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New York Times, Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Author:
Gary J. Whitehead
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
154/10/20064/25/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0333402
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57120
Gary J. Whitehead

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JW} Scrabble average: 1.91 This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Whitehead. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Phrases where both parts of the phrase can follow HOME: HOME BODY / HOME GUARD, HOME GAME / HOME BOY, etc. This theme type tends to ... read more

Phrases where both parts of the phrase can follow HOME: HOME BODY / HOME GUARD, HOME GAME / HOME BOY, etc. This theme type tends to feature so-so entries because it's hard to find strong phrases that follow this principle — COMPUTER PORT isn't super snazzy, for example. But some good finds, BODYGUARD and FRONT PAGE particularly nice.

Working with six theme answers is not for the faint of heart. This typically results in 1.) an excess of crossword glue and/or 2.) a dearth of long bonus fill. Gary does quite well on the second point, featuring CHIMERAS, KEEP AT IT, ITS ON ME (I don't mind short word dupes like IT), TRUISMS, and even NUZZLES. These quality bonuses elevated my solve.

The first point, though … Gary does well to "stack" BODYGUARD just one row above GAMEBOY, sort of treating them like a single, long themer. This helps create good spacing between themers.

But there are so many prices to pay, all over the grid. The opening corner alone: MENT, EGESTS, QTY, URI crossing ANDIE. Inelegant. You might think that adding a black square, perhaps at the S of EGESTS would have helped smooth everything out. You'd be right, but Gary is already at the max word limit of 78, so that's not possible — so many themers means that Gary already had to spend his black squares elsewhere.

It's admirable to try to distinguish this theme by going to high density, but I'd have preferred a smoother puzzle at the price of not as many themers. Given that GAMEBOY and ICELAND feel unlike the others (being single-word entries that don't totally work with the theme revealer), the puzzle might have been stronger without them.

Very glad to get so many great pieces of bonus fill — the CHIMERAS type entries did help hold my attention.

A couple of years ago, Will said he was phasing out "word that can follow the ends of …" puzzles, as they had run their course. Given how long it's been since we've seen a "both words can follow ...", I wonder if this theme type has also reached the end of its lifespan.

1
I
2
R
3
A
4
Q
5
T
6
R
7
I
8
G
9
C
10
B
11
G
12
B
13
S
14
M
E
N
T
15
R
O
S
A
16
H
E
L
O
T
17
B
O
D
Y
18
G
U
A
R
D
19
I
B
I
Z
A
20
U
R
I
21
A
I
D
22
G
23
A
M
E
B
O
Y
24
E
G
E
25
S
T
S
26
N
E
V
E
27
C
O
M
28
P
U
T
E
R
29
P
30
O
31
R
32
T
33
S
34
A
35
M
E
36
S
E
Z
37
C
A
R
V
E
S
38
P
R
A
N
39
K
40
Z
Z
41
Z
42
S
I
E
N
A
43
A
G
R
E
E
44
S
45
L
I
46
I
47
O
N
E
R
48
M
O
V
I
E
T
49
H
E
A
T
50
E
R
51
P
E
A
S
52
S
A
Y
53
I
54
D
55
O
56
I
57
C
58
E
59
L
A
N
D
60
C
O
S
61
M
E
X
62
B
O
R
A
T
63
F
64
R
O
N
T
65
P
A
G
E
66
M
I
T
Z
I
67
U
N
U
M
68
A
G
U
Y
69
S
L
E
E
T
70
N
A
P
E
71
H
O
M
E
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0425 ( 24,640 )

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Across
1
Country invaded in 2003 : IRAQ
5
H.S. math class : TRIG
9
Legendary music club in Lower Manhattan, informally : CBGBS
14
Suffix with refresh or replace : MENT
15
Parks of Alabama : ROSA
16
Spartan serf : HELOT
17
*V.I.P.'s security agent : BODYGUARD
19
Resort island near Majorca : IBIZA
20
The Rams of the Atlantic 10 Conf. : URI
21
Scholarship money : AID
22
*Nintendo hand-held : GAMEBOY
24
Disgorges : EGESTS
26
Actress Campbell of "Scream" : NEVE
27
*Place to plug in a USB cable : COMPUTERPORT
33
"Ditto" : SAME
36
Utters, informally : SEZ
37
Does the honors for Thanksgiving dinner : CARVES
38
Short-sheeting, e.g. : PRANK
40
Snoring sound : ZZZ
42
Tuscan city : SIENA
43
Sees eye to eye (with) : AGREES
45
52, in old Rome : LII
47
Long, single take, in filmmaking : ONER
48
*Multiplex, e.g. : MOVIETHEATER
51
Stew morsels : PEAS
52
Exchange vows at the altar : SAYIDO
56
*NATO's smallest member, populationwise : ICELAND
60
Stock listings: Abbr. : COS
61
Ariz. neighbor : MEX
62
Sacha Baron Cohen character : BORAT
63
*Where a newspaper's biggest stories go : FRONTPAGE
66
Actress Gaynor of "South Pacific" : MITZI
67
"E pluribus ___" : UNUM
68
"So ___ walks into ..." : AGUY
69
Fall of winter : SLEET
70
What a ponytail partially covers : NAPE
71
There's no place like it ... or a word that can precede either half of the answer to each starred clue : HOME
Down
1
Fill (with) : IMBUE
2
Corporate shuffle, for short : REORG
3
Love interest of Pacey on "Dawson's Creek" : ANDIE
4
Amt. : QTY
5
"What's right is right" and others : TRUISMS
6
Rocky ___ : ROAD
7
Haifa's country: Abbr. : ISR
8
Doohickey : GADGET
9
Monstrous creatures : CHIMERAS
10
French newborn : BEBE
11
Smooth-talking : GLIB
12
Schmo : BOZO
13
"___ With Me" (Sam Smith hit) : STAY
18
Purrer in Peru : GATO
23
Opposite of sans : AVEC
25
Act starter : SCENEI
26
Shows some affection : NUZZLES
28
Dispenser candy : PEZ
29
Religious abode : PRIORY
30
Baker's need : OVEN
31
Artist Magritte : RENE
32
Romanov ruler : TSAR
33
Often-filtered messages : SPAM
34
Jason's ship : ARGO
35
___ Levy, Buffalo Bills coach in the Hall of Fame : MARV
39
"Don't quit!" : KEEPATIT
41
1980s Pakistani president : ZIA
44
W.W. II-era British gun : STEN
46
Treater's phrase : ITSONME
49
Enjoyed oneself : HADFUN
50
Wind tile in mah-jongg : EAST
53
Insect stage : IMAGO
54
Use Goo Gone on, perhaps : DEGUM
55
Daisy variety : OXEYE
56
Some old PCs : IBMS
57
Snake's shape : COIL
58
Art Deco notable : ERTE
59
Loaf (around) : LAZE
60
Government overthrow : COUP
64
Single-stranded molecule : RNA
65
Part of a tuba's sound : PAH

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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