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New York Times, Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Author: Freddie Cheng
Editor: Will Shortz
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77/12/20107/4/20180
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1222000
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1.62000
Freddie Cheng

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FJQVWX} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Cheng. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Freddie Cheng notes: The impetus for this one came from seeing the sign 'Nikola Tesla Corner' on my way to work, on Fifth Av./40th St. next to ... more
Freddie Cheng notes:

The impetus for this one came from seeing the sign "Nikola Tesla Corner" on my way to work, on Fifth Av./40th St. next to Bryant Park in Manhattan. The sign commemorates Tesla's labs nearby on 8W40th Street, as well as his time spent feeding pigeons in Bryant Park. As a former electrical engineer, I am pleased to introduce his full name into the puzzle.

Theme is pretty straightforward, featuring the full set of the non-esoteric TESLA anagrams, ending with LAST BUT NOT LEAST. Favorite non-theme entry is DON'T SPEAK, which was a massive hit for No Doubt. More personally, however, I liked it more because it's a phrase that stuck in my mind from the Woody Allen movie "Bullets over Broadway," where Dianne Wiest's character uses the phrase repeatedly on her opposites, with much comical effect. Not laugh-out funny, but I just found it very amusing and memorable for some reason. Not surprisingly, she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for that role.

Constructor logs: this was submitted way back in November 2013, and accepted in April 2014.

Jeff Chen notes: TALES, STEAL, SLATE, STALE, TESLA, and LEAST = SIX themers in total! Often, anagram puzzles can result in bleh themers due to the ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

TALES, STEAL, SLATE, STALE, TESLA, and LEAST = SIX themers in total! Often, anagram puzzles can result in bleh themers due to the difficulty of finding good anagrams, but Freddie did a great job. CANTERBURY TALES and the crazy inventor NIKOLA TESLA are my favorites (I'm also a former engineer). And LAST BUT NOT LEAST in the last theme position is a beautiful touch.

At first, I hesitated on GOING STALE, as I'm used to hearing WENT STALE or GO STALE. (I'm very careful in adding different tenses into our word list, as sometimes a particular tense hits my ear wrong.) But after some thought, GOING STALE is fine. Many food items in my kitchen are in the process of GOING STALE right now.

Not only does Freddie use six themers, but all of them are fairly long — a ton of material to build around. An incredibly rough grid-building task.

The lower left is a good example of the problems that high theme density creates. Working around the starts of NIKOLA TESLA and LAST BUT NOT LEAST means that three down answers are already heavily constrained. I think the result is decent, but for a Tuesday puzzle, I worry that IZAAK crossing UZI and SKYE might give some solvers fits. As a constructor, you want to set solvers up for a fair win. I'm not sure this does that.

Same with KEPI / SISAL in the upper right. I know what a KEPI is because it was a themer in one of my puzzles, but faced with that intersection otherwise … oof, that would be rough.

A lot of crossword glue elsewhere: A MUST and TO THE as long partials, SSR, USTA, ASSN, LII, etc. = too much for one puzzle, especially when early-week, newer solvers can be turned off.

And NULLS ... nullifies, yeah?

Neat to get so many strong phrases using the anagrammed letters — I can't remember six that were this good in any other anagramming puzzle — but a heavy price to pay in grid execution.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0307 ( 24,591 )
Across Down
1. Things that may be displayed on a general's chest : MEDALS
7. "Oh no!," in comics : ACK
10. Old Testament prophet : AMOS
14. "Leave this to me!" : IMONIT
15. West who said "It's better to be looked over than overlooked" : MAE
16. Foreign Legion hat : KEPI
17. Famously unfinished 14th-century literary work, with "The" : CANTERBURYTALES
20. Hotel name synonymous with poshness : RITZ
21. Org. whose motto is "We are their voice" : ASPCA
22. Historical period : ERA
23. "Happy Days" diner : ALS
24. "How cheap!" : THATSASTEAL
27. Exam for the college-bound, for short : PSAT
29. Reggae relative : SKA
30. What one might start over with : CLEANSLATE
35. Arthur Ashe Stadium org. : USTA
39. Prevents litter? : SPAYS
40. Beverage that may be 41-Across : ALE
41. Alternative to "bottled" : ONTAP
42. "Shame on you!" sounds : TSKS
43. Losing crunchiness, as chips : GOINGSTALE
45. Ukr., e.g., once : SSR
47. Org.'s cousin : ASSN
48. Historical figure played by David Bowie in "The Prestige" : NIKOLATESLA
54. Narcotics-fighting grp. : DEA
57. Rapid-fire gun : UZI
58. Embellish : ADORN
59. Uphill aid for skiers : TBAR
60. "Finally ..." : LASTBUTNOTLEAST
64. Cut with a beam : LASE
65. Sighs of relief : AHS
66. Some family reunion attendees : NIECES
67. ___ terrier : SKYE
68. Tennis do-over : LET
69. Like wind chimes : TINKLY
1. Millionths of a meter : MICRA
2. Spam medium : EMAIL
3. "Shhh!" : DONTSPEAK
4. Movie that came out about the same time as "A Bug's Life" : ANTZ
5. Emulate Pinocchio : LIE
6. Orch. section : STR
7. Something necessary : AMUST
8. Gripes : CARPS
9. It's just for openers : KEYCASE
10. Letters on a "Wanted" poster : AKA
11. Major scuffle : MELEE
12. Sydney ___ House : OPERA
13. Agave fiber used in rugs : SISAL
18. Sheep sound : BAA
19. Job to do : TASK
24. Catches some rays : TANS
25. Altitudes: Abbr. : HTS
26. Gibes : TAUNTS
28. States positively : SAYSSO
30. Winter hrs. in Texas : CST
31. The Stones' "12 x 5" and "Flowers" : LPS
32. Chinese philosopher ___-tzu : LAO
33. "___ Baba and the Forty Thieves" : ALI
34. Full complement of bowling pins : TEN
36. "Give him some space!" : STANDBACK
37. Chess champ Mikhail : TAL
38. Copy : APE
41. Bones, anatomically : OSSA
43. Done bit by bit : GRADUAL
44. Half of a square dance duo : GAL
46. Chunk of concrete : SLAB
48. Makes void : NULLS
49. ___ Walton League (conservation group) : IZAAK
50. Given to smooching : KISSY
51. ___ nth degree : TOTHE
52. Dadaist Max : ERNST
53. Lead-in to Cat or cone : SNO
55. Prop found near a palette : EASEL
56. ___-craftsy : ARTSY
59. 27-Across taker, typically : TEEN
61. Shape of a three-way intersection : TEE
62. Channel with explosive content? : TNT
63. 52, in old Rome : LII

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

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