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New York Times, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Author:
Jeff Stillman
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
51/28/20145/22/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0032000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53010
Jeff Stillman

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Stillman. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Stillman notes:
The inspiration for this puzzle actually didn't make it into the final submitted version. I was watching The Bourne Ultimatum on TV ... read more

The inspiration for this puzzle actually didn't make it into the final submitted version. I was watching The Bourne Ultimatum on TV and wondered if Matt Damon (who had sworn off the character) would ever be Bourne again. That was the catalyst: BOURNE AGAIN (Clued for the second film he did: "Matt Damon, in 2004?"). Then it was on to a quick search of characters that have had sequels, and BOND, ROCKY, and AXEL came very quickly. Various other characters made a case to be included (OCEAN, BUZZ, GOD), but I couldn't get a clever enough clue.

I almost submitted the puzzle with those four entries, but I had the nagging thought that BOURNE was the only homophone in the bunch. Cue the Sesame Street song playing in my head: "One of these things is not like the others…" Fearing a rejection, I went back to the well and came up with SOLO, which led to a very pleasing clue. And being a diehard Star Wars fan (I have faith in you, J.J. Abrams!), I was doubly pleased to include that entry.

Jeff Chen notes:
By nature, crosswords targeting a particular subject area will delight a portion of solvers while leaving others shrugging their ... read more

By nature, crosswords targeting a particular subject area will delight a portion of solvers while leaving others shrugging their shoulders. Count me in the former category — BOND, SOLO, ROCKY, and AXEL (Foley) were huge parts of my childhood. Total delight.

The NYSE trading floor, back in the day

I especially liked the wordplay on BOND TRADERS, as it describes so perfectly the switching of Connery to Lazenby to Connery for the lead role. Plus, BOND TRADERS! I know there are very few actual traders on the floor of a stock/bond market flashing specialized hand signals, but the phrase still evokes a colorful image in my mind.

ROCKY START also gave me a smile, as plenty of people complain about the way Rocky I starts the series. My wife and I recently sat down to watch Rocky I (her first time, my nth), and her reaction at the end was (SPOLIER ALERT!):

"What the bleep?! Rocky doesn't win?" Or something to that effect.

TRIPLE AXEL was also apt, since there were three "Beverly Hills Cop" movies. It felt a little odd though, since people refer to BOND, SOLO, and ROCKY by those singular names, and AXEL isn't quite to that level.

Saving the best for last, Han SOLO. My childhood hero, a stereotype-breaking space cowboy, an olio of human greed, moxie, and honor that surprised even him. (FLYING SOLO would have made this perhaps my favorite puzzle in a while. Sigh, a man-boy can dream.)

As if that weren't enough, it's a rare puzzle where the fill catches my eye. CETOLOGY is such a cool, odd word that I wanted to study it (both whales and the word itself). It's usually hard to wow me with single-word entries, but getting DACTYLS, CHIANTI, LARIAT, SUBTITLE along with DEEP END and AL DENTE was a barrage of goodness.

Like some (many? most?) of my choices, not all will agree that this one was the NYT Puzzle of the Week. For those that disagree with my choice, I answer: 1.) there are indeed at least two other puzzles this week I seriously considered and 2.) hokey religions and and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0304 ( 23,857 )
Across
1
Bow-toter on seasonal cards : CUPID
6
Piano exercise : SCALE
11
Cold and blustery : RAW
14
Turn topsy-turvy : UPEND
15
John Lennon's tribute to Yoko Ono : WOMAN
16
In vitro needs : OVA
17
Connery and Lazenby, between 1967 and 1971? : BONDTRADERS
19
Tesla, for one : CAR
20
Prefix with matter : ANTI
21
Neighbor of a Yemeni : OMANI
22
Record problem : SKIP
23
Hood's piece : GAT
25
Poetic feet : DACTYLS
27
Study of whales : CETOLOGY
32
Beginning of a conclusion : THUS
33
Boston Garden legend : ORR
34
Walrus mustache feature : DROOP
36
Lay to rest : INTER
39
River of Orléans : LOIRE
41
Scrape (out) : EKE
42
Tiny type size : AGATE
43
Poplar variety : ASPEN
44
European finch : SERIN
46
Competed in the last leg of a triathlon : RAN
47
After the whistle : LATE
49
Foreign film feature : SUBTITLE
51
Where to take a dive : DEEPEND
54
Twin or quadruplet, for short : SIB
55
Cy Young candidates' stats : ERAS
56
___-watch : BINGE
59
The same, in footnotes : IDEM
63
"Empire" network : FOX
64
What Harrison Ford was doing in 1977, 1980 and 1983? : PLAYINGSOLO
66
Tribute in rhyme : ODE
67
Father of Impressionism : MONET
68
Novi Sad natives : SERBS
69
Popular Japanese pizza topping : EEL
70
Skedaddles : SCATS
71
To date : ASYET
Down
1
Homeland of many Miamians : CUBA
2
Over : UPON
3
Confined, with "up" : PENT
4
Spectrum hue : INDIGO
5
"Silent Spring" pesticide : DDT
6
Competed in the first leg of a triathlon : SWAM
7
Sonata ending : CODA
8
Add a rider to, say : AMEND
9
Ring in a rodeo ring : LARIAT
10
PT boat officer: Abbr. : ENS
11
1976, for Stallone's rise to stardom? : ROCKYSTART
12
Be of use : AVAIL
13
Board defects : WARPS
18
Turbine part : ROTOR
22
Deeply offended : STUNG
24
Still a little firm : ALDENTE
26
Wine traditionally sold in a fiasco : CHIANTI
27
Bar mixer : COLA
28
Counterpart of 1-Across : EROS
29
Eddie Murphy, after 1984, 1987 and 1994? : TRIPLEAXEL
30
Says, in teenspeak : GOES
31
Symbols of servitude : YOKES
35
Land bordering Lake Titicaca : PERU
37
Citation abbr. : ETAL
38
President Coty of France : RENE
40
Swings a sickle, say : REAPS
45
"The Wild Duck" dramatist : IBSEN
48
All together : ENBLOC
50
Once-sacred birds : IBISES
51
Author who wrote on Friday? : DEFOE
52
Chip away at : ERODE
53
Title woman of a 1957 #1 Paul Anka hit : DIANA
57
Russian refusal : NYET
58
Skedaddles : GITS
60
Boat with oars : DORY
61
Dresden's river : ELBE
62
Guinness Book adjective : MOST
64
Cameron and Blair, for short : PMS
65
Govt. property org. : GSA

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?