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New York Times, Saturday, April 1, 2017

Author:
Howard Barkin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
67/23/201412/26/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1102101
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.66100
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?