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New York Times, Thursday, April 21, 2016

Author:
Alex Bajcz
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
45/6/20148/29/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1011100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58000
Alex Bajcz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 31 Missing: {JQVXZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Bajcz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Alex Bajcz notes:
This puzzle was the product of a moment of clarity while watching a football game: 'Wow, saying FALSE START is hard!' You should try ... read more

This puzzle was the product of a moment of clarity while watching a football game: "Wow, saying FALSE START is hard!" You should try it--try to say "false start" at normal speaking pace while ensuring that the S sound in "false" is really distinct from the ST sound in "start." It's hard to do without making the ST sound into more of a D sound, at least for me. A linguist might be able to explain why, but since I'm not one, I won't try :).

I decided I'd try to find some other examples of two-word phrases that had that same kind of sound combination. Turns out, they're pretty rare--the six I include here are very nearly the only ones I was able to come up with (although STANDS DILL/STAND STILL and LAS VEGAS DRIP/LAS VEGAS STRIP were other ones I liked a lot). It's as if phrases that are hard to enunciate are uncommon or something! I guess I got lucky that these six are not only pretty amusing, but that they also are of symmetrical lengths. Good fortune for me!

One other thing of note here: the astute among us might notice that PLEASE and NOSE have Z sounds instead of S sounds, strictly speaking. I fretted something fierce about this--are S and Z sounds "close enough?" However, I happened to read a note by Will on XWord Info for another puzzle that also did some wordplay on S sounds, and, to heavily paraphrase, Will essentially said that the difference between S and Z didn't bother him in that case because they largely worked equally well to accomplish the wordplay. So, I decided it was worth the risk, and I guess he thought so too. So not every "inconsistency" in a theme is one that dooms it, which is a point well-remembered for us constructors!

Jeff Chen notes:
Sound change / letter substitution, ST going to D. Some funny results in FALSE DART and my favorite, BLUEGRASS DATE. There are a ton ... read more

Sound change / letter substitution, ST going to D. Some funny results in FALSE DART and my favorite, BLUEGRASS DATE. There are a ton of words that start with ST, so it was nice to see Alex incorporate six themers.

T BOONE, interesting that he's trying to move from oil to cleaner fuels

Aha, you might have missed themers five and six! They're tucked in the upper left and lower right--NOSE DUD and ICE DORM. Unusual locations. At first I wondered if a NOSE DUD was something the kids these days were piercing / inserting / snorting. And ICE DORM … maybe that's some sort of Icelandic thing? Even though it's kind of neat that pairs of themers intersect, I would have liked those short 7s to stand out better--perhaps at 1-Across and the last across position.

Alex uses a lot of long slots, although some of those felt like they left untapped potential, ANNOTATE, MASSAGER, IN STORES, ETHERNET all feeling more neutral than assets. But I really liked POWERED ON, looking curiously like POWER DON (Mafia bigwig). I also liked PROTÉGÉ, I AGREE, GUNSHY, and OIL TYCOON was my favorite. It was neat to get T BOONE crossing it — I like fortuitous crosses like that.

I wasn't sure about T BOONE as an entry itself though. Is that what people call him? I'm so used to the full T. Boone Pickens that just T BOONE by itself feels like a six-letter partial. Any friends of T BOONE want to weigh in?

Also a bit odd was SKYEY. To my surprise, it actually is in the dictionary, as "adjective form of sky." And Updike writes "a sheet of skyey water." I may have to try it out and see if people around me flinch.

As with most straightforward Thursday themes, I was left wanting more trickery, more of an a-ha moment. It is asking for a lot to want a fresh, tricky idea every single week (and Will has gone on record saying that all he wants out of a Thursday is for it to be harder than a Wednesday), but a guy can wish.

1
L
2
I
3
E
4
N
5
I
6
S
7
H
8
M
9
O
10
P
11
P
12
E
13
D
14
A
N
N
O
15
T
A
T
E
16
U
P
R
O
O
T
17
M
A
S
S
A
G
E
R
18
D
R
O
W
N
S
19
B
L
U
E
G
R
A
S
20
S
D
A
T
E
21
S
L
E
D
22
E
L
H
I
23
H
E
R
24
B
25
S
26
U
27
T
E
28
E
L
29
K
30
G
E
E
K
31
W
32
O
33
O
D
Y
34
P
L
E
A
35
S
E
D
A
Y
36
A
R
I
37
P
38
A
L
39
N
Y
E
40
O
R
E
41
F
A
L
42
S
E
D
A
43
R
T
44
W
45
I
N
D
Y
46
E
T
T
E
47
D
Y
E
48
G
N
C
49
R
E
Y
E
50
S
51
E
T
52
T
U
53
E
54
B
55
B
56
S
57
C
H
I
58
L
D
R
E
N
59
S
D
O
R
Y
60
T
61
B
O
O
N
E
62
I
N
S
T
O
R
E
S
63
Y
E
O
M
E
N
64
E
T
H
E
R
N
E
T
65
R
E
N
E
W
S
66
S
O
Y
67
M
E
D
S
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0421 ( 24,271 )
Across
1
Collateral, of a sort : LIEN
5
"More or less" : ISH
8
Handled the last details of, with "up" : MOPPED
14
Mark up : ANNOTATE
16
Harvest, perhaps : UPROOT
17
One rubbing you the right way? : MASSAGER
18
Is overwhelmed : DROWNS
19
Romantic night in Kentucky? : BLUEGRASSDATE
21
Vehicle in "Frozen" : SLED
22
Textbook market shorthand : ELHI
23
Savory and sage : HERBS
26
Sport-___ : UTE
28
Venison source : ELK
30
Nerd (out) : GEEK
31
Friend of Buzz in "Toy Story" : WOODY
34
"Come on, Doris"? : PLEASEDAY
36
Gold of "Entourage" : ARI
37
One you might hang with : PAL
39
Nevada county with part of Death Valley National Monument : NYE
40
Rocky subject? : ORE
41
Counterfeit Dodge? : FALSEDART
44
Blusterous : WINDY
46
Relative of -ess : ETTE
47
Frosting ingredient, often : DYE
48
Vitamin World competitor : GNC
49
Carlos y Juan Carlos : REYES
51
"I thought you had my back!" : ETTU
53
Decreases : EBBS
57
Fishing boat at summer camp? : CHILDRENSDORY
60
Pickens who's a 33-Down : TBOONE
62
Not sold on TV or online : INSTORES
63
Title figures in a Gilbert and Sullivan opera : YEOMEN
64
Alternative to Wi-Fi : ETHERNET
65
Doesn't let lapse : RENEWS
66
Tempeh base : SOY
67
Pharmacy stock, informally : MEDS
Down
1
Innocents : LAMBS
2
Completely : INALL
3
Occur subsequently : ENSUE
4
Failure to sneeze? : NOSEDUD
5
"Hear, hear!" : IAGREE
6
Take home ... in more ways than one? : STEAL
7
___ Greene, character on "The Walking Dead" : HERSHEL
8
Harvey ___ College : MUDD
9
TV personality with the best seller "What I Know for Sure" : OPRAH
10
Marco Rubio, to Jeb Bush, once : PROTEGE
11
Booted, say : POWEREDON
12
Gazillion years : EON
13
Drunk's woe : DTS
15
Graffiti mark : TAG
20
Kind of treatment : SILENT
24
Lengthening shadow? : BEARD
25
Brilliantly blue : SKYEY
27
Redheads or book lovers, maybe : TYPE
29
Big name in jewelry : KAY
31
Symbol of thinness : WAFER
32
Hold the floor : ORATE
33
David or Charles Koch : OILTYCOON
34
Taken for a fool : PLAYED
35
Wrapped (up) : SEWN
38
Contribute : ADD
42
Escort after a party : SEEHOME
43
Gives it another go : RETRIES
45
Student housing in Fairbanks? : ICEDORM
48
Nervous and apprehensive : GUNSHY
50
Muscle-bone binder : SINEW
52
Nearing the bell, maybe : TENTO
54
Carried : BORNE
55
Multiply : BREED
56
Networks: Abbr. : SYSTS
58
Word after hand or zoom : LENS
59
Geneviève, for one: Abbr. : STE
60
___ : Tuesday :: Odin : Wednesday : TYR
61
Garden worker? : BEE

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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