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New York Times, Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Author:
Freddie Cheng
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
97/12/20107/5/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1232010
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61000
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
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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 )

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Across
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
Down
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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