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New York Times, Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4812/11/201111/7/20182
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74962002
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626140
Timothy Polin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JQWXZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 23 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Timothy Polin notes:
Many thanks to Joe Krozel for his assistance on this one. Most of the theme answers were ready last summer, but I was struggling with ... read more

Many thanks to Joe Krozel for his assistance on this one. Most of the theme answers were ready last summer, but I was struggling with the right cluing scheme. Should their clues be the three different variations (as published), or should WHAT / IS IT be included as its own entry (split into 4s) within the grid, forcing you to uncover the phrase first, before cross-referencing it from the theme clues ("See X-/Y-Across," e.g.)? Joe's feedback went something like: "The first is Tuesday/Wednesday difficulty. The second is Thursday-plus, with hate mail."

Tempting ... but I chickened out.

The theme works better this way. It'd be pretty unreasonable to require mental copy-editing of an unknown phrase, as you'd also have to figure out capitalization and punctuation. I don't think it would ever have been published like that. Way too vague and confusing. All that cross-referencing would be tedious as well. Still, tempting!

Jeff Chen notes:
Tim employs the 'definitional' theme type, i.e. where clues become answers and vice versa. I'm not a huge fan of this genre, as I ... read more

Tim employs the "definitional" theme type, i.e. where clues become answers and vice versa. I'm not a huge fan of this genre, as I generally don't care for entries that feel made up inside my grids, and that's a typical feature of these puzzles. But it is nice that Tim takes "What is it?" and interprets it in very different ways. "It" is indeed a STEPHEN KING BOOK and a PERSONAL PRONOUN, and "What is it?" is equivalent to DO YOU NEED / SOMETHING. Nice diversity of choices.

SQUEE! Sorry about that; they're just so cute.

I wasn't overwhelmed by the theme, but as he always does, Tim utilizes his bonus fill to spice up the quality of the solve. There's a multitude of great answers, from SEINFELD to PARTY HAT to TOE RING to MEERKAT to OYSTER CRAB to I LOVE PARIS (don't listen to it unless you want an earworm). Throw in some IN SEASON and DESSERTS and you get the added rush of solving something themeless-like.

In that same vein, the tricky clues also heightened the solve. [Piece of low-end jewelry?] for TOE RING is genius (toes being on the low end of one's body). And [One who may finish on a high note] is my favorite. It looks so innocent, repurposing the "go out on a high note" phrase without needing a giveaway question mark. And knowing Tim's a SEINFELD fan, I imagine George Costanza's "going out on a high note" trope might have at least subconsciously come into play.

From a grid execution perspective, really well done — only ARE SO and STOAS were a bit gluey. That's an impressive feat when you work in so much bonus fill.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0406 ( 24,256 )
Across
1. "Sonar"-equipped fliers : BATS
5. "Absolutely!" : OHYES
10. Thrust : GIST
14. Latvian capital : EURO
15. Creamer of the L.P.G.A. : PAULA
16. Dinner in a bowl : ALPO
17. What is "It"? : STEPHENKINGBOOK
20. Piece of low-end jewelry? : TOERING
21. Pugilistic victory, briefly : TKO
22. Compete : VIE
23. Falcon's home: Abbr. : ATL
24. Sitcom whose four main characters are convicted of a crime in the final episode : SEINFELD
26. Old TV title role for Raymond Burr : IRONSIDE
30. Spring's counterpart, tidewise : NEAP
31. With 43-Across, "What is it?" : DOYOUNEED
33. Proscriptions : BANS
36. Photo badges, e.g. : IDS
37. Quintets : PENTADS
40. Whom les Trois Mousquetaires served : ROI
41. Acquires : GETS
43. See 31-Across : SOMETHING
45. Grub : EATS
48. Like pumpkins during the fall : INSEASON
49. Conical topper : PARTYHAT
52. ___ Lanka : SRI
53. Rainbow, for one : ARC
54. Little nipper : PUP
55. Timon of "The Lion King," e.g. : MEERKAT
59. What is it? : PERSONALPRONOUN
62. Biblical twin described as a "cunning hunter" : ESAU
63. Pay for : TREAT
64. Shade darker than eggshell : ECRU
65. Item of loungewear : ROBE
66. Classical promenades : STOAS
67. "How's ___?" : THAT
Down
1. Outduel, e.g. : BEST
2. Ford or Lincoln : AUTO
3. Part of a canopy : TREE
4. One who may finish on a high note : SOPRANO
5. Metaphor for easy access : OPENLINE
6. Be suspended : HANG
7. Guffaw : YUK
8. Top-tier : ELITE
9. Hit home : SANKIN
10. Yenta's "gift" : GAB
11. Song lyric before "in the winter when it drizzles" and "in the summer when it sizzles" : ILOVEPARIS
12. Take a turn for the worse? : SPOIL
13. Took a hit, in a way : TOKED
18. Asks for money : HITSUP
19. Extinct : GONE
24. Carry out a duty with diligence : SEETOIT
25. Groovy : FAB
26. "Right on," to a hipster : IDIG
27. Harassed persistently : RODE
28. Chesapeake Bay delicacy : OYSTERCRAB
29. Men's studies? : DENS
32. Cry after "hot" : DAMN
34. Taboo : NONO
35. Omen : SIGN
38. Decadent ones are often very rich : DESSERTS
39. Binaural : STEREO
42. Sr.'s challenge : SAT
44. Cafeteria headwear : HAIRNET
46. Thsi clue has one : TYPO
47. Redirects, as a train : SHUNTS
49. Post or Daily News : PAPER
50. Juvenile comeback : ARESO
51. Split up : APART
55. Grp. assigning film ratings : MPAA
56. ___ brothers, big political donors : KOCH
57. Indefinable presence : AURA
58. Letter-shaped fastener : TNUT
60. Haul into court : SUE
61. "The Revenant" star, to fans : LEO

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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