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New York Times, Saturday, April 1, 2017

Author:
Howard Barkin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
87/23/20144/12/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1202111
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64100
Howard Barkin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 80, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Barkin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Howard Barkin notes:
I wanted to try something a bit different. Experienced solvers become very familiar with common answers (OREO, etc.). So I thought ... read more

I wanted to try something a bit different. Experienced solvers become very familiar with common answers (OREO, etc.).

So I thought to use the most common clues that we take for granted ("Part of HOMES" for ERIE, etc.). My original versions had no "TWO BY FOURS," and had two extra rebus words in the corners. However, I felt the fill was not up to snuff, and the extra themers did not add to the surprise. After some suggestion and rework, the grid you see came to be.

I intended this for a Thursday trick and clued accordingly. Mr. Shortz, in his wisdom, decided this would be a nice April Fools' Day trick. Some of the cluing has been toughened up for a Saturday, and possibly to help disguise the rebus a bit more.

I just hope it's not too frustrating, nor too easy.

Jeff Chen notes:
Hey, what's this 80-word puzzle doing in place of our expected themeless? Ah, note the date ... April Fool's! Howard gives us four ... read more

Hey, what's this 80-word puzzle doing in place of our expected themeless? Ah, note the date ... April Fool's!

Howard gives us four examples of uber-common crossword entries you can ink in without even thinking … or can you? That Great Lake has to be ERIE … or is it MI/CH/IG/AN! The OREO is switched for the TH/IN/MI/NT, ANTI is CO/NT/RA/RY, and the ubiquitous OSLO is HE/LS/IN/KI.

Fun idea. The WSJ, unfortunately, ran this same idea recently, but that's part of the crossword game. Too bad about getting scooped, Howard.

I don't mind when a constructor goes up to 80 words, as long as I get enough bonus fill. Love GUNNED IT; evocative entry. HAVE NOTS, PIT BULLS, GINORMOUS, SIN TAX are all excellent. But I would have preferred a little more, considering the "theme" answers were so short, and I was expecting a themeless jam-packed with juicy entries.

Howard did get the grid fairly smooth for an audacious 16-rebus square puzzle, which I appreciated — only some minor AIRE, SSE, IN NO kind of stuff. IN NO isn't good, but it's understandable given that it's smack dab in the middle of the puzzle, a tough region to fill given the presence of two "themers" and GINORMOUS, all making for an inflexible area.

I can see why Will was okay running this on a Saturday — it was incredibly hard for me. Very tricksy to figure out what was going on. But daily solvers expecting two themelesses on the weekend might be a little let down, as I was. I like (and fear) my hard Saturday themeless fix!

1
MI
2
CH
3
IG
4
AN
5
S
6
W
7
A
8
R
9
M
10
H
11
D
12
T
13
V
14
N
O
L
A
15
L
A
N
A
I
16
A
I
R
E
17
G
U
E
S
18
S
A
G
A
I
N
19
V
S
I
X
20
S
A
U
T
E
21
M
O
22
L
E
S
23
P
24
R
I
Z
E
25
E
E
R
I
N
E
26
S
27
S
28
A
C
A
I
29
TH
30
IN
MI
NT
31
N
O
N
O
S
32
W
A
S
33
S
O
N
G
34
S
E
T
T
L
E
35
G
I
N
O
R
36
M
O
U
S
37
S
38
P
39
R
U
N
G
40
A
A
R
P
41
P
42
S
43
A
44
M
E
A
N
T
45
CO
NT
RA
RY
46
S
I
K
H
47
U
N
S
N
A
48
R
L
S
49
A
T
T
Y
S
50
H
E
X
A
D
51
B
52
L
U
R
B
53
S
54
P
E
D
55
T
W
56
O
B
Y
F
O
U
57
R
58
S
59
T
O
R
I
60
E
A
R
L
E
61
P
L
E
A
62
P
E
S
T
63
D
R
E
S
S
64
HE
LS
IN
KI
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0401 ( 24,616 )
Across
1
One of the Great Lakes : MICHIGAN
5
Menacing cloud : SWARM
10
Sony offering : HDTV
14
Saint's home, for short : NOLA
15
Place for a barbecue : LANAI
16
Rich finish? : AIRE
17
"Don't give up" : GUESSAGAIN
19
Rather powerful engine : VSIX
20
Brown : SAUTE
21
Some plants : MOLES
23
Value : PRIZE
25
Spooky quality : EERINESS
28
Smoothie fruit : ACAI
29
Popular cookie : THINMINT
31
Taking things for granted on April Fools' Day and others : NONOS
32
"Time ___ ..." : WAS
33
Track, in a sense : SONG
34
Not wait for Mr. Right, say : SETTLE
35
Huuuuuuuuge : GINORMOUS
37
Loose, now : SPRUNG
40
Powerful D.C. lobby : AARP
41
Raiser of awareness, for short : PSA
44
Not accidental : MEANT
45
In opposition : CONTRARY
46
Guru, maybe : SIKH
47
Straightens : UNSNARLS
49
Firm parts: Abbr. : ATTYS
50
Hockey team, e.g. : HEXAD
51
Words on a jacket : BLURB
53
Risked a ticket : SPED
55
Construction staples ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme : TWOBYFOURS
59
Famous Amos : TORI
60
Rocker Steve : EARLE
61
"Don't go!," e.g. : PLEA
62
Obnoxious one : PEST
63
Subject of some codes : DRESS
64
Scandinavian capital : HELSINKI
Down
1
Vase style : MING
2
Compatriot of Mao : CHOU
3
Noted father-or-son singer : IGLESIAS
4
Ancient New Mexican : ANASAZI
5
Part of a crib : SLAT
6
Living ___ : WAGE
7
Major Asian carrier : ANA
8
Attire : RAIMENT
9
Like melancholy musical keys : MINOR
10
The poor : HAVENOTS
11
Not go along : DISSENT
12
Prefix with lateral : TRI
13
Bedevil : VEX
18
Girl's name that may precede Ann : SUE
22
One may be starting in sports : LINEUP
23
What's shaken when you say "Shake!" : PAW
24
Big letters in electronics : RCA
25
Ones moving far from home : EMIGRANTS
26
Fifth in a group of eight : SOL
27
Saginaw-to-Flint dir. : SSE
29
Bit of beachwear : THONG
30
___ way : INNO
33
It may be added to alcohol : SINTAX
34
Pitiful : SORRY
35
Hit the gas pedal hard : GUNNEDIT
36
Actress Wilson of "Mrs. Doubtfire" : MARA
37
Sch. with the George W. Bush Presidential Library : SMU
38
Corral : PEN
39
Strips at breakfast : RASHERS
41
Tough, tenacious sorts : PITBULLS
42
Wild blue yonder : SKY
43
Features of Boston accents : AHS
45
Milieu of the FX series "The Americans" : COLDWAR
46
Poetic stanza : STROPHE
48
Like government bonds : RATED
49
German preposition : AUF
51
Oil qtys. : BBLS
52
They burn : LYES
53
Racing letters : STP
54
Author who wrote "I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity" : POE
56
Buried treasure : ORE
57
Pull (in) : REIN
58
Noted pseudonym in short story writing : SAKI

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?