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New York Times, Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5012/11/20118/8/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
74962202
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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