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New York Times, Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Author: Gerry Wildenberg
Editor: Will Shortz
Gerry Wildenberg
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
29/23/20144/21/20150
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0020000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.45010

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 40 Missing: {FJQVWZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Wildenberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Gerry Wildenberg notes: This puzzle was accepted in July 2013. It was my first NY Times acceptance. I looked through a list of theme types and ... more
Gerry Wildenberg notes:

This puzzle was accepted in July 2013. It was my first NY Times acceptance.

I looked through a list of theme types and thought that combining alliteration and a vowel shift would be an interesting twist. Since then I've seen a few others that used the same basic theme type, but at the time the idea was original to me. The theme came together rather smoothly, though I did play with the positions of SESAMESEED and SOLIDSOUTH, looking for the smoothest fill.

As I look at the fill now, USTEN is my least favorite since the highway would normally be written US-10. However, I'm pretty pleased overall. As usual, Will changed a lot of the clues — about half. He also changed the letter in square 1 from S to G, a change with which I disagree. I think the two abbreviations GPAS and SAS are roughly equal in goodness/badness, but using GPAS as 1-Across means starting with a weakish entry. Starting with SPAS means starting with a real thing. To me that's preferable.

I hope that the solvers enjoyed this puzzle.

Will Shortz notes: To me, GPA'S is a fine entry, since the letters are spoken, and it's a common term besides. For the record, I'm less enthused about ... more
Will Shortz notes:

To me, GPA'S is a fine entry, since the letters are spoken, and it's a common term besides. For the record, I'm less enthused about abbreviations that are only written — like JCT or APPT.

SPAS/SAS was OK, but a little bland. I think GPA'S/GAS has more pizzazz. Personal taste, of course.

Jeff Chen notes: At first I was underwhelmed by the S S concept. Super easy to find two-word phrases that fit this pattern, right? But I've been down ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

At first I was underwhelmed by the S S concept. Super easy to find two-word phrases that fit this pattern, right? But I've been down this road before, missing the additional layer. I had to really scratch my head before realizing that Gerry incorporates a second level, the second vowel of each theme pair being A E I O U, in that order. Much harder to do.

But really, is it THAT hard? I was curious, so I searched for possible alternates for the middle SI* SI* entry. After 15 minutes of searching, the only other good ones I could find were SIX SIGMA and SINGLE SIDED. I love SIX SIGMA because it relates to so many things that interest me: statistics, quality control, and manufacturing. But it doesn't work as a central answer, because of its even-numbered length. You could enlarge the grid from 15 to 16 columns in order to accommodate, but I think enlarging a grid ought to be reserved for must-need cases only.

Apparently Nagurski also played the flute

I liked much of the longer fill. Although I didn't remember who he was, Bronko NAGURSKI is an interesting figure in football history with a colorful name. Sheryl Sandberg's LEAN IN was on the non-fiction bestseller list. I CHING and ARTISTES are nice too.

Very difficult construction, a low word count (72) featuring a lot of mid-length material. Cleanliness does not come easily on this type of layout. Been a long time since I've seen EXC … except? Exceptional? Exchequer? But aside from a handful of gluey bits, I liked a lot of the MOTT ST / BOLERO / OUTGUN fill.

It's too bad there's not a more explicit way of pointing out how the theme combines initialisms AND a vowel progression. Generally, I like giving solvers the opportunity to discover the cleverness in a puzzle themselves, but this is an example where I fear that many people will never see it.

1
G
2
P
3
A
4
S
5
U
6
P
7
P
8
E
9
R
10
L
11
E
12
O
13
A
I
R
E
14
D
15
M
A
C
R
O
16
E
X
C
17
S
A
T
U
R
18
D
A
Y
S
A
B
19
B
A
T
H
20
I
R
A
I
S
E
21
S
O
N
A
R
22
S
23
E
S
A
M
E
S
E
24
E
25
D
26
L
I
N
E
27
M
O
T
T
S
T
28
R
E
29
P
E
N
T
S
30
U
N
E
31
C
32
L
A
M
O
R
33
S
34
I
35
M
36
P
L
E
S
I
M
O
37
N
38
C
D
R
A
T
E
39
A
40
P
41
U
42
C
43
A
44
S
H
I
E
R
45
O
46
U
47
T
G
U
N
48
A
L
T
I
49
S
O
50
L
51
I
D
S
O
U
T
H
52
E
L
A
N
53
D
54
E
M
O
T
E
R
55
S
U
R
G
E
56
S
57
U
P
P
R
E
S
S
58
O
59
R
60
A
D
E
61
M
U
S
E
E
62
N
I
K
O
N
63
R
E
D
64
S
N
A
R
L
65
N
I
P
S
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0421 ( 23,905 )
Across Down
1. Coll. application figures : GPAS
5. Michigan's ___ Peninsula : UPPER
10. July-August sign : LEO
13. Broadcast : AIRED
15. Large-scale : MACRO
16. Not counting: Abbr. : EXC
17. Jewish observance : SATURDAYSABBATH
20. Bettor's comeback : IRAISE
21. It might pick up a big fish : SONAR
22. Hamburger bun topper : SESAMESEED
26. "Come here often?," e.g. : LINE
27. Big Apple thoroughfare named in Rodgers and Hart's "Manhattan" : MOTTST
28. Seeks atonement, maybe : REPENTS
30. Feminine one, in France : UNE
31. Lots of noise : CLAMOR
33. Nursery rhyme character "going to the fair" : SIMPLESIMON
38. Advertised bank percentage : CDRATE
39. Satyajit Ray's "The ___ Trilogy" : APU
42. Tender person? : CASHIER
45. Have superior firepower over : OUTGUN
48. Certain choir singers : ALTI
49. Voting bloc from Reconstruction to the 1960s : SOLIDSOUTH
52. Serengeti grazer : ELAND
54. Ham : EMOTER
55. Power strip part : SURGESUPPRESSOR
60. Fruity drink : ADE
61. Where works of 3-Down may be seen : MUSEE
62. Japanese camera : NIKON
63. Chianti, for one : RED
64. Entangle : SNARL
65. Nabisco's Cheese ___ : NIPS
1. Fluorine or chlorine : GAS
2. Actress/singer Zadora : PIA
3. Cézanne et 4-Verticale : ARTISTES
4. Painter Georges : SEURAT
5. Amherst sch. : UMASS
6. Check recipient : PAYEE
7. Alternatives to Macs : PCS
8. Alternative to Century 21 : ERA
9. Steals from : ROBS
10. 2013 best seller subtitled "Women, Work and the Will to Lead" : LEANIN
11. Surviving : EXTANT
12. Earth tones : OCHRES
14. Small amounts of liquor : DRAMS
18. ___ of Worms : DIET
19. Slow Spanish dance : BOLERO
22. Texas Christian rival, for short : SMU
23. 100,000,000 decades : EON
24. Clear the slate : ERASE
25. ___-monde : DEMI
29. Fruit juice brand : POM
31. Mild cigar : CLARO
32. "___ me" ("I'll get it") : LET
34. Chinese divination book : ICHING
35. The year 1501 : MDI
36. Top exec. : PRES
37. N.F.L. Hall-of-Famer Bronko ___ : NAGURSKI
40. Word after stay or well : PUT
41. Granite State sch. : UNH
42. "Et tu, Brute?" speaker : CAESAR
43. Indirectly refer (to) : ALLUDE
44. Gawked : STARED
45. The "O" of B.O. : ODOR
46. Hwy. cut into two parts by Lake Michigan : USTEN
47. Is out of alignment, as a car wheel : TOESIN
50. Outcast : LEPER
51. Push forward : IMPEL
53. Ones in the 49-Across voting bloc, for short : DEMS
56. Lie on the beach : SUN
57. ___ Network : USA
58. Alley ___ : OOP
59. O.R. workers : RNS

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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