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New York Times, Monday, April 6, 2015

Author:
Finn Vigeland
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1810/20/20109/1/20194
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
9123012
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64230
Finn Vigeland

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 35 Missing: {JQVZ} This is puzzle # 7 for Mr. Vigeland. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Finn Vigeland notes:
When I first started constructing, I gravitated toward the thrill of constructing complicated themes or adventurous themelesses, ... read more

When I first started constructing, I gravitated toward the thrill of constructing complicated themes or adventurous themelesses, thinking it was a better test of my constructing skills. But I'd also always heard from veteran puzzlers how difficult it is to make a good Monday puzzle: find a simple theme, but not an overdone one, then fill it with interesting words, but don't make it too hard.

Today is my first foray into "easy" puzzle territory. At first, Will thought it was almost too easy, since you can write in the whole theme once you get one of the sets of circled letters. I'm glad we agreed that the lively fill made it worth your time. Here's hoping that my non-puzzle friends are able to solve this one!

Jeff Chen notes:
Great change of pace M ONday puzzle, the seven days of the week 'broken' by black squares a la DAYBREAK. The northwest corner is just ... read more

Great change of pace M ONday puzzle, the seven days of the week "broken" by black squares a la DAYBREAK. The northwest corner is just about my personal ideal — three very nice long entries, some contemporary entries in LIFE OF PI and PRIUS, a touch of James Bond in MARTINIS, higher education represented firmly with FERMI, and a wordplay clue around OTIS' development of the elevator. Beautiful variety.

Seven theme answers — actually, 14 — is rarely easy to implement. Most often it calls for trade-offs, forcing the constructor to choose certain aspects over others. I like Finn's prioritization of getting the seven days equally spaced, in every other row. That felt spot-on, given how the days within a calendar get laid out. Would have been a bit odd to have MON and TUE entries crammed together in adjacent rows, for example.

It would have been nice if the days were all parts of the longest across answers though — darn those pesky trade-offs! THU being part of NEOLITH and UNITARD was much more elegant to me than WED being part of WOW and EDDA, for example. And COLLAPSED and EASY MONEY not being part of the theme felt slightly awkward.

Pimp My Ride, hosted by the awesomely Scrabbly Xzibit!

But you can rarely get everything when you shoot for the moon. I really appreciated Finn's effort to go the extra mile on this difficult construction, decorating the NE corner with the fresh entry, HOT MIC. Totally worth the ONE IN partial.

A final note, regarding PIMP. Will and Joel and I were shooting the breeze at the ACPT last weekend, talking about what types of entries are just fine and which push the line. JAILBAIT was the main one we mulled over, but PIMP also popped up during the discussion. I'm perfectly fine with PIMP, as the "Pimp My Ride" TV show is pretty popular, but I can see how some solvers might be turned off by it. Tricky.

Such a treat to get something different and well-executed on a Monday.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0406 ( 23,890 )

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Across
1
Ang Lee film about a shipwrecked boy and a tiger : LIFEOFPI
9
Press conference danger for an unguarded comment : HOTMIC
15
Weather phenomenon with freezing rain : ICESTORM
16
New York lake named for an Indian tribe : ONEIDA
17
Drinks for 007 : MARTINIS
18
McCartney's songwriting partner : LENNON
19
"A Nightmare on ___ Street" : ELM
20
Disco ___ of "The Simpsons" : STU
21
Hoity-toity type : ELITIST
22
Narrow opening : SLIT
24
The "S" of WASP : SAXON
26
"It's all about me" trait : EGO
29
"That's amazing!" : WOW
30
Icelandic literary saga : EDDA
34
Fell apart : COLLAPSED
38
Hymn of praise : PAEAN
39
Stone Age tool : NEOLITH
40
Garment for a gymnast or superhero : UNITARD
42
Yellowstone Park grazer : BISON
43
Profit one hardly has to work for : EASYMONEY
45
Figure at the left side of a musical staff : CLEF
46
Brazilian city, familiarly : RIO
47
Computer's "brain," for short : CPU
48
Relatives of violas : CELLI
50
Short-term office worker : TEMP
54
Second-largest city in Kenya : MOMBASA
58
Football six-pointers, for short : TDS
61
Damage : MAR
62
Question at the end of a riddle : WHOAMI
63
Coke Zero or Pepsi One : DIETSODA
65
Boeing rival : AIRBUS
66
Release, as a seatbelt : UNFASTEN
67
"It's true!" : HONEST
68
First light ... or a phenomenon suggested by this puzzle's seven sets of circled letters? : DAYBREAK
Down
1
Fruit slices at a bar : LIMES
2
Challenge to a bluff in poker : ICALL
3
Physicist Enrico : FERMI
4
Approximate no. : EST
5
Inventor whose success went up and down? : OTIS
6
Comic Sans, e.g. : FONT
7
Green car that comes in many colors : PRIUS
8
Chats online, for short : IMS
9
Like jack-o'-lanterns or meaningless victories : HOLLOW
10
___ a million (slim odds) : ONEIN
11
Something a camper pitches : TENT
12
iPod or iPad variety : MINI
13
Wedding vows : IDOS
14
"Why ___ we be friends?" : CANT
21
Book after Genesis : EXODUS
23
Relate, as in a story : TELLOF
25
Astonishment : AWE
27
Put on, as weight : GAIN
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Select, with "for" : OPT
30
Dine at a restaurant : EATOUT
31
College bigwig : DEAN
32
"Truth or ___?" : DARE
33
Samberg formerly of "S.N.L." : ANDY
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Network for business news : CNBC
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Trompe l'___ : OEIL
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Take off, as weight : LOSE
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"The Last of ___" (1973 murder mystery) : SHEILA
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"___ My Ride" (old MTV series) : PIMP
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The Big Apple, for short : NYC
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"You've got mail" co. : AOL
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Not succumb to : RESIST
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French author Albert : CAMUS
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Singer Turner's autobiography : ITINA
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Be melodramatic : EMOTE
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Title character of Tyler Perry films : MADEA
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April fool, e.g. : PRANK
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"Love ya!" : MWAH
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Closely watched state on election night : OHIO
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A.M. hours, in poetry : MORN
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___ in the woods : BABE
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Openly challenge : DEFY
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Attack with a knife : STAB
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Defective firecracker : DUD
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Estonia, once: Abbr. : SSR

Answer summary: 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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