme was played differently in that puzzle, so only the reveals turned out to be alike.

Will and Joel had me revise some bad- and dull-fill areas, resulting in a punchier solve. I submitted several clues for most of the answers, and they did an artful job of mixing easier with more difficult while keeping the puzzle in the Thursday level of difficulty. They improved my wording on some and put in some of their own clues when mine were too cutesy or dull. I love their clue for GAIT.

To the solvers out there, may there be many post-puzzle-performance MIC DROP moments for you ahead!

Jeff Chen notes:
Solvers must drop the trigram MIC from words so the entry makes sense with the clue. I particularly enjoyed BALSAMIC to BALSA, and ... read more

Solvers must drop the trigram MIC from words so the entry makes sense with the clue. I particularly enjoyed BALSAMIC to BALSA, and FORMICA to FORA.

I was all ready to grouse about the random placements of the themers (highlighted them below); how that goes against crossword symmetry. But I softened after reading Lewis's note. I still prefer adhering to crossword symmetry, but I appreciate Lewis's line of thinking. I did have some nice surprises during my solve in that way.

Lewis worked in some nice fill into those big corners. EL GRECO and CD PLAYER framing the bottom left were particularly snazzy, especially with a great clue for the latter. [Turner of music] is usually TINA or IKE, yeah? This time it's a literal turn-er of CDs. Fantastic!

A couple of tough entries and crossings — I had to think for a while if I considered them all "fair," i.e. most educated solvers could (or should) figure out the right letters. MBABANE was unfamiliar to me, but not knowing your world capitals = shame on me. One could argue that people shouldn't have to know what a NENE is, but again, world capitals should be a part of every NYT solver's repertoire. (MANAMA, Bahrain was in last year's ACPT final puzzle!)

ZABAR'S crossing ZENER ... good engineers can identify a ZENER diode, but ZENER cards do feel esoteric for the general population. ZABAR'S may be a big deal in upscale restaurants, but this crossing leans over to the unfair-ish side to me, especially to non-New Yorkers.

Some unsavory gluey bits in ECCE, YEE, OBLA, IMA (I wondered about KO'ED … but is KO'D better? KAYOED looks even stranger). But overall, not so bad given the tough construction requiring big open corners, along with a themeless-esque word count of 70. It had a bit of a themeless feel to it, which I liked.

I would have liked more examples of MIC taken out of the middle of words — FOR(MIC)A is more interesting to me than POLE(MIC), for instance — and even better would be some examples using snazzy phrases instead of regular words. But Lewis did discover some good words that have this MIC DROP property.

1
M
2
R
3
I
4
O
5
T
6
R
7
O
8
L
9
A
10
P
11
P
12
E
13
B
E
N
14
B
R
A
N
15
M
I
C
R
O
N
16
A
L
K
17
A
L
I
N
E
18
U
P
H
O
L
D
19
B
A
L
S
A
M
I
C
20
L
I
S
T
E
N
21
A
B
I
T
22
S
N
A
23
R
E
D
24
E
M
O
25
N
E
N
E
26
T
R
O
D
27
G
A
I
T
28
E
L
G
R
29
E
30
C
O
31
B
E
32
Y
O
N
C
E
33
O
L
D
34
E
E
N
35
S
36
C
37
R
I
M
P
38
S
39
F
R
E
E
40
D
41
O
42
M
43
K
O
E
D
44
L
I
45
M
O
46
G
E
R
I
47
I
M
A
48
Z
A
B
A
R
49
S
50
I
N
D
C
51
M
I
C
52
K
E
Y
53
I
M
P
54
O
R
T
E
D
55
O
C
T
A
N
E
56
L
I
A
R
L
I
A
R
57
F
A
T
T
E
R
58
E
C
C
E
59
S
L
O
60
F
L
O
O
R
61
R
A
Y
S
62
T
S
P
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0330 ( 24,614 )
Across
1
Hosp. procedure : MRI
4
Not esto or eso : OTRO
8
Frances Moore ___, author of the best-selling "Diet for a Small Planet" : LAPPE
13
HUD secretary Carson : BEN
14
Milling byproduct : BRAN
15
*Onetime White House nickname : MICRON
16
High-pH : ALKALINE
18
Support : UPHOLD
19
*What may keep a model's weight down? : BALSAMIC
20
"Hear me out ..." : LISTEN
21
Somewhat : ABIT
22
Caught : SNARED
24
Music genre that spawned a fashion style : EMO
25
Rarest state bird : NENE
26
Walked (on) : TROD
27
Shamble, e.g. : GAIT
28
"The Disrobing of Christ" painter, 1579 : ELGRECO
31
Most-nominated woman ever in the Grammys : BEYONCE
33
What it takes decades to grow : OLD
34
Poetic "indeed" : EEN
35
Watches every penny : SCRIMPS
39
It comes at the end of a sentence : FREEDOM
43
Not getting up until after 10? : KOED
44
Something that's long and steep? : LIMO
46
Pop singer Halliwell : GERI
47
"Baby ___ Want You" (1971 hit by Bread) : IMA
48
Famed deli seen in Woody Allen's "Manhattan" : ZABARS
50
Visiting the nation's capital, for short : INDC
51
*Anthem writer : MICKEY
53
Brought in : IMPORTED
55
It's usually in the 80s or 90s : OCTANE
56
Start of a kids' taunt : LIARLIAR
57
More substantial, as a paycheck : FATTER
58
"___ homo" : ECCE
59
Traffic caution : SLO
60
Elevator stop : FLOOR
61
Florida pro team : RAYS
62
About 5 mL : TSP
Down
1
Capital of Swaziland : MBABANE
2
Put a new tag on : RELABEL
3
Vague notion : INKLING
4
Start of a Beatles title : OBLA
5
Adorns : TRIMS
6
Unexpectedly met : RANINTO
7
"It's just getting out of ___ and getting into another" (John Lennon on death) : ONECAR
8
Fatty acid, for one : LIPID
9
German cries : ACHS
10
Ever-changing : PROTEAN
11
*Word after North or South : POLEMIC
12
One may close a book : ENDNOTE
15
Rocky Mountain forager : MULEDEER
17
Something that may be found in a belt : ASTEROID
23
Way overcharge, say : ROB
27
2014 psychological thriller based on a Gillian Flynn novel : GONEGIRL
29
Wood resistant to splitting : ELM
30
Turner of music : CDPLAYER
32
"___-haw!" : YEE
35
Take from the top : SKIMOFF
36
*Shade of black : COMICAL
37
Give one's opinion on, say : REACTTO
38
Bro or sis : SIB
39
*Discussion venues : FORMICA
40
One with a job to fill? : DENTIST
41
Trials : ORDEALS
42
Dramatic ending to a performance ... or a hint to answering the six starred clues : MICDROP
45
Padded envelope : MAILER
48
___ cards (tools used in ESP testing) : ZENER
49
Airheaded : SPACY
52
The Green Hornet's masked driver : KATO
54
Metal containers : ORES

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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