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New York Times, Thursday, July 27, 2017

Author: Jeffrey Wechsler
Editor: Will Shortz
Jeffrey Wechsler
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
167/17/19697/27/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0143710
ScrabRebusCirclePangrampre-WS
1.571101

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JKQXZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 16 for Mr. Wechsler. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeffrey Wechsler notes: The origin of this theme probably duplicates the thought processes of many crossword constructors. A phrase is noticed or ... more
Jeffrey Wechsler notes:

The origin of this theme probably duplicates the thought processes of many crossword constructors. A phrase is noticed or comes to mind, and suddenly the crossword section of the brain lights up, and one thinks "That could be a crossword theme!" This nearly involuntary reaction is both a boon and a bane to the constructor's life as one tries for a balance between normal and crossword-based brain function. "Sure," the brain says, "I might be able to find phrases including FORT, and then both figuratively and literally HOLD DOWN that word by placing it vertically within other words." And then the work begins.

There are only a few short or medium-length words that contain FORT (long words would have created problems with placement within the grid), so that put a constraint on the relevant connecting vertical entries. Their ultimate placement also necessitated the added "cheater squares," whose presence I sought to compensate for using the somewhat low word count.

As I look at the clues for this puzzle — as always, a combination of original submissions and clues created by Will — it seems to me that the overall result is a puzzle that is somewhat easier than usual for a New York Times Thursday crossword. I suppose I will see if that evaluation is accurate when solvers' commentaries start appearing on the crossword blogs. In any event, I hope most people enjoy the puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes: HOLD DOWN THE FORT interpreted literally, F O R T hanging down within phrases. Such a strange-looking FUNE HUNTER … or is that ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

HOLD DOWN THE FORT interpreted literally, F O R T hanging down within phrases. Such a strange-looking FUNE HUNTER … or is that (FORT)UNE HUNTER? Fine job of disguising those dropped FORTs, in FORTE, FORTH, EFFORTS. Not a lot of ways to work FORT into short fill, indeed — FORTY, Abe FORTAS and FORTRAN the only other short(ish) entries I could think of, right off the bat.

I did wonder if this was a good interpretation of HOLD DOWN — wouldn't "push down" or "drop down" be more appropriate? I guess if you squint and use your imagination, it sort of works …

Love the bonuses of MOB RULE, and EMERALDS with its interesting trivia clue — I had no idea Cleopatra mined them. I also enjoyed [Game animals, for some] misdirecting toward ELK or DEER. Great a-ha, when I realized it was the "sports" meaning of "game," relating to team MASCOTS.

LAND SALES is workable, but not something I'd go out of my way to include as bonus fill.

I would have liked to see a different grid layout at top and bottom. The first row of a themed crossword usually is broken into three words, which makes filling pretty easy. Breaking things up into two words does create opportunities for fun mid-length fill like MASCOTS. But ECTOPIC isn't worth it to me, as that has a lot of negative connotation (ECTOPIC pregnancies). And given the presence of so much RUS, EEN, RECTO, ESTAS, EFTS, HEB, REAIMS, I wanted more smoothness overall.

It's pretty hard to work around this many crossing themers — those FORTs dropping down make construction rough — and going down to 72 words makes it so difficult to produce a quality grid.

Some strong theme phrases, and well-hidden FORTs, though.

1
M
2
A
3
S
4
C
5
O
6
T
7
S
8
P
9
A
10
S
11
T
12
A
13
E
C
T
O
P
I
C
14
U
N
S
A
F
15
E
16
T
R
A
V
E
L
I
17
N
G
I
N
C
O
M
18
F
19
R
I
V
E
N
20
F
O
E
21
O
R
E
O
22
O
D
E
23
E
24
M
I
T
T
25
E
26
R
27
E
R
R
28
P
R
O
29
F
U
30
S
S
A
T
31
F
32
L
U
33
B
34
E
35
A
36
U
F
S
C
A
L
E
37
O
A
R
38
R
E
C
T
O
39
A
I
D
40
F
U
N
E
41
H
U
N
T
E
R
42
M
D
S
43
O
R
D
E
A
L
44
T
45
S
P
46
R
D
S
47
B
E
48
D
49
P
50
O
S
T
51
S
52
H
53
E
54
T
O
A
55
D
56
O
U
R
57
P
58
E
C
O
S
59
H
O
L
D
60
D
61
O
W
N
T
62
H
E
F
O
R
T
63
R
E
A
I
M
S
64
H
O
T
T
U
N
A
65
S
Y
N
G
E
66
O
R
E
S
T
E
S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0727 ( 24,733 )
Across Down
1. Game animals, for some : MASCOTS
8. It may be long, twisted or hollow : PASTA
13. Out of place, in obstetric parlance : ECTOPIC
14. Perilous : UNSAFE
16. *Enjoying first-class amenities, say : TRAVELINGINCOMF
19. Split apart : RIVEN
20. Other side : FOE
21. Nabisco brand since 1912 : OREO
22. What might be written to a famous person : ODE
23. Device releasing particles : EMITTER
27. Goof : ERR
28. One who knows the ropes : PRO
29. Nag : FUSSAT
31. Seasonal woe : FLU
33. *Wind speed metric : BEAUFSCALE
37. Galley part : OAR
38. Right-hand page : RECTO
39. Legal ___ : AID
40. *One looking to become rich : FUNEHUNTER
42. Figures on CBS's "Code Black": Abbr. : MDS
43. Tough slog : ORDEAL
44. Kitchen meas. : TSP
46. GPS data: Abbr. : RDS
47. Canopy support : BEDPOST
51. Any vessel, traditionally : SHE
54. "The Wind in the Willows" creature : TOAD
56. "___ Town" : OUR
57. Bill of Southwest legend : PECOS
59. Have charge temporarily ... or a hint to answering this puzzle's three starred clues : HOLDDOWNTHEFORT
63. Adjusts one's sights : REAIMS
64. Blues-rock group that grew out of Jefferson Airplane : HOTTUNA
65. J. M. ___, "The Playboy of the Western World" playwright : SYNGE
66. Euripides tragedy : ORESTES
1. Moving aspect of urban life? : METRO
2. Like many volcanic fumes : ACRID
3. Fend (off) : STAVE
4. Small bay : COVE
5. Word with can or season : OPENER
6. Up to, informally : TIL
7. Genre for Philip K. Dick : SCIFI
8. Sound in Washington : PUGET
9. Singer DiFranco : ANI
10. Figure kept in the head, usually: Abbr. : SSN
11. Kind of shell : TACO
12. Mentioned previously : AFORESAID
15. Things mined in Cleopatra's Mines : EMERALDS
17. "___ interested" : NOT
18. Strong point : FORTE
24. Civil unrest approaching anarchy : MOBRULE
25. Expenditures of time and energy : EFFORTS
26. U.N. Security Council permanent member: Abbr. : RUS
28. Blender setting : PUREE
30. Rascal : SCAMP
31. Like most taxicabs : FOURDOOR
32. Some real estate business : LANDSALES
34. Yet, to Hamlet : EEN
35. "Hamlet" division : ACT
36. Member of a Great Basin tribe : UTE
40. Sally ___ : FORTH
41. Biblical book preceding Zeph. : HAB
45. One end of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, informally : STPETE
48. Seek water, in a way : DOWSE
49. Ogden Nash specialty : PUN
50. Big name in lawn care : ORTHO
51. Sports team employee : SCOUT
52. Songstress Lena : HORNE
53. These, to Goya : ESTAS
55. Historic Normandy event : DDAY
58. Young salamanders : EFTS
60. Hullabaloo : DIN
61. "I'm shocked!," in a text : OMG
62. Old TV knob: Abbr. : HOR

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle.

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