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New York Times, Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Author:
Mary Lou Guizzo and Erik Agard
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
244/17/20143/6/201913
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
31153641
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61440
Mary Lou Guizzo
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3511/6/20123/20/201915
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
83455361
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61150
Erik Agard

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 81, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 24 for Ms. Guizzo. This is puzzle # 34 for Mr. Agard. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Mary Lou: Erik got in touch with me last January about co-constructing a themeless. We emailed a few times about it before I shared a grid ... read more

Mary Lou:

Erik got in touch with me last January about co-constructing a themeless. We emailed a few times about it before I shared a grid I'd been playing around with. It had the LION->LIMN->LIMB->LAMB words in the corners and three other themers. Together we came up with three themers that were stronger than the ones I had initially chosen. Erik then arranged them in a grid with a ladder structure. I filled the grid and Erik tweaked it slightly. We worked together on the cluing. It was a privilege and a pleasure to work with Erik. So glad he reached out to me. Hopefully we'll get back to that themeless soon.

Jeff Chen notes:
MARCH comes in like a LION, out like a LAMB. Great fodder for crossword interpretation. Solid phrases, MARCH OF PROGRESS, showing a ... read more

MARCH comes in like a LION, out like a LAMB. Great fodder for crossword interpretation.

Solid phrases, MARCH OF PROGRESS, showing a progression from WINTER WONDERLAND to SPRING HAS SPRUNG. I liked that notion. I did wonder about WINTER WONDERLAND, which is the opposite of being like a lion — more gentle and lamb-esque, yeah? But WINTER WONDERLAND is fun to say, so I let it slide.

Not hot on the word ladder, though. So many word ladders have been done over the years that one has to be sizzlingly incredible to stand out. The motion from LION to LAMB is a good raison d'etre, but if you have to include LIMN, that's a reason to brainstorm other ways of showing LION -> LAMB.

I wondered if my cringing reaction to a featured rung in the ladder was unfounded. I had seen it recently in a Matt Gaffney metapuzzle, where Matt had painted himself into an extremely difficult corner to fill. Matt's one of the best, and he admitted that compromises had to be made.

Joon Pahk, who's way smarter than me – a former physics prof, winner of six-figures on "Jeopardy!" – agreed, tactfully saying "LIMN is an unusual word."

I asked my wife Jill, who went to Harvard, then med school, and is always educating herself in new subjects. She knew what it meant, but said she wouldn't use it in conversation, for fear of 1.) mispronouncing it and 2.) the other person not understanding her.

Out of curiosity, I wondered how long a ladder would be required if you used only "good" words. I came up with LION LOON LOIN LAIN LAWN DAWN DAMN DAMP LAMP LAMB. Yikes, much longer. And admittedly, LAIN isn't great.

Now, I did enjoy the bonuses in the fill. CORDON BLEU, LET IT SLIDE, GIANT PANDA are fantastic. Spiced up the solve.

HEAR THINGS felt a tad off though, not as strong as HEARING THINGS. And ooh my, OMOO was the only thing that could be jammed in between LION and MARCH OF PROGRESS? Oof. Or should I say, OXX?

A strong idea, with three fun, colorful themers. But I would have enjoyed a simpler idea more: LION at 1-A, and LAMB as the final across answer.

1
W
2
H
3
I
4
M
5
L
6
I
7
O
8
N
9
I
10
C
11
A
12
N
13
T
14
P
E
N
A
15
O
M
O
O
16
N
O
V
A
E
17
M
A
R
C
18
H
O
F
P
R
19
O
G
R
E
S
S
20
R
E
A
R
21
S
E
X
22
D
R
A
T
23
S
24
I
T
25
W
E
26
B
27
B
28
E
X
29
P
O
30
K
O
H
31
L
S
32
L
I
33
M
N
34
A
N
35
G
36
E
37
R
38
E
D
I
E
39
D
E
L
I
40
L
A
B
I
L
E
41
W
I
N
T
42
E
R
W
O
N
43
D
E
R
L
A
N
D
44
E
D
G
I
L
Y
45
X
I
I
I
46
E
N
I
D
47
R
E
S
T
S
48
L
I
M
B
49
B
U
T
N
O
50
S
A
51
T
E
52
A
S
53
T
I
54
P
O
T
55
T
56
A
57
I
L
58
A
T
59
L
60
O
K
61
R
A
62
S
P
R
I
63
N
G
H
A
64
S
65
S
P
R
U
N
66
G
67
A
S
A
D
A
68
A
L
A
I
69
A
N
D
Y
70
R
E
N
E
W
71
L
A
M
B
72
M
E
A
N
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0306 ( 25,320 )
Across
1
Caprice : WHIM
5
Rung #1 of an apt word ladder : LION
9
"Too frustrating for me!" : ICANT
14
Michael who played the title role in 2014's "Cesar Chavez" : PENA
15
Melville work following "Typee" : OMOO
16
Exploding stars : NOVAE
17
History moving forward : MARCHOFPROGRESS
20
Bring up ... or something brought up : REAR
21
Same-___ marriage : SEX
22
"Phooey" : DRAT
23
Canine command : SIT
25
"The Amazing Spider-Man" director, amazingly enough : WEBB
28
Trade show : EXPO
30
Alternative to Target : KOHLS
32
Rung #2 of the ladder : LIMN
34
Ire : ANGER
38
Actress Falco : EDIE
39
Supermarket section : DELI
40
Readily open to change : LABILE
41
Snowy expanse : WINTERWONDERLAND
44
In a nervous manner : EDGILY
45
Lowest number not found on a grandfather clock : XIII
46
Woman's name that's a city in Oklahoma : ENID
47
Takes five : RESTS
48
Rung #3 of the ladder : LIMB
49
"And yet ..." : BUTNO
50
Quench : SATE
52
Italian province where Moscato is produced : ASTI
54
Follower of crack or crock : POT
55
Shadow : TAIL
58
Where Hawks soar: Abbr. : ATL
60
South side? : OKRA
62
Cry when warmer weather returns : SPRINGHASSPRUNG
67
Taqueria option : ASADA
68
Jai ___ : ALAI
69
Funny Samberg : ANDY
70
Subscription option : RENEW
71
Rung #4 of the ladder : LAMB
72
Not nice : MEAN
Down
1
Typist's stat: Abbr. : WPM
2
Experience auditory hallucinations : HEARTHINGS
3
Latin phrase on memos : INRE
4
New World parrots : MACAWS
5
English head : LOO
6
Global financial org. : IMF
7
"Didn't intend for that!" : OOPS
8
Irish girl's name related to the word "honor" : NOREEN
9
Dutch banking giant : ING
10
Stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese : CORDONBLEU
11
Allege : AVER
12
Big employer in Huntsville, Ala. : NASA
13
Try : TEST
18
Charlemagne's domain: Abbr. : HRE
19
Losing line in tic-tac-toe : OXX
23
Spit in the food? : SKEWER
24
I-, in chemistry : IODIDE
26
Gusted : BLEW
27
City just east of Gulfport : BILOXI
29
1950s-'60s TV emcee Jack : PAAR
31
Not be bothered by something : LETITSLIDE
33
Lower limits, in math : MINIMA
35
National Zoo animal on loan from China : GIANTPANDA
36
Current event? : ELNINO
37
Hindu's bindi, traditionally : REDDOT
39
Needing moisturizer : DRY
40
Gift for a ukulele player : LEI
42
To whom "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" is sung : ELSA
43
"It's mine!" : DIBS
48
Deadly : LETHAL
49
Style of yoga in a heated room : BIKRAM
51
Identify : TAG
53
Best : TOP
55
Peter or Paul : TSAR
56
Area abutting a transept : APSE
57
Country with a Supreme Leader : IRAN
59
___ land : LALA
61
Part of a Viking message : RUNE
63
"Uh-uh" : NAW
64
Singer/songwriter Smith : SAM
65
One you might squabble with in the back seat : SIB
66
OB/___ : GYN

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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