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New York Times, Thursday, April 20, 2017

Author: Jeffrey Wechsler
Editor: Will Shortz
Jeffrey Wechsler
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
157/17/19694/20/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0143610
ScrabRebusCirclePangrampre-WS
1.571101

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Wechsler. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Jeffrey Wechsler notes: The theme of this puzzle arose in a manner that I suppose is common for many constructors — a word (or a word in a ... more
Jeffrey Wechsler notes:

The theme of this puzzle arose in a manner that I suppose is common for many constructors — a word (or a word in a phrase) suddenly triggers a thought process that ultimately leads to a crossword. Here, I noticed the one-syllable word English word SAKE can be transformed simply by a variation in pronunciation into the two-syllable Japanese wine SAKE. When applied to FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, the standard English phrase becomes re-defined into a rather amusing concept by using the Japanese meaning. With this revelation, the essence of a constructor's "aha moment" had taken place, and the hunt for other words that could offer parallel transformations began.

It turned out that there aren't many relevant choices. In the completed puzzle, the letter E is the consistent transformative focus, shifting in pronunciation, with the E changing from a silent to a voiced vowel in three of the entries. This is nice, although it is partially a side effect of the apparent dearth of options. In the end, three of the key words referred to food or drink. There is another edible option — PATE — but the English meaning of PATE (the top of the head) did not offer any common or reasonable phrases. Thus, LAME might be considered the outlier of the group, but I like the humor of LAME's altered meaning in the puzzle, so the thematic set seems OK to me.

The length of the theme entries was a bit awkward — two 14s and two 10s — with letter positions leading to the stepped wedges that bracket the grid. But the layout did allow symmetrical pairs of relatively long downs — 8s, 9s, and 10s — giving the opportunity for a few interesting entries.

Finally, when one submits a slightly lengthy quote as a clue, it's never certain that it will be retained through the editorial process. So I'm particularly gratified that the trenchant quote from Mark Twain is present.

Jeff Chen notes: Fun theme idea, one-syllable words interpreted as their two-syllable counterparts. I'm a big fan of MOLE sauce (spicy chocolatey ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Fun theme idea, one-syllable words interpreted as their two-syllable counterparts. I'm a big fan of MOLE sauce (spicy chocolatey goodness!), so WHACK A MO-LE made me laugh. FOR HEAVENS SA-KE and LA-ME EXCUSE felt more tortured grammatically, but I was still amused.

I did like RUN FOR THE RO-SES (pinkish wines), but it felt inconsistent with the rest of the themers, as the only plural. I don't mind a lack of tightness if the theme is ultra-constrained, but there are a lot of ROSE phrases out there.

I know, my OCD constructor's brain is so annoying!

I like that Jeffrey made an effort to give solvers some bonuses in the fill. Fun to have WHITE RICE and THE NATURAL, as well as YESHIVAS and SUM TOTAL.

There were prices to pay for this, though. WHITE RICE and THE NATURAL are made possible by not using the typical black squares which would break up the side of the puzzle — the RET of RETAIN would normally be black squares to facilitate better fill. This forces some crossword glue like A TALE, and the odd LAND AT. I don't mind add-a-preposition phrases when they sound natural, but LAND AT … hmm.

My immature brain giggled at LUDE and TOKE in the same puzzle.

My constructor's brain pointed out RECTO, TVA, ROUES, HMS. Nothing terrible, but all slightly iffy. Overall, I would have preferred a slightly cleaner puzzle with slightly fewer goodies.

Neat concept with some funny results. If 1.) this had been on a Wednesday or Tuesday, where I expect these simpler types of themes, 2.) the themers had all been singular, and 3.) the puzzle had been executed more smoothly, I would have given it the POW!

1
A
2
W
3
A
4
Y
5
S
6
O
7
L
8
I
9
D
10
A
11
T
12
I
13
T
14
S
I
Z
E
15
P
L
U
M
E
16
B
O
N
E
17
O
N
U
S
18
R
A
D
I
I
19
R
O
V
E
20
F
O
R
H
21
E
A
V
E
N
S
22
S
A
K
E
23
I
V
Y
24
M
I
D
A
C
25
T
26
T
V
A
27
M
28
A
29
R
30
R
E
C
T
O
31
W
H
A
C
32
K
A
M
O
33
L
E
34
L
I
P
35
S
H
E
S
36
I
M
B
U
E
37
S
A
V
E
38
P
I
N
39
L
A
M
E
E
X
40
C
U
S
E
41
A
T
A
42
L
E
43
A
R
S
44
H
M
S
45
R
E
T
A
I
46
N
47
B
E
T
48
R
U
N
F
O
49
R
50
T
51
H
E
R
O
52
S
53
E
54
S
55
G
I
R
D
56
F
A
T
A
L
57
T
O
K
E
58
N
C
A
A
59
A
T
O
L
L
60
A
L
E
X
61
C
E
L
T
62
T
E
P
E
E
63
L
O
S
T
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0420 ( 24,635 )
Across Down
1. Departed : AWAY
5. Unwavering : SOLID
10. Feuding : ATIT
14. Economy, for one : SIZE
15. Active volcano feature : PLUME
16. Chew toy alternative : BONE
17. Responsibility : ONUS
18. Pie chart features : RADII
19. Go here and there : ROVE
20. Why Japanese tipplers anticipate the afterlife? : FORHEAVENSSAKE
23. Columbia, e.g. : IVY
24. Halfway through a stage routine : MIDACT
26. Power and economic development corp. started in 1933 : TVA
27. Scratch : MAR
30. Page 1, 3 or 5, usually : RECTO
31. Pound on some Mexican food? : WHACKAMOLE
34. Back talk : LIP
35. The Rolling Stones' "___ a Rainbow" : SHES
36. Suffuse : IMBUE
37. Excepting : SAVE
38. Brooch : PIN
39. "I didn't know you disliked shiny fabrics!," e.g.? : LAMEEXCUSE
41. "And thereby hangs ___": "As You Like It" : ATALE
43. "___ longa, vita brevis" : ARS
44. Designation for U.K. vessels : HMS
45. Not forget : RETAIN
47. Track transaction : BET
48. Quick trip to pick up white zinfandel and blush? : RUNFORTHEROSES
55. Strengthen : GIRD
56. "Travel is ___ to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness": Twain : FATAL
57. It's a drag : TOKE
58. Sports org. headquartered in Indianapolis : NCAA
59. Sight in Micronesia : ATOLL
60. Antihero of "A Clockwork Orange" : ALEX
61. Influence for Enya, historically : CELT
62. Function for a buffalo hide : TEPEE
63. Lacking a purpose in life : LOST
1. Starting : ASOF
2. Overindulging sort : WINO
3. France's Côte d'___ : AZUR
4. Places to study the Talmud : YESHIVAS
5. Many an insect repellent : SPRAY
6. Name of five Norwegian kings : OLAV
7. Certain trank : LUDE
8. Poker declaration : IMIN
9. Something many Founding Fathers believed in : DEISM
10. Wear down : ABRADE
11. Went to night school, maybe : TOOKACLASS
12. Words meant to hurt : INVECTIVE
13. One of a group of 18 : TEE
21. Emergency procedure, briefly : EVAC
22. Courtly term of address : SIRE
25. Emulate a 2-Down : TOPE
26. 1952 Bernard Malamud novel made into a hit 1984 movie : THENATURAL
27. Start of many an Italian pizzeria name : MAMMA
28. Organic jewelry material : AMBER
29. Libertines : ROUES
31. One side of China? : WHITERICE
32. Soul maker : KIA
33. Law of ancient times : LEX
35. It's often rigged : SPAR
37. Entirety : SUMTOTAL
39. Eric's seafaring son : LEIF
40. The Goddess of Pop : CHER
42. Reach by air : LANDAT
46. Property of skim milk : NOFAT
47. Beauty in "Beauty and the Beast" : BELLE
49. Compare, in a way : RATE
50. Corvette feature : TTOP
51. Fit : HALE
52. Alone : SOLO
53. Stretches (out) : EKES
54. Blue note? : SEXT
55. Vitamin and supplement retailer : GNC

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

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