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New York Times, Thursday, March 9, 2017

Author: Jeremy Newton
Editor: Will Shortz
Jeremy Newton
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
176/15/20083/9/20172
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13011200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.81663

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 46 Missing: {QX} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry Scrabble average: 1.90 This is puzzle # 17 for Mr. Newton. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeremy Newton notes: I started the WORK/LIFE BALANCE theme in a Sunday-sized grid, with multiple 'scales' ... soon after, realizing this is more of a ... more
Jeremy Newton notes:

I started the WORK/LIFE BALANCE theme in a Sunday-sized grid, with multiple "scales" ... soon after, realizing this is more of a one-note punchline. So I decided a 15x15 puzzle would best drive it home. I loved the idea of taking this concept most of us struggle with on a regular basis and creating a literal representation.

I made a grab bag of possible WORK and LIFE theme answers and mixed-and-matched until I found a smooth combo. Near the end of constructing the bottom half, I noticed by chance that WEIGHS and SCALES fit symmetrically across the revealer. Both help round out the theme, so that was a nice happy accident.

Favorite part was coming up with the two long vertical entries at 5- and 7-Down. Lots of possible combos, which is always fun for a chance to liven up the grid.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Jeff Chen notes: Neat idea, to have WORK and LIFE balanced … on sets of black squares that look like balances! Along with WORK LIFE BALANCE ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Neat idea, to have WORK and LIFE balanced … on sets of black squares that look like balances! Along with WORK LIFE BALANCE (conveniently 15 letters long; a constructor's dream), plus WEIGHS and SCALES, it made for a pretty picture.

Jeremy is so good with his gridwork. One of his sticks in my mind as a favorite Sunday, partially because it required such incredible craftsmanship in incredibly jam-packed regions. Similar requirement in today's puzzle, what with so many down answers needing to work with each other on both sides of the scales.

Take the left side, for example. Not only do PIECE OF WORK, SAFE FOR WORK, REWORK, and NETWORK have to work (pun intended) together through TOO REAL and FRET, but PIECE OF WORK and SAFE FOR WORK have to coordinate all the way up to the top. So many constraints to work around.

The result is nice and smooth, although I did hitch on TOO REAL, wondering if it needs to be (ALL) TOO REAL. And I've seen NSFW plenty, but never SFW. In the end, both did seem passable, though.

Interesting long fill elsewhere in the grid, too. I particularly enjoyed MAGIC LAMPS, PHOTO OP, and BBC NEWS, especially what with that crazy-looking BBCN* four-consonant start.

VEGAN PIZZA … I wondered about that. It is a real thing, but I worry that it opens the door for the arbitrary VEGAN BURGER, VEGAN SANDWICH, VEGAN POT PIE, etc. And AS YOU DO sounded out of tune to my ear. (Maybe because I'm not a Brit.)

It did feel repetitive to have WORK and LIFE and then WORK LIFE BALANCE. Plus, the .puz file was coded with rebus squares of (WORK)(WORK)(WORK)(WORK) and (LIFE)(LIFE)(LIFE)(LIFE), whereas I really wanted them to just be W O R K and L I F E. The grid and answers (below) are adjusted to the non-rebus approach, which I think is more elegant.

Interesting visual concept, along with some great execution, given the dauntingly dense theme-packing.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0309 ( 24,593 )
Across Down
1. "Don't text and drive" spots, e.g., for short : PSAS
5. Dallas pro, informally : MAV
8. Extemporizes, in a way : JAMS
12. R&B artist with the 2004 hit "1, 2 Step" : CIARA
13. Manhattan's Park, e.g.: Abbr. : AVE
14. Shimmery stones : OPALS
16. Substantial : HEFTY
17. Band's booking : GIG
18. "Make sense?" : GETIT
19. First-class, in slang : ACES
20. Gilt-y party? : MIDAS
22. Retro skyscraper style : DECO
23. Sports monitor, for short : REF
24. Actor Cage, to friends : NIC
25. Org. that penalizes icing : NHL
27. Like the yin side: Abbr. : FEM
28. Uncomfortably close to home : TOOREAL
30. Flashy event? : PHOTOOP
32. Brood : FRET
33. He said "If you even dream of beating me, you'd better wake up and apologize" : ALI
35. "Star Trek: T.N.G." Klingon : WORF
36. One half of a 55-Across : WORK
37. "Les ___" : MIZ
38. The other half of a 55-Across : LIFE
39. Candy sold in stacked bricks : PEZ
40. Airer of many public affairs programmes : BBCNEWS
46. Naturally, in Britspeak : ASYOUDO
53. Spark : AROUSE
54. Gave a damn? : CURSED
55. Challenge in a demanding job ... or a feature of this puzzle? : WORKLIFEBALANCE
59. Single : LONE
60. "Dead Souls" author Nikolai : GOGOL
61. Neighbor of Myanmar : LAOS
62. Narrowly made, with "out" : EKED
63. Message on a candy heart : HUGME
64. Some briefs : BVDS
65. Government org. featured on "Narcos" : DEA
66. Grubby group : SLOBS
67. Positive feedback : YEA
1. Unpleasant sort : PIECEOFWORK
2. Office-friendly, to YouTubers : SAFEFORWORK
3. Music and theater, e.g. : ARTS
4. "Here's a thought ..." : SAY
5. Things from which genii are summoned : MAGICLAMPS
6. Passionate : AVID
7. Pie made with dairy-free cheese, maybe : VEGANPIZZA
8. Brief, abrupt change in direction : JOG
9. Made an impression? : APED
10. Have an unchanging, monogamous relationship : MATEFORLIFE
11. Peek into the everyday : SLICEOFLIFE
12. Put on the map : CHART
15. Tread not so lightly : STOMP
20. Unaccounted for, for short : MIA
21. "Put a cork in it!" : SHH
24. Exchange business cards, maybe : NETWORK
26. Good-for-nothing : LOWLIFE
29. Overhaul : REWORK
31. "L'chaim!" : TOLIFE
34. Bit of fake news : LIE
40. Broke down, in a way : BAWLED
41. Edward ___, first popularly elected African-American U.S. senator (Massachusetts, 1967-79) : BROOKE
42. You can see right through it : CORNEA
43. Reheated, in a way : NUKED
44. Immigrant's class: Abbr. : ESL
45. Puts on the 47-Down : WEIGHS
47. What some black squares in this grid represent : SCALES
48. Brynner of "The Magnificent Seven" : YUL
49. Dental care brand : ORALB
50. Org. for Carter and Bush Sr. before they became presidents : USNAVY
51. Puzzle out : DECODE
52. Texas oil city : ODESSA
56. Cry ___ : FOUL
57. Frozen food brand with French Toaster Sticks : EGGO
58. Fail ignominiously : BOMB

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle.

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